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Hornby Class 31 - R3661 - Is It Me? - Everything Hornby. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Mar 21st, 2019 12:48 pm
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Dave C
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I've been looking to obtain an OO gauge Class 31 diesel loco for ages as it fits in with my modelling time period and recently Hornby have released R3661.
 
I may have been unlucky but over the past few weeks I have had 3 of these locos sent to me - each of them faulty (in different ways) and they have had to be returned to the supplier who has had to put up with the additional costings of sending out replacement locos and refunding my postage costs for their return. This is hardly fair on them as their, presumably narrow profit margins, have been totally eroded by these additional costs and this transaction will have pushed them into a loss situation on the sale. And presumably they will be unable to re-coup these costs from Hornby.

But in all fairness, they (http://www.Track-Shack.com) have more than fulfilled their obligations and I thank them for their attention to this.
 
Can it be me that has just been unlucky to receive three faulty locos:
Loco1 - Buffer bar angled up at around 10degrees - nice, smooth runner but looked somewhat stupid;
Loco2 - buffer broken off and no accessory pack (which includes the NEM couplers, etc.) - quite an essential set of items;
Loco3 - completely failed to move, only a buzz from the motor, also with some minor damage to a component on the circuit board inside....
or has the Quality Control department at Hornby gone on holiday or do they just not bother to check their locos before being packaged up ready for sale?
 
Currently I am awaiting a response to a complaint made direct to Hornby in the hope that they might - just might - make the final replacement to get me a good, working Class 31.

Not a happy soul,
Dave

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 Posted: Thu Mar 21st, 2019 03:25 pm
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ZeldaTheSwordsman
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The first two are things that could have happened after inspection, when the locos were being packaged. Or worse, in transit or the shop.

The third one, though... That, I don't know if it could have happened in packing or transit. They might only be inspecting the models visually and externally, without doing run tests or popping them open.

Hindsight, it might have been better to keep the first one and write Hornby for a replacement shell (since the rest of it was apparently good). But then, well, that's hindsight for you - it's quite the cheeky little git.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 21st, 2019 03:37 pm
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Hi Dave and no, it's most certainly not you!
 
You do seem to be unusually unlucky though, as three defective loco's in a row should be far from normal in this day and age. The fault is with Hornby for not ensuring more rigorous quality control procedures are in place, but under UK consumer law, the remedy is with the retailer. Hornby may offer some form of commercial gesture to you, but that is down to how much they care about their public image and their reputation.
 
Although you say that the retailer has more than fulfilled their obligations, that would only be true if they had provided you with a fit for purpose replacement by now. Although it may seem unfair to the retailer under the law, it has been this way for decades and all retailers know of their obligations under the Sale of Goods Act and any retailer with active grey matter to conjugate would have physically checked the replacement loco before it left their premises, particularly having failed to do so after you returned the first defective loco, then the second and now the third! This is dreadful customer service, particularly as their web-site boasts a 2019 5 star Gold Trusted Service Award.
 
I hope they try a good deal better in providing you with what they should have already done so much earlier!
 
By contrast, in the years I’ve used Hattons and that includes a fair amount of kit, I’ve only ever had to return one item and the service was first class, which is why I’m still a loyal customer.
 
Bon courage,
 
Bill
 
PS, just noticed that Track-Shack and Hatton’s both stock R3661 for the same price.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 21st, 2019 05:40 pm
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Dave C
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Thanks guys.

Zelda... the buffer bar (loco1) is part of the main chassis on this model and is totally rigid. There's no way this could have been damaged "in transit", etc. I tried to gently bend it back into alignment with no luck what-so-ever - no chance of moving it.

And the broken off buffer (loco2) is not something that can have been damaged in transit - unless it was loose to start with. Give Hornby their due, their packaging is pretty good and, I would suggest, relatively carrier-proof.

Loco3 - that could possibly have been transit damage, but only if there were parts not fully secured in the first place during manufacture. I'm not sure where the problem lies on this one as the motor winding measurement was, in my mind, quite low. Whether this reading was being affected by whatever driver circuitry is between the rails and the motor I'm not sure but testing it out (as a straight DC loco) I would not expect any reduction in resistance as a result of it. Except maybe a 'tap' off for the lights, but even then I would expect quite a high impedance in this area relative to the reading I obtained. So it could be a faulty motor/winding.

