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Model shop v mail order.

6008 Views 38 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  spongebob
In reading various model rail magazines and enclosed classified advertisements, a thought came to mind.
A classified advertisement for a Heljan c33 model priced at £62.00, and an identical c33 in an Edinburgh well known model shop at £79.00.
The Edinburgh model shop were not prepared to reduce the asking price by a few pounds, but prepared to lose the sale.
Now the question, what can a model shop offer in this instance to offset the difference of £17.00. Taking into account again in this instance, that the rail fare is identical in value to the postage charged by the mail order firm.
Buying from the model shop, before parting with your money, you see and hold the particular model and have a test run over a few feet of track. In comparison to the mail order, you can only examine the model after parting with money and any faults will only be rectified by sending back the model, at your expense, to the address of the mail order firm.
Forum members views will certainly be welcome reading.
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The best thing would be to live closer to the cheaper model retailer!.

But if that is not the case then it really is a toss up, six of one or half a dozen of the other. Considering the quality of todays models the chance of buying a dud are pretty remote. With this I am buying from retailers (much cheaper in price) in the UK even though there are a couple of retailers near me here in Virginia. After taking into account the VAT deduct and shipping cost I am still saving about $25 per loco (Hornby A4). It would be good if the retailer would test the unit prior to shipping that way one would get the best price and a working model. This is assuming that the retailer does not ship the model regardless.
I have to admit to purchasing items such as locos and rolling stock from stores on the internet, and so far have not had a reason to return anything for any reason, i find it quite enjoyable looking at all the reputable sites, comparing their stock along with their prices, and as a rule generally get my mits on the goodies within a few days, so, to sum it up for me, it saves me a 24mile round trip to my nearest model shop, and the cost of the items are definitely more competitive. I have not yet had any negative experiences buying on the internet, may be i have been lucky, or these companys have got theirs acts together and deliver a good service, which is why i keep going back for more.
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To me hobby shops are like book shops. I visit them wherever in the world I find myself. The stock may cost more but for me in most cases it's worth it.
In my experience Internet traders have to meet higher standards than high street stores and offer all the after sales support that should be available in a shop. There are still some shops where one meets the wrong attitude, where novices are still looked down on and where women are treated with contempt - I suspect this is why a much higher proportion of internet model rail shoppers are from the distaff side of the hobby.

I am sure we have all wandered into a model shop and asked what we knew was probably a dumb question - what happened next decided if that shop retained your custom or lost the sale.....

I've bought from online sellers who supplement their shops through both mail order and internet sales and to be honest i've had fewer problem loco's bought online than from actually walking into a shop and handing over the readies. Thankfully the shops i do use on a walk in basis are already discounted rather than top whack rrp sellers. I'd suggest if you don't want to pay a ludicrous price then buy from one of the shop sellers such as rails in Sheffield or the signal box in Kent who do good discounts and are very reasonable on postage. Both trade on ebay.

Speaking of Rails of Sheffield they are showing the 2006 hornby catalogue in stock already for £7.50
Being a British outline 00 gauge modeller and living here in Spain I don't have any choice but to buy over the internet or by phone from the UK. Having said that I recieve an excellent service from The Signal Box dealing through the internet and have never had any problems. When I do have to ring them for any reason I always seem to be talking to someone who knows what they are about.
Incidentally is there any difference buying direct from the shop or going through e-bay with the same firm, price wise I mean?
Sometimes you get a bigger bargain on Ebay. Just bought a Heljan Western from SignalBox for £55. Didn't find it on their website.

I use a mixture , but as I am very close to Holt Model Railways whose prices are extremely competitive I suppose I am lucky.

What I do like doing is looking up the local shop when I am on holiday, very interesting.
I think that signal box tend to use ebay to shift the last few items of a line or to list new lines and they can offer quite a saving over even their shop prices.
I recently bought a bachmann standard 5 for the princely sum of £54 including postage, their previous magazine advert had it to clear for a fiver more and i've seen some for upwards of £80. Signal box don't list as much on ebay as Rails do and a lot less frequently also.
Its worth checking out a sellers ebay "shop" stock as items are listed for longer and don't show up on a regular search.
If you need any hornby spares then modelspares from Burnley also list quite a lot on ebay as well and there are some people who seem to buy a loy of lima stock to break for spares too, maybe they won't need to soon!
In the town closest to me, there were 4 model shops 10 years ago. Now there is 1 that sells RC planes - and it's only because the guy has nothing else to do that he stays open. 10 years ago there wasn't much online for sale. I bought model from the 2 major Paris model train shops, but I paid a premium.

