The internet and its effect on online sales

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GWR_fan
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The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby GWR_fan » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:09 pm

It seems of late that many manufacturers are receiving a reputation for less than stellar performances from locomotives in their stables if numerous online complaints are to be believed. If I was paying full retail then I would expect that the seller would ensure the loco was fully operational prior dispatch, although some years ago four newly purchased locomotives, verified as runners with an enclosed proof of testing, were found to be inoperative on arrival All four were suffering mazak rot. Sometime in the two weeks between testing and shipping to me the locomotives miraculously disintegrated.

Now if a store heavily discounts and provides return postage for defective items then what profit in that as no doubt they, the store, would either fully refund the purchaser or post out a replacement model. Return postage in the UK is approximately GBP4.00, while return postage from Australia on a loco less than 500 gms is approximately GBP11.00 and over 500 gms approximately GBP21.00 (less than 1 kg.). Added to this is the possible loss of customer confidence/loyalty in future purchases.

There are numerous manufacturers that I will not purchase products made by them due the multiple unfavourable samples received by many online. I know that a squeaky axle receives the most grease, however, the chances of receiving a dud loco are simply too high, with the result that I either engage in a lengthy return procedure or I accept the faulty loco and fix it if able to. There was a discussion on this site several years ago with the possibility that some stores engaged in the practice of shipping UK customer returns to overseas (international) purchasers with the intent that the purchaser would not return the product for a refund.

Examples of manufacturers I will not purchase products from, even if heavily discounted -

Heljan (steam) There are some of their diesel outline models I will not look at
Oxford Rails
Dapol
DJModels
Hornby (71 class, 800 class, latest Brighton Belle and the S15)

In pre-internet days one basically went to his local model railway store, saw the loco run on a test track and accepted the seller's story that the loco ran erratically because his test track needed cleaning. The one model railway magazine available at the time downunder would review a sample provided by the manufacturer or local distributor. Now a manufacturer will ensure that the sample provided was as perfect as could be as the manufacturer obviously would not relish a flawed review. The internet though takes out the "deception" by allowing all those with flawed models to voice their complaints online. Some see this as counter productive citing that it dissuades the manufacturer from further production. I, however, believe that the manufacturer should take this criticism as an incentive to improve production.

Some years ago when I was heavily involved in outdoor garden railways, I took a now defunct American manufacturer to task on how his latest and greatest should have been produced due numerous online complaints citing structural failure of the drive. This was a loco weighing around 10 kgs. I explained on the manufacturer's own forum, from an engineering point of view, how to improve the integrity of the drive removing the failure point described by many purchasers on the company's forum. I received an extremely nasty email from the company president with the intent of suing me for loss of sales as not one item had been returned to the manufacturer for warranty repairs. I suggested that the company president read his own company sponsored forum of the numerous complaints detailing an issue well known to us, the modeller and yet seemingly oblivious to the manufacturer as no one returned any product for a warranty claim. The flaw made the product unusable with the purchaser carrying out onsite repairs to keep the item running rather than claim for warranty. The manufacturer immediately released a warranty document detailing that anyone who experienced the failure should request a postage return label and send the item back for repairs so that the company could investigate. This resulted in a complete redesign of drive wheel retention on the chassis, although the design changes impacted the model in other ways.

Oddly, some months later the same president wrote a complimentary email to me requesting assistance on the redesign of a switch (point) that many were having operating difficulties with due flaws in the original design. The original switch had been designed by an engineer who had previously designed a range of trackwork for a major "h.o." manufacturer. It would seem though that simply magnifying the design from a "h.o." switch to a larger scale switch did not result in a flawless design. With my assistance the manufacturer redesigned the switch and then released the revised switch to the market. For cost reasons no doubt, the manufacturer did not incorporate several extra features that I proposed, even sending him a working sample as requested by him, that he shipped to China for the engineers to inspect. The end result was that only minor upgrades were carried out, although the end product was much superior to the originally released item.

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Bufferstop
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby Bufferstop » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:58 pm

Apart from there being none without the internet, it probably balances the rants and raves most times. If a dealer is sensible they will take note of problems and do something about it, even if it's only to explain.
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GWR_fan
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby GWR_fan » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:08 pm

Dave wrote:So, does the internet have an effect on online sales?


Well, it certainly impacted on my online purchases. In the last several years I have purchased only two new locomotives, each with a known track record, from Bachmann with all other loco purchases being pre-owned items. I have had a far better success rate with pre-owned items than it seems many have had with new release purchases.

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D605Eagle
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby D605Eagle » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:46 am

I have 4 Oxford Rail locos, a dozen Dapol, about 25 Heljan models, and with the exception of the LMS Garrat they have all been problem free. I have a DHM J94 which is disappointing, but runs okay (for now!) and a class 71 which is okay other than it runs very slowly. Hornby I'm always worried about buying, some of the manufacturers they use are less than satisfactory to put it mildly.

