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  1. #1
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    Upset Help! Custom shop not talking and me not riding

    First off, I won't name the builder, as I still have hope. From what I've read, he's been great to work with, amazing results, etc. But... there are those few single comments in a thread that shows what I am experiencing is not unprecedented.

    My rant:

    I got a 2000 v-brake only Dean bike at a great price. I bought it because I always wanted a Dean, and I wanted to put my dream commuter together. To meet my needs, the frame would need some upgrades like rack brazeons, disc mount, and enhanced dropouts to handle rack/brake clearance issues. So I looked around and called multiple custom Ti frame shops, and found one that had the right pricing and solution for my requests and as an added bonus they've won "Best" at the NAHBS, so I'm stoked! I am told that the turnaround would be about a week "I hate having jobs sitting around" was the line. I am now super stoked ! They got the frame from me on Feb 9th, and I asked for confirmation of the work (an invoice). I was told it would get to me, I was told it was on the way, I was told "I'll send it tomorrow." This has transpired over the past five+ weeks.

    At this point, I have not heard from them for over a week. There have been no responses to my weekly email ("Hi, me again, just wondering when you think you can get to my frame?), nor to any of my bi-weekly voice mails (3 left to date, "Hi, just wanted to know if you could send out the invoice so you can get going on the work"). I have been courteous, understanding, and patient. I have only asked for a real timeline regarding turnaround. When I last spoke to the builder, I was told that the bike would be done last Friday, but no bike, no invoice, no communication.

    What is one to do? I have to assume that the work will get completed (won't it?), but I'm reaching a breaking point ... I even found myself looking to Nashbar for tide-me-over cheap frame ($75) as my current setup has some real issues.

    Any advice? And thanks for the look.

  2. #2
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    Send them another email or voicemail, and prominently include the words "Under advisement from legal counsel." Bluff and see if they respond.
    Axle Standards Explained

    Founder at North Atlantic Dirt, riding & writing about trails in the northeast.

  3. #3
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    I would hope it doesn't come to that. I will admit that I am wondering how it would play out if I said just send it back. I would hope he could at least get to that promptly.

  4. #4
    Single Speed Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley
    Send them another email or voicemail, and prominently include the words "Under advisement from legal counsel." Bluff and see if they respond.
    This is a bit abrupt and to the point, however when a shop is not replying then actions such as these are required. I'm still waiting on my frame that was to be here and ready to rock Last July. Frame was finished and shipped out via UPS who proceeded to loose the new frame. Now out of money and no bike I've been promised a ride by mid March. Date has come and gone with no word so now it looks like I'm canceling the order Monday. Sure it sucks, but what is one to do. Continue waiting and hoping something shows up???

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo
    First off, I won't name the builder, as I still have hope. From what I've read, he's been great to work with, amazing results, etc. But... there are those few single comments in a thread that shows what I am experiencing is not unprecedented.....
    \
    Quote Originally Posted by crux
    This is a bit abrupt and to the point, however when a shop is not replying then actions such as these are required. I'm still waiting on my frame that was to be here and ready to rock Last July. Frame was finished and shipped out via UPS who proceeded to loose the new frame. Now out of money and no bike I've been promised a ride by mid March. Date has come and gone with no word so now it looks like I'm canceling the order Monday. Sure it sucks, but what is one to do. Continue waiting and hoping something shows up???
    I would just name the builders that are giving you guys the run around since it seems like you guys have already tried every method of communications short of showing up at the said builders' shops yourself. You'd be surprised how some well deserved negative attention on a public forum read by both potential buyers and other builders from all over the world might get your emails or phone calls replied and your frame modifications done all of a sudden. It is pretty obvious that these two builders do not care about your feelings or for your respect so I don't know why you guys would care about their reputations on this forum. Also, it would be very helpful to other members of this forum to know which builders are more or less dependable to deal with. I am sure after going through what you have been and still are going through with this builder, you would most likely not want any of your fellow forum members to go through the same bad experience.

