Rant: Outrageous Pre-order Lead Times

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riverotter1948

Midwest Alliance Rail Sys
I got a little computerized message when I logged into one of these forums chiding me for not posting message for “a while now”, practically begging me to post something of interest to the membership. Well, I just happen to have something I’d like to share. . .

Don’t let me get off on a rant here, but what’s the deal with the outrageous lead time on model train pre-order items?

Back in September of 2006 (that’s a year ago for the calendarly-challenged) I reserved a PCM Great Northern S-2 4-8-4 steam locomotive and several Southern Pacific Daylight passenger cars. The “promised” date at that time was December of 2006. A friend of mine did the same thing at about the same time with the PCM Daylight GS-4 and the full complement of passenger cars. These items now have an "estimated" date of January 31, 2008. Upon hearing that news, I immediately notified the dealers I pre-ordered through that I was canceling my orders. A year is long enough. If they can't deliver it by then, the heck with it. I have plenty of locomotives and rolling stock. (Some people might say "too much", but they're obviously not train people...)

Now I realize that being in the business of manufacturing and distributing products for model railroaders is a low profit margin proposition in the first place, so god forbid you should have two or three of whatever you’re having the Chinese manufacture for you left over after all the pre-orders have been fulfilled.

Or am I just imagining that? What about Factory Direct Trains, who seem to have warehouses full of PCM and Broadway Limited and other equipment that supposedly had to be pre-ordered (often with a deposit) because it was going to be made in such a limited quantity? I put down a deposit on not one, but two of the new AC6000 diesels with my LHS, and paid $145 each for them when he got them in – which was a week *after* FDT was advertising them all over the place for $119. What the ?! I was so mad I sold both locomotives on eBay and bought one better-quality diesel with the proceeds.

Manufacturers, listen up! Most of the people in this hobby are old farts! People, you’ve got to remember this: we’re likely to kick the bucket at unpredictable and inconvenient times. And, sooner rather than later, probably. So if you want to get your hands on our money before we die, you’d better get on the stick and get your products out the door.

But that’s just my opinion…
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
I only buy my BLI from Factory Direct Trains! Why pay & wait and pay more, when I can just go there and get it for $120? I still don't understand why people insist upon looking at their LHS, when we all know there's some place on the net cheaper.

*rant over*
 

Larry

Long Winded Old Fart
About 6 months before the HHP-8 diesels came out I ordered them from a mail order house. They were supposed to come in just before the 6 months were up. They didn't. Then I received a notice that they would be at least 60 days late. I said the heck w/that & I cancelled my order. I was lucky that I hadn't made a downpayment, because I would have lost it if I had cancelled before it came in. Since then I've never pre-ordered anything.
About 2 weeks after I cancelled my order I got a catalog from Micromark & there on the back cover were those locomotives at about half of the preorder price. I bought 2 for $71.00 ea.
When the Bombadier pass. cars came out I just had to have 3 of them. I saw in a Model RR mag that you could preorder them for $89.00 for a set.
I swore I was going to wait & see what happened. About a week before they were supposed to be shipped I got a circular from Toy Train Heaven that they had the 3 car sets for $49.00 w/freight prepaid. I trounced on that deal & bought a set of Fla.Tri-rail. These cars are really hard to find now & if you do the price is quite high.

Larry
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
FDT is where BLI and the gang clear out all the stuff they can't sell at normal prices. If you ask a LHS (or even an Internet shop), they're not overly wild about BLI doing that. WHy would somebody pay 25% less via the 'net when you can buy from FDT at even better prices?

Long pre-orders are used to gauge interest. BLI did that with one of their Pennsy offerings; they put up that little chart showing where they were with pre-orders and where it is in relation to getting a green light to 'produce'. If it takes 10yrs to get there, then that's how long it's going to take.

I don't preorder either, though I have put my name on a list 'for interest'. I don't like putting down a deposit on something that I may have no interest on when the thing actually comes out.

Kennedy
 

Joe Daddy

C & SF, my obsession
I only buy my BLI from Factory Direct Trains! Why pay & wait and pay more, when I can just go there and get it for $120? I still don't understand why people insist upon looking at their LHS, when we all know there's some place on the net cheaper.

*rant over*
I can think of several reasons. Some of us:
  1. Have real Local Hobby Shops, others simply don't.
  2. Have been badly burned by the internet shysters.
  3. Like to touch and look at things before we buy it.
  4. Have local hobby shops that are cheaper than anywhere on the web

I preordered & bought my P2K ATSF 2-8-8-2 from my LHS, and got it cheaper than I saw it on the web for months afterward, and I got my locomotive quicker than those who waited for it to show up on the web.

Let us be honest about it, FDT and other places on the web who have excellent, low, low prices are typically selling surplus merchandise, stuff left over that did not sell, stuff they got from a hobby shop buy out. Everyone in business has to make a profit to remain in business.

I've purchased a couple of locomotives from the web outlets only to have their merchandise be the stuff that doesn't work right out of the box, or have failing parts within hours of putting it on the layout. Are they getting and selling seconds somewhere? I don't know, but that has been my experience.

Long live the LHS. By the way, my LHS is one of the better web stores around. It is a fact that to have a successful web store one must have inventory somewhere to sell from.

Joe
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
I guess, if my LHS (any of the 4) sold them cheaper I'd be there. But I'm not going to pay $180 for a $169 Blue Line, when I can get it for $122 after shipping!

