Everybody’s Scalin’ – The Customer Is Always Right…Unless They Are Wrong
One of the most beautiful things about the scale segment of the hobby is how much super-niche aftermarket stuff you can find from small vendors. It really is outrageous, what-with all the custom stuff available.
Need a complete aftermarket tube chassis for an RC4WD Trail Finder 2? Yep, you can find someone who sells them. Need a custom stinger bumper that can house your winch? Yep, someone out there makes it if you look hard enough.
And while this is a great thing, many times it can create issues where you have buyers expecting big box service (sometimes VERY unrealistic, at that) from builders/vendors that are garage or side-business operations. This routinely leads to problems, which are normally exacerbated thanks to social media and message boards.
For a personal example, I have a friend that sells a good number of accessories for the scale monster truck / pulling crowd. He does his best to keep up with orders, but ultimately it’s something he does in the evening on the side, primarily for fun and his love of the hobby. There are days where the customer just can’t take priority over everything else he has going on. Once in a blue moon he gets taken to task online over it and it causes a big scene. Many times it makes him wonder “is this worth doing anymore?”.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario. Someone posts the following to your favorite crawling board – “I purchased a set of Pretty Pink Pony Wheels from Uncle Tom’s Scale Machine Shop and I’ve yet to get them! I sent him an e-mail last night and he hasn’t responded yet, I’m filing a PayPal claim and I hope no one else ever deals with this clown!”
You’ll then probably have two kinds of people posting responses:
1, the people who immediately agree with the buyer i.e. “Uncle Tom is a jerk and I’ll make sure to spread the word so no one ever supports him again!”
2, the folks who immediately leap to Uncle Tom’s defense “I’ve bought many sets of Pretty Pink Pony Wheels from Tom over the years and maybe you should just lay off him, ya jerk! He’s just busy, he’ll get to your stuff!”
Sounds familiar right? Sometimes it really is a cut and dry issue where one side is to blame, many times though the truth can be a bit blurry. Almost always it comes down to communication, or lack thereof.
As a buyer of many a custom piece over the years, here’s how I handle things when dealing with individual builders/sellers (custom painters fall into this category as well).
First off is to make sure you communicate with them before purchasing anything. While this would be a “duh” step for the truly custom stuff, many smaller builders now have e-commerce webstores because of how easy they are to setup these days. Many times the items aren’t built until they are ordered. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you do the homework first.
After the order is placed if you haven’t received your item in the designated time or there is a problem with the final product (i.e. something was bent in shipping, not the right color) then you should contact them in private to see how the situation can be rectified.
If they are unresponsive to you for several days and/or blow off your concerns, only then do I think it’s cool to unleash some hell in public. And even then it’s best to keep it professional and not get into personal attacks.
Look, while the headline of this article makes a joke that perhaps the following statement isn’t true, I am firm believer that “The customer is always right.” Despite this adage though, I think you should cut the smaller custom aftermarket guy a little slack, especially if making r/c parts isn’t their full time gig.
I’m not advocating anyone give someone a free pass for bad service, just that maybe it would be in everyone’s best interest to not go with the nuclear option (“take it to Facebook” or “file PayPal dispute”) so quickly. Bad apples and scammers should be dealt with, but soiling a person or companies name due to a simple miscommunication is something that should be avoided.