  6. #6
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    For me, the hope is that there will soon be resolution... I'm going to be really screwed if this doesn't pan out as I bought the used frame with this builder's promise as my motivator. From what I've read, he is good with frame delivery, and my guess is that bigger ticket items keep getting pushed to the front of the queue over my small job. Trust me, if I do end up having to get the frame back, the rants and raves will be forthcoming. If the work gets done, I will still post a follow-up. I figure the six week mark is when I crack (5 days hence!)...

  7. #7
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    +1 Hardguy. Name the builder. This thread would be more effective if you name him.

  8. #8
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    Hey-------Lets make this a fun game. We ask...you answer.
    Is the frame builder in Fort Collins????

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onetrack
    Hey-------Lets make this a fun game. We ask...you answer.
    Is the frame builder in Fort Collins????
    Hey Onetrack, sounds like a fun game. I'll add some clues also. Here is a link to all the "Best" awards this year at the NAHBS. I guess narrow that down to the a few ti builders since the OP was talking about a ti frame.

    http://www.2011.handmadebicycleshow....award-winners/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onetrack
    Hey-------Lets make this a fun game. We ask...you answer.
    Is the frame builder in Fort Collins????
    Fort Collins.... Hmmmm. Well, bah bah to you!

  11. #11
    widebody
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo
    Fort Collins.... Hmmmm. Well, bah bah to you!
    My guess would have been baah baah too. It is a frustrating thing to wait for a custom builder. My guess is you happened to be "unfortunate" to start your process just in time for the NAHMBS. Just keep at him with the emails and phone calls. I understand the frustration with the silence, I remember it too. Said never again will I go this route, but 6 months later I ordered a fork too. Same waiting but this time around I knew what to expect. All will be forgotten once you have the bike between your legs, seriously. I love mine and at over two years this is the longest time I have kept a frame. I do think about selling it as they are getting too popular on these boards Hang in there as the finished product will be well worth it. I had the luxury of having another bike to ride while waiting for the frame. Later dude.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo
    Fort Collins.... Hmmmm. Well, bah bah to you!
    They should make the bah-bahs jump on the website continuously across the screen so you can count them while you wait for your frame. Keep calling and emailing daily and they will get annoyed and finish the job and send you your frame back. The squeaky wheels usually get the grease. Like SSumo said, you just picked the worse time to send it in to get the mods done with the bike show and trying to fill already backlogged orders. It still doesn't justify 5 weeks and counting for something they promised you would be done in a week or so though. Good Luck.

  13. #13
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    I like the leaping bah bah concept. It should be personalized with your own time ticker if you log in. I will conjure up all of my Zen powers and wait patiently and contact consistently with visions of the ultimate commuter/tourer dancing in my head.

  14. #14
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    James (aka Black Sheep Bikes) rocks!

    So I just got off the phone with him... Bike and new fork should ship tomorrow! Redemption is sweet and apparently (moral of the story) patience & courtesy pay off.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo
    So I just got off the phone with him... Bike and new fork should ship tomorrow! Redemption is sweet and apparently (moral of the story) patience & courtesy pay off.

    Awesome, that is great news! Patience and courtesy plus maybe someone in Fort Collins got wind of this thread...haha. Please post some pics asap, now, yesterday, hurry up, chop chop! Oh, I forgot that patience again. I do want to see some pics though for some inspirations to finish my Dean commuter build also.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help! Custom shop not talking and me not riding-attachment.jpg  

    Last edited by Hardguy; 04-03-2011 at 06:58 PM.

  16. #16
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    Will do!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo
    So I just got off the phone with him... Bike and new fork should ship tomorrow! Redemption is sweet and apparently (moral of the story) patience & courtesy pay off.
    Let us hope you get your tracking number today

  18. #18
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    so to sum up story:

    guy sends bike
    bike builder doesn't respond to several emails nor calls
    -5 weeks later-
    guy still tries reaching builder - nothing
    guy refuses to oust builder on public forum
    guy ousts builder on public forum
    -2 days later-
    guy gets contacted, bike ships out next day

    moral of the story - oust the damn bike builder guys. its valuable for other consumers out there. you might think you're being a cool guy and "bro" by not ousting them but you're only perpetuating the problem. Now the next guy that wants work done at black sheep has to wait 5 weeks.
    Last edited by Stumpy_Steve; 03-27-2011 at 11:34 AM.

