Ah the joys of online commerce. I know mistakes happen, but maaaan! Like last night I got home to find my order from nashbar.com had arrived — the one I wrote about a couple days ago that was a compromise to me spending a load of green on a new bike I don’t need.

So I’m looking at the box and right away I realize it’s just entirely too small to be holding a Rock Shox fork… unless for some odd reason the fork comes unassembled, which it damn well better not. So I open it up thinking well maybe it’s a backorder issue, but inside I find that’s not at all the case.

Inside along with the headset and the tools I ordered to install the fork I find… this set of Panaracer Dart Classic folding front mountain bike tires:

Getting past my initial WTF, I quickly come to understand there are two main elements that contributed to this major failure of Warehouse 101. The first one is that if you look at the white label on the packaging you’ll see that it indeed reads “Rock Shox Dart 2 MTB Fork.” The second is whoever the idiot was who filled my order, identified only as “Packer No. 81” on my invoice. You know you’re a candidate for Unemployee Of The Month when you work in a major bicycle retailer’s warehouse and cannot recognize the fundamental difference between a tire and a fork.

If there’s a defense for this meatbag, it’s two-fold: the fork and tires share the same model name: Dart, and the tires were mislabeled as forks. But it’s a weak argument at best, especially when you go to No. 81’s mental transcripts that I’ve obtained via subpoena:

“Lessee. Last item on the list on this ordur here sez ‘Rock Shox Dart 2 Mountain Bike Fork,’ but this thang I’m holding shur don’t look like no fork. Don’t smell like no fork neither. Fact is it smells like a tire. Just to be shur lemme check the ordur against the label. Hmmm. Ordur sez Item numbur is RS-Dart 2. Labul on the item says RS-Dart 2. We have a match! Descripshun on the ordur sez Rock Shox Dart 2 MTB Fork. Descripshun on the labul says Rock Shox Dart 2 MTB Fork. Anuthur match! Well dang. It still don’t look like no fork. But who am I to argyoo!? Let’s pack the tires up with the othur items strangely involved in the installashun of a fork and get on to the next ordur!”

So in the end I call up Nashbar’s 24-7 customer service and a rep matter of factly advises me that a return pre-paid label will be sent out for me to ship back the tires, but that the best they could do in getting the forks that I wanted to be able to install and test out this weekend (and would have had if anyone with some semblance of an IQ had fulfilled my order!) would be next Tuesday.

“There’s no way to get them to me Saturday?”

“No sir.”

Gah!

So I’m thinking the best I can do in returning the tires would be March. Maybe never.

UPDATE (08:05 a.m.): You know I wrote them a letter (after the jump).

Dear Nashbar,

I love you. I really do. I spend far too much money on your stuff, and too often. I rarely look at any of the other online bike stores anymore — and only if I can’t first find what I need with you.

My most recent order (Confirmation No. 2746186) — placed Tuesday consisted of a Rock Shox Dart 2 MTB fork, a star nut, a star nut installer and a threadless headset.

In the box that arrived yesterday evening right on time I found the star nut, the star nut installer, the threadless headset, but no fork. In the fork’s place was a pair of Panaracer Dart Classic folding front tires.

“Did I order these by mistake?” I asked, checking the invoice. No.

“Is the fork on backorder?” I asked, checking the invoice again. No.

“Then what the hell happened?” I asked. And looking at the tires packaging, the answer became clear to me and will to you when you examine the attached photo of the tires.

First off, a label indicating a Rock Shox Dart 2 MTB fork is attached to the tires packaging. DOH!

Second, whoever it was that filled the order in the warehouse — my invoice indicates “Packer 81” obviously needs to reread the textbook section that explains the VAST difference between a SET OF TIRES and a FORK. Because even though the tires are mislabeled as forks there’s little in the way of excuse for not realizing a mistake has been made.

But instead the mistake made it all the way to my front door. Now instead of getting my fork in time to install it and go for a ride this weekend as I’d planned, I was told by the customer service rep I contacted last night that there’ll be no riding this weekend for me as I’ll have to wait until TUESDAY for the forks to arrive. Since the rep wouldn’t even send them out overnight to arrive Monday I knew my weak plea for Saturday delivery was wasted on a company not reeeeeeally interested in solving their foul-up by eating the extra shipping cost so that the item could be in the hands of a loyal and loving customer in time to use that weekend.

I don’t know how disappointed you’d be if someone’s boneheadedness all the way across the country prevented you from doing something you enjoy, but when the company won’t even go that extra available step to resolve the situation to the customer’s satisfaction? That’s just insult to injury.

The rep also made sure to tell me that in the meantime she’ll be sending out return label with which to send back the tires. I bet I find that in my mailbox Saturday. And you can bet I’ll be sure to jump on that and get those on their way back to you. Maybe on Tuesday. Or maybe sometime in 2009.

I still love you Nashbar. But a little bit less.

Sincerely,

Will Campbell
Los Angeles