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So I left my road-bike (Specialized S-works) into a local bike shop (that deals in Specialized) to have its service, the only problem it was giving me was a little chain rub because of the front derailleur not being adjusted.

Well, I thought it a good idea just to leave it in for a complete service anyway just to be safe. A week later I get a call to tell me that the bike needed some new cabling, the chain needed to be cut (apparently it was too long - though it was brand new), brakes adjusted and a new tyre ... ok so during the phone call the mechanic quoted me £100 ($127) which was fair enough, but while we were on the phone I asked could he take a look at the cassette because I thought there was a little lateral play on it so he said he would, great! Later on that day I receive a call to say the bike was ready and that he had taken the cassette off and found that it was just a little wear and tear and that there was nothing much they could do except clean and tighten it but that ultimately it would still have a little play in it but according to him that was fine, in addition to this he said he had cleaned the one of the hubs and replaced the bearings in the other (on the wheels) - and just to add they were very friendly when I left the bike in, mentioning that they would have to take the bar tape off which was fine by me because I had new tape in the house lined up and ready when they heard me say this they said "sure man throw it over and we'll pop it on for you np..." - said in such a way that made me think they were going to do it for free, like a favour or freebie.

Anyway, when I actually arrived at the shop to collect the bike they hand me the bill and it came to £368 ($469). I was completely shocked and when I asked the guy (not the mechanic he was on lunch) to break down the costs (like how did we go from £100 at lunchtime with everything nearly done to £370 just for looking at the cassette?!?!??!) he was a little woolly but went over all the costs anyway, and they are as follows:

Replace bar tape = £15

Cycle safety check = £40

Replace Rear gear cable = £15

Stainless gear cable = £8

Labour = £40

Tyre = £25

Replace rear tyre = £10

Adjust front break = £10

Gear out = £4

Replace chain = £20 (why? Can't you 'cut' a new chain without needing to replace it?)

Replace rear bearings = £40

Bearing = £15

Freehub body kit = £40

Adjust rear brake = £10

Replace front gear cable = £15

Total: £307 + VAT (£61) = £368

Does this sound right to you? I'm not a bike expert and I do like to do as much of my own repairs as possible but some of this stuff seems really overcharged/priced for what it is so I would love to get some external opinions on it because I'm thinking of ringing them to discuss it.

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    Hard to answer this question without having seen your bike before and after the service. But based on your side of the story, it sounds like the shop didn't communicate well with you. – Paul H Sep 26 at 0:24
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    I think you got screwed out of about 100. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 27 at 1:33
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    This is ridiculous. He quoted you 100 pounds and you paid 300? Why not just pay the 100 pounds and walk away? Regardless of the value of the work, that was enormously disrespectful of him. – Neil G Sep 27 at 9:53
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    While the cost may be a little on the high side, then jump is unreasonable. A small jump wouldn't be IMO, but that would be something like 20% rather than 3x. As for the VAT, I'd expect a bike shop quote to include it, but there's no guarantee – Chris H Sep 27 at 16:58
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    Not uncommon for a fng who didn't do the work to be charging for things that the actual mechanic had intended to do for free. something I think maybe other ppl are too polite to say is that if you bring an S-works bike into a shop and sound like you don't really now that much about bikes, ppl are going to assume you don't care about the bill. – Hugh_Kelley Sep 28 at 0:47
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In general if I went into a small bike shop with a puncture I'd expect to pay the cost of the tube plus an item-specific labour charge (e..g, 'repair puncture £10', or 'adjust gears £15').

As your service gets more complicated then there would typically be an overall 'service' charge plus labour.

From what I can see, these charges are the parts:

  • Tyre £25 - this would not really cover a tyre of the grade I'd expect to find on an S-Works. I'd expect to pay £50-£60 retail in a shop. I'm curious what tyre they have fitted, and whether they recommended it, or you discussed the price, as with careful shopping online you could maybe find a top-class tyre for this price, but in a shop I don't think that would be possible

  • Bearing = £15 - on a £10k (?) bike it might be normal to replace bearings more frequently, but I'm slightly suspicious on this one as you might well find exotic ceramic bearings, which would cost more like £100. It would not be right for them to replace the fancy bearings on your £10k bike with cheap ones without asking you (even though, IMO the £15 bearings would work just as well, you did presumably pay for the super-expensive bike for a reason). Without knowing the hubs it's hard to comment, but given your complaint about play, it's completely normal to replace freehub bearings, albeit possibly you'd want a more expensive bearing.