Now there is a wide choice. You can buy from eBay and get what you see in some fuzzy photo, or you can buy from an online speciality retailer or you can buy form a model shop that has an online presence. I do the later, so if there is ever advice needed they can offer it to me. They also give me free shipping to France - so that is a big enough incentive to use them? They are one of the cheapest in the UK.
There are some good bargains to be had online if you shop around. Sometimes within the same site as smoe have been finding out on here recently.
I haven't been modelling long enough to compare how many shops now to ten years ago but a colleague who got a train set for christmas asked me for a local shop around Leeds and i struggled a bit as i tend to go a bit further afield and he doesn't know Bradford too well.
For a list of outlets and clubs etc then try...

but don't rely on it being 100% up to date.
60134 has made an interesting observation.

Now when I go into a shop for the first time I browse around and the shopkeeper is there and at some point you either approach the shop keeper and leave the shop or simply leave the shop. Those are the only two options you have when you think about it.

Do you feel that the shopkeeper is watching you? Strange but its that sort of feeling that makes some customers slightly uncomfortable about going into a strange shop and browsing for half an hour. Best thing to do is to approach the shopkeeper straight off and tell him what you are going to do which is browse for half an hour. For some reason this makes things much more comfortable for both the shopkeeper and yourself.

Then if you spot something but are not happy with the price for whatever reason then tell the shopkeeper that you would buy this or that but you have seen it at so and so for £X or £Y. You normally get a reaction of one sort or another. You don't normally get a "well buy it at so and so then!"

Best to be bold if you visit a shop is my advice.

Happy modelling
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for all my models i tend to go to rochester to buy all my models and so far i hva enever had any problems with them
My reason for posting this topic was to check if the substantial difference in model prices found between Model Shops and Advertisers in the various Model Rail magazines.
Differences in price warrants to patronize the Model Shop or the Advertisers and what constitutes the deciding factor?
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I'm lucky - I have a local model shop a 10-minute drive from home - I get on well with the guys there, get good prices and am also able to get track, decoders, scenery bits and pieces all of which you need for the railway. So all my Hornby and Bachmann requirements come from the local model shop as I'm strongly of the opinion if you don't use them you will lose them.

For my other interests - US and Japanese outline I use mail order - there is no local shop to me that sells US and Japanese outline. For European outline and G-Scale I use a combination of mail order from specialist shops and driving over to Faversham (about 35 minutes given a clear road!!). No one shop can supply all my needs!! I do not use the major discount mail order companies as a result of what I regard as some spurious business practices in the past (charging credit cards way in advance of sending the goods).

Pricing is not paramount in my choice of retailer. I do not expect the cheapest prices but I do expect to pay a fair and reasonable price. I do not being taken for a ride - when that happens it's easy - I stop using that retailer. All the retailers I currrently use I'm happy with. Long may it continue!!

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I am a careful shopper.

Apart from day to day shopping, anything much over £20 I will buy at the best price I can find. These days, that is almost always mail-order/internet. Even before the net, the vast majority of these purchases were mail order. Unless faced with an unrefusable special offer in a live shop, virtually everything I buy that is model related will be from a reputable but CHEAP net dealer. I can't remember ever having any kind of a problem and I am very happy to continue this way. I always take care to check the full cost of shipping though when making comparisons.

One thing that amuses me about some 'bargain' hunters is the way they think nothing of spending £10-£15 on petrol driving to a shop sale, in order to save £5 off the normal price of an item! The other great laugh is people paying more than even the normal shop price to chase down an auction on Ebay - absolutely amazing.

