An Open e-mail to Halfords head office

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
An Open e-mail to H******s head office

Mister Pished off of Durham
Hi,
My stepdaughter has recently (10 Aug '07) bought 2 mountain bikes from your xxxxxx xxxxx branch as she has moved to xxxxxxxx with her boyfriend. However, she has had major problems with the bike she got for herself.

Initially the brakes started "screaming", this on return to the shop, was found out to be because the wheels had not been mounted properly.

The next problem was when she was (luckily) on a quiet road, the rear break cable snapped, which I think you'll agree that if it was a busy road could have been a potentially fatal situation.

Next problem was, rear brake locked on and the cable started to pull out of the caliper, this is now happening to the front as well. These descriptions might be a bit vague as they are being done over a distance of around 300 miles via telephone as I live in Durham.

Now, I ride bikes and I know that when you buy a new bike the cables will stretch to their optimum length so I'm not bothered about the gear indexing going out slightly, but for a cable to snap, I think you have to agree something isn't quite right.

I have just been told that if my stepdaughter takes it back again she will have to pay for the repairs required.

Now I think that if I bought a DVD player I would expect it to play DVD's, at least for 12 months, not 3 1/2 weeks, that would be something that had been sold as "fit for purpose".

The stepdaughters Apollo mountain bike (I think it's a FS.26 or something like that, having not seen it) is obviously not fit for purpose, even going down the road and no, she doesn't do off roading.

For the manager of a store to say you need to pay for repairs on a bike under 1 month old is, I think, frankly disgusting, what happened to the 12 month guarantee ?

She has now been told by the deputy manager (Tom, I think) to take it in today (Monday) or Wednesday, This is a start, but I am expecting if these or any other problems persist that the bike will be replaced for one that is actually "fit for purpose". Trading Standards have been contacted, but no names mentioned as yet, I'm hoping this can be done amicably.
Thank God for LBS's
 
OP
Elmer Fudd

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
I hope that this letter has been sent to Head Office. I've seen them respond pretty well to such problems in the past.
Yeah it has MrP. Lets just say if I ever move back to Redditch, I don't think I'll be on their 'headhunt' list !! :ohmy:.
Oh, they got the bikes off their own backs, wish I'd have known as I could have gave a bit of my (minimalist) knowledge before they went shopping, but I honestly don't know what the LBS situation is in (washes mouth out as I type this!) Wales.

(B.T.W. she is 21 in Dec, and slightly autistic, but a lovely girl)
 

alecstilleyedye

nothing in moderation
Moderator
There's your problem. You get what you pay for.

Halfords do some decent bikes. They also do these 'disposables' -basically what I heard a Halfords employee describing them as to a customer, his reasoning being that an annual service costs more than the bike is worth. Equally, there are many LBSs that sell cack bikes alongside the decent ones. They know that most parents don't want to pay for kids' bikes. And it's difficult, because no-one wants to spend money on something that is going to get bashed around and left out in all weathers.

It's just unfortunate that Halfords seem to live up to their reputation of not having the required standard of technician across the board, and it doesn't help at all. For example, there were some issues a while ago with hub gears on Subway 8s failing. It appears that there was nothing wrong with the gears, but that the changer cable had been set too tight at the factory and this was not being picked up during the PDI checks in the stores.

I hope that this letter has been sent to Head Office. I've seen them respond pretty well to such problems in the past.
funny isn't it? my carrera virtuoso had little other than the usual teething problems (indexing etc), wheras daughter's apollo fs24 had badly routed brake cables (front brake engaged when bars turned to right), a front mech grip shift that can't be used by a child of the right size for the bike, and a tyre the wrong way round.

all from the same branch. my lbs has had more money from me out of the carrera than halfords since.
 

Bigtallfatbloke

New Member
I dont think it's acase of you get what you pay for. It was a childs bike sold for riding by a child. That implies safty imho...it may not be the best bike in the world but it HAS to be safe otherwise it is not fit for purpose. Halfords should replace the bike with a safe one immediatly.
 

Pete

Guest
A colleague of mine bought a children's bike for her daughter, aged 7. Knowing of my 'reputation' :ohmy::blush::biggrin:, she brought it into the office and asked me to 'have a look' before she took it home.

Both brakes were inoperative.

I discussed with her whether she should take it back, but we concluded 'what's the use?'. I adjusted the brakes as best I could, so that they offered some sort of braking power, good enough for a child I decided. Perhaps I'm guilty of letting H***ords get away with selling a potentially dangerous product. If another parent bought a similar bike for their child, in a similar condition, and the child was killed or injured, would I have this on my conscience? I just hope that it was a one-off and nothing like that happened.

