Tales from Rental Hell- Mechanical Mayhem

Being the Chief Mechanic, I get all the repair problems. Everything from a bent chaingaurd to a bent frame and everything in between.

Chaingaurds aren’t foot rests or steps. Several times a day I deal with “my bike is making funny sound” and the only problem is a bent chaingaurd. Seriously, I have bent one out, then watched the customer put his/her foot on it to mount the bike, rebending back out of wack, then complaining again. One person even complained there wasn’t one on the right side. No explaining ever really works, as customers are always right, even if they are wrong.
Many times the people I work with are clueless. They pull a bike out of service for a missing grip, but pull a repair tag off of a mountain bike that lacks any working brakes to rent it out. I had one keep a tandem in service when that timing chain kept dropping.
Brakes are always a problem. Some people can’t operate coaster brakes. Several times a week I have to explain to people how to use them. Most just drag their feet on the ground, which isn’t always pretty when someone wears sandals or crocs. A few don’t put pressure on the pedal, which is needed for the mechanism to work.
Then there are the people who bring me their own bikes with brake problems. Most of the time it is the front brake not hitting square because the wheel was removed and not remounted properly. A few people get mad when the repair is 10 seconds and they feel I made them look foolish. I say, and the other mechanics on veloreviews.com will echo this, if you can remove it, you should be able to put it back properly.
Let’s not forget the cheap people that bring me old, cheap, steel frame bikes that have sat by the ocean for 12 years. I won’t fix them without inspecting the welds at the chain stays and bottom bracket. One man got irate and almost violent as I wouldn’t replace a tube in his “vintage” Solar bike because the frame was almost broken in half. The bike was too dangerous to ride, but he thought I was trying to sell him a new bike. I refused to do the repair, so the manager did it himself. The customer got on the bike, and it finally broke into two pieces 20 feet away from when he started to pedal. I walked off for a nature break as he and the manager went at it.
I have a new problem that is a bit annoying at the least. I have to deal with an irate full-service retail bike shop owner that refused to hire me, but now is irritated that I fix bikes for non-renters at a cheaper labor rate and quicker then he, and sometimes better then him, as I have fixed his screw-ups on two occasions. He even took out a radio ad stating: “the mechanic at the rental shop isn’t as well-trained and the staff at (name of his shop)”.
He doesn’t give the name of my shop, but yet another rival shop pointed it out to me that he was going after me. Like I care how poorly someone else runs a shop. Do it right, or don’t do it all, there is no try. Twice this season I had to perform what would be called a warranty adjustment on new bikes. One service manager from Atlanta, not Josh, called my manager and complained. Since there was really nothing wrong with the bike, a Trek 7.5 FX, my boss didn’t care that I adjusted the rear dérailleur barrel adjuster a half turn counter clockwise.
That’s part of my life as a rental shop mechanic. I don’t ask for anyone’s sympathy.
Keep the rubber side down