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Well, I have about had it.  Three of my preorders have arrived damaged.  First, a Southern heavyweight observation car arrived with a broken wheel cap.  I know you may say that it is no big deal; HOWEVER, it is very noticeable when running with the set.  I notified Lionel and shipped it in for repairs.  After FIVE months, it was returned in the SAME condition it was in when I shipped it in for repairs.

Second, my George Bush, Sr. set arrived.  A step on the locomotive was broken.  I hear that is a common problem.  I will probably just glue it back on.  No big deal.  HOWEVER, for the price we pay for these items, you expect decent customer service.

And last, the antenna on the observation car with the George Bush, Sr. set arrived broken.  I called Lionel and customer service stated that they were not responsible and that I needed to call my dealer.  So, I did.  My dealer is great.  He sent another immediately.  The replacement observation arrived with the SAME broken piece.

What should I do?  Keep harassing Lionel or just live with it and cancel all my preorders?  Lionel has made it clear that they are not responsible for "cosmetic defects"?

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@lionel89 posted:

Well, I have about had it.  Three of my preorders have arrived damaged.  First, a Southern heavyweight observation car arrived with a broken wheel cap.  I know you may say that it is no big deal; HOWEVER, it is very noticeable when running with the set.  I notified Lionel and shipped it in for repairs.  After FIVE months, it was returned in the SAME condition it was in when I shipped it in for repairs.

Second, my George Bush, Sr. set arrived.  A step on the locomotive was broken.  I hear that is a common problem.  I will probably just glue it back on.  No big deal.  HOWEVER, for the price we pay for these items, you expect decent customer service.

And last, the antenna on the observation car with the George Bush, Sr. set arrived broken.  I called Lionel and customer service stated that they were not responsible and that I needed to call my dealer.  So, I did.  My dealer is great.  He sent another immediately.  The replacement observation arrived with the SAME broken piece.

What should I do?  Keep harassing Lionel or just live with it and cancel all my preorders?  Lionel has made it clear that they are not responsible for "cosmetic defects"?

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Curious who at Lionel actually told you they aren't responsible for shipping out broken or defective items. Isn't a piece with a cosmetic defect a reject? Like a dented refrigerator?  Doubt anyone here expects to buy something new, have it arrive damaged and then be told too bad. 

That bearing cap is indeed a very minor thing. I've had those off in the box on quite a number of these heavyweights. They just snap back on. I use just a tiny dab of glue when I do this. The step is the next step up (sorry) on the difficulty list, because two retaining pins are broken. Replacement would involve drilling out the broken pins, as well as painting the replacement to match the old step. Gluing in place is clearly the best solution, as you note.

The antenna is the most serious problem by a wide margin. I can't see how it going to be reasonably possible to fix that. All you can do is make a strenuous attempt at replacing the car a second time, and get a bit more aggessive with Lionel. Have the dealer check the car to make sure the antenna is OK, and and double-check the packaging, before shipping. Remind Lionel of the contents of their limited warranty, which includes defects in materials or workmanship:

"Lionel Limited Warranty Policy & Service -- This Lionel product, including all mechanical and electrical components, moving parts, motors and structural components, with the exception of LIGHT BULBS, LED’s & TRACTION TIRES are warranted to the original owner-purchaser for a period of one year from the original date of purchase against original defects in materials or workmanship when purchased through a Lionel Authorized Retailer*. "

I remember discussion about one of the engineering problems that Dick Maddox was concerned about when Lionel production was shifted to the Far East, and their scale, highly detailed cars began to be produced. That problem, which took a lot of time and effort to resolve, was providing a reasonably robust method of attachment of the detail parts. Lionel found an adequate solution, I think. Detail parts are reasonably well attached to their scale rolling stock. Clearly it's time for Lionel to revisit this issue, at least with respect to their passenger cars and engines.

