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Criticism: When is it too much?

6817 Views 40 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  llynrice
  Lately, and by that I mean over the last year and a half we have been ringside for Bachmann's introductions of two very different but equally innovative products. Unfortunately, we have also been privy to much of the behind-the-scenes drama that has accompanied these models. 
  The first was the 55 ton three-truck Shay. It seemed strange at the time that they would introduce a three-truck Shay when they had just come out with the 38 ton two-truck Shay but it was one of the models that had been asked for so I'm not going to dwell on that particular decision. What was decided was to introduce a digital sound system that was advertised as utilizing "Tsunami technology." Without going into the whole spiel again and to keep it short, the sound system, as installed, was NOT a "Tsunami!" It was an interesting idea that didn't live up to the hype. There were problems with cold soldered wires that would break with minimal movement and circuit boards that were actually bent due to the necessity to cram the wires underneath!!
  In addition, Bachmann decided to issue half with sound and half without. This in and of itself wasn't a bad decision as it turns out because the sound equipped models had no provisions for external triggers rendering aftermarket r/c systems useless! The questionable part came when the decision was made to make certain models with sound and completely different models without! Most of this can be found in the "Quasinami" threads.
  Fast forward to the middle of this last year. We were being very patient about the K-27 but were hearing almost nothing about it! Of course, there were rumors and behind the scenes stories (which turned out to be true...) about deals with Soundtraxx's Blackstone and how there could be NO MENTION of the K-27 in Fn3 for six-months after Blackstone's introduction of their HOn3 version(!!) No pre-hype. No pictures. No confirmation. No NOTHING!! All of a sudden we are told the K-27 is at a show...almost! It turns out that the K that was being shown was a mock-up that had to be assembled by the Bachmann sales staff before the show! Again, this wasn't exactly a bad decision as it did allow us a glimpse at what Bachmann had in store for us!
  It was about this time that the "Super socket" idea began to circulate. After the "Qasinami" incident is it any wonder that this new rumor had us so energized? Without naming specific people, suffice to say that Bachmann or more correctly, certain people in high places in Bachmann's management were convinced that this new approach was the way to go. This led to some brutal postings and some really scandalous and despicable behind-the-scenes shenanigans trying to quash them!
  By the time that the K-27 did arrive (strangely enough, at one particular person's home) it was being "managed" by certain people with ties to Bachmann. Apparently, there were troubles with the sound interface optical trigger as well as other issues that needed to get worked out in a controlled manner!
  Now, we all have heard the problems that have surfaced. We have seen the posts that have advertised "fixes" and we now know that Bachmann is actively trying to correct these problems. My concern has now turned to "When is it too much?" Has all of our posts had the cumulative effect of "piling on" Bachmann so that the powers that be will get the wrong message? We WANT the K-27!! We just want it to work out of the box! Bachmann has chosen this method for introducing new models. So be it. I just wonder when criticism gets to be too much? Are we already past that point and if so, is there anything that can be done? It's just something that has been bugging me over the last week or two..../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif
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I have no irons in this fire, but if I were a Bachmann representative, I would cringe just thinking about what might be written over here.  Were I associated with Bachmann,  I doubt if I'd even be coming over to MLS to read some of this stuff.  My sense of it is that  the "enough is enough" stage was probably reached  some time ago.

As I said, I have no particular interest in this product or in Bachmann or in anyone associated with that company or its distributors or service agents, but even I--a disinterested observer-- get to the point where I can't read the criticisms any more. Thus,  I'd say, yes, the piling on effect has gotten to be just a little on the heavy side.
I think the danger doesn't come so much in pointing out strengths and weaknesses, but in belaboring the point. Untortunately, its natural for a forum format to allow that to happen. It's just the way the interactive discussion evolves. People can love a product, but point out one little curious point that gets picked up an perpetuated for 20 more responses. All of a sudden, the overwhelmingly positive product is now a piece of junk because of an insignificant flaw.

It's human nature to remember the negative and gloss over the positive. I'm always taken aback--but not surprised--when a manufacturer complains about a product review because I mentioned one little flaw in a sea of overwhelmingly positive traits. While I think Bachmann may be being singled out lately, they're not the only manufacturer to suffer such heavy-handed criticism. There was a recent thread about the Accucraft passenger cars that took a decidedly negative tone, despite the opinion of most involved with the discussion that the cars were fantastic.

