Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mudguard breaks a grey area? Or, a new approach to customer relations

How's this for commendable customer service?!

I bought the German made mudguards from Brotherton Cycles in Old Hill on the 16 March. In the week beginning 3 May - on the Tues or the Wed - I noticed a break almost halfway between the stay and the metal bracket fixing the mudguard to the frame. I couldn't get back to Brotherton's until after work on the 10 May. I was astonished by the attitude of the proprietor who, like me, had never seen anything like it before but, who pronounced it was a grey area and was most reluctant to believe that it was not my fault. I thought it must be a defect in the manufacture but this guy was doubtful and even more doubtful of the old adage that the customer is always right even when he is wrong! After much humming and haaing he started to take the mudguard off, only to change his mind and to take a photo instead to send to the manufacturer in an e-mail.

I objected to the guy calling it a grey area as if I was partly, if not wholly, to blame. Any other cycle shop would have immediately replaced the mudguards and sent the faulty ones back. No way. Certainly not this shop! What a song and a dance he kicked up. He thought I must have done it by taking the handlebars to lift it up onto the back wheel so that the bottom of the rear mudguard (a rubber mudflap) scraped along the ground. I denied doing that. When I got home, I checked and found that the rear mudguard did not wrap far enough round the back of the back wheel to be able to touch the road. There were no abrasions on the bottom of the mudflap, anyway. He was reluctant to believe me that I had not crashed on the bike, had not dropped anything on to it nor, abused it in anyway. He suggested I had sawn it in two! I even had to ask that he should ring me once he had heard from the mudguard company. He was wanting me to ring him!

Two days later he did ring after hearing back from Germany. He was told that he would get his £19-99 back if he returned the faulty goods. Hence, I would get my refund.

I replied, "Could you not simply replace the mudguards? I'm sure the next set will not snap and I liked the quick and easy fitting of these otherwise excellent mudguards."
"No", came the response. "I don't want you coming back with another story of them having broken. I won't be giving you a second refund!"

Later that day, I showed the break to a colleague at work. He found a second break in the mudguard! This one was adjacent and forward of the metal bracket that wraps round the mudguard and is bolted to the rear brake and frame. "This is unbelievable", I said to Chris who had also never seen anything like it before.

Yesterday, Saturday, I returned the mudguard to Brothertons. True to his word, he refused to give me a replacement but handed me two £10 notes saying, "I'm not wanting the 1p change". I laughed out loud that this guy - a motorcyclist all wrapped up in his leathers - should feel the need to have to say such a thing. Perhaps, it was to redeem himself in my eyes!