Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two boxcars for my $100 layout...

I'm old enough that I don't feel the need to receive birthday presents. My parents, however, insist on getting me one every year. It's always hard to decide what to ask for because I don't want them to spend a lot of money, but I also don't want something unless it's not a piece of junk. The past few years I've taken to asking for things they already have, like my dad's 35mm camera that he used when I was a kid. (It's broken now, but has a ton of sentimental value to me). This year though, I really couldn't think of anything. My mom announced that they'd decided to get me something for my train layout. I groaned inwardly... I couldn't think of any quality toy train stuff that wouldn't go above my self imposed price limit. My birthday came and went and I hoped my parents had forgotten about getting me something. Then at my son's birthday, my mom brought it up - "Have you found something for your layout that dad and I can get you? We really want to get you something..." <groan>... I told her I'd been looking but couldn't find anything I really needed, hoping this answer would satisfy them for at least another month. Not happening... the next night she called me and asked if I could pick something out soon because they wanted to order it before returning to their home in Bishop. <Gulp> - they want me to pick out something NOW? Where am I going to find something that I like and is also AFFORDABLE? Then I remembered Ready Made Trains. I've been kind of focusing on my HO scale Timesaver layout so O gauge wasn't even really on my radar. I do need some rolling stock for my $100 Layout (that I'll get around to building some day...) and these particular two cars actually have a family connection - my dad's uncle used to work for Western Pacific, and the Santa Fe car is just like the real ones I saw many times as a kid when we visited my grandparents in Sacramento and when I'd go on business trips with my dad in the summer to Mojave. Just as importantly, they're affordable - only $20 each which is a great price for O Gauge rolling stock. They arrived yesterday, and they're gorgeous. I'm happy with the cars and my parents are happy about getting me a birthday present. Next year though I'm going to lay down the law and tell them all I want is to spend the day together and eat some of mom's home cooking...

Related Pages:
Cheap Toy Train Layout
RMT Trains

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Customer service - above and beyond.

One of my pet peeves is vendors who list an item online but don't really have it in stock. Sometimes it's a bait-and-switch, other times just an honest mistake, but it ALWAYS aggravates the heck out of me - especially when it's something I've been searching for a long time or it's being offered at a really great price. Usually the vendor issues a refund. If they're nice, sometimes the refund comes with an apologetic explanation. If they're trying to make sure I never do business with them again, the refund may not be issued until I 'remind" them. In any case, no harm no foul because I got my money back so the vendor is freed from the obligation to deliver the product.

When I ordered my BL-2, it was listed at a really great price - about half what most vendors were charging for it - as part of a blow out sale at Hobby Station. A couple days after placing my order I recieved an email stating it would be shipped the next day and that they'd send me a tracking number. Well, I didn't recieve a tracking number but I wasn't too worried about it, sometimes things fall through the cracks and based on the email I figured they had shipped it but forgot to notify me. Then about a week after the email saying they were shipping I got another email from them with the dreaded "Product Name" in the subject line. Now I knew what happened - they were out of stock, "gee, sorry for the inconvenience" and informing me of a refund. When I opened the email though I was surprised in a very good way...

Dear Ken,

I apologize for the delay on shipping your order. We actually ran out of the ones we had on special and I've been trying to get another one for you.

I will email your ups tracking on Wed or Thurs and I do hope you will come back to us again in the future.

Thank you for your business.

Instead of taking the easy way out and just giving me a refund, they took the time to find a locomotive for me - one that I really wanted - and were even willing to take a loss on it to fulfill the order. I believe them on the price - all the vendors showing this locomotive in stock are asking $165 or more. So to Hobby Station - a heartfelt Thank You and my hat's off to you for customer service above and beyond.

I hope to have some time to run it this weekend and write up a review of the BL-2.