Buying, Purchasing, Requisitioning and/or Shopping For Toy Trains or Model Railroad Train Equipment can be a real negative experience! In some cases less then gratifying. Do I dare say, Humiliating?
Whether it’s the Holiday Season or every-other day of the year. You’ll find toy trains popping out in the oddest of places. Internet, those buy and sell lists, infamous auction websites. Anywhere and everywhere besides your brick and mortar LHS. You can get caught up in it if you so desire or wisely ignore the temptation.
You’ve all heard…well….as a wise man once said, “Let The Buyer Beware.” I think he was talking to me. This buyer needs some smart pills. The last time I asked a Doctor if he had any he said, “We’d all benefit from such.”
What was that? My heckler is at it again. Rabbit pellets? A kid brought some rabbit pellets to school. Sounds familiar. He was touting how much smarter everyone would be if they bought and took one of his smart pills. Let’s see Rabbit Pellets and he was selling them as “Smart Pills.” Did I hear you right? You bought three for a nickel. You ate one and said, “Hey this tastes like rabbit $#!+.” And! The seller responded, “See you are getting smarter already” Ha Ha Haw, that’s good. No, I haven’t forgotten that experience. You were my best customer! Grin.
It’s time to kick this pig and get it rolling down the tracks.
Electronics and in particular used electronics. It’s never a good idea to purchase used electronics unless you know the owner, you’ve used the equipment and you do know it will work to your satisfaction.
The Seller and Purchaser Relationship:
When it comes to being the purchaser and you are purchasing from the purchase-e uhh…err seller. Things can go wrong! What happened? What did I do? I heard you ask? Ok, that was me asking myself. Is there an echo in here?
Rick’s Story Time: No not again!
Yes, Again! I Did IT Again!
Repeat, Peat and Repeat it again! It dawned on me just the other day that I had gone and done it again. My sucker light was on and I allowed myself to be taken….not once but twice. Not that this hasn’t happened before…. it has. NO, I couldn’t of? I went and did it again! Why did I do that? I kept hearing myself, asking self? Admonishing self, “You did it again!.” Continuing by reprimanding…..Self. All the while kicking Self in the @$$=wallet.
I went to one of those infamous auction sites to see if anyone was selling a N Scale, Kato set of Great Northern passenger cars. I was looking for a Diner. I proceeded…. without looking closely at the pictures provided and failing to read the detailed descriptions put forth by the seller. I’ll bet, you can finish the story. Who knew?. Since, I’m telling the story allow me to finish it. There might be some therapy in doing so.
I boldly stepped up clicked on the “Buy It Now,” and before I could think….. “I want it,”… I ordered them. Gosh, they can take your money faster then I can write this. Fast, super fast! Wow! Gone! Later, about four days. Upon their arrival I found the top of the diner had something resembling porcupine quills and dried glue puddled all over the top of it. What the heck? Uh, oh this has been in the hands of an inexperienced modeler/hobbyist. It was a WT… not so happy a moment.
About to complain to the owner, I went back and re-read the description and found to my dismay the seller was as straight forward and honest as the day is long. Although, at this point over priced. Now what do I do? It’s my own fault! I did what any good customer would do. I wrote him and thanked him for being honest. Grumbling in my beard… all the while!
Time to evaluate, fix-ability of the diner. A quick assessment, carefull exam…ending with the damage can be fixed. The porcupine quills brushed off with ease. I should be able to repair the roof with some light sand paper. I mean the kind automobile painters use on the finish coat of paint. A fresh coat of paint and we should be good to go. I hate playing Mr. Fix It!
That wasn’t good enough. Let’s do it again! Why not have some more fun. What fun is it… if we can’t repeat the FUN we just had? You did hear the sarcasm?
I went to order some rail joiners. My layout is in need of some serious restoration and yes I DO need them. I found what I wanted along with the number of packets required. I ordered them And…paid way to much for them. Well, it wasn’t as bad as it might sound but it’s the principle of the thing. After having ordered them, I went to two of my favorite mail order houses and found the packets……. for minus – .20 to -.30 sense (sp intended) cheaper! Common Sense cheaper! AND I’d of saved on shipping as well. Aiiyiiyii! I did it again!
End of story time but not this saga!
So, shopping for toy trains and model railroad equipment hasn’t been the best experience for me. How about you? I can’t be alone. There hast to be others out there. Do we need a buyers Club? Don’t look at me I’m not going to set one up. I don’t need the hassle.