  19. #19
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    Well, to more accurate:

    -2 days later-
    guy gets contacted
    card gets charged next day
    And then,,, Well...

    Sigh. No tracking number, emailed a request for one, no response, and Saturday and no frame (yet? Hahahahaha but it's going to be here any day! I know it! I can feel it! He wouldn't do me wrong! (insert crazed icon here)). He is good, as anyone in such a relationship can be... He heard my son in the background when discussing my order four days ago, and asked about him (wow, he really does care!)

    It'll get here eventually, I just need to be pleasantly surprised when there's a box at my door.

    Moral of the story - I suggest to all you potential customers out there that there is more to a relationship than smooth welds and clean lines... (even though they can be sooooo nice at the start of things).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo
    Well, to more accurate:

    -2 days later-
    guy gets contacted
    card gets charged next day
    And then,,, Well...

    Sigh. No tracking number, emailed a request for one, no response, and Saturday and no frame (yet? Hahahahaha but it's going to be here any day! I know it! I can feel it! He wouldn't do me wrong! (insert crazed icon here)). He is good, as anyone in such a relationship can be... He heard my son in the background when discussing my order four days ago, and asked about him (wow, he really does care!)

    It'll get here eventually, I just need to be pleasantly surprised when there's a box at my door.


    Moral of the story - I suggest to all you potential customers out there that there is more to a relationship than smooth welds and clean lines... (even though they can be sooooo nice at the start of things).
    I was hoping you would have your frame in transit to you. This brings back memories of my frame and fork process. Hang in there and keep up the emails, phone calls and text messages You will get a RUSH UPS delivery soon. I never took him up on the rush shipping offer.......I just wanted the confirmation it was on the way. Just hope all the correct size tubing and parts are in stock and not lost in the relocation to the new shop?
    The bike will rock.

  21. #21
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    Update!

    Looks like the frame is going out today! James was missing some parts, got them in, so here we go...

    For a frame (hahahahaha) of reference, here are some crappy pics of the Dean before shipped out to BSB:



    Typical Dean here... Came with all XTR 8 speed from a local seller, including Hugi Wheelset with Ti spokes... Old School Bling to the max!



    I love the shape of the stays, amazing! The frame weighed in at 3.2 lbs once stripped down.



    Adding a Black Sheep fork as pictured.



    The work that's getting done:

    1. Disc Tab
    2. Extensions for rack and disc brake clearance
    3. Rack brazeons
    4. Removing canti brazeons
    5. Fender mounts
    6. Disc cable guide
    7. Polished frame!

    Will post pics of the build once begun...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpy_Steve
    so to sum up story:

    guy sends bike
    bike builder doesn't respond to several emails nor calls
    -5 weeks later-
    guy still tries reaching builder - nothing
    guy refuses to oust builder on public forum
    guy ousts builder on public forum
    -2 days later-
    guy gets contacted, bike ships out next day

    moral of the story - oust the damn bike builder guys. its valuable for other consumers out there. you might think you're being a cool guy and "bro" by not ousting them but you're only perpetuating the problem. Now the next guy that wants work done at black sheep has to wait 5 weeks.

    I'll come out of the woodwork here. I had the same treatment from this unnamed person as well many years ago. Nothing was getting done until I had to get very ugly about it, missing races, missing months, etc. I will never go with a custom builder again, it's just not worth it IMO.

  23. #23
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    can anyone recommend a US made steel frame that isn't custom made?

  24. #24
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    Gunnars (http://gunnarbikes.com/site/) always looked really nice. VooDoo has one that's also nice (853 tubing: http://www.voodoocycles.net/bizango.htm), but I don't know if they make their frames in the US.

  25. #25
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    Keep in mind James and crew just moved to some new digs, so that can throw a monkey wrench into the works.

