The Results of an Informal Survey
A number of people who are considering buying ModelWorks locos have contacted me to ask for my opinion about the quality of the new company's products. Until now I have been unable to furnish an informed opinion since until the Wembley Exhibition in January 2002 I had not seen anything they had produced. I decided to ask the owners of Winson/ModelWorks kits for their opinions and sent out a note to all the model-builders registered with me asking, if they had received any kits which they knew to have been manufactured since the beginning of September 2001, to give me an opinion as to their quality of manufacture, suitability for purpose, timeliness, etc. I have now received quite a few replies and am able to publish the results.
I am happy to say that everyone from whom I have received information seems to be pleased with the general manufacturing quality of the kits and has commented that there is a noticeable improvement over the Winson products which had, to say the least, been received rather badly by many customers. One owner sent me some photographs (see below) of his 'General' for which, at the time of writing, he had just received the cylinder blocks from ModelWorks.
(Click for a larger view)
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An example of one comment that I received from another satisfied customer...
- "The first resumed kit (No. 10) for my loco was due at the end of November but was about a week late. I had established previously with the Administrator that Winson had not made kit 10. The next kit due at the end of December arrived on Christmas Eve. Quality for both was fine, and parts have fitted to previous Winson assemblies with a minimum of fine filing, etc."
Communication and Timeliness
These are the two areas that owners clearly feel that ModelWorks need to improve. All of the replies I received contained varying degrees of criticism relating to kits not arriving on time and/or problems with communicating with the company. Some comments...
- "I still feel that their customer service needs improving. I have to ask for information which they send out to their "customer list". It is as though many of us are not on their mailing list"
- "Why did they leave it so late to tell us they were going to Wembley?"
- "I have sent numerous e-mails to ModelWorks and have not received any reply..."
Ken Burrough's Remarks
It seems unfair not to give ModelWorks the 'right of reply' to the above comments so I decided to put these points to Ken Burrough, Chairman of ModelWorks, to get his response. I interviewed him at the show and this is what he had to say...
First of all, he was obviously pleased to hear that ModelWorks' customers are happy with the quality of the product. He said that they were determined to maintain a high standard and that there was no reason at all, with the use of modern machinery and techniques, why this should not be possible.
Regarding the problems that they have had with getting kits out on time, Ken made the point that they would much rather be late than send out a faulty or poorly made product. He was sure that customers would prefer this than the obvious alternative. ModelWorks are assembling the kits as they go along and this helps to ensure that the parts are made to an appropriate standard.
Ken was quite apologetic that some of you have not received replies to some of your e-mails. It seems that they are having problems with their technology and have accumulated a backlog of correspondence.
Well that sums up the feedback from my mini-survey. I am well aware that I have not been able to answer many specific queries that you sent me and that I was forced to generalise in order to form a general opinion. I hope it is of use. Anyway, it is reassuring to hear that ModelWorks are getting on top of the quality problems that dogged their predecessors and are making a go of it. Thanks to all of you who sent in feedback. If you want to see more of my interview with Ken, please see the full Wembley Show Report which incorporates some of the new information that he gave me.
Nigel Fraser Ker