"Too much?" That's a hard one to peg. I don't think the manufacturers put a whole lot of weight on the specifics of what is said on forums like this, but I do think they're aware of the general opinions expressed. One can always hope they take our opinions into consideration, but in reality, the probably 20 or 30 people who take active parts in these discussions are a small fraction of the total market. I don't see any of the manufacturers pulling up tent stakes based solely on what transpires here.


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Boy, and this topic had me worried for a minute.....
Criticism becomes too much "just before" it has a negative effect.
While I have found all of the Bachmann problems of late very interesting, this forum has become somewhat of a soap opera. One thread questions "Where is everybody?". Well, I think between all of the Super Socket/Bachmann drama and the change of MLS format, we may have lost at least a few here. I really do hope that Bachmann is listening to all of this, but I doubt it. Testing .... what a concept. Listening to the customer ... another concept. Ignoring it all and "saving" a buck ... another concept.

So what is the status of the "Super Socket Specs"? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif
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Posted By Del Tapparo on 03/08/2008 8:48 PM

So what is the status of the "Super Socket Specs"? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif

Now that is a really good question Del.

As far as I am concerned what Bachmann delivered re the socket, is almost exactly what I was suggesting to the "designer" all along.  
The really interesting thing is Bachmann had already signed off  on the fitted socket before Mr Ames called for submissions in September.
The only thing Bachmann forgot to do is put a suitable fuse between the Battery terminals and the socket circuit, and actualy mount the screw terminals on the pcb for non socket installations.
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Posted By Del Tapparo on 03/08/2008 8:48 PM

While I have found all of the Bachmann problems of late very interesting, this forum has become somewhat of a soap opera. One thread questions "Where is everybody?". Well, I think between all of the Super Socket/Bachmann drama and the change of MLS format, we may have lost at least a few here. I really do hope that Bachmann is listening to all of this, but I doubt it. Testing .... what a concept. Listening to the customer ... another concept. Ignoring it all and "saving" a buck ... another concept.

So what is the status of the "Super Socket Specs"? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif

At least someone at Bachmann is listening.
And, from bits and pieces trickling down, it appears someone found a hammer and nails and did nail door #2 shut.
I am personally puzzled that this went on as it did with nobody on the "inside" asking anybody on the "outside" how this was going to play out.

And if you think that last sentence was PC in nature, you have no idea HOW PC it was!

Oh, well.

As far as status.....last I heard, down for the count.
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Posted By Del Tapparo on 03/08/2008 8:48 PM

While I have found all of the Bachmann problems of late very interesting, this forum has become somewhat of a soap opera. One thread questions "Where is everybody?". Well, I think between all of the Super Socket/Bachmann drama and the change of MLS format, we may have lost at least a few here.

Now that is a very interesting point of view, and illustrates the concept of, "Damned if you do and damned if you don't."  Many times in the past, we've been accused of censorship, hand-licking, etc. ad nauseum because we've taken a harder stance on publicly criticizing manufacturers and products.  Due to the huge interest in the K-27, a more or less conscious decision was made to let things run their course, and to allow certain things which ordinarily we would have somewhat curtailed.  So now we've lost members due to that as well?

I'm not disputing the point Del has made.  Rather I'm trying to use it to illustrate the very difficult and fine line we try to walk here. :confused:  So the next time you disagree with a decision, think about it.  It's impossible to make everybody happy all the time. :)
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Thought you were a mac guy, Dave! As such, we wouldn't expect much PC .....


It depends. What you need is the right people to listen to unfiltered, unspun input from the right people. That, combined with some unrevised history (also developed from unfiltered, unspun information) will provide the correct interpretation of the response of the users.

I love my Bachmann K-27. I can't say enough good things about it. It runs great, it looks great, it's fantabulous. Pity I had to spend as much as I did to get it that way -- had the powers that be actually listened to and made use of information that they DID have prior to buildilng the locomotive, I would have been able to spend that money on a second K-27 instead of repairing the first one. I'd have been happy, Bachmann would have been happy, and nobody would have had to spin anything.