Bill...

I agree with your statement regarding the letter of the law regarding the retailer being the responsible party, but a joke is joke and surely they should not be made to be fully responsible for faulty product after faulty product after..... Surely the manufacturer ought to bear some of the responsibility.

If all else fails, they (T-S) have agreed to refund the return of the third loco should I not get anywhere with Hornby and to give me a full refund of the price of the loco. I consider that a fair conclusion to all concerned; but no, I'll not be getting a 4th loco from them as I simply do not trust the quality of the goods supplied to them from Hornby and I would want to see and inspect the loco myself before the next purchase.

I then have to option of saying I'll not bother with this loco any further. I do have the option of firstly phoning then driving over to Sheffield to "Rails" and see if they would be prepared to get one out of the box and inspect it and test it in front of me. The £153 price seems to be a common price in a number of the shops.

In the past I've dealt with both Rails and Hattons as well as Track Shack and have had no issues at all with kit from any of them. I guess I've just been unlucky this time around.

The idea of making the complaint direct to Hornby is to bring to their attention the state of some of their locos. I can accept one faulty loco getting through QC, but not three. Whether it'll fall on deaf ears is in the lap of the Gods. Maybe after the recent TV programmes on the state of Hornby they may come up with something constructive and do the decent thing and make the replacement themselves. We'll see what the next few days brings.


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 Posted: Thu Mar 21st, 2019 09:52 pm
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Barry Miltenburg
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Dave

Hornby might send you a Terrier and a Class 66 :lol: :lol:

(Thats only funny of you watched the Hornby prog pt II)

Barry

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 Posted: Fri Mar 22nd, 2019 12:58 pm
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Barry Miltenburg
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Seriously though Dave, I had a Hornby Class 31 about 3 or 4 years ago that suffered from chassis "fatigue" - one day when I went to put it on the track I realised that it looked like I had dropped it.  I certainly hadn't but the chassis had split and the body had fractured apart.  A bit of research suggested that my example was not the only one to suffer this way.

It makes you wonder if this class is some kind of "bogeyman" for Hornby - interestingly (spookily even) no other major manufacturer has produced one yet they would seem to be a good choice  for an attractive Class 4.
:hmm

Barry

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 Posted: Fri Mar 22nd, 2019 01:27 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Dave,

Sounds suspiciously like the pest (zinc) is weakening the MAZAC. QC problem in China for not testing for zinc levels in the alloy and lack of oversight by Hornby for not doing QA. Could be another barge pole model (31). As Barry knows there ain't no cure. The chassis will eventually disintegrate.

Nigel



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 Posted: Mon Mar 25th, 2019 11:22 am
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Dave C
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Thanks for the comments guys.

As this was a new release, probably a new tooling as well, I would have thought problems would have been sorted out given that they, Hornby, are trying to make a come-back and get back into profitability.

To my mind, 3 faulty locos is just not the way to do it.

Anyway, I did get a response from the Hornby tech people indicating I could sent the loco back to the retailer or sent it direct to them for repair. The latter is not an option for me as I expect, when paying £153, to receive a loco that works out of the box and not requiring fixing first.

So, it'll shortly be winging its way back for a refund and will try to get one from a local emporium who, I will ask, if it can be tested in front of me; or at least tested in the back room before being handed over.

Hopefully, this will the end of this sorry saga and I get a success in a day or so. If only someone else was tooling up for a Class 31......

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 Posted: Mon Mar 25th, 2019 12:58 pm
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Ed
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I know it sounds old-fashioned Dave, but write to Hornby customer services and complain.

After all, it's not just you having a three damaged versions of the same product, the dealer is losing sales as well.


Ed



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 Posted: Mon Mar 25th, 2019 03:48 pm
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Having one duff loco is bad enough but 3 i think i would be very annoyed about it.

The batch made must have had lots of duff ones as there is no way you would have been the only person to receive the only 3 duff ones in the batch.

Its a first hand insight to see why Hornby as a company is having problems as their quality control must be virtually non existent in China and certainly ISO 9000 quality control  is not applied there.

