Friday, April 11, 2008
Message In A Bottle
Message In A Bottle is the name of a song written by one of my all-time musical heroes, the late Walter Hyatt. That phrase also sums up my experience trying to get parts for my bike projects. I don't live on a faraway atoll but I do live on an island in the Strait of Georgia off the coast of British Columbia. While I firmly believe in supporting one's LBS, unfortunately I don't have one. Most everyone around here rides a mountain bike which means that the nearest full-service roadie-friendly shop is over 100km away (plus a ferry ride). So I mostly rely on the internet. And since Canada Post is slow, inefficient (parcels get "lost in transit") and ludicrously expensive, I mostly do business with American companies. Which brings us to the question du jour: Why do so many web businesses refuse to answer emails? I mean why even put contact info on your site if you are going to ignore customers who try to contact you? I understand about spam and spam filters. So while it's tempting and somewhat amusing to compose bike-related spam (What is the length and diameter of your Viagra model seatpost?) I always word the subject header very carefully to avoid sounding like a bot. But I am constantly amazed at how few companies actually reply to a legitimate email asking a legitimate question about a product. Recent offenders include Rivendell, Paul's Components, Velo-Orange, Soma Fabrications and Camelback. Four out of five of these are relatively small companies so you'd think that to them, every potential customer would matter. But no. Now, not wanting to end this post on a grumpy note, here are a couple of web-based outfits that have returned my emails consistently and in a timely manner: Harris Cyclery and IRO Cycles. Guess who gets most of my business?