Friday, August 14, 2015

saying goodbye to my bike

qantas are bastards.  they killed my bike.  everyone who has travelled with a bike this is your worst nightmare.  as usual when i got off the flight i collected my bags and then headed over to pick up my bike.  as i was standing there waiting i was talking to a girl and we were discussing the chances of our bikes being in one piece.  just as she was telling me about her very
expensive zipp wheels my bike came out and straight away i knew something was wrong.

my bike bag had a gapping opening where the bike seat is and you could see straight away the bag had been torn open and the seat was all twisted and had a huge chunk taken out of it.  some of my gear was hanging out.  i asked the guy who bought it out what had happened and he just shrugged his shoulders.  another guy told me to take it over to baggage claims.  i was in shock and didnt know whether to cry or not.  i took it over and explained what had happened and the girl was very sympathetic.  i think they are trained to fake concern because as i was soon to discover they do not give a fuck.

it was 4.30 so i quickly got the bike back to my car and raced home and to my local bike shop.  i made it just before close and as we unpacked everything i started taking photos.  it was obvious straight away that the bag had been dragged and the seat had received a severe impact.  we took the wheels out and were amazed that both were undamaged and still true.  even more amazed when you saw a large hole torn into the wheel section of the bag. but what we really wanted to know was if the frame had survived.  it had moved out of the scicon frame it was locked into within the bag and the skewers had both been bent.  as soon as mark put it on the bike rack he saw the crack. game over. along with the frame (which was either cracked or a minor crush impact) the rear deraileur was also damaged. again i didnt know whether to cry or not but i did do a bit of swearing.  i think i was in shock.  i had such a shitty time in port macquarie and now this.  it was the last thing i needed.

nothing more to do so i headed straight to the bottleshop and purchased some wine.  i rang qantas as soon as i got home and the girl i spoke to was very sympathetic and explained that she would speak to her manager and they would contact me in the morning.  i proceeded to mourn my bike by drinking more wine.

i had the next day off so i waited for qantas to call.  by noon i hadnt heard anything so i called them. again i was promised that someone would call.  by late afternoon i realised that nothing was going to happen unless i got more aggressive with them and finally i was told that i would receive an email with details of what i needed to provide to make a claim.  i remember drinking more wine again.

i finally received the email and it was standard requests.  copies of original purchase, quote for replacement cost, extent of damage and photos etc.  i sent all of this to them and awaited the reply.  i have to mention here that i have bike specific insurance and while i had contacted them i had not submitted a claim.  i also had not informed qantas that i had insurance.  the reason being is that most bike insurance only covers full replacement under two years old and if your bike is deemed a write off they will keep your old bike for salvage purposes. my bike was 3.5 years old but in excellent condition and i was not even going to come close to replacing it from my insurance.  my best shot was qantas.

then i hear back from qantas and they offer me $1600 to replace the bike and bike bag.  my scicon bag was only on its second trip so it was close to brand new.  as it turns out the airline are limited to $1600 on domestic flights for any damage (negligent or not) and if you read the fine print this is true. i was not happy and told qantas as much.  i could not believe that part of their offer included an apology for the inconvenience.  they run over my bike and destroy it and call it an inconvenience.  that really pissed me off.

so begun my social media campaign.  facebook, twitter and instagram.  facebook certainly got it out there the most but twitter had the most impact as qantas could see every tweet and towards the end it really annoyed them. i contacted scicon bags and they were great.  they gave me a report as to what they think had caused the damage and that the bag was damaged beyond repair.  this would prove very useful down the track.  qantas did come back to me and offer a further $500 to cover the bag but it was still a paltry amount.

i had posted the details at a tri website that i visit on a regular basis and i was getting all types of advice.  facebook was the same.  most people were great and then there were a few who said it was my fault (should have used a better bag, proper insurance etc)  some people even queried as to whether it had really happened and that maybe i was making it all up !?  but what it really came down to is that when something like this happens and even if it is not your fault it is going to cost you. while you really want everything to just go back to how it was and have someone else to pay for it that is not what will happen.  not in this case anyway and you just have to find a way to accept it.

i then contacted today tonight and to my surprise they called me back.  i was excited but nervous.  i was also very confused as to what was going to get me the best result.  i had also contacted an old work boss who had worked for qantas and had been quite high up in management.  he gave me the details to write to alan joyce and advised against doing today tonight.  i wrote to alan but never heard back in the end.  the meeting with today tonight turned out to be a bit of fun.  they interviewed me and we then went over to my local bike shop to look at the bike and managed to  talk mark into being interviewed.  afterwards they had me ride my old giant bike up and down the road while they filmed. all of this took about 2.5 hours.  they said they would contact me prior to the story going to air.

i had spoken to qantas a few times and told them i was on social media and going to television.  they didnt care and stood firm.  it was at this time that someone gave me a suggestion that would lead me to the final solution.  trek have a crash replacement policy on frames and offer a 20% discount.  at the same time they had a sale and one of the bikes was a white and black trek speed concept 7.0 series. while the frame was the new Gen2 the rest of the bike was made up of shimano 105 and alloy tri bars, seat post etc  i needed to find out if i could use the good components off my old bike.  i rang mark and it was all good.  my carbon tri bars would come across, the wheels were fine and while the new bike was 11 speed everything would fit okay.  i then called qantas and gave it one final try.  i explained my plan and that in order for me to do it i needed a better offer and surprisingly i got one. this is when things started to change for me.   i contacted my insurers as well and told them what qantas had offered.  they then valued my bike, deducted the qantas offer and a very cheap salvage amount that allowed me to keep my bike, waived the excess and sent me the balance.  this they did within 24 hours - fucking brilliant.  i cannot recommend velosure highly enough.  they were considerate and went out of their way to give me the best information possible.  they also told me that they had never seen a bike so badly damaged by qantas so it was kinda nice to know that it is a rare occurence.

once this was all finalised i called today tonight and explained that i had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with qantas and that killed the chance of me becoming a tv star.  i was secretly quite relieved that i was no longer going to be on tv telling my sad story and pretending to be some serious triathlete.  it was after this that i remembered i had taken out a $12 policy with my ticket for cancellation and baggage damage so i went and read the fine print and realised i could claim the damage to my bike bag.  i just had to prove that it wasnt carry on luggage.  seriously  WTF !  long story short i managed to get them to pay me the full value and they added in the four shotz gels i bought that day and were on the same receipt.  LMFAO.

so now that i knew how much money i was going to get it was time to build the bike.  i didnt want to keep the shimano 105.  i worked hard to afford something better and i was determined i would at least go back to what i had.  so all the shimano 105 came off and was replaced with sram force.  i kept the cranks (therefore the stages power meter as well), the carbon tri bars and the wheels.  i also replaced the seat post with the carbon version and bought a new seat, the speed tool box and xlab wings and new bottle holders.  i already had the upgraded speed snack box. and duotrap.     i had the new shifters that i had to replace at port macquarie but they were not going to work with an 11 speed so i sold them online.  in the end i also sold my damaged frame and the leftovers online for $250.  SCORE !  but what made all of this quite doable was my bike shop guy mark bought all the new parts i replaced back from me at a reasonable discount price and gave me a great deal on all the new stuff.  i cant thank him enough for all the work and effort he put into getting me back on the road and on a bike that really is better than the original and one that i now LOVE.  check it out !  (day before bike fit so seat post is ridiculously high).