Last edited by breezinup
@lionel89 posted:

Second, my George Bush, Sr. set arrived.  A step on the locomotive was broken.  I hear that is a common problem.  I will probably just glue it back on.  No big deal.  HOWEVER, for the price we pay for these items, you expect decent customer service.

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My Lionel George Bush dummy engine arrived with the same broken step.  I plan to glue it back on.  I thought mine was a one off but it appears the Lionel has a major packing problem with these models.  NH Joe

Unless the outer shipping box is damaged, the model inside should be packaged well enough to sustain the rigors of shipping. The model placed in a styrofoam container is just poor planning. 


Remember, these models come from China in a container and the continued to be handled until they arrive on a doorstep here in the USA. Lionel’s packing system is obviously not up to snuff. I buy other manufacturer’s trains that are made in China and they arrive in perfect shape as they have better packaging systems...

Tom

@BobbyD posted:

Curious who at Lionel actually told you they aren't responsible for shipping out broken or defective items. Isn't a piece with a cosmetic defect a reject? Like a dented refrigerator?  Doubt anyone here expects to buy something new, have it arrive damaged and then be told too bad. 

The customer service rep. said that.  I was shocked. 

@breezinup posted:

That bearing cap is indeed a very minor thing. I've had those off in the box on quite a number of these heavyweights. They just snap back on. I use just a tiny dab of glue when I do this. The step is the next step up (sorry) on the difficulty list, because two retaining pins are broken. Replacement would involve drilling out the broken pins, as well as painting the replacement to match the old step. Gluing in place is clearly the best solution, as you note.

The antenna is the most serious problem by a wide margin. I can't see how it going to be reasonably possible to fix that. All you can do is make a strenuous attempt at replacing the car a second time, and get a bit more aggessive with Lionel. Have the dealer check the car to make sure the antenna is OK, and and double-check the packaging, before shipping. Remind Lionel of the contents of their limited warranty, which includes defects in materials or workmanship:

"Lionel Limited Warranty Policy & Service -- This Lionel product, including all mechanical and electrical components, moving parts, motors and structural components, with the exception of LIGHT BULBS, LED’s & TRACTION TIRES are warranted to the original owner-purchaser for a period of one year from the original date of purchase against original defects in materials or workmanship when purchased through a Lionel Authorized Retailer*. "

I remember discussion about one of the engineering problems that Dick Maddox was concerned about when Lionel production was shifted to the Far East, and their scale, highly detailed cars began to be produced. That problem, which took a lot of time and effort to resolve, was providing a reasonably robust method of attachment of the detail parts. Lionel found an adequate solution, I think. Detail parts are reasonably well attached to their scale rolling stock. Clearly it's time for Lionel to revisit this issue, at least with respect to their passenger cars and engines.

Hey, the piece that holds the bearing cap on broke off the cap.  I have tried to put it back on, but without that plastic tab to hold it in place, there is no hope. 

I hate to keep making the dealer make up for Lionel's shortcomings...

It’s a double-edged sword- we expect highly detailed models but the with the expectation of more detail, quality and breakage become an issue. I also believe the manufacturer/dealer has the obligation to repair or replace. Could you imagine buying an automobile, the wheel falls off as you take delivery and your told that’s in you - live with it? 

i agree, Lionel needs to revisit its design/engineering with respect to manufacturing and durability 

Normally I would say the heck with the company; get on with fixing it but I'm not sure you can fix those issues. The antenna would be especially tricky. I really hope Lionel steps it up. It's not like shipping is a newly invented concept and we're still learning how to pack items without them breaking. It's even more embarrassing if these items are being broke at the factory. I hope it's bad design for shipping. 

I feel for you.  The bottom line is that today's trains are more detailed and feature-rich than ever.  At the same time, almost all of them are being shipped individually and directly to the end user.  Compare this to "the old days" when rugged postwar toys with cast-in detail were shipped by the case-load to a dealer (and then brought home from the local hobby store cradled lovingly in the back seat of your car.)

