Motorcycle Dealer RANT
May 2011

Those of you who feel the need to relentlessly push their "buy local" mantra for buying motorcycle parts and accessories can fuck off.  Really.  Fuck the fuckity-fuckin'-fuck off.  If anyone ever tells me that shit here in NYC I'm gonna end up picking their teeth out of the lovely 'roo leather of my Held motorcycle gloves.  Which, by the way, you currently can't find anywhere in NYC.

[Rod Serling]
Imagine for a moment, you walk into a grocery store and there are milk cartons on display.  You ask for a half gallon of skim and the man at the counter says "we don't stock any skim milk but we can order it and you should have it by the end of the week".
[/Rod Serling]

Last night I noticed there's a scrape on my Arai helmet's face shield that won't buff out and it's in an annoying place too.  So while I'm in Manhattan getting more steroid shots in my back and hip today I figure I'll stop by a familiar big-four dealer, Camrod Motorsports.  Big showroom, decent parts counter (as they go these days), fair selection of clothing, helmets and bling for a non-California joint.  No need to call first.  I mean, OF COURSE they're gonna stock face shields for one the most popular and well-known helmet lines, right?  In fact, not just one Arai helmet either.  The same shield fits TWENTY models of Arai helmets.

Eh, nope.  No Arai face shields at all.

Then again this is the same place that a few years ago tried to charge me over $20 for an $8 bottle of Honda red touch-up paint.  Which wasn't in stock either.  Caveat emptor...

So Mr. Helpful at the counter there says I should go up the street to Manhattan BMW.  "They're an authorized Arai dealer."  Again, why bother calling, it's just a half mile away anyhow.  Mea culpa...

I walk in and there are just two people on staff.  One is a motorcycle sales guy who is busy with a victim customer and the guy at the parts counter is actually borrowed from the adjoining Mini dealership, since apparently half the staff called in sick of work today.  Mr. Mini also has a customer and this one is a bit high maintenance. I wait patiently.

While I'm waiting I overhear the customer asking why the shop wants over $500 for something that is only $420 in BMW's own accessories catalog.  The response rolls from Mr. Mini's tongue like well practiced gospel...  "Store prices will always be higher than mail order."  Idiot customer sucks it right up.  Idiot customer doesn't at all consider the 20% mark-up OVER MSRP is because they're MANHATTAN FUCKING BMW and they can charge what they damn well please and if you don't like it go somewhere else.

Which is obviously an incredibly effective business plan for Manhattan BMW since in twenty minutes of prime-time business hours the only customers were me, one prospective motorcycle buyer and Mr. High Maintenance, who also sucked up all the scare tactics about not using any other shops to service his ultimate riding machine or whatever they call it.  Perfect BMW customer.  Fat wallet and absolutely naive.

Idiot customer ends up having to make a phone call to the Fatherland in the middle of all this because Mr. Mini couldn't answer some questions that a quick glance into the display case could have answered.  You'd think that while the customer is on the land-line Mr. Mini could check the fucking stock room to see if they had Arai face shields, but no such luck.  Guess he has to listen in and make sure the Fatherland doesn't screw the pooch on the dealer's MSRP mark-up scheme.

Meanwhile, the sales guy's mark customer leaves without buying anything but Mr. Sales doesn't think to ask me if I could use some help, even though I've been pacing the sales floor for fifteen minutes already.  Twenty minutes out I walk to Mr. Sales' desk, stare at him, look at the parts counter then my watch and say "twenty minutes" . Instead of apologizing he just gives me excuses.  Do I look like I give a fuck about personnel problems?  When he sees me winding up to rip his lazy butt a new asshole he finally figures out maybe he should ask what I need.  Which of course it turns out they don't have.


I step outside and let out a primal scream. It's NYC; nobody even notices.

After an hour of phone calls and escalating frustration I finally locate a face shield forty-five minutes away at Yamaha Suzuki Can-Am Victory of Mineola.  When I get done fishing through the rush-hour traffic they charge me a price that is $8 - 6.5% - higher than the price they quoted to me over the phone.  But the sheister salesman shows me another shield on the peg with a price tag that is even $3 higher than the price in his computer so he'll do me a big favor and just charge me the price the computer rang it up for.  And Nassau County gets its $5.26 take on top of that.  This is what I get for $8 of gasoline and all my time and effort, eh.

Fuck you, scumbags.  Right in your collective eye sockets.

If I go to a shop here there is a 99% likelihood that whatever I need will have to be ordered.  I'll get charged MSRP (or perhaps more) for the privilege of having the shop act as a mail drop, and will pay New York its ~9%.  Then my order will take a week to come in, at which point I have to travel back to the shop to pick up my order.  If I'm impatient I can get the order "expedited" and the part will arrive in three days.  Whoopee.  For this great service I will pay some exorbitant fee that is about twice the typical cost of an overnight package.  I will also have spent time and gas money getting to and from the shop twice.

If I stay home and order through my computer I spend very little time, zero gas money, no vehicle wear & tear, save 20% on the parts without even trying to bargain, have the option of whether or not to give NY its tithing, and maybe spend on shipping what I would have spent on gas. And if I need the stuff in a hurry, expediting handling would have it on my doorstep the next morning instead of three days from now.

At least part of the problem, from what I have learned about the business indirectly, is that Parts Unlimited and their ilk are like the De Beers of motorcycle parts. Organized crime families controlling the markets for their respective commodities, be they motorcycle parts or diamonds.  But imagine if a shop would promise the parts for a customer, even at MSRP, but get them in a timely fashion from the online businesses they are competing with.  The shop still gets the 20% difference and the customer walks away relatively happy. If shops can stock so little stuff that they are little more than an order counter, they're going to have to do a better job executing those orders.  Screw the parts suppliers and their mob tactics.

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