Skip to main content

I find some of the responses troubling, that someone bought a bunch of train stuff with excitement and people are kind of like saying "what did you expect?" or "that is the way it is, stop whining". I don't blame the guy, it is sad that this is someone's experience. It is very easy to say "well, if you looked at the threads on here, you would know", or others rushing to blame everyone except for the one very real issue, that these are a high priced premium product that quite honestly has little to no support backing it up and very poor quality.

I realize this is the way it is, but I can't blame the guy for being angry either. There are vendors on here who are small businesses who give fantastic service when you have a problem, the fact is that the engine makers basically are in the mode of "you should be grateful we are around"....and that to me is sad. It won't change anything to vent, but I think people have the right to vent if they are treated poorly, the same way they have the right to complain on Yelp about a bad meal or whatever.

One thing that fascinates me is that the companies can outsource making the engine and every component that goes into it, but they don't use the same model with repair and customer service, they would rather let the customer hang in the wind. Unfortunately, the reality is they get away with this because it hasn't hurt them, people are still buying their product and then having to tinker with a 2000 dollar item or wait a year to get it fixed, hopefully correctly and I guess that is the way it is; doesn't mean, though, that we can't complain about it. If Lionel or whoever isn't pulling the plug on products because their quality is poor and no one is buying, they certainly won't pull the plug because people complain about it *shrug*.

Last edited by bigkid

"except for the one very real issue, that these are a high priced premium product that quite honestly has little to no support backing it up and very poor quality."

Real to you and others perhaps, but not as real to others whose experience is quite different.  Many friends (and myself) with few or no bad experiences at all, and dealers/Lionel responding appropriately when the occasional problem develops.   Purchased literally dozens of Lionel products in the last few years with zero problems.  Don't see the "very poor quality" you seem certain exists. Have you had terrible experiences or are you relying on other people's problems as evidence of a systemic failure?

The problem here is more complex than you assert, in my view.  I would suggest that receiving a bunch of damaged locos from Lionel service is frequently not about Lionel service but more likely to reflect shipping misadventure as I suggested was possible.  Otherwise why would many have no problems and others have these sort of disasters, if not due to a local factor of some sort?

Last edited by Landsteiner
@Joe Fermani posted:

The trucks are designed to come off.  It should line up 90 degrees from the body and then rotate back to lock it back on.  All newer diesels have this design.  Some diesels have the trucks fit looser than others.  That is perfectly normal.

This is not really true.  The trucks may be "removable" but the factory over tightens the truck bolster mounting screws FREQUENTLY and strips them.  It's happened on several locos that I've bought.  Eventually these will end up in the trash bin if not caught sooner because once they get loose enough, the motor disengages with the yoke and then that's when damage happens.

You all must member that MTH is no longer in business as Mike Wolfe has retired. All of the inventory was sold at a number of auction houses. HO went down south and who knows where the rest went. So if you buy a MTH item new from a dealer you had better get the dealer to commit to refunding the purchase, repairing the item or other Nothing is coming from MTH the company. but there are a lot of trains in the pipeline so BUYER BEWARE.  As for parts especially the printed circuit boards  good luck.  

You should learn to check your facts.

@Strummer posted:

"...5 of 7...". Yikes.

Yet you still spent 10 grand "...in the last 4 months..." Maybe you could have eased into this hobby a little slower.

Sorry Mark, but what an awful response... and I'm sure that's not what the advertisers on the forum want to hear.  How do you know that the OP hadn't been saving up for years for his dream layout and made some big purchases?  Everyone is always saying "if you want it, buy it now because it might not get made again."  And in this BTO world, if there is a catalog with stuff you want I can't blame someone for buying what they want.

