Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Introducing Greg, the Uber-Codbab

I need to take a couple deep breaths before I even start writing. I have a guy who has reached such incredible heights in codbaggery that it makes my brow furl and my cheeks burn every time I think about him. OK, I'm better.

Several weeks ago when we got in a Kona Ute Cargo Bike. (First of all, if you have never seen one of these, you gotta check them out. It’s a freakish cross between a pick-up truck and a mountain bike.)

So these things retail for about a grand. Ours had a couple minor issues (scratches and a missing pannier) so I listed it for $750 and threw it on craigslist. Three hours later… nibble, nibble, strike! I’ve got a codbag on the line. First this douche attempts the uninterested simpleton approach. “How much does that bike usually sell for?... Wow that seems like a lot for a bike. But yours is like damaged and stuff. Are you negotiable on the price? I have a long way to drive.” Blah, blah, blah. Of course this isn’t my first time on the merry-go-round, so I give him the standard, “I am pretty firm on the price. Why don’t you come by and take a look? “

Two hours later I hear one of my sales people struggling on the phone with somebody about the same bike. He cups the receiver and whispers, “This guy says he found a brand-new Ute in Tacoma for $650 and wants to know if we’ll come down on the price.” You should know that I grew up downwind of a dairy farm I can detect the smell of bullshit at 2 parts per million. This particular phone call reeked of it. So I responded (loud enough to be overheard,) “Tell him to buy one for himself and as many more as they will sell him. I’ll buy them all for $700 each. That’s a $50-profit for him and $50 for me.”

“Uh, he wants to talk to you.”

I snatched the phone and, Surprise! it’s the dill-hole from earlier. But he had acquired a miraculous new knowledge of bicycles. It seems, rather than not knowing anything about them, he was actually in the business of buying, repairing, modifying and reselling bikes for a profit. To his credit he stuck to his story about the low-ball comp and offered me $400 for a brand-newish, thousand-dollar bike. At this point I was simply annoyed and repeated my offer to buy every new Ute he could bring me for $700. He obviously wasn’t much of a businessman because a guaranteed 7.7% profit is a pretty good deal. Instead he recycled the same story 3 different ways, upped his offer to $500, claimed he was doing me a favor by removing a dead piece of inventory and blah, blah, blah. Finally I had had enough and erupted on him. I will paraphrase here: “Listen goddamn it. We both know you are lying out your ass. There is no $650 bike and I’m not going to sell you this one for $500 so all you are really doing is wasting my time. I may sell this bike for less than $750, but not to you. Your price is $750 FIRM! You can come up here and buy it or you can go to hell. I have no preference either way. “ and Click! I handed the phone back to my wide-eyed sales guy, received a high-five from an old dude who had been shopping nearby in the store. I smugly returned to my office, pleased to have called a spade a spade to his face.

But wait. There’s more.

This morning, while I was out, a guy walked into the store and acted genuinely interested in the UTE. He asked my people air up the tires and took it for a 10-minute test ride. He came back and had them find a tire gauge because something didn’t feel right, adjusted the pressure and then took another spin around the block. (As you may have guessed, it was my CodBag). When he returned, he said he would take it for $500. My salesperson wisely rebuffed saying the price wasn’t negotiable, sighting the current retail price. He countered with a $650 comp from a local bike shop. So my gal picked up the phone with him standing right there and called the bike store. (Coincidentally it was the same shop that does all our minor repairs.) OOOPS. The store didn’t even sell that bike, but if we wanted to special order one, they could have one delivered next week for $1195.

Time for a new tact I guess. As if he had anticipated this, the guy reached into his back pocket and pulled out a Meriam Webster definition of Liquidation he had printed out at home. I guess he figured he could mind-fuck us into giving him a better deal. He proceeded to walk around the store pointing out items that were, in his opinion, unreasonably close to retail.

God, how I wish I would have been there. I might have actually been able to knock a codbag out. I’m talking teeth on the curb, Ed Norton style, American History X take down. What a piece of work! But alas, I was nowhere to be found. Instead my sales gal killed him with transparently annoyed kindness and wished him a good day on his way out the door.

So the long and short of this story is, if you know someone who needs a sweet-ass Cargo bike I’ve got one. The price is negotiable to everyone except Greg from Tacoma, WA. Greg, your price is $1194.99. (A penny below retail.) I AM a liquidator after all.