More on manufacturers
I am reminded of an article on a local architectural model shop back in the ‘70s. The owner said he never hires anyone whose hobby is modelmaking because they want to pause and admire their work rather than just get the job done. Likewise, our standards are extremely high, making our concerns impractical or too costly to implement by manufacturers who want to sell to the 95%, not the 5%.
Sometimes even high end manufacturers just can’t win. Rapido is catching flack on a number of forums lately. The snow shields on their UP E units were designed to be slightly concave. Many purchasers are unhappy because it appears the shields were flat when new. Their factory changed from black to gray plastic for the latest run of Budd passenger car moldings, and the discoloration in the middle of the roof where the molten plastic flowing from the two ends merges is no longer concealed by the stainless steel finish paint coat. And a Rapido customer service employee, growing frustrated by the incessant on-line complaining of one particular customer, posted from his personal account that the complainer should just return the model for a refund and they’d sell it to someone else. The comment was not well received.
The first two matters are, I suspect, the result of Rapido’s rapid growth, with Jason Shron no longer able to personally monitor every aspect of Rapido’s operations, coupled with the inability to visit the factories in China for the past couple of years due to the pandemic. I’m sure the snow shields are perfect miniatures of those on the prototype unit Rapido scanned, but it looks like they could have done more research. The factory changed the plastic because their supplier had increased the amount of recycled material in their black plastic feedstock, changing the flow properties and making it unsuitable for that particular use. With no Rapido representative on hand to see the change and assess its importance, the discoloration issue wasn’t noticed until production was well underway. It’s one thing to review a test shot, mark up a drawing and send it off to a designer thousands of miles away and await the next test shot. It’s quite another to be there with the designer and suggest (for example) that they increase the radius of the edges of that roof panel so it looks like it was pressed in and not an appliqué.
On the customer service matter, I take it that goading someone into saying or doing something they shouldn’t, and then jumping all over them when they do, is considered part of the game in sports, politics and ambush journalism. But in business, it causes problems. If you’re an employee commenting on company matters, you are representing the company whether you post from your private account or not. Jason had to post an apology from the arrival lounge at Heathrow airport after an overnight flight, surely not the way he expected to start his day.
Several years ago Walthers was getting a lot of grief on the trainorders.com modeling forum for reissuing older models with new paint schemes rather than investing in new tooling. There was a lot of “I contacted Walthers and told them what to do but they never responded” commentary, and it was obvious the loudest complainers had no clue what goes into creating and marketing a model. So I put together a “Working with Manufacturers” article that was rather well received. Bob Zenk, who works with manufacturers and publishers a lot, even thought it should be the lead post in that forum in perpetuity. Cooler heads prevailed and that didn’t happen. It’s on my web site if anyone’s interested:
|1 - 2 of 2|