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sparkhill
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby sparkhill » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:01 pm

Pleased to hear someone has been lucky with Dapol as I had nothing but trouble with their N Gauge offerings, buying online has been pretty good for me in fact better than buying in store, I had a wow of an argument with a well known Brisbane hobby shop over a Hornby Terrier that stopped working after one hours running, I was accused of all kinds of things including having a faulty Terrier at home that I switched the mechanism over to the new engine, they had my Terrier for weeks but I found out later that most of the time it was just shoved under the counter, I had a mate that was refused entry to another Brisbane hobby shop because of a faulty loco, after refusing to swap or fix the loco he asked for his money back, after nearly coming to blows they gave him a refund and kicked him out of the shop forever, no matter if its local shopping or online buying you always hear horror stories, online is cheaper I also think it may be better for refunds and repairs.
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Nobby

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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby mahoganydog » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:34 pm

The worst part of all, and this also goes for buying at shows, is getting something back to a seller when it is dud. An honest trader will refund the postage others won't. On a couple of occasions I have bought items online only to find they were a pile of [expletive deleted] so had to return them. Much of the time this cost wasn't returned so when dealing with a trader I try and find a show they're going to and return it that way.

The single biggest advantage of the internet is sometimes, like GWR fan, you get lucky and this makes up for some of the bad experiences.
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b308
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby b308 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:12 pm

"Go into a local model shop and see it running"?! I wish!!

Other than the odd trip abroad and being lucky enough to actually find a model railways hop the 'net is my only way of getting what I model other than scratchbuilding a much worse model.

Thank goodness for the internet I say, and so do those Central European MR Manufacturers I use with their extra sales to me and like minded modellers!

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Mountain
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby Mountain » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:44 pm

Though I may sound a little contrevercial here, but why don't manufacturers simplify their chassis so they are basically a pair of frames that everything bolts on to in the manner that kit manufacturers and the likes of Triang used to do. Even if mazak weights were used, any issues could easily be corrected if they were made in this way.

b308
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby b308 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:49 pm

Cost I expect, even in China assembly is now costing more so the more parts you have the higher the cost.

GWR_fan
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby GWR_fan » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:13 pm

My point was, yes the internet does expose the retailer to a wider market, however, it also exposes the manufacturers' flawed production types. A model will get an "internet reputation" and then sit on dealers' shelves until firesaled off at a much lower profit margin. The internet has also exposed the mazak catastrophe that has plagued many modellers who open their rarely used models to find them unusable and voice their findings online, thus warning others to check their models. This makes others, not affected, wary of purchasing the type even if the model is a later release unaffected by mazak deterioration.

To their discredit one manufacturer has ignored the online criticisms of its models and rereleased later models with similar faults that were found in earlier releases or even new unreported faults. Now common sense would dictate that if a model is widely criticised then the manufacturer would ensure that later releases were problem free, but alas seemingly not so. This makes the consumer wary of further new type production from that manufacturer.

I find the internet a convenient way to shop as my "local" model railway store, apparently one of the largest in Australia, has basically disposed of most of its railway related products and concentrated on military, car and plane model kits. My last trip to the store some years ago resulted in a minimum one hour each way cross city travel amidst dense city traffic only to find that the store no longer stocked styrene glue or even a basic supply of model paint. I overheard one of the main salesmen in the store in discussion with a woman asking about her teenage son's new found interest in model railways. The salesman stated that they were selling off all their railway stock and not reordering as the internet had killed off the demand instore for those items. This store was one of the first stores downunder to offer a basic form of loyalty discounting if the staff recognised you as a regular customer and so did attract many customers, particularly over weekends when the store was extremely busy. Alas, times had changed on my last visit there and hardly a customer in sight.

I can now purchase online from say, Hattons and the airmail postage cost is less than the cost of petrol to the store plus shipping times are about the same if I was to purchase the same item from an Australian source. The overseas item will also be a lot less expensive as most dealers sell at full retail here. As an example a Hornby R8249 decoder online in Australia may be seen at $52.95 plus postage at around $10.00. One could buy almost two quality decoders from the UK for about the same price.

GWR_fan
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby GWR_fan » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:19 pm

Mountain wrote:Though I may sound a little contrevercial here, but why don't manufacturers simplify their chassis so they are basically a pair of frames that everything bolts on to in the manner that kit manufacturers and the likes of Triang used to do. Even if mazak weights were used, any issues could easily be corrected if they were made in this way.


Even Tri-ang found that method of construction time consuming and thus more expensive to produce and went to a full cast chassis.

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Phat Controller
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby Phat Controller » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:28 pm

GWR you have hit on one of my bug bears! Postage & the Internet!!

several years ago when I restarted my passion again (railway modelling that is! - minds out of the gutter), postage rates were very reasonable locally, AND worldwide. I could purchase an item in the UK, and have it delivered to my door, for less than the retail price here in the shops! Also the selection at our local model shops wasn't great, if you wanted anything out of the ordinary it was a months long wait (up to a year), or a visit back online. Buying 2nd hand was always for me, an online option, as there are barely any regular local model railway shows, or markets that I could get to.

