My friends, I'm frankly amazed that you don't see more stories like this one.
A lady bought a bike at a Wal-Mart (in Illinois) for her 13-year-old son. On his first ride on the new bike, the handlebars "detached from the steering stem, causing Plaintiff to lose control of the bicycle, flip over the handle bars, and strike the ground, hitting his right shoulder on the curb, and causing Plaintiff severe and permanent injuries." Yep - she's suing. And rightly so. (Although, IMO, the rider shares in the blame - NOBODY should ride a bike until he or she has personally given it at least a cursory inspection to make sure the brakes squeeze, seat and handlebars are firmly attached, etc. The stakes are too high.)
Also noted, but a non-factor in the accident, were rear brakes that were "inadequate or non-functioning."
How many Wal-Mart bicycle mechanics have received any training? How many of them were likely stocking shelves, or working in the Garden Center, the week before?
I s'pose you should expect to get what you pay for... but just the same, you'd expect that even a $79.99 Wal-Mart wouldn't fall apart on you, at least on the first ride!
Story can be read HERE.
(For anybody who bothers to ask me, I encourage 'em to go to a BICYCLE STORE if they're just starting out. Where they can get some knowledgable advice, and can expect that the bicycle has been properly assembled and inspected. You might pay $250 instead of $80, but that cheap Wal-Mart bike isn't worth even that much. Also, I am NOT singling out Wal-Mart. All of the department stores - Target, KMart, Fred Meyer, etc. - have the same problem. Learn-as-you-go mechanics using Mexican speed-wrenches and trying to follow the Chinese-translated-into-English assembly instructions.)