I agree that Lionel needs to improve the packaging of certain items.  But if I were in charge there, I would either beef up the details or omit them altogether (at the expense of realism.)  Another option might be to package the detail parts separately, and allow the end user to install them at home.  Some buyers would probably balk at this approach.  But it's clear to me that things cannot continue the way they are, it's just not sustainable.   My $.02.

Last edited by Ted S

The solution is simple: 

First: Bring back manufacturing to America with products that proclaim: Proudly Made in the U.S.A.

Second: Purchase your trains from Brick & Mortar dealers or former B&M dealers who have taken their business On Line due to the fact leasing a B&M building has become financially impossible as a result of continued unrealistic extremely high rates thanks in part to greedy landlords.

This is another reason why Home Office is fast becoming of age.  It won't be long before high rise buildings will be as empty as last year's bird nest. 

 

Much of the damage I see here and in many other threads can be laid at the doorstep of poor packaging.  I get quite literally, hundreds of shipments a year.  If I can shake the package and feel the item moving inside, I open it expecting likely damage.  Sometimes the shipper gets lucky, but many times I find pieces broken off, etc.

When something is packed, you should be able to shake the package in all axis and not feel anything moving inside.  If something is moving, the packaging is poorly done.

Obviously, if the passenger car was supported by the antenna and it took a jolt from the gentle shipping folks, that would likely break it.  Another part of proper packaging is not to support an item by a cheesy little plastic trim part!

Proper packaging will cure a majority of the shipping damage we see in new or used items.

@Rich Melvin posted:

You are all blaming Lionel for these problems. What about the shipper? All of this damage could have been caused by rough handling during shipping.

Rough handling or not, the problem starts with Lionel's packaging.  I've received may items from other manufacturers, delivered by the same shipping carriers, and nothing is broken, so it seems to me that Lionel needs to re-think their packaging.

@KOOLjock1 posted:

I'm just excited that someone here knows how to spell "advice" correctly!  Lionel should replace everything just for that!

Jon

LOL. Love it! Someone must have advised him how to spell advice.

And of course, we don't want to see anything break because the UPS truck had to brake hard.

Things could come loose in the hard stop, and then we would lose them.

Stepping down off the soapbox now...

Just a few of my English language spelling and usage peeves. 

@Rich Melvin posted:

LOL. Love it! Someone must have advised him how to spell advice.

And of course, we don't want to see anything break because the UPS truck had to brake hard.

Things could come loose in the hard stop, and then we would lose them.

Stepping down off the soapbox now...

Just a few of my English language spelling and usage peeves. 

This message brought to you by the O Guage Railroading site admin.

But back to topic, if it can't survive shipping, it's not a viable product.  Don't just stuff it in something "close enough" and cross fingers nothing breaks !  Obviously they've failed for this engine type.

 

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

There were quite a few Built to Order units offered in the last catalog.I was tempted by a lot of them. Here is my question; If Lionel receives 1000 pre-orders for a given locomotive, how many out of that 1000 will have some sort of problem? Five? ten? 243? I wish someone from Lionel would weigh in and talk about how big the problem is (or is not) and what is being done to solve it. If we got some straight talk, that would go a long way toward calming the masses, so to speak. 

@tncentrr posted:

There were quite a few Built to Order units offered in the last catalog.I was tempted by a lot of them. Here is my question; If Lionel receives 1000 pre-orders for a given locomotive, how many out of that 1000 will have some sort of problem? Five? ten? 243? I wish someone from Lionel would weigh in and talk about how big the problem is (or is not) and what is being done to solve it. If we got some straight talk, that would go a long way toward calming the masses, so to speak. 

If it's five or ten, I need to start buying a lot more lottery tickets!