But ... that's all in the past now. I might even be talked into a second one at some point, particularly since the Bachmann board has announced that the second run, instead of new inside slant valves and new road numbers, will be a duplicate of the first run (www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/board/index.php/topic,4696.0.html  ) although happily, the folks who wanted a 453 and missed it will have a second chance.) When these new locomotives, with the electronics and counterweight problems (presumably) solved, arrive on dealer shelves, I would imagine there'll be a fire sale on the original models, and I can scoop up another at a price that makes the "modification" a bit less painful . . . I can't imagine anyone would knowingly buy a first run locomotive with the problems when a second run one without them was available for the same price! If Bachmann then interprets this as a lack of interest in the K-27, it's a huge mistake on their part.

Is that being "overcritical?" I don't think so. I don't hate Bachmann trains ... in fact, all of my current locomotives were made by Bachmann. But I think they ought to listen to the folks who run these things a little more carefully than they have been, or seriously evaluate the folks they allow to do the "listening" for them. I'm just glad that this time someone made enough of a loud noise that the right people heard, instead of having the K-27 go the way of the 3 truck Shay. It would appear that the forums, and the blogosphere can have as much influence in the corporate world as it is beginning to in the political one.

Nobody likes having their feet held to the fire. The idea is to remove the impetus to do so. It's been my experience that folks here are as quick to be excited about a good product as they are to be upset about a bad one. Look how many people, like me, are thrilled with their K's even WITH the problems. Next time, we'll hope for the Laurel and Hearty Handshake (with all due apologies to Blazing Saddles) instead of the torches and pitchforks.  I will line up to buy the next Bachmann locomotive with great expectations (assuming it's not "Spock the Vulcan" again!) but don't expect me to be uncritical of any issues with it that really never should have seen the light of day just as sign of loyalty to the manufactuer.... there's only one forum I know of where that's the rule, and they lose people there on a regular basis too.

Matthew (OV)
Slate Creek Railway,
Home of the K-Rex
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Dwight - In reference to the Bachmann "Stuff", I didn't mean to imply that MLS or any of the moderators should have done anything different. I just think all of the on-line fighting kind of distracts from the fun side of the hobby. And I, for one, read every line of the battle ... so what am I complaining about? I don't know. I tend to bash Manufactures myself when I think it is warranted. This forum is a means of feedback to Manufactures to correct their faults and to our peers to warn them of our perception of a potential problem with a product.
I realized at last night's operating session that only two non-Bachmann locomotives are currently in service on the CCRy, and one of those is a Magnus.
However, every 4-6-0 no longer rides on Bachmann drives, three being 2-8-0's, one a 2-8-2, and two being 4-6-0's, of the 2-1/2 outside-frame 2-8-0's, one loco has a different gearbox and motor than delivered.
The Porters are stock-ish drives, as are the Shays, Climax, Heisler (with several mods, including hard-wired pivots, lube ports drilled, etc).

I've been a fan of Bachmann primarily, early on, as it was affordable, and later, once the 1:20 bug bit them, the detail and adherence to scale and some prototype made them more believeable.

Oh, I don't know about PC and Mac.....mine has a crank on the side to turn to make it go.

How do you know what version of a locomotive you are getting?

I recently bought a Connie and a Shay at a great price.  I was worried I was getting the one with plastic trucks but that was not the case.

So how do you tell without actually seeing the engine?

That is the problem with buying mail order, I guess.

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Dwight - In reference to the Bachmann "Stuff", I didn't mean to imply that MLS or any of the moderators should have done anything different.
I didn't take it that you were Del. But you're right... too much "soap opera" can drive people away just as fast as to much intervention. All I was doing was trying to point out that the balance point is a fine line which is constantly shifting, and that fact makes it exceeding difficult to be right all the time. :)
I don't have both of the locomotives but do have the 3-truck Shay with sound and love the loco. I have not had any complaints with it after doing minor surgery like TOC has stated. Maybe I'm missing something or maybe I'm just plain stupid (I have been accused of that before) but I think Bmann did a good job on that loco. I even like the sound even though it could use a bit more volume. I will in time probably get the latest Bmann creation too. 

I have had problems with every manufacturer going, but I will not get down on Bmann for this one. Maybe I'm not looking for what you want and that is the problem?

