A couple of weeks ago I experienced one of those bad karma days where it seems like the world has it in for you. Okay, the whole day wasn’t like that, just my bike commute into work. In a nutshell: got a flat, pump broke, walked the last mile to work. The pump in question is made by Planet Bike, who manufactures a variety of useful bicycle accessories. They are not only known for their contributions toward bicycle advocacy, but also for their customer service. It seemed to me that my pump should not have failed in the way it did, since I seldom used it. It is three years old, however, and I have no receipt, but I contacted Planet Bike to see what they could do for me. They replied very promptly, and offered to send me a replacement for the broken part of the pump.
Planet Bike placed my damaged three-year-old pump head, no problem. I had read several times that they stand by their products and their customers, and the same is true in my case. I did have to purchase a new pump to keep me going in the mean time. I stopped at Summit City Bicycles and Fitness in Fort Wayne, and Mason hooked me up. We also discussed my commuting route options, since he is very familiar with Fort Wayne streets. I was most concerned with avoiding roads popular with evening rush hour drivers. He clued me in to ways to bypass traffic, mostly along wider streets, behind shopping centers, and through an industrial park. I followed his route the next day and he was spot-on.
I did receive the replacement part last week, and I have to say my faith in mankind has been restored. Maybe my faith in Planet Bike has been restored, at least. The representative who replied to my complaint thought perhaps the pump lever had a manufacturing defect. He tried to make the same part on another pump fail the way mine did, and could not. Defects happen, in spite of efforts on the part of manufacturers to limit their occurrence. The more complex the machine, the higher probability of defective parts. It’s surprising there aren’t more automotive recalls than there are; then again, not all defects result in a recall. I had a similar experience with Nite Rider, who makes a variety of lighting systems for bikes. They replaced a bracket that broke apart after I hit a nasty pothole. I guess customer service isn’t dead, if you’re dealing with the right company. Smaller companies are more likely to want to please the customer, and local stores depend on repeat business for their livelihood, so they will (in most cases) bend over backward for you. Planet Bike and Nite Rider are two companies who have replaced a damaged product with no questions asked. I need to explore that option more often- if there is a legitimate premature failure, a good company will not risk bad press for the sake of enforcing a warranty. So, if any of the Five of You manufacture consumer goods, remember: if you have a good product and stand behind it, your customers will come back, and tell all five of the people who read their blog to buy your stuff.