I'm sure revealing what you describe would be a fire-able offense (probably considered proprietary, competition sensitive, etc....), so I would not count on ever seeing such details openly shared with consumers. (for any business, not just Lionel)

-Dave

Shame on Lionel.  Yes, shame on one of our sponsors.  The Lionel SD-70 broken step problem has been occurring since at least 2018.  The packaging "upgrade" that preceded the production addressed some issues but it left the locomotives vulnerable to step breakage.  This has nothing to do with the shipping companies.  Good luck buying intact pilots from Lionel for 2018 forward and not for lack of original inventory.  The SD-70 has got to be one of the highest cash flow items in their Standard O locomotive product line.  Just look at how many variations they have made.

What is disappointing is that Customer Service knows about it but where is engineering to step in and solve the problem.  Maybe package engineering is beneath the product engineers at Concord.  However, if they don't get their heads wrapped around this soon more and more of us are going to walk away.    

Plenty more of the same right here:  New SD-70ACe damaged

Last edited by Steims

I've never had a bad MTH delivery. Yeah, there is/was the dreaded 5 volt electronics failure. But, that was primarily due to inferior electrolytic capacitors on the market at that time. I bought 2 Lionel Legacy locomotives from 2014 production and I am absolutely delighted with both. Then I pre-ordered the quasi Legacy 0-8-0, followed by the defective Mogul. With MTH leaving the market, I want to be a Lionel customer, but I have no faith. My future locomotive orders will be Atlas O (if they ever get locomotive production in gear) and 3rd rail.

2cents

...IMHO they have a dearth of packaging attention-to-detail.  

I would dismiss the loose/damaged journal cap as 'just one of those things'.   They'll always happen, occasionally...hopefully seldom.  That Lionel wouldn't have a pill-bottle supply of those to ship one first class to an aggrieved customer is puzzling, to be sure.

But the busted steps....the observation antenna?  "C'mon, man!"  Where's the Packaging-101 horse sense about those situations???  

Those details in and of themselves have no mass to speak of.  If details like that are provided the freedom to ride in a package without any possible contact with surrounding material....rigid foam, taut clearwrap,  vacuum-formed shells with no clearance pockets, etc...there's minimal chance that shipping stresses should occur to the point of part breakage.   Parts that shake loose without 'breakage' due to inadequate press-fit or adhesive?....that's another thing entirely, and I, for one would give it a 'tsk-tsk' and take care of it myself.  

Here's an idea, though...  Why not return to packaging techniques that folks like Kato learned years ago....for their far less massive N-scale products??  Example: Observation car antenna.  Simply package the antenna separately in a sealed package with any instructions for assembly to the car.   No, Lionel won't reduce the price.  Yes, you're going to have to acquire some basic skills along the road to happiness in this hobby...or find someone who has them.

The upside to this age-old idea is that this fragile detail doesn't arrive broken, thereby causing an EKG image akin to a cross-section of the Himalayas.

The downside to requiring a DIY assembly at the product's final resting point is that, well, glue goobers may abound which, at normal viewing angles, will become the embarrassing new topic of discussion at your next club meeting, result in 50%...or more...lower resale value of the car on Ebay, expose your kids to blue language for the first time (yeah, right.), and result in an EKG image akin to a cross-section of the Himalayas....inescapable in this hobby.  But it'll be YOUR fault.....not Lionel's.

Atlas HO also comes to mind.  I remember in my dark, dark HO days that their Geeps and Alco hood units arrived in their package with those incredible finely molded handrails in separate flat packages safely tucked under the foam block.  Again, DIY.  Kato also delivered their whisper-quiet HO SD's that way...handrails in a special pocket carved into the bottom of the foam block to ensure there would be...No breakage from shipping!  Brilliant, folks!

Meanwhile, liquor sales will be brisk, confessional booths will be available...if not busy, and the Forum will welcome your thoughts on the matter...typically....maybe.........whatever, in 'moderation'.

Besides, after 'playing' with our trains...they're "toys", remember...for a while, all those parts will be trashed, anyway.  Missing roof overhangs on Lionel's molded plastic PW cabooses, missing marker lights on die cast PW boiler fronts of steam engines...among a myriad of other common traits of fragility...are proof-positive of that.