Although I haven't (yet) seen this applied in the model rail field, there is a great, legal Ebay trick often played. Canny Ebay sellers will track down a reliable source for popular items at a rock bottom outlet that also offers free shipping, then auction the same goods on Ebay. With any luck at all, a bunch of nitwits will bid all the items to well over the original price, to which is added a fairly high shipping charge. Even if the cost price isn't reached, the high shipping (remember its free really) easily covers this. The seller never has to stock any goods or even handle them. Money for old rope is the appropriate expression, I think.
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One thought about buying from a blurry picture on ebay.... I assume you all shop at argos? How much of that stuff can you actually get a hold of in store and how much of a pain in the ass is it to drag it back to the shop if it is faulty especially a large and heavy item. A lot of their stuff isn't available in store either.
QUOTE Canny Ebay sellers will track down a reliable source for popular items at a rock bottom outlet that also offers free shipping, then auction the same goods on Ebay. With any luck at all, a bunch of nitwits will bid all the items to well over the original price, to which is added a fairly high shipping charge. Even if the cost price isn't reached, the high shipping (remember its free really) easily covers this. The seller never has to stock any goods or even handle them. Money for old rope is the appropriate expression, I think.

Just a few observations to make on this point in defence of the "canny Ebay sellers".

Don't you think these canny ebay sellers are offering a service?

How long does it take to track down the very best price on the internet? The great majority of those searching will never find it.

In 2 hours of searching for a "best price" how much is it possible to earn during a 2 hour period? Or could 2 hours be spent on something more enjoyable than trawling the internet?

If somebody wishes to use their time to provide a service to people by listing on a proxy basis an item on Ebay that permits people to buy the item at a fair price with a search that takes no more than 2 minutes then good luck.

And I am not so sure that the buyers are a bunch of nitwits. They may be very busy people earning £1000's and time is money. These sort of people don't sound like nitwits to me!

You have to weight up how you value your own time. If you value it highly then you will go with the best deal you can locate quickly.

Whilst this discussion is not really about Ebay it is an avenue of shopping that is difficult to avoid with all its media advertising in the UK on TV and in the newspapers.

And there are plenty of model railway outlets who do have Ebay shops.

Happy modelling
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QUOTE about buying from a blurry picture on ebay
I have no doubt that pics are often deliberately blurred to mislead the hapless punter.
The safest solution to that is never to buy from such traders. A decent seller will provide decent pictures - if he has nothing to hide.

There can't be much doubt that EBay IS mail order, whether snail mail, electronic or a mixture of both. It is also VERY big. So it must necessarily be an equally big part of comparisons between mail order and physical model shops.

Time certainly can be money.
But I don't know very many people whose employer pays them "£1000's" to abuse the company PC system for setting up private Ebay deals! In fact I have seen several written company policies specifically citing such unauthorised use as a disciplinable offence. But I guess some people will always take that chance and betray their employer's trust. If the guy was earning big bucks, I wouldn't expect him to be skulking around Ebay anyway, but to be yelling at his secretary, "Get me a XXXXX, pronto!", rather than wasting his own precious time on it - that's what underlings are for!

A fair price.
How could anyone possibly know what IS a fair price if they don't even take the time to find out? If they do take the time to find out, then they might as well just order the thing there and then without faffing around on Ebay! It could be said that if they can't be bothered to do even the most elementary check, then they almost deserve to get shafted and Ebay's phenomenal success is at least partly based on such idleness and stupidity. Ebay will certainly oblige in that direction and that was the point of my anecdote.

I am not going to say what the items in question were but the simple facts are these. The most elementary web search would have swiftly located the item, readily available, with free shipping, from probably THE most well-known supplier of cut price goods there is. No two hours searching, just a few seconds! Failure to even bother looking, resulted in some people paying well more than double that store's price, a figure so high that it exceeded the most expensive source you could possibly find.

It's all perfectly legal, but it does exploit human weakness, laziness and lack of plain common sense. Those are also legal and demonstrably not in short supply.

I was being rather charitable.
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There are some fair comments there.

Without naming names would I be correct in assuming that the massive saving was in connection with products not related to model railways?

I have to say that I have never seen 50% savings on model railway kit.

However given that I do know where there are 50% savings or more on products not railway related then then if somebody wishes to benefit in kind from that then surely no harm done?

There are people on Ebay who make money out of selling links to such bargains. They are offering a service and levying a charge for it. And they get positive customer feedback. So the punters who pay for the link seem satisfied.

Maybe Model Rail Forum should set up such a service and charge for it!

How would members feel if you saw links here that you had to pay for but which would direct you to absolute bargains?

Come on. Lets get some feedback on this!

Happy modelling
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