  • Freehub body kit = £40 - I'd want to know the exact model before commenting on this, but expensive freehubs are often made of cheese, sorry aluminium, so this isn't obviously wrong, but without knowing the specs of your bike, it's hard to comment. Again, given your complaint about cassette play, it's a normal thing to replace the freehub body, especially at this price point. I'd expect the shop to keep the old body and show you any wear and tear to it when you pick up the bike

  • Gear cable £8 - not clear if this is the price for one cable or two, but a Shimano stainless gear cable is £8 (inc VAT) at retail but you have TWO labour charges

That is £105.60.

Then standard labour charges:

  • Cycle safety check = £40

  • Adjust front break = £10

  • Adjust rear brake = £10

  • Gear out = £4

So that is £76.80 for doing what might be called a 'brake and gear service'.

As you can see at Evans the charge would be £35 for this:

https://help.evanscycles.com/helpdesk/attachments/77006853131

Then:

  • Replace front gear cable = £15

  • Replace Rear gear cable = £15

These are slightly more expensive than Evans, which charges £15 inc VAT. I am not sure if that includes cable cost.

  • Replace rear tyre = £10

This is a normal charge for replacing a tyre. But definitely some shops would not charge you in the case when they are doing a bunch of work otherwise. But can't really complain about this.

  • Replace bar tape = £15

This charge doesn't seem reasonable. I would expect this to be free based on the conversation you had. Note that you have paid £30 for the cable fitting, which might be considered to include this, e.g., here

https://thecyclemechanic.co.uk/priceguide

where the charge is £25 to fit cables, tape and adjust gearing

  • Replace chain = £20 (why? Can't you 'cut' a new chain without needing to replace it?)

They needed to cut the chain (because you fitted it without shortening it?) and then re-join it. I don't think they have replaced it. You can inspect the chain model, but if it's Shimano then they might have used a pin, and if it's KMC it might be a link. A chain pin is very cheap (£2) and a link about £6.

This charge is pretty steep in the context however, especially when you add VAT.

  • Replace rear bearings = £40

This is VERY expensive. £48 when you have already paid a lot of other money seems super-steep.

I would note that in consumer transactions that

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/2705/schedule/made

"2.7. All price indications you give to private consumers, by whatever means, should include VAT."

I would say a REASONABLE labour charge would be:

= £90 (inclusive of VAT!)

This would come to a total bill of £195.60, so your charges seem grossly inflated. Please do feed back on the bike model & the tyre fitted.

Note that in my example above from 'Specialized concept store', they encourage you to do a lot of work on a regular basis, so for example 'FULL ROAD SERVICE' is £120 but that includes things that another shop might not bother with. For example in a bike shop that isn't good at creating bills, then if you went complaining about gears, they might just adjust them for a small charge on the spot. However another shop might ask you to leave the bike there, then contact you and try and upsell you the 'full road service'. So for example, if your bottom bracket and crank are not causing problems, then you might not remove them. But if you are sold a 'full road service', then that's going to be done whether you want it or not.

In your case, this work was not done, so this isn't completely relevant, but the point I'm trying to get across is that a lot of bike shops will try and upsell you to more expensive servicing, whereas you as the customer might just want 5 minutes of work, they want to try and sell you two hours. So in that case you could still run up a large bill easily in many shops.

There are other tricks of course, such as encouraging customers to upgrade to new versions of parts, when the old ones work just fine. This is not necessarily a BAD thing, in that if you are having a cassette replaced on your 9-speed bike then you might LIKE to spend a bit more money and upgrade it to a 10-speed or higher system.

However it's just to understand that in general many bike shops will try to sell you lots of new parts and service items and are skilled at creating large bills, so don't necessarily expect lower bills on your next service, especially when your expensive bike signals that you have lots of money.

In your case there does seem to have been a communication problem as well as what seem to be me to be excessive labour charges. Also just to say, from your initial £100 quote it seems that:

  • they should have contacted you saying they would like to change the freehub body & bearing, and that these would cost £66, is that ok. But maybe with your fancy bike they thought you wouldn't care.