(See, Mike Wolf?  THIS is why you're retiring...isn't it?....really?  I know it would be reason enough for me!)

Peace and safety.

KD

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Last edited by dkdkrd

When Hallmark Models* imported HO scale brass models of Cotton Belt  4-4-2's that had been made in Korea, Miss Hall refused the entire shipment because they wouldn't run.  NorthWest Short Line picked them up and offered the models for ca. $89.00, each, as is, no returns!  They have become rare collectables as a result there haven't been any SSW Atlantic manufactured in brass or plastic since.  

Item: One would expect Lionel to offer rebates on damaged models since it appears the problem is internal and isn't shipping related.  I wonder if the broken step problem would exist had the models been Proudly Made in the U.S.A. instead of over there, over there?

*Hallmark Models were marketed by Bobbye Hall, owner of Hall's Hobby House, which was located in Dallas, TX.

Last edited by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

one word  FRUSTRATING. We can get angry about major flaws but its difficult to get too excited about minor cosmetic and easily corrected ones.

Ask yourself; I paid $1500 say for a steam engine, It came with a broke off pipe. what's the value of the engine with the broken pipe . . .$1,499.? or $0.0 ?

Perfection is just a word not a reality for handmade toys. And I do think Lionel needs better QA and package design.

With any mass produced and complex assembled toys attaching hundreds of small parts by gluing is bound to have variations that result in too much or not enough adhesion applied or broken tabs from assembling too quickly to make quotas. Again frustrating not excusing!

Last edited by AlanRail

The fancier the model with all the tiny flourishes and fiddly bits the more likely the potential for damage due to *fill in the blank*. 

Yes, they should be able to package them so they don’t get damaged in shipping. It still happens, regardless of the packaging, to x percentage of models.

If you want to have 100% perfect models with zero damage you have to lower your standards and buy products with a reduced chance of possible defects. Pre-war and Postwar trains were infinitely simpler than most of the display case queens we see today.

I worked around the manufacturing of miniatures and you can expect some percentage of problems. If that’s unacceptable then explore other aspects of the hobby to lower your stress level.

Premium prices demand premium customer service. I would reach out to Lionel again and try to take it up with someone else. Then again that’s counter to the roughly 21 years worth of history of the forum’s average user but that’s just my observation.

Good luck!

Jim

 

Drop testing needs to be performed. The results need to be analyzed and adjustments to the packaging need to be made if required. Additionally, all packaging material specifications relative to foam density and mold shrinkage, as well as cardboard wall thickness, burst strength, etc. must be specified and compliance to these specs must be enforced. These items travel about 7000 miles from China to NC..........If these tests and specifications are not in place there will be failures. I would trust Lionel has a packaging engineering group or review process? 

IMO, that's not something you'll ever hear from any manufacturer.  In addition, they really don't know.  Some releases come out pretty clean, others are like the Mogul, a disaster that they finally recall and apparently scrap.

I'm sure they don't really know, but more importantly, it's something they can't control.  When you cede production to a 3rd party you are, more or less, at their mercy.  This is the great argument against out-sourcing (of anything).  Do you want your business in hands of others who are (likely) less invested in success than you?

George

refused the entire shipment because they wouldn't run. 
 

I'm not sure that the current business arrangements with over-C's manufacturers would allow this financially.  It's my understanding that nowadays it's strictly "No tickee, no washee" before putting the whole lot into a shipping container for the next step homeward....based on approval of one-or-a-handful final production samples.  IOW, payment up front.

Of course, who really knows?...or who would divulge specific agreements by manufacturer/importer?

Oh, and BTW...I doubt production samples receive the same level of packaging/shipping that the production lot will incur.  Get real.

I agree with George⇑....but I doubt it'll happen.  As they say in 'our' language: "That train left the station LONG ago!"

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd
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