September 9, 2011

Parlee Cycles - The best customer service you'll ever receive

A couple of years ago I wrote here about the excellent pre-sales service I’d received from Parlee Cycles, before ordering a bespoke Z2.

This year I’ve experienced a couple of ‘niggles’ with my beloved bicycle, which have required help from Parlee themselves to sort out. One can always moan and whine about problems, but I find the mark of a company is how it deals with issues - I can stay perfectly calm when things are going wrong, as long as the party at fault deals with the issue well.

Earlier in the year I was experiencing some poor gear shifting on my bike. As a capable spanner man I’d built the machine myself, and subsequently managed to keep the gear shifting perfectly smooth. I struggled to get it working right this time, but had to get on it and go anyway as I was late for a group ride.

Once the ride was finished, I asked the organisers of the trip (we were in Majorca, on a training camp) if they had a bit of oil I could borrow. “What’s the problem?” asks Mark. “Gear shift, awful, can’t get it to play ball at all”. “Want us to take a look over night?”. “Sure”, says me, “that’d be fantastic”.

Next morning, Mark finds me at breakfast.

“You want the bad news or the good news first?”

“Go on then, give me the good news”

“Nowt wrong with your gears”

“Oh, really? What’s the bad news then?”

“Your frame is coming unglued”.

It turned out the seat stays were indeed pulling out of the Ti dropouts.

I emailed Parlee and Bespoke, the UK distributor. This was a Sunday afternoon. Barry from Bespoke replied within 10 minutes. Tom Rodi from Parlee responded by early evening.

Tom was, as ever, calm and helpful in his reply. He accepted that this was a very rare occurrence, but occur it could. He accepted full responsibility and said the issue would be dealt with under warranty at no cost to me.

The Z2 went back to the US on my return, was duly repaired, and even came back with fresh lacquer on the chainstay where an off had scratched it. Superb service - I was pleased with the way the issue was handled.

Fast forward six months, and I’m preparing the bike for another sojourn. The front mech hanger is a band of carbon, and can be prone to gentle stretching over time - which causes the mech to drift down towards the chainrings. This had been happening increasingly, and it was getting difficult to get the mech to stay in place.

I was busy trying to get it fixed and aligned, which meant doing up the bolt and undoing again to move the band alignment. A task I repeated three times, only for the hellish scenario of the bolt head shearing off on the third attempt.

After swearing, quite a bit, I vented a little frustration to twitter. Within a couple of hours Parlee (Tom Rodi, again) had sent me a message asking for an email first thing on the following Monday with the story of what had happened.

Monday came around, on my holiday with another bike. I mailed Tom, explaining what had occurred, and asked if he had any advice for removing the sheared bolt from my Super Record mech.

Tom replied, almost immediately, and [I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting this] opened his mail with “Aww man, that sucks”. He then went on to say the supplied bolt should handle more torque than I was applying, and offered to send me a new mech hanger band and a new mech!

Two weeks later and a parcel arrives from Parlee - one new hanger, and one brand new Campagnolo Super Record mech.

Shit happens in life, that’s a fact we can’t change. But the way things are dealt with is important. I don’t begrudge Parlee for the problems I’ve experienced - in fact, my brand loyalty is stronger than ever. Tom Rodi is one of the nicest and most helpful people I know.

If you’re considering buying a bespoke, carbon, bicycle frame then I can still give no higher praise to Parlee Cycles - for pre sales, and post sales service.