@bigkid posted:

One thing that fascinates me is that the companies can outsource making the engine and every component that goes into it, but they don't use the same model with repair and customer service, they would rather let the customer hang in the wind. Unfortunately, the reality is they get away with this because it hasn't hurt them, people are still buying their product and then having to tinker with a 2000 dollar item or wait a year to get it fixed, hopefully correctly and I guess that is the way it is; doesn't mean, though, that we can't complain about it.

That's because it's an addiction. The urge to have the next latest and greatest.

There's no money for Lionel in repairs. It's been mention that "Authorized service centers" are not even compensated that well.

It's about the quick sale of the latest and greatest whizz-bang train offering fed by" gotta have it syndrome". That's  where the profit is.

The BTO system feeds the urge even more,  convincing the consumer " they'll miss out" as mentioned above.

The buzz can subside when the product is delivered and issues are discovered but...for many folks the cycle repeats again the next catalog.

I've seen members become irate when preorder prices don't get posted fast enough by dealers.

Between the staff change, and my own experience with out of the box issues. I no longer " gotta have" anything .

What concerns me is Lionel screwing up the stuff they already had figured out, like the audio boards and gearboxes . It used to be the worst thing you'd have was a bum smoke unit.

While they don't make " hee haw sounds" every 10 seconds going around the layout. I find Lionel products from 2002-2010 or so ,far more reliable than anything else made the last 10 years.

Last edited by RickO

Quality IS my life lesson.  I've spent the last 43 years as an engineer, working my tail off, grinding away within the auto industry to get it's act together and keep it that way.  Quality in product, quality in software, quality in safety critical software.  When you walk into a car dealer and demand, and then receive, a quality product think of all the folks who've put their live's work into making it perfect.

Our hobby is not like this, in any way, shape or form.  It's not just Lionel either.  The others are not appreciably better.

You're spoiled by the other things you've bought in your lifetime, the ones that come without problems.

Quality takes work.  It takes a commitment.  It costs a little money, but it actually saves much more, and it increases profits and protects them.  Nearly every industry, and every manufacturer (except "automaker" Tesla), has heard this message, and embraced it, but not this one.

Stop throwing the tantrums.  Accept it for what it is, or walk away.  You'll live longer.

Mike

You have now personally attacked me twice in this thread. I have patience and I am not throwing a tantrum. It seems to me that mostly everyone else agrees with me except for you. I would really appreciate you staying out of this thread and not attacking me anymore. If you want to be a fan boy and waste your money and get things that don’t work that’s on you. It seems to me everyone else disagrees. Now go away.  

Interesting you talk about Tesla. Because me and you will never get along, I own two of them. And I love them for the quality that they give their customers not to mention customer service   And watching Tesla bail out big manufacturers probably like the companies that you work for is actually amazing!  I have a model Y performance and a model X and they are the best vehicles I’ve ever owned.

Last edited by Longshore

I have been lucky, mostly because my dealer picks up the engines and they are not shipped. But, last year I bought a new LV Legacy switcher from a bid dealer. It got here and is was grinding and upon closer inspection the shell was cracking like a spider web from the stack. I sent it to Lionel and Jeff was able to fix the grinding but the shell was cracking and he told me to take to back to the dealer. The dealer was no help, said he was sick of Lionel telling people that. I said enough, called Visa, filed a dispute and won. Got all my money back!

Again, I understand the trucks are meant to come off. They are not meant to come off however when you pick up the locomotive and they spin sideways and fall off and the only thing holding them are the wires.

Everybody else is saying give Lionel a chance.  This locomotive was back at Lionel hence the pictures with the comments from them.  

So the locomotive comes back with the same problem it went in for.

Last edited by Longshore
@rplst8 posted:

Sorry Mark, but what an awful response... and I'm sure that's not what the advertisers on the forum want to hear.  How do you know that the OP hadn't been saving up for years for his dream layout and made some big purchases?  Everyone is always saying "if you want it, buy it now because it might not get made again."  And in this BTO world, if there is a catalog with stuff you want I can't blame someone for buying what they want.

