I would like to present a tale of two retailers Ribble Cycles and Condor Cycles, a patient man (me), Swiss customs and human falability.
We start at the tail of 2007 when my old (circa 1998) Condor Bicycle was really in need of replacement. The choice for a groupset was ever Shimano Dura Ace or Campagnolo.
I felt that Shimano might release something new, so when the current Dura Ace 7900 was announced in summer 2008 I was ecstatic. Trouble was nobody was actually selling it! At the time, and still the lowest price distributor was likely to be Ribble, the company whom I've used twice before. Whilst their (lack of) service is legendary their prices are keen, and they dispatched the last bike to Switzerland without issue. So I figured Ribble would be my supplier.
Conscientiously then, I used the excellent Ribble Configurator (IE only not firefox) to see if Dura-Ace 7900 was available and in spring 2009 they had it. I built my bicycle and was all ready to press the order key when I checked some details (on the phone) with Ribble. Now here is their surprise to me ...
- We do not ship to Switzerland and have never shipped there
- We will answer your phone call(s) but make all efforts to end the call as soon as possible
- We can supply you the bits for you to self assemble (to Switzerland) but we will try our best to be as vague and unhelpful as possible.
Here then is what happened:
July 2009: Wrote and then spoke to Condor detailing specificatios
August 2009: Flew to london to meet Condor, and was measured for a custom Leggero Cycle. I place a deposit.
14 Oct 2009: Condor Leggero is built and ready.
19 Oct 2009: Posted to Switzerland
23 Oct 2009: Cycle arrives with Wrong Wheels and a Seatpost that can't accomodate my chosen Carbon Seat. Well, after such a wait I am deeply disappointed, and that is an understatement!
24 Oct 2009: Incorrect wheels and seatpost sent back to Condor
11 Nov 2009: My Seatpost compatibility analysis sent to Condor and I await reply
30 Nov 2009: Still no firm replies from Condor so I ordered a 3T Ltd carbon post from Wiggle.
Dec 2009: Replacement wheels held by Swiss customs for 2 weeks whilst I organise paperwork proofs so that Import duty is not paid again.
09 Dec Wheels arrive, assembled with seatpost
10 December 2009: Finally I have a working bike!
So what have I learnt? Well Good things do finally come to those who wait. But the wait was too long. Since I use my bicycle almost daily and certainly ride at least 5 hours and upto 200Km per week, on the grounds of utility and sheer cycling pleasure the replacement should have been made at least a year ago. I also learnt that even the significant premium paid to Condor to build me my perfect bike can be subject to human error.
But well, let me try to look forward positively, my first ride this Thursday afternoon was just fantabulous and I trust I will get good service from this bike for years to come.