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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Does anyone practice good customer service any more?

My idea of good customer service is, as a business owner (, if I make a mistake I do my darnedest to fix it right away. In fact I strive to go the extra mile to "delight" my customer because any good business person understands that a ticked off customer can either be turned into satisfied customer or be ticked off even more. They say every happy customer tells one other person but every mad customer tells 24 other people.

I trust people enough to believe that if someone is going to complain to me about a hole in a shirt or the wrong shirt was sent, that they are telling the truth. I chalk up the sale as a loss and try to make the customer happy. It doesn't happen often but if it did I'd examine my business practices and either fix the problem or get out of the business. I certainly don't treat every customer as someone trying to rip me off. I hate getting returns but its part of retail.

So anyway, at the Amherst Model Railroad Show, I stop by the Model Tech Studios booth and picked up this neat 0 Scale Lunch Wagon for my wharf scene. $20 for a laser cut, card stock little lunch wagon- a unique looking item. Two weeks go by and I pull it out to work on it. The instructions are slim so it takes me a little bit of time to figure out that about HALF of the kit is missing! No roof, only two out of four walls, no floor. I'm ticked off!

I fire off an email to the company (hotmail email account - not very professional), explaining how half the kit is missing and to please (I did say please) send me the replacement parts. I guess I'm naive because I figured I'd get an message back saying that they are sorry to disappoint and that the replacement parts are on the way.

Nope, they want me to send the kit back to prove that I actually have it. No apology. No sorry. I have to package up the kit, pay for postage and go to the post office and then wait days to hopefully get a new kit back. All of this for a little $20 for a model railroad on which I'm just getting started on and will probably be spending thousands (I don't want to guess how much) on over the years.

The thing that gets me most about this exchange is that after searching around on the Internet I uncovered several grips about missing parts from Model Tech Studios. It seems to be a continuing problem in the quality control area of their business. Knowing that this is a problem I'd think the smart business person would bend over backwards to fix the problem and perhaps gain some positive word of mouth in world as small as the model railroading world.

Here is part of one of the posts about Model Tech Studios lack of customer service:

"...building a more intricate (MTS) kit with missing parts, the response was "this is the first time we've ever had anyone complain about missing parts." I kid you not. It took quite a lot of back and forth before being able to secure the missing parts which I couldn't scratch build. Frankly, I didn't enjoy being questioned on my veracity regarding a small amount of missing parts when I had spent a huge amount of money for the kit (larger scale). The thought that a manufacturer would never admit to releasing any kits with some missing parts is so ludicrous to be laughable (if it wasn't at my expense). "S--- just happens" and we all understand that, but at least we expect some fair resolution. I remember once missing an entire wall section from a BarMills kit and when notified, Art said it would go out the next day and it did, no questions asked. That's customer service."

Anyone else have a good story about customer service among model railroad vendors? Positive or negative? Seems to me that model railroaders in general are a rather decent customer base willing to cut the vendors some slack when the vendors are willing to meet them half way. We appreciate having products available to purchase but need a decent amount of respect.

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