I didn't mean it the way you read it; note I said "could have" instead of "should have". I also note you omitted my line about "I feel your pain, but..."

I thought I was clear that I was suggesting some pre- purchase research.

In any case, I will delete that post, since I never intend to offend anyone.

I apologize to everyone on this site.

Mark in Oregon

Edit: post deleted...

Last edited by Strummer
@Longshore posted:

Again, I understand the trucks are meant to come off. They are not meant to come off however when you pick up the locomotive and they spin sideways and fall off and the only thing holding them are the wires.



I had this exact same experience about a year ago with a Lionel CSX First Responders dummy.  Took it out of the box and one truck dropped right off the frame as soon as I turned the engine upright.  To their credit, Charles Ro had me send it right back and they took care of it.

It’s sad to hear of your expensive disappointments, nice engines/diesels/steamers that have issues upon arrival and it’s happened to me also. The last 2 sounds cars, a VisionLine box car, a StationSounds diner car, came in defective. The good news is Lionel gave me RA’s promptly, but it was disappointing having to return them upon arrival. I do not know the reason that Lionel has taken warranty work from our dealers, but this is the current situation. Therefore, do not keep new train purchases in your boxes, test them, you have a year for warranty repairs by Lionel. I feel good about Lionel and there service team, they try hard to keep us happy campers. Keep us updated on your Lionel experience.

We who are about to buy new salute you!

It takes a 3 rail evolutionary shift to gain the upper hand.  Sadly, very few begin well informed on the QC issues of the past 10 years.  It forces an enthusiast to either accept the disapointments or adapt to performing your own repairs.  Opening a regular international shipping pipeline between here and Concord was something I was not going to tolerate.  Much easier now to just roll up my sleeves and have at it, something I dared not do in the beginning.

  Earlier production Lionel is usually a safer bet but then ask the guy with a JLC GG1 if he's happy?  There is a trick to buying one of those and avoid the potential zinc pest infected bolsters, again with no repair parts available .

Welcome to 3 rail O.  The journey is only beginning.

Bruce 

dear mr mellow mike,i must disagree with you.for the prices we are paying the product should be flawless.for beginners and novice like myself tinkering is easier said than done.I wish I had the knowledge of a harry henning.I am learning but a visionline engine is not the place for apprenticeship.I am currently rebuilding junk engines with my grandson.learning basic soldering and wiring and parts replacement.I think Lionel should be ashamed of themself.I also think the new policy of warranty is wrong.By the way I am not a Lionel basher as much of my collection is ,in fact Lionel

I still say send defective items back to the place of purchase. Let the dealers fight it out for credit or replacement items. The dealers truly have the clout to get things done. They can hold off on placing future orders that will hurt the manufacturers. When we send an item to Lionel it may be looked at as a sporadic issue. When dealers from all over report on the same item being returned they may finally realize the problem is widespread and advise the dealers of such. If a dealer tells me to go direct to Lionel with problems then I’ll certainly find a new dealer. My credit card was issued to the dealer not Lionel. This poor customer service from Lionel has gone on long enough. It starts at the top.

I sure hope Lionel's leadership is reading this.

Regardless of the price, there is no excuse for this poor quality, and I agree that the only way Lionel or any company is going to learn is for us to simply stop buying their products. When I buy something brand new, I expect it to work as it should. There are enough people in the hobby (myself included, to a degree) who have the Joe McDoakes "I gotta have it"  mindset that Lionel can just about guarantee they will sell a given item and their customers will put up with the issues. When Lionel announced the production of the Strasburg #90, I pre-ordered one right away, as did many others. After reading this thread, I fully expect that there will be issues when it arrives. Perhaps one way to avoid problems like the OP is having is to buy from a local dealer if you have one, and instead of having it shipped, go to the dealer and ask for an inspection and test run before taking delivery of the item.

