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  • Location
    Milton Keynes, England
  • Interests
    Anything designed by Oliver Bullied
    BR corporate blue era
    Japanese railways
    Canada (particularly Ontario) railways
    Italian railways
    Pennsylvania RR

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  1. Two things I can remember were the seeming chaos (More than once I asked about stuff to be told to see if I could find it on the shelves somewhere as they thought they had it but didn't know where) and the window display in which expensive models were seemingly abandoned to be washed out in the sun light. I shudder to think how much stock was rendered spare part fodder after being chosen for window display duty. Terrific shop, I miss it, the walk up Pentonville Road from Euston was the highlight of visiting London for a few years. Along with MacKay Models in Paisley and MG Sharpe in Sheffield Victors was the source of most of my models for quite a few years. He often had some very nice Overland brass diesels to tempt, I first got hooked on US HO brass after seeing a CN Draper taper in his shop.
  2. The substance of the question in the OP was a valid one, unfortunately it could have been presented better and avoided the unfortunate tone which rubbed people the wrong way. I think it's easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with the basics of the hobby as others and surely a forum such as RMWeb should be a place to ask for advice. If the question had been presented in a more positive manner I'd have seen nothing wrong with it, as I've posted already, I've found removing bodies from some locomotive and MU models to fit DCC chips quite difficult. In terms of customer care, model railways are different from some consumer products in that suppliers are fostering a long term relationship that may last decades and bring in regular repeat purchases. I'd view cementing that position with good customer service at the outset of the relationship by helping new entrants with the basics of the hobby more as an investment than an inconvenience. People increasingly expect and demand good service and are benchmarking against companies that do it very well. It's a bit like e-commerce, whether it was considered necessary in the past or whether a company thinks it does enough isn't the point, it's how people perceive performance relative to expectations established by companies that do it very well. Although in fairness I've found Hornby are pretty good at customer care.
  3. I remember removing bodies from the Bachmann 4CEP and Heljan 33. I thought the 4CEP was bad but one of my Heljan 33's was worse. I was convinced that the body would not survive the brute force I had to apply, I decided to just go for it and hope for the best and eventually it was OK but it was a nerve wracking job. It annoys me that easy fit DCC sockets like the Bachmann Desiro are still very much the exception. Personally I would rather have a DCC access flap on the underside than more detail which will never be seen when the model is on the track, but that's just me.
  4. Funnily enough records are quite trendy with the young and hipsters again. I think there is a sense of wanting something physical and tangible in the digital world. However I also think that this is a supplementary interest and is growing the size of the pie rather than people turning away from digital in a world where the size of the pie is assumed to be fixed.
  5. It's amazing how useful a basic understanding of measurement is, especially in regulatory matters. Very, very few policy makers appear to have ever studied the subject and have zero understanding of principles such as repeatability, reproducibility, standard deviation, what calibration means, instrument drift etc. So they leave themselves wide open to ridicule when they start pontificating (often with somebody from their department that does understand the subject sat behind them looking at the floor in embarrassment). All good fun.
  6. I suspect the other major model rail shops sell enough on-line that they see little need to worry about their web design, however I do wonder why they don't try and do a better job as I find web design of model shops in general to be very poor. Even if shops are doing a good business there is still an argument that a well designed website could draw more customers in. I find the Hattons website to be awful to use, ditto Rails, I'm not a fan of the Kernow site either. Don't get me wrong, whenever I've bought from Rails or Kernow I've been very happy and I think their service seems very good, but I just find the Model Railways Direct web site so much nicer to use that I'd rather use it than alternatives. E-commerce in general seems to be quite polarising. It strikes me that to do it well is not as easy as people think, and it needs investment in order handling, distribution and developing good websites and service. A lot of people hate Amazon, and I can see some of the logic but Amazon invested serious money in making online shopping easy and offering reliable and speedy delivery which gives their customers confidence to keep going back. I look at some retailer shop pwners I know who are always complaining about the Amazon-isation of their segments (primarily books and music) and to be brutally honest it is very easy to see why they've lost out as they're just not adapting to a changed retail landscape and can't get their heads around what e-commerce is and just find it easier to blame Amazon for having the audacity to do it well.
  7. I agree with Hilux and Legend, however there might be a good opportunity for Hornby or Bachmann to produce some simple Youtube videos showing some of the absolute basics like this for novices who are new to the hobby? Wouldn't cost much, might generate some positivity and help novices and also save on e-mail queries?
  8. Pensions are a rather complex issue. The Stationmaster has highlighted that unless you know the basis of the figures which are being thrown around then you can't really understand what they mean as they could mean different things. There is also the huge divide between defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, and opinions of pensions will be coloured by which of these two schemes they refer to. It was obvious even in the 1980's when I was at school that the old defined benefit model was a ticking time bomb and the shift to defined contribution was already started (aided by some sharp selling of personal pensions at the time). Most people now are probably in defined contribution schemes, in many ways it is easy to dismiss them and if you are fully self funding then I wouldn't put money into such a scheme as I think you can get better value and control over your assets elsewhere even accounting for the tax benefit of paying into a pension. However, in many cases employers pay a big lump in as well and if you opt out you are declining to accept a large additional payment from your employer. Few employers will compensate by lifting your salary to offset that. I know it varies, but in my case if I pay 6% in my employer pays 17%. Given that I pay the 6% off gross, not net pay, then it'd be silly not to join the pension (my employer is clear that you join the pension or you forego the 17%). Yes, I think pensions tend to be poor value, but if you are getting a big chunk thrown in then it's sensible to join. And for all their faults, at least with a defined contribution scheme you can see your fund accounts online, make decisions on what growth/risk plans to use etc.
  9. I am amazed more shops haven't looked at the Model Railways Direct site and realised that is how to design a website, logical and easy to navigate. I find they give excellent service but it is still their excellent web design that holds me, after using their site most of the other online model shop sites just feel like a mess.
  10. Usually I'd enjoy any opportunity to take a kick at his royal beardedness, and enjoy taking a kick at Stagecoach even more, but in this case DfT is one of the few bodies I hold in even lower esteem than either. For all I can't stand the bearded wonder or Stagecoach I will say that whenever I use Virgin WC I find the service very good and their approach to customer service has always seemed very good. I also think Stagecoach did a very good job at SWT. Maybe that is because in both cases they have/had good railway managers in place to run the show but either way I think Virgin and Stagecoach deserve some of the credit even if just for having the sense to appoint good people. I haven't used EMT for many years so can't comment on that franchise.
  11. You should be able to get a material safety data sheet from your supplier if you are buying white metal which will provide H&S guidance.
  12. A few years ago the USCG did research into the visibility of different colours for life saving equipment on ships such as life boats, life rafts and life jackets and found that pink was the best colour in terms of being able to identify from helicopters but nothing ever came of it.
  13. EBay prices are a simple reflection of demand for items, if prices are falling it is not EBay that has fallen off but demand. Prices for hobby items like models are notoriously prone to a boom and bust mentality, people get carried away by clever marketing about limited edition, instant collectability, buy it or miss the bus (I believe this has evolved into "buyers remorse") which tends to inflate prices (sometimes to absurd levels) until people move onto the next thing and prices collapse. Personally I still think that despite all of its many faults that EBay is still a good outlet for private sellers.
  14. On couplers I think that the gold standard remains Kadee but they need to be properly set up and are ruthless in exposing any less than great track you might have.
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