My analogy is if you had bought a car and it was duff and given a further 2 and they were duff aswell there would be outcry over it and the manufacturers would go out of their way to put things right and help the customer.

Because its a model train they seem to think so what we will just send you another mate.

Brian



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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2019 09:01 am
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Dave C
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And the latest in this sorry saga of the Hornby Class 31 is....

Three faulty locos received and returned to original retailer; one ordered and personally collected from a major retailer not a million miles from me after it being demonstrated on a length of test track as working.

Got it home and it runs as expected. All I need now is to fit the DCC decoder and it can join the remainder of stock on the layout.

I don't really think I can be bothered with making another complaint to Hornby CS - I mean (as noted above), they were helpful to a degree by indicating I should return the 3rd faulty loco back to the retailer or, alternatively, I could sent it direct to Hornby and they would repair as necessary. Helpful, yet not helpful. Hardly what you might expect from a company of this size and history and wanting to get its finances back into profitability.

Anyway. As far as I'm concerned, this is now a closed subject - I have, at last, got a working Class 31 together with a little bit of tainted respect for the manufacturer.

Cheers to all for your comments. And apologies to all - I just needed to give vent to my frustrations over this.
Dave

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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2019 11:31 am
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Longchap
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No problem Dave, as we all to vent from time to time. I'm just happy to hear that you finally got a result.

Cheers,

Bill



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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2019 03:16 pm
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ZeldaTheSwordsman
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First off, I'm glad to hear you finally got a satisfactory one.

Second, some thoughts now that I've been able to organize them.
Forgive me for playing devil's advocate, Dave, but Hornby's current financial state probably makes them less willing to just give product away for free, even if it's to replace a defective example (which is what I'm guessing you wanted them to do, since you were unwilling to send it in for repairs). Even if they were issuing replacements, you'd probably still have had to send the defective loco in as proof and exchange. Did they at least apologize for your having a problem and say they'd work on improving quality?
And at least they were willing to repair it, instead of telling you "Too bad, so sad, you'll have to buy a new one."

Briperran, as much as we love them and as pricey as they can get, you can't really compare a model train to a car. Model trains aren't anywhere near as expensive or as essential as a car, nor do they have nearly as much potential for harm when they go awry. Cars are also not sold in sealed packages and expected to go undisturbed until reaching the consumer. At the end of the day, a model train is a nonessential luxury like any other toy (no matter how fancy and expensive).
Also, Hornby did not say "so what we will just send you another mate". The retailer gave him replacements (which is sometimes the most you can expect. Especially when dealing with sealed product - not everyone's willing to break a seal just for testing, since that can hurt salability if the customer who asked for the test decides they don't want the item), which were the two more that turned out to be faulty.
What Hornby did do was offer to repair it in their workshop provided Dave sent it in (Which sounds fair enough to me. I mean, it's not like they could fix it if it remained at his house), possibly after rubbing the QC department's nose in it (which, now I think about it, could well be another reason manufacturers ask you to send defective goods in). I would think offering repairs counts as trying to put things right. I would guess he was hoping for a tested replacement, though. And if that doesn't count either, what does?



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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2019 06:08 pm
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Briperran
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Brendan It does not matter what the product is be it 3 apples 3 dvd`s 3 cars 3 model trains if the product is not fit for purpose sold for, any person has a right to complain.

We have a gentleman here who had 3 of the same defective products and that cant be coincidence.
There quality control must have serious flaws.

In all my years buying model railway locos and stock i have only ever had to take back 1 loco that was defective.
To get 3 together is crazy and i think most people would be aggrieved over that.

I think most of us accept at some point we will receive a sub standard product and rightly the retailer will replace it.

But for this one man to receive 3 at the same time i do not believe that its  unfair to question their quality control.


Brian



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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2019 07:34 pm
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Dave C
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Interesting comments guys, thanks for them.

There was never any thought in my mind of getting owt for nowt, i.e. a freebie. I was quite happy to send the loco back to them for a "replacement" item that was "brand new" and not for a repaired/reconditioned item, whether it was the one I sent back or one sent in from someone else. And these Hornby boxes are not sealed in any manner; they just open and/or slide out. Nicely packaged though to prevent most rough handling in transit.