  26. #26
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    Jame's email to me mentioned that, but it never came up prior to that. What all this comes down to is timely accurate info. With that in hand, one does not need to speculate, and you know what you are in for. Regardless, the frame is on its way with FedEx predicting a March 31st delivery...

  27. #27
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    Did you get it? Please tell me it's not at the powdercoaters.

  28. #28
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    Got it!

    Arrived this morning! Cleaned up nice... Now to move the all the parts from the current commuter to this one... will post once complete.



    Tubus Nova stainless rack came attached.












  29. #29
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    Update #137

    So began assembly last weekend, and there was a clearance issue with the cassette and the rack brazon:



    Initially, the wheel couldn't even get into the dropout as the bolt head was in the way. I flipped it around and, as an experiment, I used a tube valve bolt to see if a thin bolt would work, and the cassette then cleared it, but the chain didn't. So I called James, he said it take care of it, and I have sent the frame back. I'm now in a calm zen state of meditative balance, and have accepted what will be will be.

    One other interesting development was that my rear (road) derailleur could not reach the high gear. I even removed the limiting screw, but it physically could not do it. In moving to disc brakes, I went from a Crossmax SL to a Crossmax SLR wheelset, and the SLR's pushed the cassette that much further out. I was starting to think this whole project was cursed, but by adding a shim between the derailleur and hanger, I was able to get perfect alignment.

    Nothing is ever easy... But when it's all finally done, I think the wait will have been worth it.

  30. #30
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    That sucks. Looks like James will have to put longer braze on mounts that extend the mounting position further rearward away from the axle. I was thinking you can move the mounts up the seatstay an inch or so until I remember there is a disc mount on the non-drive side. I was hoping to see the finished build when I received the email update for your thread. I am sure it'll all work out for you in the end with a little more wait time.

  31. #31
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    Sorry to hear man, I hope you have a bike you can ride in the meantime, especially with the busy season coming up.

    My story: Once I finally received my frame, the headtube was too short which caused the lockout knob to hit the downtube. First time I endo'd, the knob ripped a hole in the downtube. Yup, I don't do custom anymore.

  32. #32
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    Oh man, even taking the Dean away from Dean still has the Dean CS karma. I guess James maybe learned more than sweet Ti crafting there. Hope it all gets resolved soon.

  33. #33
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    Briefest of updates... Sent an email on Monday to see what the timeline may be. No response yet. Sigh. But with my temporary commuter I can boldly pedal around with nary a thought (other than those induced by all the parts in the hall waiting for that final tasty install) about it.

  34. #34
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    Any progress? Waiting on a build as well, but a factor of custom parts more than the builder.
    Cell # seems to works best for me if office calls and emails go unanswered.
    Best of luck!

  35. #35
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    Nada progressa, but part of it is I added a few additional brazeons and tidbits, so a slight increase over resolving the single issue. That's what I tell myself. I recently took a look at the parts waiting to keep the hope alive, and realized I my need professional help... But the parts are soooooo pretty!

  36. #36
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    Just gave James a call, and it sounds like, if all goes according to plan, I'll have a fame shipping out tomorrow! Breath bated!

  37. #37
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    Awesome, reminds me I need to call James. Looking at 2 weeks for my big wheeler if no hiccups. Just in time for a mtbing trip out of town, hope it gets here in time.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo View Post
    Just gave James a call, and it sounds like, if all goes according to plan, I'll have a fame shipping out tomorrow! Breath bated!
    Get your frame in hand yet?

  39. #39
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    Didn't even have a conversation in hand yet. Called last Saturday, James asked if i could call back in 30 min, gave him and extra 15, called, voicemail. Every call since then... voicemail. I have my old commuter set up again, so at least I have my transportation.

  40. #40
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    Thats too bad, same here. Some days I'm lucky with them ansering but the last week has been VM only. Should have had bike in hand this coming Friday but still waiting on CAD drawing and final opinion on parts, hoping it happens very soon. I'm calling daily until I hear back, left another message today.