Also, from the £100 initial quote (which should have included VAT) only these charges follow from your comment about cassette play:

  • £50 freehub body
  • £50 bearing replacement
  • £18 bearing

That's £118 (which is likely grossly expensive, but it is at least what they have itemised based on your request), which brings you to £220 or so, nowhere close to £368. The other items would have been included in the scope of your initial quote.

Ok, possibly you can maybe exclude the tyre from that £100 initial quote, as tyres aren't service items per se, but even so, you look to have been overcharged by at a minimum £100

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I think one thing is for sure, they did not communicate to you effectively. Regardless of whether the bike really needed all that stuff or not, they failed in this regard. At my shop, if a repair exceeded the estimated cost by even twenty or thirty dollars we would contact the customer and wait to do it, unless we happened to have a particularly close relationship with them. Our customers were mostly students and postdocs on fixed incomes, so it was imperative that we be sensitive to their budgets.

As for the line items, it seems strange that they charged you for a freehub body kit, but did not replace the freehub? At least, from your description you say they couldn't fix the lateral play in the cassette and told you it didn't matter (which is true). So did they replace the body or not?

Bearings: it's always nice to have fresh bearings, but they are not like brake pads that should be replaced at the first sign of being worn out. A cartridge bearing will develop play that will get worse over time – it takes time for it to become catastrophic. I would occasionally open up loose ball bearings and squirt some grease in, but I wouldn't ever press in new cartridge bearings without warning the customer. If nothing else, that conversation would be a chance to up-sell them on nicer bearings.

As for the chain, it actually is essentially the same amount of work to replace it as to shorten it, so it's not all that unusual to me to just charge the same price for either.

Not sure what "gear out" means, nor a "cycle safety check." We would check every bike first for safety, for free – that's the only way that we could assess what repairs, if any, were needed. The only thing we charged for was actually fixing problems.

There's a lot of typical bike shop invoice bloat there that doesn't look too wrong. But the point is that the bill was almost three times as much as the estimate and that's no good. There should have been one, if not multiple phone calls made. This is exactly why my policy was to never do a repair that was more than $100 without printing out a detailed itemized estimate for the customer and explaining where things could go wrong that would affect the final bill. It's always in the mechanic's best interest to be forthcoming about the bill.

If you want to have a conversation with them, I'd suggest not mentioning that you came to the internet for advice. I also wouldn't necessarily question the repairs that were or weren't done. Mechanics always get defensive – ego is our weakest trait. Rather, just be explicit that you are disappointed – not mad – that they didn't give you the opportunity to sign off on the repairs, and that you happily would have agreed to the charges anyways, if they'd just let you know ahead of time (even if this is a lie, it'll make the conversation easier). Obviously, this is if you're still interested in using their services in the future.

edit: why are there so many different labor charges? My instinct is to defend bike shops but I don't feel great about this shop.

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    Nice answer - As a customer, with so much work done, I would expect a itemised parts list and a total labour charge. While £15 is reasonable to replace a cable, its it includes picking the bike from the rack, wheeling it to the workshop, putting it in the stand, putting it back in the rack, filling in the paper work, ring it up on the till etc. This probably takes more time than the single repair. When you do that much work, at a minimum I would not expect labour to be itemised this way. – mattnz Sep 26 at 1:27
  • Another reason why it is important to be able to do some basic work on your bicycle, like tyre change, puncture repair and even chain replacement unless you live in a super fancy flat without any space to do this or the partner strongly vetoes. ;-) – Carel Sep 27 at 8:21
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The cost for the items and labor seem reasonable, the real question is how much of it was actually necessary. For sure they could have communicated the cost and necessity of the repairs better. But to play devil’s advocate here: Specialized S-Works are very expensive bikes, if somebody walks in with a bike which costs several thousand pounds and leaves it for a “complete service” it might not seem necessary to inform the customer about a hundred pounds more or less.

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  • I think that's my main issue - that a lot of it wasn't necessary, ex: the chain - the chain I had on it was brand new less then 20 miles on it so for the sake of removing a few links they've replaced it entirely? I just don't know but I'm not sure if I have an argument either though and as someone else mentioned mechanics can quickly become defensive. – fatehasfans Sep 26 at 12:15
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    £20 is less than the cost of the chain. It sounds like they have charged you for removing, cutting and refitting it – thelawnet Sep 26 at 16:26

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