I have a friend who is retired from boat sales. Whenever a truck full of new boats arrived from the builder, he would thoroughly inspect every boat before it was unloaded, and if there were issues with any of the boats, he would refuse to sign for them and they would go back to the factory on the truck.  It took extra time for him to do this, but in the long run it saved resources because he wasn't sitting on defective inventory he could not sell. Given the pattern of poor quality with Lionel's products, maybe dealers should adopt this practice. It would take more time on the front end, but in the long run it might send a clear message to Lionel that brand new pricing commands brand new quality and reliability.

Given the pattern of poor quality with Lionel's products, maybe dealers should adopt this practice. It would take more time on the front end, but in the long run it might send a clear message to Lionel that brand new pricing commands brand new quality and reliability.

I don't know if it can because looking under the hood voids the warranty. We know disassembly has found wires rubbing on flywheels and hoses waiting to spew smoke fluid everywhere. But we void our warranty when we look for these things.

An authorized dealer, who is expected to stand behind the product, should be allowed to inspect it without voiding or starting the clock on the factory warranty before the customer takes delivery. Dealers don't want defective items returned any more than we want to return them. Warranties are intended to protect the customer for a period of time in the event of a failure, not for sloppy workmanship at the factory that reveals itself as soon as the customer breaks the seal on the box.

@BillYo414 posted:

I don't know if it can because looking under the hood voids the warranty. We know disassembly has found wires rubbing on flywheels and hoses waiting to spew smoke fluid everywhere. But we void our warranty when we look for these things.

I see this posted a lot.  "Opening the shell voids the warranty."  Generally speaking this is not true.  A warranty is a sort of contract and usually in contract law it's on the author to prove the terms were broken.

Car manufacturers fought this battle years ago and lost.  Performing maintenance on the car doesn't void the warranty.  There are valid maintenance reasons to open up the locomotives.  Smoke unit batting replacement, lubrication, and since there are so many issues - yes inspection of the parts inside to ensure no damage will occur before operating (pinched wires, misaligned gears, stripped screws, etc.)

Now, if you modify the engine and replace the motor with a Pittman, or switch it to say ProtoSound or DCC... sure that voids the warranty IMO.

Last edited by rplst8
@BillYo414 posted:

I don't know if it can because looking under the hood voids the warranty. We know disassembly has found wires rubbing on flywheels and hoses waiting to spew smoke fluid everywhere. But we void our warranty when we look for these things.

No need to look under the hood.  A dealer, with the permission of it's customer, could simply take it out of the box and see if there are any loose/broken parts or cosmetic issues, and then run it around a test tract a couple of times.  If all is good, then ship it to the customer.  If not sent it back to lionel.

@Longshore posted:

I bought new, not used for this reason.

Lionel, remnant MTH, Atlas and Maynard's should pay attention here.  Contrary to you Longshore, I almost always buy rolling stock and prime movers used for this very reason.  I can inspect it in detail, test run and now the pig that's in the poke before hand.  Good luck with your repairs and I feel for you.

When I do buy new, I only buy from vendors with a real cash return policy and inspect and test run immediately after purchase on my home test track.  Any defect except the most trivial and I return it to the vendor for disposition with the manufacturer.

I'm not in the habit of purchasing new in the box repair/restoration projects at the prices Lionel and the rest demand.

Just as an aside, I believe that many issues with new product could be eliminated by the following:

1. If you buy as a walk-in at a brick and mortar, have the dealer/retailer take the product out of the box before you leave (and hopefully, before you pay for it) and inspect it for defects and, if it's an engine, have them put it on their test track and run it to make it sure it works. Any issues with QC or not working properly, tell them to put it back in the box and get another from out back and repeat until you get one that works.

2. Do the same with mail order. Before they ship it, ask them to take it out of the box and inspect it and run it until they find one that works correctly and then ship it to you.

If a dealer/retailer won't do that, find another.