Any excess in verbage is to simply reinforce the point: Bachmann or Kader, PLEASE test your locos before sending them overseas to us -- that's your beloved, trusting, ever-willing to purchase, customers.

Obviously, the problems in the locos -- take your pick going back five years -- were simply discovered by consumers running them. There was no lengthy run time in order for the malady to expose itself. That's from screws that came loose, screws loose at installation, motor mount problems, trucks that had plastic fracturing, and now the K-27's wheel foible.

As long as Kader is trusting that the American marketplace will continue to purchase and test as consumers what they are not willing to do prior to shipment there will continue to be complaints.

Lot's of them. Now, is that consequence a puzzlement?

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I don't think there is anything wrong with criticism, the problem is when it becomes vitriolic manufacturer bashing. While I also have no stake in the Bachman issues, I have noticed this a lot dealing with other manufacturers and even dealers lately. I've had a few converstations with friends of mine from this board on the phone where we questioned who had relieved themselves in someone's wheaties do to the way they were talking in their posts. I've been in this hobby since I was 12, I'm 34 now and I've had more than my fair share of problems. Some of them in the days when getting a hold of a manufacturer was too difficult to be worth the trouble. However, in the last 10-15 years I, personally, have not had a problem that wasn't resolved with a polite, private email to the maunfacturer. It seems to me that a lot of people respond with such anger that it instantly puts the other side on the defensive, and when they are on the defensive you're not apt to get their best.
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Every action has an equal and opposite criticism.

It does seem products sometimes get unmercifully thrashed here on MLS. I've seen one of the new Bachmann locos. A beautiful thing indeed.
Maybe in their excitement for the K-27, the first 'affordable' CO Narrow Gauge mikado, the teething issues associated with all new locomotives were not anticipated.  It would have been great if their loco didn't have any problems with the drive.  However, history has shown us that first runs usually have one or two nagging issues that are missed.

I agree 100% with what Chris has said here regarding the criticism of manufacturers and dealers in general. 

Kevin, I also agree with what you've said as well.  Folks will only remember one thing, like the trucks are spaced 4 scale inches too close which renders the whole model as a 'toy'.

Wendell is also right.  He has stated here and on Bachmann that testing of product should be done by the manufacturer and not the consumer.  I agree with his sentiment, because I just don't have the time anymore to fix things right out of the box that I worked hard to afford.  But I also understand that the cost of doing that would probably cause the price point to double.  So we're damned if they do and damned if they don't.  

As far as the original post, I think Bachmann is trying to offer more product at a lower price.  The problems in large scale are well known.  There are a variety of power sources and requirements for sound and control.  Its not like O gauge where it is either TMCC or DCS.  We've got DCC, DC, Battery and then there are break downs within those groups.  We've come a long way since the big hauler and the static chuff.  I think Bachmann was trying to offer something that would be super flexible with all configurations.  The counterweights were an error in manufacturing.  I think Bachmann is doing right by their customers by making a fix in a timely manner.  After all, the LGB Mikado's had their problems, too, and LGB fixed them right up.  I am sure if we read back through, we'd find all the old posts where people were really mad at having paid $1400 for a locomotive that ran crooked down the track.   I did have that problem with my LGB mikado, but I didn't get a free boxcar like some folks.  I don;t think I complained loud enough.

In 1991, how much did the old LGB mogul with sound cost?  Anyone? Anyone?  I seem to recall it was in the $600-$700 range.  Like most technology,  we are now seeing that we get more train for our dollar.  If it wasn't for the counterweight issue, would there have been as big a hubub?  

I am grateful that we have this forum to exchange ideas on how to fix things.  Look at the thread going about the AML K-4 and the mods  to the pilot truck.  That was a $1500 locomotive that no one bought, and now that its $750 or so, it seems to be selling well.  I haven't seen anyone starting threads about AML's lack of QC, but the day is young. 

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Heck, Mark, the LGB mogul still runs anywhere from $700 to $1,200, depending on which version. The Ks are now shipping from the factory with the new counterweights, so the primary issue seems to have been resolved within relatively short order. Quite honestly, I don't know if the K for $700 or the 4-6-0 for $100 is a bigger "bang for your buck," but both are incredible deals based on what you get.


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