One of the reasons for finally ending up buying the frame from Planet-X was the intrigue regarding the difference between the customer service “a real bike brand” can provide over what the chinese merchants give. The carbon fiber frames themselves are the same so the only real added-value would be created by the personnel. In all honesty I haven’t been too impressed by what Planet-X has had to offer so far. Nevertheless I’m reasonably satisfied with my purchase.
Originally as I was contemplating my choice RT-90 (FM066SL) ticked all the boxes for me. It has internal cabling and option for Di2. The website is snazzy and informative so I thought I knew what I was buying. Once I had put in the order the company sent the frame in couple of days and it was delivered reasonably quickly. The package had some damage, but it is such a big box that no harm was done. So it seems company’s logistics works and that is really the most important thing. During the cycling season this is a real advantage compared to waiting for oversees delivery and customs.
I did not really ask a lot of questions in advance so I don’t have lot of experience on PX’s pre-sales engagement. Once everything was ordered I started asking questions about suitable headsets, seat pins, seat post clamps and setting up internal cabling. That’s when it became apparent that the personnel corresponding to emails had very little clue on what they are selling. It always takes them a day or two to answer and it seems the staff really isn’t very knowledgeable about their road bike products. The biggest problem was that they were actually giving wrong information and I actually had to correct them.
Unfortunately it is not just the customer service that is failing. After my crash the customer rep insisted that I should be replacing the rt-90 (fm066sl) with rt-80 (fm066) while that would clearly be a step down with added weight and no stiff high modulus carbon. Either the personnel is just clueless or the company is not making as much money from the Viner Mitus (FM066SL) even though it has exactly the same specs (weight, layup etc.) as RT-90 had. Maybe there is a commission clause in their contract with the original Viner brand owner family.
On the warranty page on their website Planet-X has announced their crash replacement policy. After the first discussions customer service was not really forthcoming about this and I really ran into it by accident. The silence is really not a surprise, but the 30% discount was appreciated regardless. Unfortunately the discount only applies to framesets and I’m in the market for a full bike. I understand there may be different margins in full bikes and frames, but you would think they would give at least some discount. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much, but it just shows you should take the promises at face value.
So far in addition to faster delivery the only real difference is that it was easier to convince the insurance company about the value of the bike. The local bike shops sneered at the bike, but they couldn’t really argue with the specifications and at least Planet X is a known brand name. On the other hand insurance clerks seem to be really good at googling and PX has a tendency to have flash sales which disappreciate the value real fast. Third good thing is I did not have to handle the taxes and EU dumping levies myself.
So in conclusion my experience is that you don’t have to steer clear of Planet-X at all cost, but you shouldn’t really expect much. The bikes themselves are fine. I loved lightness of the snappy (pun intended) nature of the frame and good quality detailing. The staff may be incompetent and rude, because they are overworked or just don’t have that much experience on road bikes (MTB background). Unfortunately that is exactly the same experience I’ve had with lot of my local bike shops. So all in all I think I got what I paid for and I could buy from Planet X again.