The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
Lessons in Nixdminx Economics: On yer bike lovelies, heroes await

Tempted as I am to name names, I’m just going to allude to the places I went in search of an au pair bike and a sparkly creation for me and my little one.

So, off to the local bike store on Chiswick High Road – the good old local store which knows the community of the locale and caters to its every whim – well so they say.

‘Wow – they’ve got the Pashleeeee’ I sighed.

‘Wow – they’ve got the sparkleeee’ she sighed.

They were ours for the taking. For this was the day after getting my first pay cheque of the year. Time to celebrate and mark the occasion. I had promised my babe a bicycle.

It was a really big day. It was bound to be special. We’d by cycling along the river in the sunshine, gentle breeze going through our hair, smiling, laughing, pedalling, braking, stopping for a spot of lunch.

We go into the bike shop and it’s all a bit Harry Enfield ‘I saw you coming’

So in the shopping bag in the bike shop;
2 bikes
2 helmets

‘Would you give me a discount? I’m spending a lot.’
‘Yeah, sure 10%’ mutter, mutter

So we got measured, adjusted, road tested, credit card behind the counter. Readjusted, remeasured. Then I asked for the bill.

‘Great – amazing – so what is it with the discount?’
‘Well, it all comes to £720, so with the discount it’s £706.’
‘But that’s not 10% discount’
‘I said (mutter mutter) discount on the cessories.’
‘You are kidding me aren’t you? 10% on accessories? So £14?’
‘Got to look after our margins.’
‘Have you seen how much I’m spending?’
‘That’s all we’re going to offer.’
‘Well I need to think about this, it’s much more than I expected.’

So off we went. I tried phoning up two local chains in the area to compare prices, but after three or so unanswered calls to each one, I let it go. The coffee bars were all full so we ended up in a pub across the road staring at our potential purchases. Tantalising yet I didn’t quite have the appetite.

So I rang them, or actually go someone else too. They said no to my offer of £650.

Then I went back into the shop and brazened it.

‘Look, I know you’ve already said no, but my budget is only £650, can’t you take my offer?’
‘Well these bikes won’t be £650 love – you can afford them’
‘With the accessories they will be’
‘Look I told you already and your mate on the phone, ten per cent. Ten Per Cent’
‘Well I will go elsewhere then, sorry to bother you.’

I thought then at least they would take the deal but it was a no go.

Bugger, so it was a long hot walk to the other two bike shops but they had nothing.

We went home and Miniminx said

‘Do we have to get bikes today? They can wait can’t they?’

She was hot, tired and being incredibly sweet. I was hot, tired and incredibly peeved. I’m not a quitter. We had to get the bikes in the bag and I had a promise to keep.

Not one to take things personally, I decided it was best to triumph over adversity.
And of course, I did!

30 minutes later, while sitting in the sun in our lovely garden, laptop on, a few searches on google and Bing! I’d found the whole shebang on the internet for a mere £600. Yes, £120 saving!

A week later, we are now in possession of our beautiful bikes, but they needed to have the front wheels and brakes put together. Kind of easily done. But the web site suggested we get the bikes checked over for safety.

Duly I picked up Miniminx from school having kaleidoscoped my working day into a 7am to 330pm slog and a bit more to follow later.

It’s eyes on the prize time. We leave school. I realise that I have to carry both bikes over a railway bridge (no mean feat after a bout of gastric flu – a bad, bad look!) to get to the high road.

Ho hum and then lumme – some kind bloke picks up my bike and carries it across the bridge for me while I drag Miniminx’s up and down the stairs. Phew – sometimes it’s good to be a girl! Big thank you!

Okay, onwards and upwards and we head back to the high road.

We have one place in sight. Through the alley way by the tube, through the station, across the road, and we’re there.

We venture in to bicycle heaven (well one of the places that doesn’t answer the phone to customers and has no bikes deals but does a bike clinic)
‘Hello there. Please can you check our bikes over please’
‘Did you buy ‘em ‘ere?’
‘Umm, no, so I no we will have to pay to get them checked over.’
‘We’re busy’

I looked around the empty shop.
At least three staff looking the other way. No customers except us. Hmmm. Is this a recession? Is that tumbleweed?

‘Nah, can’t see anyone until July 2 – all them charity bike rides.’
‘Umm, just for 10 minutes to check the tyres and the brakes?’

