Cervelo Customer Service – a Horrible Experience to Remember
DISCLAIMER: I am telling events as they happened and with all the information that I had available to me. A lot of the communication was between the shop and Cervelo so I certainly missed some of the hogwash that the Cervelo customer service/local distributor was spilling out. I am a customer soAlthough it might sound like a bad mouthing a certain bike brand, my very negative experience sometimes bordered the ridiculous and if nothing else should provide entertainment value. I am quite disappointed that such a world renowned brand such as Cervelo handled the whole matter very unprofessionally with great apathy and were reluctant to fulfill even warranty replacements after many attempts from both my side and the bike shop I ordered the bike from. It makes me wonder if all those “stories” on forums and such of happy Cervelo customers are simply made up hype and not real…
UPDATE OCT 2013, FEB 2014: After this article was published (March 2013) the head of Cervelo Customer service was nice enough to get in touch with me by email and later phone and promised to make things right. Since I was not trying to turn a profit, all I wanted was my LBS to get reimbursed for the (labor) costs, price differences etc. they had to make because of the horrible customer service by Cervelo, so I don’t have to pay extra for mistakes I had nothing to do with, especially since we are talking about warranty replacement. I was promised a speedy resolution directly between Cervelo Customer Service and my LBS.
More than 9 months later my shop said they prefer to close the matter since they want to keep doing business with Cervelo in the future and I have to pay some extra labor costs and the price difference between a bike that Cervelo promised me to reimburse me in full (or provide me with a replacement under warranty) but subsequently DID NOT. So all in all Cervelo Customer Service, for what seems the hundredth time, lived up to their ‘reputation’ of making empty promises and not following through. Call it bad luck or whatever, all I wanted was a bike and not 19+months of calls, e-mails and drama. I guess for such a world renowned brand that was too much to ask. Not counting the wasted time and frustrations the grand total was 1 and a quarter monthly salaries on top of the original costs. So me, the customer had to cover the final bill due to extremely bad and inadequate Cervelo customer service.
My Horrible Experience with Cervelo Customer Service – The Full Story
More than a year ago I decided to get really serious about my time trialing. Yes that involved getting a TT bike, since time trialing is one of the events where you can “buy” speed just as you can “lose” minutes based only on sub-optimal equipment. If you take a look at my bike list you will notice that ever since I bought my first road bike in 2007, I tend to be loyal to Specialized as a brand (if the shoe fits don’t change it). So my first option naturally was the newly released S Works Shiv TT. Later that year (2012) Tony Martin and Judith Arndt went on to win the World TT Championships aboard the same bike. Omega Pharma Quick Step won the Team Time Trial the day before. A year or so back Fabian Cancellara did the same on top of a lot of other time trials. The pedigree of the bike was there.
However, as rumors were escalating, a brand I have had secret admiration for, was planning to release the fastest bike ever made – the Cervelo P5. I believed the commercials and got in touch with the local distributor on how can I get on the waiting list for the bike. They directed me to a local shop that is a highly respected Cervelo dealer in the area. After some brief email exchanges I went in person to the shop and put my order for a complete Cervelo P5 bike Size 61 with Shimano Dura Ace.
That was mid January 2012. In my conversation with the shop owner I was clear that at the very latest I want to have the bike in May so I can tweak it and get used to it for the Bulgarian National TT Championships in the end of June. I was willing to choose a different model if delivery times would not fit my race schedule. Local TTs were in April/May, however, I was willing to ride them with a converted road frame for “fun.” The Cervelo distributor for the area (BeNeLux) assured my Local Bike Shop (LBS) that delivery times are going to be April 2012 and since I was quick to reserve a frame and pay a deposit, I will definitely be on the top of the list. Such a long anticipated product was generating quite some buzz, especially among the triathlete crowd on online forums (Slowtwitch).