Then something else popped into my head. We can fix a lot of things in this life but we can’t fix stupid. That wasn’t very complimentary ….but true.
Note to Self: Research, research and research some more! Check favorite hobby houses first!!!!!
When will I ever learn? When?
Don’t get in a hurry unless you want to.
So, why am I writing this humbling, embarrassing, demoralizing, self degrading article? Do I really believe someone else can benefit from my bad experience? Can we learn from each others mistakes? I can only hope so.
There’s more to tell and apparently I’m not the only one.
I visited a club layout recently and was dumbfounded when I found them operating with Old and even Older Stuff. These are guys who could probably afford the finer things in life and they were running older, nostalgic, toy train stuff. Did someone say junk? No not quite but next door to it. They were, happy as a lark! I didn’t dare burst their bubble.
It was fun to watch the older stuff running around. However, those tight radius curves are still as troublesome today as they were on my first layout, as a teenager. Not so much fun, to watch the old problems jump up and slap them in the face. Horn Hook couplers (aka X2F), for HO trains and Rapido for the N Scale trains. What? What? What? What are they thinking? I said nothing but shook my head in dismay.
I thought we left that behind years ago. Well, I did….. but that doesn’t mean everyone else has. All of this started me thinking. Yes, thinking can be dangerous.
Advice is good but not always welcomed….RIGHT?
What kind of advice would I and others benefit from? Let’s start with when and where possible.
Visit a brick and mortar LHS. Something grabs your eye or jumps up at you begging you to take it home. May I suggest:
- Take it out of the box and fondle it.
- Check it over from stem to stern. Uhh,.,,err, from coupler to vent pipe.
- Test track it.
- Do be sure you know the “Return Policy”.
Okay! You are like me and a brick and mortar LHS is down some rather challenging roads. Never mind the traffic. AND, your car is getting older every day and less reliable. So you are left with, Shopping the Internet.
- Read all the written details.
- Study the pictures provided.
- Compare, as in comparative shopping.
- Never use a website as your one stop and shop.
- Auction sites can and will suck the money right out of your wallet.
- Ask yourself is it really worth that price?
- Do know the return policy.
- Caution: If the seller says “No Returns.” Time to reconsider the purchase you are about to make.
With today’s computers and websites there’s no reason why you or anyone else should ever be taken by a sub-standard seller.
The exception being me…who knows better. Did I laugh?
If there is a lesson to be learned here? I’m sure, you can discern it for yourself.
Shopping can be humiliating! You can end up with someone Else’s problem. Someone Else’s headache. Someone Else’s OOP’S!
Do be aware. “Let the buyer beware”. There are “Gold Diggers,” in every auction website, garaged internet mail order houses and yes, even at the train shows and swap meets. Over priced items that look tempting.
On the auction sites: I hate to say it but many of the sellers have shill’s that will push the price up (automatic bidding) in hopes you will eventually top them. The outcome? Bet you can guess! The seller gets the price he wants.
If at first you feel it is overpriced it probably is. The only time you want to lay out the big bucks is when you… “Can’t live without it”. May I add, You are willing to live with yours or someone Else’s problems or oop’s.
New In The Box or Never Opened, “Sealed.”: If you believe that well your Sucker Light might be on and you might be naive! Naive as believing hell can freeze over. Hell must have frozen over at least once ok maybe twice. Check out who just won the Pen-nit, you know for baseball.
Buying older stuff is never-ever new in the box. One contradicts the other. If it’s trains there’s a good chance someone has pulled it out, to get a closer look. That does not new… make it. That went away the minute the box was opened for the first time as in let the air out. Not going to happen.
If it’s a locomotive there’s a good chance someone has taken it out of the box to test track it. Or it’s been run on a LHS Layout and/or a Club Layout . Don’t believe everything you hear and very little of what you see.
**Enter any sale or purchase you make at your own risk.**
The most important thing is your happiness. If you are happy with what you’ve purchased then run it and enjoy it. If you want something better then seek it out. On the other hand if you want something you figure you can fix..then go for it. After all of this advice given do remember this is a, “Self Discovery Mission.” You will learn what you need to know as you continue this journey.
We (you and I) have been aptly warned.
Oh, and I’ll do it again. My Sucker Light will be on but I WON’T SEE IT………..THE SELLER WILL!
Let’s keep that our secret. Sigh! To late.