Oh dear. What a pain.
Ok, on to the next shop.

We walk in, by the way, I’m wheeling the posh Pashley with flat tyres all along, Miniminx has brake problems, so this is starting to get urgent.

We arrive at the local bike and car shop. It’s pretty empty. We wheel our bikes in. It’s still hot, we’re still parched. We’re hopeful, happy, want to get cycling. I stand at the till.

Smiling to get attention, I’m shoved aside by a woman with a sponge. She takes my space so I stand back in case she treads on my feet (flips flops you know, it can hurt). A bike falls behind me.

‘Woah’ I say ‘What’s going on with this bike’
‘You pushed it over’ says sponge-for-a-bob-woman
‘I don’t think so’

I’m getting flustered so walk to the bike area and find someone who looks helpful.

Actually, he is running backwards away from some lovely old gent who looks like he wants a chat and advice about his bike. I do have to double take. It really is true. In fact, he really is backing off as if old age is akin to swine flu. I’m starting to wonder if this world of bike shops is some kind of parallel existence. Actually, this confirms it 100%.

‘Hiiiiii. Hello.’
‘Can I help you?’
‘We’d like to get our bikes checked over, is there a waiting list?’
‘Umm, sorry luv. Can’t do it.’
‘Really? You don’t look busy.’
‘It’s me boss’
‘Oh yeah?’
‘Says not to take any more work on’
‘Well I just been on ‘oliday and now I’ve got to do a stock check’
(this is where I start compiling a mental list of what I can do in an hour compared to the workforce of this shop)
‘So when can you look at the bikes?’
‘Dunno, he just says don’t take any more work on’
‘And this is a recession?’
Cue inane grin – I smile back, well not really, it’s more of a grimace.

We leave.
We stand outside, by now parched and even more peeved.

‘Listen babe, I’m sorry, I’ll just have to pump up the tyres here on my bike’ I bend down and notice the Brompton. And it’s owner….I look up expectantly – I think I might be in trouble.

‘Need some help?’
‘Wow, yes we do actually, we’ve been turned away by two bike shops and …’
‘Let’s have a look then’
‘We had a bit of a bad experience at the bike shop so I bought these online and I’ve just got the bikes out of the box and needed to get them checked over – no one will do it. Can you believe it’s a recession?’
‘Oh my, a Pashley, great bike, have you got a pump? And the brakes need doing?’
‘It would be great if you could help us’
‘Not a problem. A friend of mine has one of these…’

Then this guy has the nerve to go into the shop and borrow their tools to fix up my new bike -hilarious.

The irony is lost on the staff who happily hand the tools over.
A mere fifteen minutes later and we’re all ship shape and good friends and I have a road worthy bike – for free!

So you get the picture, people power takes over and I get my bike fixed and we make a new friend.

While these crazy people in the shops turn good customers and custom away, we are no longer consumers. We are friends in need. And people are friendly and in this case heroic.

So get this

Bikes in the shop that turned us away £750
Price online for same bikes £600
Bike servicing that no one could do £10-30
Friendly bike man and bike fixer £priceless

And what would you do?

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8 Comments to “Lessons in Nixdminx Economics: On yer bike lovelies, heroes await”

  1. Surprised says:

    I just bought a beautiful pashley sonnet bliss, but got 100 % off plus for working in city. I have a lurvely bike shop though.

    Happy peddling.

  2. Jennysnail says:

    The attitude of people like those in the bike shops makes me so glad I don’t live in London and I would never want to. People are much friendlier and helpful and have time for their customers if you live in the midlands.

  3. clareybabble says:

    I loved this post! My hubby used to work in a bike shop for years. In fact, 6 odd years later he’s still known as the bloke from the bike shop! He certainly wouldn’t have turned you away. Glad you got them sorted in the end x

  4. Angela says:

    Can you peddle down the Thames to visit, Minx? It’s only 20 miles or so (if the Thames path was any good) Glad you got fixed in the end.

  5. Oh my God, that is *such* a familiar story. Bike shops are notorious in the UK for only employing incredibly snooty people. In fact, I sometimes suspect there’s a box on the application form for “Do you have a personality disorder?” and the only hire people who tick it.

    Good for you finding the bikes online, though – inspired!
    .-= Who’s the Mummy´s last blog ..Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day… =-.

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