Even though I really knew better than to buy a bike from Halfords, I’m ashamed to admit that I was taken in by their Cycle to Work Scheme offer with my previous company. Sadly, although it turned out to be cheap(ish) it has not been a particularly cheerful experience.
I am now on my third bike, having rejected the previous two under warranty and I was cycling along the other day when the chain-guard fractured and caught itself in the rear wheel. Thankfully I was on a quiet road, so I was able to dust myself down and carry on without too much damage.
To be fair, this failure is not Halfords’ fault per se but the way in which they have dealt with it is worth documenting here. I took the bike, and the remains of the chain-guard in to the store and asked if they would order me a replacement under warranty, which they said was not a problem. However, they called me up this week to tell me that apparently it was “not a chain-guard” but a “bit of packaging which I should have removed before I rode the bike.” I’m sure that this guy must have seen himself in a mirror at some point, and I’m amazed that when I had popped in to the store that he thought that I looked as stupid as him. I sadly neglected to point out that if it was a bit of packaging then they were still at fault for not removing it when they prepared the bike for me to pick up, but that’s by the by. For the record, the chain-guard on my bike is clearly shown here – a point which I had to make when I went to the store this morning. It took me a while because they weren’t exactly organised in the way they dealt with their customers, and they have already thrown away the part I gave them, but I am still hopeful that they will be able to source me a replacement. Clearly I am one of these “the glass is half-full” people.
The excuse about it being “a bit of packaging” is one of the more interesting ones I have heard during my dealings with Halfords. It’s right up there with “lots of people choose a small frame these days because it’s lighter and faster*” when I pointed out that a bike they were trying to sell me didn’t come in a frame size big enough for me, and “7-gears is a lot for a folding bike, and you shouldn’t really expect to use all of them” when my first bike kept dropping out of top gear.
Surprisingly, despite this ability to spin me all sorts of rubbish, there have been times when things have been really shoddy and they have not attempted to make an excuse at all. The free six-week service is a good example here. Although this is meant to cover gear and brake adjustment and a tyre check I have had bikes returned to me with frayed brake cables and soft tyres. I’d have been better taking my bike to Marwell Zoo…
*If this was really the case we’d all be speeding around on small BMXs looking like clowns.