Personally, I'd say H***ords are OK for consumables like tubes, I often go there for convenience. I wouldn't have one or their bikes, but perhaps if they are bought cheap enough, and the purchaser knows a competent mechanic to make it really roadworthy (not that I'm describing myself as all that 'competent' a mechanic, mind, but I do know the basics...), perhaps you could end up with a serviceable machine at a reasonable cost. They are, after all, cheap.
 

barq

Senior Member
Location
Birmingham, UK
Oh that's not good. :ohmy: I hope you at least get the bike sorted for free and a sincere apology.

The cable actually snapping is amazing. I've heard of the moulded ends pulling off, but snapping isn't good at all. If you ever get a chance to look at the cable yourself, I'd be fascinated to know more about how it failed or see a photo.

Anyway, most important thing is your step-daughter wasn't hurt. Good luck getting things resolved.
 

stevenb

New Member
Location
South Beds.
Thats very scary really. I would not give my bike to a Halfords bike mechanic. I have seen too many horror stories.
Even Evans failed to setup my gears and brakes correctly when I had my Bianchi Racer....I soon sorted that.
LBS's are great for their expertise. My LBS has had my custom since I was first into cycling....about 1990.

Lets hope that Halfords get that bike sorted with new parts or a replacement bike!
 
OP
Elmer Fudd

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
I'm working on the principle, as I have to as I haven't seen the bike, that the rear outer casing had been cut to length but one of the end cuts (probably both!) had not been cleaned up / rounded out / smoothed as it should have been.

Nic, although 21 has a mental age of 16 which is fast catching up now with her real age, but you can imagine the grief her mom has been through (and given me !!) when her daughter is 300 miles away (that's just a guess by the way, but it aint round the corner !) and could possibly been involved in a serious RTA.

Had an automated response from Halfords re e-mail, I'll update as I know more.
 
I've never bought a bike from Halfords, but when I had a child seat "fitted" in a car I found, after a long conversation: 1. the mechs on the car side were all nominally 'self employed' 2. they had little or no training in fitting child seats 3. they couldn't even service a car properly (another story) 4. if you expect them to know or care about bikes, out of the mainstream of their car focus, you are mistaken.
 
I'm just bringing a long-running complaint to a conclusion. I won't mention store concerned as it is not yet over with, and even posting on a forum can prejudice cases if they are identifiable...

Been in touch with Office of Fair Trading about it, and any item sold has to be fit for purpose. A bicycle with brakes that do not work is surely unfit for purpose even if it is a child's bike, and although I don't know for certain there must be legal standards??

There's a useful website run by the OFT and also a helpline, Consumer Direct (a sort of centralised Trading Standards). I'd try them, they were very helpful. It did actually come in my case to considering the Small Claims Court, investigating this it was not too costly even for me, and the serious threat of using it alone brought results from my adversary- a very large company.

All the above is offered in good faith, I am sure Patrick will correct any errors :ohmy:.
 

barq

Senior Member
Location
Birmingham, UK
alecstilleyedye said:
funny isn't it? my carrera virtuoso had little other than the usual teething problems (indexing etc), wheras daughter's apollo fs24 had badly routed brake cables (front brake engaged when bars turned to right), a front mech grip shift that can't be used by a child of the right size for the bike, and a tyre the wrong way round.
Yep, it's odd the way these things work out. And a real pity because, as you and a few other people have rightly pointed out, many of the Carreras aren't bad and offer good value.

I guess what happens with these chains (and my experience comes from the Dixons group in the late 90s) is many staff aren't well trained or motivated. As long as the company muddles by and makes money, people at the top don't want to invest in staff. Likewise many staff just want a shop job and have no real interest in what they are selling. There are genuinely good staff who tend to be the enthusiasts, but you never know what you are going to get when you walk through the door.

Where the comparison with Dixons breaks down is that some of the bikes we are talking about are dangerous. I think it says a lot about the regard that cycling is held that safety critical things are treated casually "because its just a bike".
 

yenrod

Guest
Someone I knew once took these to court as the bike he bought form them kept going wrong - he ended up with a new bike after going to court (which they never turned upto)...
 
OP
Elmer Fudd

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
I will just add that I do use H******s quite a bit as a car consumer of bits n bobs, but tend to buy the said bits n bobs off the shop on local industrial estate as far cheaper. The staff (to me) always seem to be as helpful as they can and if they don't know, they go and find "old Fred" who's been there since before my Granny learned to suck eggs. But the bike dept. leaves a lot to be desired.
Head Office is in Redditch, they have a superstore in Redditch, they sell bikes and accessories in the Reddditch superstore, so, when you go there on your bike you have to lock your bike to the fence as there are no security points. Come on Halfords, stop scratching your arse with your left hand and picking your nose with your right, if you was doing it properly I wouldn't be nipping up to Bobs' in Headless Cross where I'm allowed to stick me bike inside the door when I need a new tube.
 
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