Planet Bike Does Right

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.

Planet Bike from Planet Bike on Vimeo.

Vermont is for …Tornadoes?

Things are getting ugly in the skies over Northeastern Indiana..

Although Indiana did not experience the severity of weather Oklahoma did this week, there were times we thought something was going to hit us hard. I remember my earliest experiences of tornado warnings in the suburbs of Chicago.  Whenever there was a thunderstorm and a greenish tint to the sky, I would hear the tornado sirens going off. The tell-tale sign of an imminent tornado, I thought, was a green-colored sky.

The skies got a little green over Fort Wayne yesterday. What did I do? I ran out into the open to look for a tornado, of course! Thunderstorms always fascinate me, in spite of their inherent danger. I rode my bicycle to work Monday and Tuesday, missing the rain Monday, and getting hammered for seven miles on the way home Tuesday. I opted out yesterday and today, as forecasters warned of continuing severe storms in the area (and they weren’t kidding!). I have ridden in heavy rain with thunder and lightning, and I have since declined to pedal my ass around under those conditions. I’ll pedal to work for the sake of the environment, but not at the expense of my life. Besides, I drowned my iPod during that ride. That was traumatic enough.

The worst of the storms are now making their way up the East Coast, with the possibility of tornadoes in Vermont, of all places. Vermont? This has to be a result of climate change! It never tornados in Vermont! Is the climate changing? I think so. Do humans have something to do with it? There are many of us,  and much of what we have produced on this earth would not have happened naturally. How can we not have some impact? It could be a combination of natural climate change (like the Ice age, or meteors striking the planet, or a combination of both), and all the pollutants we spew. I hope that my bicycle commuting efforts, however small they may be on a planetary scale, influence others to do the same. Support the environment and all that is maple and syrupy-  let’s do our part to save Vermont from tornadoes.