Thursday, December 28, 2006

PSA Re: Bharati Cycle Co. 118 Broadway, Chennai -108

I'm sure this is an issue with all the bike sellers (indeed any business and any product) in Chennai... India... and the rest of the developing world. Products are shabby, customer service is minimal and good business practices non-existent. Bharati Cycle proved no different.

A week before Christmas, we purchased three new bikes from Bharati Bicycle (the fourth from a different vendor), and held them in the car port until Christmas Day. The kids knew about the bikes, they were there for the purchase because I didn't know sizes, but no amount of begging let them ride them a day before. Finally Monday, they zipped around. Tuesday, they zipped around. Wednesday, they tried to zip around when Jonathon's chain snapped. Literally snapped in half and fell like a snake to the ground.
Bikes here don't have coaster breaks, hand brakes or nothing. The hand brakes are made of plastic and after two days of use, the plastic cracked. I taped them as best I could, a few more days untended and they would snap clear off.
Nicholas's training wheels won't stay on. His bike is a little big for him and he doesn't know the two-wheel method yet, so the trainers stay on for now. But they kept flipping, the metal had bent out of shape. Ian replaced them with the trainers off Rebecca's bike since she doesn't need them, but they don't quite reach the ground. He's going to be pressed into learning how to ride sooner than he wants to, I fear.
This is all after three days of use. Three! Today I sent our driver back to the shop with the two boys' bikes. He wanted to take them to a nearby fix-it shop but I had him take them to the original shop. I want -them- to know that -I- know that they sell shoddy products. Not much later I received a call from the driver. The chain would be replaced but there was "no guarantee" on the plastic bits, it didn't matter to them that the items had broken after a few days. No guarantee. No guarantee!? I don't care that there's no guarantee, any shop should be embarrassed to sell any product that can't handle normal usage for a few days, a few weeks, even a few months. Bicycles are meant to be used for years afterall.
The driver returned. New chain - check. Repositioned training wheel bracket - check. New hand brakes? Double check. I don't know what the driver threatened them with (as he said on the phone "I told them my madame was very angry") but they changed them. I won't bring the bikes back for further repairs, I don't think. The shop is a ways from here and our driver is a mechanic, so I know he can replace chains, tighten screws, even replace the plastic hand brakes with metal ones. But I feel better that the bike shop had a bit of a rough day because of us.
Bharati Cycle Co.
118 Broadway, Chennai 600 108
Phone 25389705, 25392347
Do us a favor. Don't patronize them.

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