What I thought was the end to the Diamondback Andean saga when I posted my initial review on May 27, 2017 turned out to be the beginning of a more painful process, and this regrettable experience continues to this day. Diamondback has now had my irreparably flawed Andean frameset back for six weeks, and the company still has my money despite continued promises to refund it and just as many excuses for not. Even if I get the refund, I'm out over $1,000 on this purchase, and so much more in time and stress and logistics trying to make this bike work. And nobody has taken accountability, apologized, or issued a refund. They have the bike and they have my money. For six weeks. What is going on at Diamondback and how can it make sense for anyone to buy a bike from them?
But this isn't a shaming thread. This is a warning thread. Threads like this are worthwhile if they save one unwitting consumer from getting hosed by one of these companies that sells a faulty product and then responds to it with even worse customer service when one of us could have simply said "stay away". So I'm saying it: stay away. There should be no omerta in triathlon on this front.
When I posted my initial review on 5/27, I thought we'd solved the ongoing issues with the bike -- namely, I couldn't actually get that front end to stay straight during my normal riding conditions. On May 30, I went for a three hour ride with the brand new fork and brand new stem and 110% torque, carefully cleaned and greased bolts, freshly applied carbon paste -- you name it, I did it -- and 2.5 hours into the ride I stop at a light and look down and was just crushed to see this again:
Despite every effort to alleviate the issues -- three stems, two forks/steerers, multiple mechanical effort both professional (LBS) and amateur (me), hundreds of dollars in labor costs, and countless hours of time -- this issue was simply not fixable. As cursed as I felt, I suspect I was probably lucky. Because as stan said in the other thread about Factorgate.
there is engineering. and then there is the inputs that drive the engineering. the output is no good unless the input is good.
i don't know what happened with THIS bike (maybe there are facts we don't know). but when i look at the Felt thread, the Aduro recall, and so many other aerobars down through history, it ought to be obvious that leveraging weight in front of the steerer, and out the side of the extensions, creates engineering challenges.
that guy was damned lucky.
That's basically what's going on here. I ride these bikes in the lowest and longest configurations (105mm stem, slammed in this case). I ride horrendous roads, I just do. And I keep my elbows on the pads to get a little more reach and a little better head position, so when I'm hitting a speed bump, I put force on the ends of the extensions far in front of the steerer. So maybe it's just me, but I think the Andean front end interface is possibly the worst designed of any modern superbike even if the thing was appropriately fixed, for all the reasons I laid out in my review.
I was just paralyzed about what to do with this. I had the whole bike built up and Diamondback was telling me this has happened to no other person. So could I in good conscience sell it? Should I return it, and take the bath on the refund -- I had already sold the crappy stock parts and invested in top of line kit on which I'd get smacked upon resale? I ultimately decided to return it in early July. Here's the run down of the last two months:
7/13: I request call tag for the return box
7/17: Call tag provided by DB.
7/27: After ten dayes, I ask if the bike has been received and when I will receive refund.
7/28: DB says not yet, but says that "Once everything arrives it should be a pretty quick look over + inventory for the refund issue, taking just a couple days to go through our support folks, and then maybe a day or two to hit your financial institution as well."
8/1: DB confirms receipt of Andean.
8/4: Specific amount of refund is confirmed by DB, meaning inventory process has been completed. I provide address for mailing of check.
8/11: I issue request for status update on refund.
8/11: DB says "I will let you know ASAP to be on the lookout for it for sure. As of this afternoon it had not finalized yet, but I will check back again early next week for you."
8/18: Having not heard from DB, I email "It's been a week now, what's the update?"
8/22: Four days later still no word from DB. I get more stern: "Please provide a status on this refund."
8/23: DB rep claims crippling illness. DB states: "It does look like while I was out they both hit a snag and then have worked there way through it as to how the books are kept and they look to be in the home stretch. As you have been fully aware and accepting of a new process for us throughout every phase, I fully appreciate your patience. I have asked several points along the way to just be able to get you your money back in a more expeditious way and let the accounting sort itself out after, but Accounting/Ledgers etc are much more immutable than I would have imaged or have liked to get you made whole as soon as possible. I can give you a daily update until itâ€™s completed at this point even if I have no news to give, and again I am sorry that it is taking this long. Thank you for your understanding and I will keep you up to date daily as mentioned if you like until resolved." The idea that this guy is going to send me an email every day is, on its face, preposterous. I'm lucky if I can get an update once a week. I don't respond. I don't want updates at this point. I want my money back.
8/29: The first unprompted update ever from DB comes. Hooray, it's good news from DB: "I have been told today that I should be able to make sure everything is on itâ€™s way and settled for your remittance before the long weekend for Labor day. Thank you again so much for your patience and I will let you know again as soon as that is 100% the case and on itâ€™s way."
8/31: "Happy Thursday. Things have progressed to a point where all the pieces are in place that the Credit could apply while I am out of the office. If it has not applied over the weekend, I will be back to checking on it daily/hourly until it has." DB wishes me a happy labor day weekend, after having reduced my chances of a refund from almost 100% to essentially "it could happen". I light this guy up in response, and if you saw the whole email history -- not just with the issues, but with the fulfillment -- you wouldn't blame me: "Business is all about expectations. With anyone, especially customers, you are much better off setting lower expectations that you are certain you can meet than you are setting reach or high expectations that you never will or don't or can't. Over promising and under delivering is a shitty way to treat customers and people and a really effective way to lose all credibility and trust. This isn't the power of positive thinking -- it's the principle of doing what you say you will and of meeting or coming close to meeting the (basically arbitrary) expectations that you yourself set. I look forward to your final update, which I hope will be borne out by reality."
9/11 (am): I have not heard from DB for 12 calendar days and 9 business days. I wonder if DB rep is checking "daily/hourly" for 12 days. At this point I give up. I file a PayPal dispute for "Significantly not as described". I inform DB rep that I have initiated a PayPal dispute.
9/11 (am): DB accounting responds rapidly through PayPal portal, promising an immediate return of my funds.
9/12 (pm): Immediate may mean different things to different people, but at this point immediate to me means within 24 hours. 36 hours later I still have no refund. I email Diamondback Accounting at ~5pm eastern. No response by end of business day Pacific time.
I have avoided this warning post for a long time. I was patient, after being told on 7/28 that the refund turnaround would be about a week (from 8/1). Spotty updates. Promises unmet. This is all frankly ridiculous. I don't understand how a company like this intends to stay in business, but I wouldn't buy another bike from them if there was $5K down in the bottom bracket trunk. Because that's less than what I figure I have lost from this debacle, all things considered. I don't know if I'll ever get my money back at this point, which is really a shame.
I have had a lot of purchase, product failure, and return experiences as a consumer in this triathlon/cycling space. I've been through over 25 bikes in four years, at least half direct to consumer. I have never had problems this bad. Hell, my DHGate and Aliexpress experiences have been far better buying fake Cernelo frames and china crap components.
Edit: As of 9/13 in the morning, PayPal has ruled in my favor in the dispute. They have credited my account.