  41. #41
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    Nice to see they have time to update their FB page though....
    Can you tell I'm having a bad day?

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by cleo View Post
    Didn't even have a conversation in hand yet. Called last Saturday, James asked if i could call back in 30 min, gave him and extra 15, called, voicemail. Every call since then... voicemail. I have my old commuter set up again, so at least I have my transportation.
    WTF?! It's going on 4 months on your frame mods already! I'm sorry to hear that. I'm starting to think that even Dean might be able to do the mods to your frame faster.

  43. #43
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    I just called and left another VM on James' cell. It's one of those things that once you say it out loud, you almost loose it ():

    "Hi James, it's me calling [yet] again... Ah, I haven't heard back from you yet... You said the dropouts were done and I'm just tying to see what the status is... You got the frame at the start of February and this is just brazeon work... This is starting to get ridiculous..."

    After hanging up, I feel the knot in my stomach. I mean jezzuzz! Seriously! I admit did have a few additional requests when I re-sent the frame back in April to get the previous work corrected (the risk of an idle mind). But since then I said if anything was even a *slight* issue, forget about it, just send it back when the main work was complete. This is madness! I'm close to the 5 month mark for this (short by 10 or so days) which, when originally discussed, I was told would take a week (a week!) to turnaround...

    Anyway, thanks MTBR for allowing me to lower my blood pressure without causing myself any harm. As per all previous posts, I'll update when and if the bloody frame is on its way.

  44. #44
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    So is it time for a more public call out, like on the CO front range page or something, stop payment, get small claims involved? It seems like people on here should know that they are potentially flushing away upwards of 4-5 K of their money in some cases for up to a year. Then the end result can be all effed up or totally sweet. It just heats me up that people think it's ok to have poor business practices and slow work ethic once they get paid, I guess that's why paydays are usually Friday.

  45. #45
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    That is my main beef. I just need communication. Don't tell me "done in a week," "we'll talk tomorrow" or "almost done" if not true. Granted "That'll be 5 months for some dropouts" may not be the best thing either, but realistic and consistent (any?) communication seems so basic. But, I have been called oblivious before...

  46. #46
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    I'm beginning to think he told you "a week" to get you to commit to letting him do the modifications and get your credit card numbers to he can charge you for the work that will "eventually" be done which most likely is whenever they are done building frames and forks that people paid four, five thousand dollars for. It's "almost done" until someone orders up a new frame and fork and your frame mods goes back to the back burner again. It would make me want to find a cheap flight over to his shop and get them to do it right there and then so you can take the frame back home myself. I feel for you, you are a much more patient man than me.

  47. #47
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    So I've been calling and calling, no one ever picks up or calls back. Today I supplemented the call with an email (there have been plenty of those as well), and, low and behold, a response. James said (a month ago) that the dropout brazons had been repaired and completed for a while . Thus my calls since then were asking for an update on the little remaining tap and brazeon work. Today I just asked for the frame back... and supposedly I will get it before the weekend. And once again, I will update once I see what's what.

  48. #48
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    Your story is a classic example of why I would never do business with James again. (Unfortunately...I got my own bad experiences).
    Some would call him an eccentric artist......I just call him a poor business man

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onetrack View Post
    Your story is a classic example of why I would never do business with James again. (Unfortunately...I got my own bad experiences).
    Some would call him an eccentric artist......I just call him a poor business man
    It's sometimes easy to one and tough as hell being the other. My Highlight ST is supposed to be in the Cyclogist's hands tomorrow for a payed for in my hand delivery by 7/1. I'm told I'm good. I hope so.

    PS My Stellar is hands down the best bike I've ever had bar none.

  50. #50
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    I hope it works out for you. My long awaited frame broke quickly after I received it because he made the steer tube too short, so the top cap hit the downtube and ripped a hole in the downtube. Instead of having him fix it, which I knew could take months/years, I just took one of his frames he had laying around and went with it.

    I also think it's poor form that they have time to update their facebook page through all of this, it shows direct neglect of your attempts to contact via email.

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