“ Location: 397 St. John Street, City of London EC1V 4LD / City area: Islington / Tel: 020 7837 3370 „
Bobbin bicycles specialise in pretty bikes and bike accessories. Their tagline is "The most beautiful bike shop in Great Britain". They have a huge range of bikes from makes like Pashley, Metropole and Globe which are renowned for looking pretty. They also stock stylish (comparatively speaking) reflective clothing and helmets, wicker baskets, pannier bags, bells and any other bike accessory that you can think of, all designed to be stylish as well as functional.
When you want to go in and test ride a bike you have to book an appointment to ensure they have the bike ready for you.
I was going to buy my bike with the cycle to work government scheme whereby you make tax savings on your bike and spread the cost monthly through salary sacrifice. This required me to find the bike I wanted before ordering a voucher through my employer.
I booked a test ride of a medium Vintage. I then sprained my ankle and so wouldn't have been able to ride it anyway which is a good job as when I got to the shop they hadn't put it together to test ride it! With hindsight I should have paid attention to the alarm bells that started to go off in my head but as I couldn't ride it anyway and they had another bike of the same make already made up that I could check the frame size on I went ahead with ordering the voucher.
When the voucher came two weeks later I called the shop in advance and reserved my bike. They said they had one in stock. However when I went to pick it up it turned out they didn't. I was a bit annoyed about this, especially as they had my phone number but didn't call me to let me know but they had a solution. They assured me that the Metrapole was exactly the same except that it didn't come with a basket and that I could have that instead and buy a basket and they would give me a voucher for the difference. They had one in red all made up and said I could test ride that. I preferred the cream and they assured me that they had three of them out the back and if I was happy with the red one they could make it up for me and could collect it at the end of the day. When I got on the bike and put my foot on the pedal it came off as it hadn't been put on properly. Once this had been sorted I took it for a ride and was very happy so agreed to purchase it in cream. I handed over my voucher on the understanding that I would have the bike that day.
About half an hour after leaving the shop the I got a phone call saying that they were really busy and they asked if I minded waiting until the following Tuesday. I was a bit put out but didn't mind too much.
However, on the Tuesday I received another phone call. They didn't have the bike in stock and it was likely to be another month before they did and that wasn't guaranteed. I decided to cancel the order as I felt they had messed me around enough and they informed me I couldn't as they had already sent the voucher off. As you can probably imagine I was fuming as they had taken payment for a bike they couldn't supply. I had to get the company that issues the vouchers involved and they took a very dim view of the fact they had tried to cash it without supplying the bike. I didn't end up paying anything for it thankfully as they cancelled it their end.
I know of others who have had problems with this shop but I don't think that this is the time or place to go into them so stuck to my own experience.
I think the problem with this shop lies with the fact that they have got so caught up with being a shop that sells pretty bikes and accessories that they have forgotten that first and foremost they are still a bike shop! The people in there are no better at putting bikes together than the average person on the street and they don't seem to understand the basics of customer service. And taking money for products they don't have is indefensible.
If you want a pretty pannier bag or bell and can just go into the shop and pick it up they might be OK but even then most things can be found cheaper on Amazon and Wiggle.com so even then if you can wait a couple of days you will probably get a better deal.
I wouldn't recommend it at all!
*** Update 22.02.11 The company tracked me down from this review and offered an apology and an explanation. I feel that while it was nice of them it doesn't change my experience and it seems a bit late since this happened 7 months ago and this is the first I have heard from them! I think they would like me to change the review as they feel it could be damaging to their business but in my opinion it's not the review that is damaging it is the service they gave me! If companies are worried about their reputation it is up to them to give good service and protect it that way. ***
*** Update 28.02.11 I replied to the email and asked them a couple of questions but they haven't bothered to respond in over a week. I think this is because I wouldn't remove my review. It seems that they only wanted to make amends and explain things when there was something in it for them. ***