Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Buying from rally gypsies – a cautionary tale

I wanted a purpose-made pair of riding sunglasses, the wrap-around kind with the foam liner to block the wind on those cool, early morning rides. But since I wear prescription lenses, the off the shelf stuff at the local dealer just wouldn’t do the job. And no opticians in town carried what I was looking for.
So when I was in Daytona in February I was glad to see Biker’s RX there, offering just what I was looking for, and at what seemed to be a reasonable price. I found a brand-name frame I liked, selected a lens type, and had a pair made based on the prescription they read from my eyeglasses. A couple of hours later my new sunglasses were ready. Unfortunately we were running late, and I didn’t really have much of an opportunity to test them out beyond a quick, “Yup, they seem okay.”
But they weren’t. After wearing them for an hour or so it became clear that there was a problem with the power of one lens. And after I got home my actual optometrist’s prescription confirmed that the one lens was not to spec. A quick email to to Dr. Dan at Biker’s RX and he readily agreed to replace that one lens to match my prescription.
Great, I thought.
Then the real problems began.
The optician they use refused to ship just a replacement lens, and instead insisted I send the sunglasses back to him so he could do the work: “im the optician that made your glasses unfortunately i can not just send you lense Du to my safty conserns i must install all lenses in our frames we would be liable if you injured  a eye if the lense wasent installed properly” (Exactly as written – honest. The attention to detail in written communications should have been my first clue.)
Even promises to have the replacement installed by my own optician wouldn’t fly with this guy, so I sent them off, but not without some trepidation. Four weeks, numerous e-mails, and $20 in shipping and handling later I finally got the sunglasses back.
Great, I thought.
Except they were worse. Back to my optician who measured both lenses and found them both to be off my prescription (which Biker’s RX had on file by that time and which was supposed to be the basis for this pair). More emails, more assurances they would be repaired to my satisfaction, and more insistence on shipping the whole lot back across the border.
As the saying goes, in for a penny… So hoping for third time lucky they were mailed back again – another $20 shipping. That was 6 weeks ago. The penultimate email was dated May 17 from “Mertyl Beach” where they were set up for the rally, assuring me my sunglasses would be processed right away. And then later (May 29, from Rolling Thunder) confirmation that my glasses were shipped back to me May 21.
They arrived last week and are now finally correct – although I did have to pay another $60 in duties and taxes to spring them from the grip of the postal service, which I should be able to get back but at the cost of more letters and aggravation.
Now had the glasses been made correctly the first time, I’m sure I would have been very happy with them, and possibly even written a “great product” posting. However I have long believed that the value in any company is best measured by the quality of their after-sales service, and in this case Biker’s RX failed badly. While I never actually got any pushback about fixing the problem, the execution was totally unacceptable. Throwing a new lens in the mail to be installed by my own optician (to address “safty conserns”) would have solved this issue in a week. Instead I didn’t have the use of my sunglasses for 3 1/2 months, have had to chase the vendor from rally to rally across the US to get updates on progress, and am out of pocket more than $100 in extra shipping and customs costs – which means the glasses were not such a deal after all.
So would I recommend Biker’s RX? Based on their after-sales service, not a chance.

8 comments:

  1. i feel your frustration and will heed the warning, i will not use bikers rx. thanks for sharing your experience canajun, it should save others grief and expense. and maybe, hopefully, just maybe, the company will improve their lacking customer service?!?...

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  2. I have to 100% agree with you that the best measure of a company’s service is how they deal with after-sales. Don't ever get anything by Hewlett Packard and expect any reasonable service if it goes wrong! I am glad however that you finally got what you wanted, even if it took so long!

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  3. Canajun:

    at least you ended up with your glasses, eventually. Better than purchasing something and never receiving it, or sending it back never to return. Wasn't there an option for your local optician to make one lens for you.

    and Gary, right you are with Hewlett Packard. I purchased one of those wireless printers so I could print from my laptop (without wires). the software would not install so I gave up. then wen I got windows 7 a year later, I tried again and finally got it working.

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  4. Sorry you had such a bad experience, and I can only imagine your frustration. That company totally dropped the ball, and they should have eaten the shipping costs, in my opinion. Unfortunately, poor service seems to be the rule, not the exception, these days, although this is an extreme case. I wear prescription glasses, and have resigned myself to wearing goggles that will fit over my prescription eyeglasses. Not the best option, but working out okay for me.

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  5. Very sorry to hear of the poor service and the expense. Truly bad service is such a rarity now that it seems even worse when you encounter it.

    I wear prescription glasses (couldn't handle contacts)and finally lashed out on Brenner prescription sunnies. Cost an arm, leg and firstborn but the result is outstanding.

    Just to inject a note of levity, perhaps the optician's atrocious spelling is because he can't see the keyboard :-)

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  6. Sorry to read of your experience, but thanks for sharing. Customer service is so vital and high quality customer service seems hard to find so it is good to hear about both ends of the spectrum.

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  7. Dear Canajun:

    Caveat emptor deja vu? What a pan in the balls!

    I am very reluctant to make any kind of a critical purchase at a rally. Only because it can be very difficult to get satisfaction in the event of a problem. I ended up having to get a front tire replaced at a major rally, and it took my club a day to correct the damage the asshole vendor did to my front brake.

    It happens.

    And it should also be said that you can meet some great vendors at rallys too. Representatives from Helen Two Wheels, Rick Meyer seats, and Nolan Helmets have been very helpful to me.

    But I must say your email exchange with the eyeglass vendor was certainly suspect.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

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  8. To all who commented - thanks for stopping by and throwing in your 2 cents. I thought long and hard about naming the company involved, but ultimately decided that to not do so would be to do all of you a disservice and also would result in all other similar vendors being effectively tarred with the same brush.
    As I said, I never got any overt pushback, so I assume the intent was there to provide decent service, but the front line people clearly were not on the same page as the owner(s). Hopefully they'll get their act together soon.

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