Everybody loves a deal. The cycling community is not immune to this. It never has been. Everybody knows somebody that works for somebody and they can always get a deal and it always seems to come up when those within the cycling community find themselves talking to other people who work within the cycling community.
If you work in a shop, you get a deal. It’s the incentive to work in a shop.
If you work for a distributor of parts or bikes or accessories, you get a deal. It’s the incentive to work for the distributor.
If you work for a manufacturer, you get a deal. It’s the incentive for working for the manufacturer.
Those are the deals. That’s it. That’s all of them.
Knowing somebody that works for a shop is not a qualifier for the deal. Living next to someone that works for a distributor is not a qualifier for the deal. Being related to somebody that works for a manufacturer is not a qualifier for the deal. This is not how the deal works.
Another portion of the deal, which lies much quieter in the grass, is the borrowing of tools from a shop. DON’T DO THIS. This is bad. This happens all the time. A person with a bike heads into a shop because some bolt on the bike isn’t adjusted quite right. Said person wanders back toward the shop and casually asks to borrow the correct wrench for the job. The mechanic, usually friendly person, obliges. The bolt gets adjusted, the tool returned and the rider heads out on their merry way. Seems harmless. It’s not.
Borrowing tools from a bike shop is not unlike asking a butcher for a knife because you have a side of beef outside that you just have to filet quick. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not unlike strolling into an automobile service shop and asking to borrow a torque wrench for a minute to just make some quick adjustments under the hood in the parking lot. This shit doesn’t happen in almost every other instance…but for some reason the bike shop (and subsequently the cycling community) goes along with it. It needs to end. From both sides.
Instead, the next time there is a request for a tool, suggest purchasing the correct tool. A surprising outcome might await. Just imagine the excitement on the mechanics face when the person who once requested to borrow tools for free, now owns the very same thing? Could an engaging conversation about how to use said tool ensue? Would the mechanic who has trained to perfect his craft be delighted at the opportunity to share their knowledge with an aspiring wrench? It’s possible and certainly something to consider.
These deals, these casual favors that get abused from both ends devalue the time and the energy spent to acquire the skills and the resources necessary to perform quality work. They devalue the bicycle as a tool. They devalue the cycling community at large by undermining the simple principles that suggest that the persons working in a bike shop are qualified individuals that have dedicated their lives to getting more people riding.
People who work in bike shops and for distributors and for manufacturers have chosen their line of work because they are usually passionate about bicycles. These are the people that make bikes available and safe for the masses. They ensure that bikes are safe for kids in your neighborhood. They sign off on the bike you use to get to work and they guarantee the work they did on your super lit racing machine. Asking for deals from these people is a slap in the face.
It might be worth going as far as to say the worst thing the manufacturers and the distributors and the retailers ever did was offer something at a sale price. When the group collectively decided to reduce the price of something to make room for the next thing that was shinier, they conditioned an entire population to expect a reduction in price. We can’t turn that around, but we can cut off the head of the snake that expects to get something for less because they know so and so who works for such and such.
End the deals…from the inside out.