My LHS's are great, don't get me wrong, but I'm a cheap man, if it costs less somewhere, I go there... Not to mention I've won about a dozen auctions run by my LHS (*devil horns*...).
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Joe, I completely understand and agree in part with some of your 4 reasons, but I have to look at it very much like Josh:"...I'm a cheap man, if it costs less somewhere, I go there." I figure my layout would only be 75% where it is now if I paid the MSRP that many of the LHS charge. My choice is based on economics and not a compasion to keep someone in business. That is why I also shop Wal Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, and other chain stores.;) :)
 

Frank Rizzo

RAIL BARON
Speaking of FTD, they have an "Odds and Ends Sale" going on now, received an email today on it. PCM N&W Y6b 2-8-8-2 No Sound: $199 and With Loksound: $249. Also assorted AC6000 No Sound: $79, Unlettered and No Sound UP Big Boy 4-8-8-4: $199, assorted Galloping Geese No Sound: $69 and With Sound: $99, and more.

http://www.factorydirecttrains.com/store/

Will see if there is any delay on shipping the N&W Y6b 2-8-8-2 ...

Frank
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Mhmm, nice one hey Frank, I contemplated the $79 AC6000CW's, I'd be up to 2 or 3 depending on if I bought one or 2, lol.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
I'm with you Frank. I ordered the Y6b.
The price kind of scared me, but hopefully there isn't some hidden beast lurking somewhere.
 

Maxitrains

Member
Lucky you all guys that have a LHS somewhere near you, and if not really near, you can also take a ride to the nearest one. Unluckily for me I have to get everything online, 'cause the LHS we have here don't sell anything related with Model RR. The interest here is mostly in diecast vehicles or aircrafts or radio controlled items. So for me its out of the question to find anything at hand, I have to rely completely on ONLINE purchasing.

I started this hobby when there were two LHS which sold Model RR related items, but one of them closed and the other stopped importing such items. With a small island like our, of such small population ( approx 400,000 ) there's not much sales of anything, and with these many shops selling the same items, you can imagine the small share of sales that every shop can have. Also when ordering items for a shop, the foreign suppliers normally ask for large quantities to be ordered, which almost no one can afford unless he's opening a super store and need alot of items to fill it up, which in the case of our country, no such store will ever be.

I mostly rely on your suggestions about prices and quality, since I have to buy the items before I can see them in hand.

Hope things can change around here (in my country) mostly shipping costs and maybe order quantities reduced by foreign suppliers.

C ya around folks ;)
 

ThoroughBreed

Dcc~detail~diesel freak
I live in a city of over 50k people and only 1 hobby shop, a hobbytown. I buy my BLI from FDT also as they are the cheaper of the 2. As for FDT being owned by PCM/BLI, not so, it is owned by the brother of the CEO though.
http://precisioncraftmodels.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=280
PCM has their own forum now, mainly a place for customers to rant. But you can discover what the intend to produce from there.
As for the $79 Ac6000's for sale, those are paragon stealth series engines, no dcc or sound. The bluelines all have sound but no dcc motor control.
I jumped at the blueline AC6000 when it came out and got mine from FDT, sounded great out of the box in dc, but had problems with the dcc programming of the on board sound. After 2 days of emails with BLI, they said to send them the engine and they would return it in about a week. Instead I called FDT, and they sent me a new engine with a return UPS label in the box for the bad one. They have better customer service than BLI in my opinion.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
Well, don't feel bad because there are those here in the states who's nearest LHS is 100mi away. So, you're not alone there. And, there are plenty who have a LHS, but they're not big into trains at all. So, there are a lot of us out there who do the mail order thing.

This comes up a lot in other forums where a discussion drifts into discussions about LHSs and Online stores. Nothing really new.

You know, you've been posting here for a few days now, about buying stuff online. My question here is Where's Nate, of Susquehanna Hobbies? He's been drumming up business as a supporter/advertiser of this forum; I've seen the banner on top of the page. He used to post here frequently; and we talk about the business? Maybe he can help you out with some of your purchases....

Just a thought.

Kennedy
 

Maxitrains

Member
Thanks Kennedy, I know that I'm not alone, and that not every one has a LHS behind the corner, but one of the main problems is that I have to spend alot of money on postage instead of more items. In about 5 purchases I spent about US$ 70 worth of shipping, with that I would have bought an AC6000, even though it won't run on my layout ;) :p.

But this is mostly what I mean, that because out country is surrounded by sea, I cannot hop into my car and drive 100 miles to get a Loco ( even though I would spend them in fuel, but at least on that trip I would stop near a line to get some pics of some trains, in 100 miles you can do alot of things, but in 27 Kms of land U can't go very much far. Someone should plug Gibraltar and drain the mediterranean :D:D
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Question: I have never ordered from FDT and since they are saying the Y6B is in stock, how soon do they ship? I received my order confirmation, but nothing is on it about the shipping date and can't find this info on their web site. No hurry, just trying to get an idea.;)
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Heck, BLI says an AC6000 should work down to 18"! I complained on their forum, the forum mod says to call customer support, but I dunno what that'll do if everyone is having the same issue.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Question: I have never ordered from FDT and since they are saying the Y6B is in stock, how soon do they ship? I received my order confirmation, but nothing is on it about the shipping date and can't find this info on their web site. No hurry, just trying to get an idea.;)
Rex, I got my AC6000CW in a week, by FedEx Ground. I ordered on Saturday, and ran it the following Saturday. You being closer, should have it within 3 days.
 




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