Strike 1: Delays
Mid March 2012 worrying rumors regarding delayed delivery times started creeping up on Slowtwitch. I contacted my LBS and he said that all was fine, no news of delays from the distributor. Come April as the first TTs of the season were approaching the rumors became facts. The Cervelo P5 delivery was facing major delays worldwide. Crowds of people were disappointed and Cervelo was trying to minimize the damage. Even the Garmin Sharp (now Barracuda) PROTour cycling team had only a few of the P5s delivered. My LBS also had bad news regarding delivery, it was official. A couple of more weeks I was told. I did the best of it since I was still on track my season goal – national TT Championships.
Strike 2: More Delays
It was already May and the Cervelo P5 was not going to make its way to me this season. My LBS was getting nowhere with the distributor as if the P5 was some kind of a Ponzi scheme. Now what?
After many attempts to get a clear answer from the distributor my LBS decided it was time to look for other options. He went out of his way and managed to locate a Cervelo P3 in Size 61 built up with Shimano Ultegra in a shop in Germany. The bike fits differently than the P5, however, with some modifications we could make it work. It is a cheaper model so I could save some money at the end, which is never a bad thing. Order placed! This was beggining of May 2012. Delivery times from Germany to the Netherlands are somewhere like 2-3 business days even with regular non express services.
Strike 3: Are you f@$*#’ kidding me?
After the P3 didn’t show for more than a week since I ordered it and my LBS was not getting a single clear answer from Cervelo Germany, not even a tracking number. “We will look into it”, which at some point started to sound like “We could not care less ” Eventually the bike was located…it was delivered in SWEDEN?!?!?!!? I am still trying to comprehend how can you mix the two countries, especially since my LBS is a family owned business, not some chain store with branches all over Europe. In any case it is a matter of forwarding the package from Sweden to my LBS, again delivery times are 2-3 business days. If it only was so simple…The bike got send back to Germany?!?!?!!? Another couple of days you say?
Well the people from Cervelo Germany decided to go on vacation. “To hell with our customers, we got their money, didn’t do much, time to go on vacation.” Actions speak better than words they say… How can you have an open case like this and just drop it and leave??? I was so furious at that time I posted my frustrations on twitter and Cervelo didn’t even bother responding
@cervelo WORST customer service ever!!! 4 weeks of promises, bike sent to 2 different countries, no tracking. Nationals are in 20days…
— TheTallCyclist (@NikolaBanishki) June 8, 2012
The Final Stretch…or so I thought. Frame Cracks
Anyway the bike made it here, it was June 16, TT Nationals were on June 28th. As you can imagine less than 2 weeks before such an important event, it was not the time to make any major adjustments in position, equipment and so. Anyway, I decided to make the best of it. One my very first ride the seatpost slipped and I was unable to find out why, nothing was loose so I let it be. On the next day my LBS did something, however, the seatpost kept slipping. *An aside here is that the Cervelo P3/P2 have 2 seatpost options. The original streamlined one and a narrower modified UCI legal one to fit the 3:1 rule, implemented after the bikes were put into market. The UCI legal seatpost is a “patch” and in my opinion a very poorly designed solution. It relies on a very small clamping area.
My LBS installed the original seatpost and taped it with some handlebar/electric tape to make it thicker to meet the 3:1 rule. HOWEVER….as they were doing that they noticed some cracks around the seatpost opening. Uh oh?
Well my LBS notified Cervelo and send photos of the cracks. It was something that was apparently not new and the Cervelo S3 bikes were known to have similar issues. I should go ride the bike for the time being and I will get a warranty replacement in the future.
Honestly, I was really worried that the bike would leave me abandoned by the side of the road. That didn’t happen and even though I only had 5 training rides before my biggest race of the season, I did better than expected, whether, I would have gone faster if I had enough time to get used to the new bike is a matter of debate. To stay happy, I don’t ask questions I don’t want to know the answers to… Especially given my experience during the 2012 Dutch Amateur TT Championships where after solid 4 weeks on the TT bike I had a nearly perfect race.