In addition, most states have laws regarding new consumer products which do not exempt dealers/retailers from liability if the product is not "merchantible" or is not "fit for the particular purpose for which it was intended". Start with the dealer first to get a refund or replacement and, if a dealer refuses to take back a defective product, explain that they are just as liable as the manufacturer and can be sued if they do not comply.   

@BillYo414 posted:

@rplst8 well that's great then! I didn't know that was the case! I won't feel so bad when I disassemble new equipment then.

Just a warning, Lionel may feel differently.  Not saying they are right but you may get some push back.

Unfortunately this thread has probably run it's course.  I suspect Lionel will get back to Longshore at some point.  We'd all like instant gratification but that always doesn't happen.  I really hope he gets satisfaction.  I feel the folks working the front line do care.  I hope we see a happy ending to this.

This is the kind of thing that has given me pause. I have a Cab2 and a TIU. I have several RK PS2/3 steamers and 2 diesels. I have one Legacy diesel, a Lionchief 2+ 0-6-0, a Lionchief 2 RS3 and 4 Lionchief Christmas steamers. And then a PS1 steamer MPC era steamers and diesels, a couple of Kughn era engines, a PW steamer and a PW diesel.

Reading these accounts and given the costs of the higher end product and the location of production facilities it is very unlikely that I will purchase any more of these. Also the lack of support for out of warranty items means you can end up with a very nice looking shelf queen 1 day after the warranty expires. Not acceptable.

My PWs and my MPC and my Kughn era stuff runs fine and so far seems wasy to repair. $1500 buys a pile of other model railroad and/or model planes/tanks/ships/cars. Why I would spend that kind of money on a crap shoot, will it work/not have parts falling off when it arrives (which translates to only engines I can handle and see run before I lay my money down), will it still be running 5 years from now given that I have engines aged 30 to 70 years old that work fine.

I can play with electronics to manage my layout - turnouts, lighting, even some sound and control (Dallee, ERR) - and if I fry something it will be relatively easy to replace and since I put them in presumably I will be able to replace/repair.

Notwithstanding the sizes of some of these new engines (A Challenger, Big Boy, Alleghany) being so long as to require club size layouts to run in any way near reasonable appearance pulling a train that is anywhere near long enough to justify the size of these engines with correspondingly large price tags.

Even when I fried a Christmas 0-6-0 I could not get the right board to replace it, I settled for another for a different engine that doesn't have the Christmas sounds or music and requires that I buy another LC remote if I don't have the universal remote when I can get all kinds of parts for even my 70 yo PW fairly easily what is my motivation to buy these new super toys?

I end up not running the PS2/3 or the Legacy engines for fear of damaging them. The LC 2 and LC 2+ end up being the only electronic ones I run regularly or the non command engines.

We accept sloppiness in all aspects of our lives. The hobby is one of my ways to get relief from life. Same as the OP, I don't have time to call, get through a automated operator (I hate these), wait on hold and then wait on parts or send it back and then wait 1, 2,3 months to get it back. After spending $1,000+ on it.

Just my $0.02. $3.80 after inflation.

Frank

Lots of comments. I live on the west coast and trains here are not popular like on the east coast. I have three “train dealers” here. One is literally open 1 day a week for 4 hours. Everything is old, I mean really old. Another is about 90 min away and they are pretty much done. Not a big place, mostly old items also. Only really one dealer, east side trains and they are a good store. However, with traffic and where I live, it’s a 4 hour excursion. When I only have 1 or two days off in a 2 week period, this is not what I need to do on my day off.

I don’t feel QC falls on anyone other than the manufactures. It should not be the dealers problem to inspect every item. Imagine if Amazon did this before they shipped?  Imagine the time and cost involved for a small mom and pop dealer to do that?

Bottom line is these companies charge a great deal of money for shotty products. There is no reason for this other than they just don’t give a shyt and people have let them slide far too long.

I have cut ties with so many companies with lack of customer service and shyt products. And it’s only going to get worse.

