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There seems to be a discussion developing about customer service in another topic so maybe there is some current interest in this area. It may have been a topic bought up before but new forum members may want to share their views.

The manufacturers and stockists normally view topics such as this with interest so lets see!

And reference has been made to "American Style" customer service. Maybe those who are enlightened might provide more information as to what this means.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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My experience with dealing with American businesses either on the phone or on the net or actually being there as been that their customer service is generally very good. They are friendly and express and interest rather than "what do you want". I tend to base my customer loyalty around good customer service. I am not saying every American store has good customer service, what I am saying is that is more prevalent. The UK is pretty good too, Germany less so, Australia less again. I use the shops where they are prepared to give you more assistance and courtesy and don't waste time with shops like Lokshop or Totally Trains where they only want your money and are not prepared to waste time on you unless theres a buck in it.

Some examples are;
I emailed ESU (Germany) about their Ecos three weeks ago and still haven't had a reply,
Each time I email Maerklin it takes two months to get a reply,
I emailed Branchlines Trains (USA) about a missing part from one of their coach kits, they responded immediately and said they would send the part straight away. Four weeks later I did not have the part. I emailed them again they again replied immediately and apologised and said they had sent the part but that they would send it again due to it getting lost. Six days later I had it, two days later the original one they sent turned up.
Similarly Modelbahnecke (Germany) sold me a S3/6 which was damaged in transit and responded immediately they got the parts number and sent me two sets of the spare parts to fix it.

I could go on but will restrain myself.

So not every store from every country is one way or the other but I have found the Yanks to be amongst the best. Britain really changed in the eighties in this respect with huge boom in the service industry. The reality is if you are running a business and you want it to be succesfull, you don't treat your customers like shit.
 

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Having had some experience in the retail industry, I really can't believe the service standards generally in the UK. I'm not just talking hobbies here, but all retail in general.
Perhaps this standard of service is becoming the norm now, but I have found many UK companies very lax as far as customer care is concerned.
My pet hates are:-
1) "Railway Modeling" shops that sell all sorts of other models, where the staff don't know about the goods they sell (If you are a UK based modeller, you know the model shop chains who are the chief culprits).
2) "Railway Modeling" shops that treat you as if you are an idiot for asking any type of question (stand up and take thunderous applause Pecorama)
3) Mail Order shops / internet sites that don't like you contacting them with anything but an order (more rapturous applause for Rails of S)
4) Manufacturers who can't tell the difference between Mid 2006 / November 2006 / Early 2007 / any time we get it done, when announcing the release dates for new models (cue Bachmann, Hornby, Heljan, Old Uncle Tom Cobly and all) --- oops sorry Bachmann, didn't mean to upset you, please don't stop sending me press releases.
5) People who accept bad service with a shrug of the shoulders and an air of inevitability --- Because it's your fault (and mine) for putting up with bad service for so long.

I'll get off my soapbox now because there are many shining lights in this hobby of ours. Mainly the local model shop, the small mail order "cottage industry" suppliers and our cousins across the pond, who for some reason seem to be genuinely interested in being as helpful as possible.
I'm glad I'm not a British Outline modeller living abroad, that must be hell.

To all our UK suppliers that may read this --- Have a nice day !!!
 

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It's better now than it was though. My favourite is the dissinterested 16 year old shop girl on the phone talking to her mates, avoiding all eye contact. They are the pits.

I find in many shops the service staff will know shit about what they are selling. It's often pile em high sell em cheap. Warehouse syndrome.

I agree with the arrogant railway shop guy thing as well. I hate asking for something and getting, "what do you want that for don't you know.....", yeah well maybe I do and I don't give a f
just give it to me. A couple of my local rail shops here are like that with the arrogant staff, that would be Branchline of Croydon, however on the contrary Hearns Hobbies on Flinders st have the most helpful staff you could want and will answer any question you have. I put all my business their way.
 

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QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 24 Oct 2006, 10:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It's better now than it was though. My favourite is the dissinterested 16 year old shop girl on the phone talking to her mates, avoiding all eye contact. They are the pits.

I find in many shops the service staff will know shit about what they are selling. It's often pile em high sell em cheap. Warehouse syndrome.

I agree with the arrogant railway shop guy thing as well. I hate asking for something and getting, "what do you want that for don't you know.....", yeah well maybe I do and I don't give a f
just give it to me. A couple of my local rail shops here are like that with the arrogant staff, that would be Branchline of Croydon, however on the contrary Hearns Hobbies on Flinders st have the most helpful staff you could want and will answer any question you have. I put all my business their way.