New Season, New Chapter
After I closed my 2012 season, I could look back and see that I did the best I could with the cards I was dealt. However, the off-season is time to get ready for next year and improve on mistakes. So around October 2012 I got in touch with my LBS regarding the warranty claim of my bike. He said that I can actually get a P5, as I originally wanted, as a replacement, with me covering the price difference between the two frames. No problem. Delivery time end of 2012, and just to make sure it all works out, given our past “history” with Cervelo, he gave me an estimate third week of January 2013. As the new year rolled by, my LBS was happy that there were 2 Size 61 P5 frames available with one reserved for me. Even if that didn’t work out I was entitled a new P3 as the lifetime warranty replacement policy of Cervelo.
As February 2013 rolled by, the no news from the distributor was becoming something me and m LBS were familiar. All of a sudden the avaialable P5 bikes were gone from stock?!?!?!?, nobody knew where they went, no news of any delivery times and also neither P3 nor P2 in Size 61 available for my warranty replacement? This is not some neighborhood shop, this is the delivery center for this part of Europe, inventory shouldn’t just disappear with no trace.
As a last resort I got personally in touch with some of the Cervelo representatives that frequent online discussions forums. I gave them the serial # of my frame and that also got nowhere, it was worth a try.
13 months I waited for Cervelo to make it right. All they did was avoid any clear answers and ridiculously bad (putting it midly) customer service. I cancelled my order and requested my money back from my LBS. I got in touch with a local Specialized dealer and they had the S Works Shiv in my size ready for delivery in 2 days!!!! TWO DAYS!!!!
All of a sudden Cervelo was not letting me go that easy. They were reluctant to give me my money back after I return the cracked frame. The representative was coming personally to my LBS to discuss matters. Where was he a year ago??
At the end they will credit my LBS for the price of the frameset (frame, fork, seatpost). I purchased the bike as a complete unit and I did modify some components, so returning just the frameset is the best option. I will have to pay the price difference between the P3 frameset and the S Works Shiv (~2300eu), no problems there, however, I am already over budget and this is not MY fault. I will transfer most parts between the two bikes, however, since the S Works Shiv is a “module” I am left with brakes (~80eu value), an aerobar (~450eu) and some other parts (~100eu) that I already paid for and can’t use so I will have to sell/trade them, and I will end up losing even more money. My LBS is very understanding so I will pay everything in installments, he made it clear on many occasions that getting me on the road is the highest priority.
At the end due to incompetence and abysmal customer service of Cervelo, I am actually losing a LOT of money, not getting a bike, not even a warranty replacement and Cervelo lost a customer for life and my terribly negative experience would certainly provide a tipping point for many potential customers.
In 3-4 working days I had a S Works Shiv ready to go! That is how it should be done.
- My experience as a customer of Cervelo bordered something you read on joke websites or you see on candid camera. It was worse than ridiculous.
- 13 months is more than enough time to fix any logistics problems that could have arisen due to the fact that Cervelo changed hands as a company.
- In 13 months one could literally walk back and forth to the Cervelo factory and get me a frame, any frame, yet I couldn’t even get an estimate, “We are sorry,” tracking number, anything!
- The Customer Service of my LBS was beyond outstanding, he even went out of his way and arranged a S Works Shiv; my LBS as a long time Cervelo dealer was getting frustrated as well. Apparently there were other problems with other models.
- Cervelo would credit back the frameset and possible labor charges since the Shiv is one of those bikes that takes quite some time to be built up,
- Cervelo promised to cover the price difference between the two bikes, in a sort of warranty replacement scenario since it was not my fault I had to go really out of my way and get a completely different bike, however, Cervelo DID NOT and I had to pay ALL extra costs which arose due to Cervelo’s inadequate customer service.
- Specialized as a brand, just like the past 7 years didn’t disappoint and I would be more than happy to stand behind their products.