I’ve been to China many times and you could not believe what the working conditions are. They literally stack containers on trash piles and load them. it’s truly disgusting.  I can only imagine what else is going on.

@Longshore posted:

Lots of comments. I live on the west coast and trains here are not popular like on the east coast. I have three “train dealers” here. One is literally open 1 day a week for 4 hours. Everything is old, I mean really old. Another is about 90 min away and they are pretty much done. Not a big place, mostly old items also. Only really one dealer, east side trains and they are a good store. However, with traffic and where I live, it’s a 4 hour excursion. When I only have 1 or two days off in a 2 week period, this is not what I need to do on my day off.

I don’t feel QC falls on anyone other than the manufactures. It should not be the dealers problem to inspect every item. Imagine if Amazon did this before they shipped?  Imagine the time and cost involved for a small mom and pop dealer to do that?

Bottom line is these companies charge a great deal of money for shotty products. There is no reason for this other than they just don’t give a shyt and people have let them slide far too long.

I have cut ties with so many companies with lack of customer service and shyt products. And it’s only going to get worse.

I’ve been to China many times and you could not believe what the working conditions are. They literally stack containers on trash piles and load them. it’s truly disgusting.  I can only imagine what else is going on.

It's not and they don't have to - however, what they do have to do is stand behind the consumer products they sell. Can you imagine if you bought a new stereo system or small appliance at a department store and it was defective and the dealer told you to go back to the manufacturer for relief ?

Model trains are no different - and, if enough of us made dealers and retailers take the products back, they would complain to the manufacturers and that would be far more effective in getting better products produced.

Some retailers won't take an item back unless you buy their warranty. I recently bought a Ryobi drill press from Home Depot and the cashier told me that if I didn't buy the warranty, I would have to contact Ryobi directly for any warranty issues. I normally walk away from deals like that, but I bought it anyway without the HD warranty. So far, so good.

When we're talking about an item that costs (in many cases) four figures, such as a new Lionel or MTH locomotive, a pre-delivery inspection and test-run by the selling dealer is not an unreasonable request in my opinion. And it is perfectly reasonable in my opinion for the customer to refuse the item if it is defective right out of the box. If I were a Lionel dealer, I would make time to inspect every locomotive before I put my name on it, and if it doesn't pass inspection, back to Lionel it would go. There is no reason why the "warranty clock" should continue ticking while the customer waits for repairs due to poor or no QC before an item leaves the factory.

I may have missed it, if previously discussed, but the " collector" mentality may be a factor in dealer reluctance to pre inspect locomotives. They might feel that even if it passed inspection they would not be able to pass it off as "mint" unopened and pristine. They would feel "stuck" with an operating but unsellable engine.  Ridiculous in my view but it is still a real "thing" in our hobby.

John

Last edited by John Meyncke

Crying towels 50 cents or 3/$1.00.

Glad to know people like you are out there. Think g someone that works hard for their money should just be ok with things not working. How about that place that makes your TP does not do a QC. And you get a wood shaving on your azz?  Or how about they guy who didn’t tighten the part on your refrigerator and you loose all your food. Make sure you buy enough towels to clean up the mess.

We have been conditioned to expect sup par items and sub par services. And when people like this guy think it’s ok for a company to deliver a crap product, and the customer is upset, he says to buy tissue. Well, when your wife’s dialysis machine craps out, I’ll be sure to make sure you have some tissues.

How many dealers order more of a built to order engine than they have orders for, and if not "take it back and give me another one" will not work so well with them.  On the other hand the supply chain for spare parts for all the products on the market these days must be a nightmare.  At least in Post War, there were not so many different parts to keep on hand.  There were no boards I don't think, the smoke units were pretty basic, the motors were pretty bullit proof.  Tough business nowdays.

Post
This forum is sponsored by Lionel, LLC

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)
www.ogaugerr.com

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×