Thanks Neil, I'll have a google for hearns to see if they've got a website.
 

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Forgot to say that here in Brisbane we have Austral Modelcraft which is run by Ray Nunn and his Wife Eileen, very helpul and friendly couple. Hope they read this, I might get some discount
 

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I have only had to deal with bachmann customer service.
They sended the part promptly but it sounded like the entire office was just messing about in the backround.
it dosent fill me with confidence when i had to send them a £200 loco. i have also had loco's come back with broken parts.

Peter
 

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Wow, sounds like theres a lot of disatified modellers out there? I wonder why i have never had bad service from model shops? may be i,m just lucky, I did purchase a Hornby "Princess Elizabeth" some time back, and after several runs around the track, the motion fell to bits, a nut had unwound itself and every thing dropped off, i found most of the loose bits, except for a "O" spacing ring, a quick call to Hornby, and a new ring arrived 2 days later. As for internet shopping, I found R.O.S extremely helpful, when i have ordered anything and they have,nt had it in, I have received a phone call let me know whats happening. Many years ago there was a Model shop in york way, at the side of kings X station, London, its gone now, but i was asked to leave that shop, my offence !! i was 12 years old, I wonder why it closed?
 

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I would like to say that Bromsgrove Models give outstanding customer service. Well done John. If you place an order you get a response and I have also returned two TCS decoders which i broke and they were replaced very quickly.


Onto Bachmann, how can a major manufacturer not have an easier way of ordering spares, send a cheque! Blimey it's a miracle they have a website!

I have only spoken to Hornby once to ask about a forthcoming release and to be honest they couldn't tell me anything about it, they said they would ring me back but didn't what a laod of
 

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I returned two years ago to railway modelling by buying a Hornby live steam set. I had a couple of problems with it, but Hornby responded quickly and with good technical advice.

I then started building a layout on which to run the live steamer and found another problem regarding the short connection between power supply and controller. This took longer to sort out, but again once in contact with the technical people the matter was rapidly resolved. So about 9/10 to Hornby.

I've since bought some modern examples of both Hornby and Bachmann locos and rolling stock and have had no problem with any of them or the suppliers. The quality does seem to have comsiderably improved over the last 40 years.

What I miss most is the decent local model shop - I have to go a distance to find my nearest!

Regards,
John Webb
 

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John,

Do what I do, attend your local model railway show. I have found these to be a good source of useful advice and have frequently found items that even my "local" model shop (twenty five miles away in Faversham) is unable to supply. Aditionally I have found many of them will often be able to get spares for older items of both English and Continental stock.

regards

John
 

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Thanks for the advice - In St Albans we have a '3 Counties Toy fair' at a local school every three months. There is also a quite good range of exhibitions within a reasonable distance from here, including the Chiltern MR Association one in January actually in St Albans.

The trouble with exhibitions that they are very tempting to the pocket!
Regards,
John Webb
 

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QUOTE (Gary @ 23 Oct 2006, 08:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>And reference has been made to "American Style" customer service. Maybe those who are enlightened might provide more information as to what this means.

Happy modelling
Gary

I am an expat and have been living in the USA for just over 15 years. Recently my wife and I decided to have our garage redone with a wall storage system, cabinets and a tiled floor system. Due to budget constraints I did the flooring my self and the rest was left to a garage specialist. The flooring I put in is called racedeck. Basically a 12"x12" plastic tile that inter-connects to other tiles. The tile is simply laid onto the concrete floor, no glue. Keep in mind I purchased $2,000 worth of tile for our garage. I found that when my wife parked her Volvo into the garage some of the tiles would unlock and buckle. Being a little retentive I had a few sleepless nights about this issue.

racedeck

I called up racedeck and they said if it is possible to send them a couple of pics of the buckling tile. I emailed the customer service rep three photos. Now this is where the "American style" of service shines. She showed the photos to one of their engineers and the next day I was told to remove the first row of tiles and offset them so that the joint lines are staggered like brick in a wall. This was easy to do as easy removal of these tiles is a big selling point. Voila problem solved. The icing on the cake is that the photos that I had emailed the customer rep showed three tiles that had been nominally damaged. She overnighted me six extra tiles without me even asking for anything. I used three different colors of tile and she was actually going to send me six of each. I felt bad because I had several of each as spares and told her just send me six of the one color. A few days later she called me to check if the offsetting had cured the buckling problem.

