@A. Wells posted:
@Mallard4468 - I take it you are calling me a sucker! Yes, I am feeding the monster and another with the Z on the end. However, I have been trying to throw more of my business toward Ma & Pa stores. There are two in particular who I'll definitely give a shout out to once I've exhausted them of my wish list.
Along these same lines and my real reason for responding to your comment, is that I have been taken aback by some of these Ma & Pa stores who "maintain" shopping websites. In some cases, I've attempted to contact the owners in regards to stock, actual costs, etc... I have been meant with either crickets or I have been given the "I'll check on that tomorrow" line over and over again. In some cases I have placed orders only to be meant with, (no kidding) we have none of these items in stock.
What I'm essentially saying is that I feel if Ma and Pa stores want to compete SUCCESSFULLY in the vast arena of the Model Train web Market, then they need to make more of a concerted effort with maintaining actual stock counts and provide a much higher level of customer service than they are now. I don't feel that's asking to much of them.
The website that ends with Z has prices all over the place - some really good, some not so much. IMO, "that other site" has a lot of sellers who put ridiculous prices on stuff to see who will bite. What I'm saying is to shop carefully.
Definitely agree regarding keeping current inventory on websites - it's incredibly frustrating. In general, I've found that Patrick's, Ro, Muffin's, and Trainworld keep their online inventory very accurate. I've encountered a few shops that don't keep their site current - one of them really likes to talk to customers, and he does a great job. One other will take an order but not communicate when it's not in stock - "oh, I sold that a long time ago"; after that happened to me twice, I stopped trying to buy from him. I won't name them on the forum, but will tell you if you email me.
Another annoyance was MTH's "find it locally" option - too many dealers didn't keep it updated, so it was largely useless. Not sure what will happen to that feature as a result of the changes to the company.