Now I've noticed these 3rd party delivery schemes that online sites keep insisting on. What an overpriced load of bureaucratic hogwash it is! I buy a small lightweight plastic item (that could be placed in a envelope) worth GBP12.00 ,however, postage on said item is GBP43.80!! Apparently the seller packages the item, addresses it, charges me their postage, then forwards the item to a 3rd party, who then slugs me what they feel like to deliver it to my mailbox!! Isn't that what AIRMAIL is for??

Ohhh I forgot to say the 3rd party schemers say its for your protection in case things get lost etc etc (coughs) bull!!

#1 The seller has already charged me for postage

#2 The seller has already wrapped AND addressed the item

YOU are doing all the work for these people and THEY are reaping the rewards!

Why would I purchase anything from a seller that uses this scheme - answer I DON"T! Most of it is the principle of the thing, the other is the cost. There is no difference between these 3rd party schemers and Airmail, other than the schemers make more money, and loose you customers!

Other unscrupulous sellers from the USA have the item value low, and substantially increase the postage price, this I can understand, as ebay take a percentage of the selling price, NOT the postage price, however, US$80.00 - US$100.00 postage for a loco is wayyyyy over the top, and again, I do not buy from them, no matter how desperate I may be.

The internet can be a saving grace it can also bite you in the arse!! Caveat emptor "Let the buyer beware" it pays to do your research ........

and THAT, Ladies & Gentlemen is where the internet is invaluable!!
research = asking a bloke who knows a bloke who said something vaguely similar to what I wanted to hear! - Tony (aka the Phat Controller)

GWR_fan
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby GWR_fan » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:50 pm

Something that evilbay will not tell you is that should you raise a claim against a seller to return the item for a refund then you will only be refunded the actual postage cost that the seller paid to the third part provider. The additional shipping cost plus taxes charged by the third party is not recoverable. It is not unusual for a shipping cost of over GBP45.00 to ship a single "OO" loco when Hattons will charge you GBP6.50. I also have found that shipping time for a third party shipped item is much longer than if shipped by Royal Mail.

Also, the seller, say in the UK, is oblivious to the actual cost of shipping charged by these third party operatives to international customers. I emailed an eBay seller questioning the GBP24.00 cost to ship a single "OO" decal to me with no discount for multiple decal purchases. Thus four decals would cost me GBP96.00. He responded that he was shocked as to how much the third party was charging and sent me a revised postage cost of GBP2.40 to ship four decals.

I can understand why some sellers would opt into the Global Shipping Program as the seller only had to address the item to a local distribution centre, not having the trouble of shipping the item outside the country (a simple customs declaration taking but two minutes to complete). The third party provider in reality treats the item as an export item and as they are not postal workers but freight forwarders, treating the package as freight and applying commercial shipping rates, even applying local taxes, which in reality do not apply as the item is below the threshold.
Last edited by GWR_fan on Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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sparkhill
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby sparkhill » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:58 am

American postage is a joke as I wanted little HO scale brass bells to fit on steam locos a packet of two were $5us postage would have been $27us crikey these clowns must think I am a ding dong or somthing, I gave the Yank layout idea away and made a return to British

We exPats living in Oz pay through the nose for anything to do with model railways to make matters worse you cant get what you need most of the time, I have no sympathy for so called main street dealers over here they screwed us for years before the internet as far as I am concerned they can go broke.
Regards
Nobby

GWR_fan
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Re: The internet and its effect on online sales

Postby GWR_fan » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:16 am

A recent venture into fast electric boats to assist my son had me purchasing small parts from a U.S. hobby store. The store offered two methods of shipping - normal rate and economy rate. A warning on the site advised customers outside the States not to use the economy rate if the part was urgently required. Being in no hurry and not wishing to pay many times the economy rate to just have the part sitting in a spares box I opted for the lower. slower rate expecting not to receive the part for several months. Surprisingly on both occasions the part was received in less than a week, most likely quicker than if I opted for the more expensive rate.

Some U.S. stores have a minimum postal cost to compensate them for the gross inconvenience it would seem of shipping an item outside the continental U.S. They may charge the customer the higher rate but not necessarily pay that amount to the post office. I had a situation many years ago when contrary to my instructions and even before paying for the goods a U.S. seller shipped me several items using UPS. The shipper turned up to my door with the goods and yet no money had been paid. USPS postage would have been less than $140.00 usd and yet the seller chose to use UPS as he was a registered UPS customer and so received a shipping discount and UPS charged me $1000.00 for shipping. I entered into "negotiations" with the seller and paid the shipping but did not pay for the goods and the seller even gave me positive feedback. The overall cost was the same to me as if the seller had used the postal service, however, I do not know how much out of pocket the seller was.


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