Sorry to go on but this is a good example of REAL customer service.
 

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Putting a positive spin on the topic, Langley Models are fantatsic. Online shop is very easy to use, ordered some bits 11am Wed, here 9am Thurs. Came with catalogue of their parts as well. Other "cottage industry" companies have had similar service that I have dealt with.

In terms of mail order Shrewsbury model center have been fantastic, good prices, free postage if you spend over £70, prompt service. When I had a problem with a Hornby 50, they paid for all the postage in sending it back to them and quickly sent me a replacement.

Where customer service is really patchy has been local Model centres and people who don't specialise in Railways. Questions like "Do you stock the Knightwing range?" was met by "Is it Hornby?".

A shop I used to frequent trotted out the same excuse for not having anything e.g. "Where might I find ballast?" was responded by "We had some once but we never made any money at it so we had a sale and stopped selling it". Payment was always an issue, "can I pay by cheque?" was met with "Aint you got any cash!?"

With service like that is it any wonder so many have gone to the wall.
 

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QUOTE Putting a positive spin on the topic, Langley Models are fantatsic. Online shop is very easy to use, ordered some bits 11am Wed, here 9am Thurs. Came with catalogue of their parts as well. Other "cottage industry" companies have had similar service that I have dealt with.I would agree with that completely, that was my experience with Langley.

Speaking of cottage industries, I remember when Jim Hendry used to own Townstreet going round to his house to buy stuff (I used to live near him) and spending the evening there. I had a guided tour round the whole of his set up, saw his layout, his road show he used to take to exhibitions and spent the evening having tea and biscuits discussing his product and others. I am far more inclined to buy stuff from his business than anyone elses because he's someone I know rather than a business. Unfortunately he doesn't run Townstreet any more, he retired but you see my point.

Interaction with your customers isn't hard but it's a lesson some of these bulk shops don't learn and thats why they don't get customer loyalty. I don't buy from wa
ers regardless of how good their prices are.
 

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I am in the process of trying to get an expensive (to me) US loco repaired or replaced. It broke down after 6 months infrequent use. Despite numerous phone calls to the UK supplier who, in turn, is trying to contact the US manufacturer I still have a duff product. The supplier seems to imply that since the loco worked for 6 months without fault then the warranty is questionable. I assume a warranty to be one year and if the product fails within that period it should be repaired or replaced without question. As negotiations are still ongoing I will not name the Manufacturer or supplier, but I am getting a little pee'd off at this stage.

Brian
 

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Many years ago there was a Model shop in york way, at the side of kings X station, London, its gone now, but i was asked to leave that shop, my offence !! i was 12 years old, I wonder why it closed?

Asked to leave because you were 12?
Pull the other one. There were plenty of young customers that went to that shop, and they were encouraged to model as that meant they would put there pocket money over the counter.
There were certainly difficult customers, the mentally ill, as well as the odd one or two that were just plain unpleasant, but some people are like that. Of those asked to leave, there was usually a very good reason behind it, suspicion of shoplifting, buying solvents, harrasing other customers, one who asked to use the loo and then 'mainlined' in the loo. Someone then had to get her out onto the street again. The old trick of paying for a tin of paint with a fiver and claiming it was a twenty, that sort of stuff, those are the sort of reasons, not because you were aged twelve! I can't recall anyone being banned, and you certainly wouldn't have been asked to leave just because of your age, if you were asked to leave there would have been good reason behind it, I have no doubt of that.
If you're wondering why it closed, you obviously have no idea of London commercial rates. The shop premises came to the end of their lease and the rates were put up astronomically, making the running of a hobby shop unviable. That is the main reason why.
 

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QUOTE (Branchliner @ 26 Oct 2006, 23:16) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I am in the process of trying to get an expensive (to me) US loco repaired or replaced. It broke down after 6 months infrequent use. Despite numerous phone calls to the UK supplier who, in turn, is trying to contact the US manufacturer I still have a duff product. The supplier seems to imply that since the loco worked for 6 months without fault then the warranty is questionable. I assume a warranty to be one year and if the product fails within that period it should be repaired or replaced without question. As negotiations are still ongoing I will not name the Manufacturer or supplier, but I am getting a little pee'd off at this stage.

Brian
Have you tried contacting the manufacturer direct?
 

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Neil

I was about to contact the manufacturer, however the supplier has just informed me that they had at last responded and are shipping a new sound chip. I think I will stick to buying more familiar products and installing the chips myself.

Brian
 
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