Hornby did email an apology:
Thank you for your email, sorry to hear that you are having issues with these locos, unfortunately you will need to return these to the place of purchase for a replacement or refund, however loco 3 can be sent to us for our repair team to look at repairing if you do not want to send this back to place of purchase.

I think it covered most bases; it covered a brief apology, the requirements of the consumer act relating to the retailer's responsibility, as well as an offer of sending it back for repair. No! As I paid full price (the same as that offered at quite a large number of outlets) I would expect to receive a new and a good working model. But the email failed to acknowledge whether there were any improvements in QA/QC (call it what you will) in the pipeline; I just got the impression that it was business as usual and, hey, it was faulty, so send it back and we'll fix it.

And to say I was "having issues with these locos" is a bit of an understatement given that one of them just didn't move (#3) and one was a manufacturing fault (#1); I'm unable to speculate about loco #2.

Will my complaint make any difference to them? Probably not.

Anyway, to my way of thinking I've got a result with or without Hornby's direct input of sending out a "new", working replacement. It just cost me some diesel to get over to a dealer (in Sheffield) who was very polite and helpful in allowing me to inspect the loco and then getting the loco tested in front of me. Maybe he's had a number of similar requests from other disgruntled Hornby purchasers (pure speculation on my part).


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 Posted: Fri Mar 29th, 2019 08:10 am
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col.stephens
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This is the gist of the reply from Hornby following a recent complaint from me:


 


"Thank you for your email, I have passed your comments onto the development team and QC teams, please be assured that all comments and suggestions received from our customers are recorded and will be reviewed by the teams responsible for the brand."


 


As previously stated, under UK law the duty to refund, repair or replace falls on the retailer.  As I understand it, you have up to 30 days to claim a refund and six months to ask for a repair or replacement.  The retailer has one chance at repairing the item.  If it is still not up to standard, you can demand a refund.  There appears to be no obligation on the manufacturer to take any action. 


 


Out of interest, many years ago, as a teenager, I bought my first record player. (Anyone under the age of twenty, Google 'record' for an explanation!) The make was 'Portadyne'.  It was a small wooden box, covered in sticky-backed plastic with a hinged lid which had to be removed in order to play a record.  There was one knob whose function was 'on. 'off' and 'volume'. The single speaker was partly covered by the turntable. It cost me 7s 6d (Google that as well!) Occasionally, the needle (stylus) would jump when playing a record so I resorted to balancing an old penny or two on the plastic housing of the needle. Anyway, the record player worked fine for three or four years and then suddenly stopped working.  I decided to try to get it repaired and, thankfully, the manufacturer had seen fit to attach a metal label to the rear with their address thereon.  So, I tucked the record player under my arm and travelled by bus and underground train to Acton in West London.  I found the small non-descript factory situated in some back street and walked through the open doors.  It was lunchtime and the place was deserted.  After a search I walked through another door into a yard to find a young man sat on a bin smoking a cigarette.  He greeted me cheerfully and I explained my dilemma.  Without further ado, he took the record player from me and I followed him to a work bench.  Within a couple of minutes he had soldered into place a new motor, reassembled the record player and handed it back to me.  (Still with the same cigarette in his mouth).  When I asked about payment, he said that none was necessary.  No meaningless conversations with a 'customer service advisor'.   No reference to anybody in management.  No forms to complete.  NOW, THAT'S WHAT I CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE!


Terry


Terry

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 Posted: Mon Apr 8th, 2019 07:29 pm
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Dave C
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Terry

Your comments take me back a while - seven and a tanner for a record player - can't be bad. And memories of the coin or two on the arm to stop it jumping - not too near the stylus end, not too far t'other way. Then to get it fixed those years later when it packed up - and for nowt. Those were the days! What happened to them.

And getting back to the subject matter in hand - the Hornby R3661 Class 31. Now that's another story.

The fourth loco I actually collected from Sheffield worked fine out of the box. Pop in a decoder and a few CV tweaks later, things were looking up. One happy bunny at this end!

Didn't last long though. It soon started to stop/start quite randomly.

Off with the body and have a look around. All seemed to be in order - then I turned it over to have a look at the pickups (on all wheels by the look of things) then I noticed that the wires leading from the pickup bars on each bogie - a couple were broken away - one looked as if it had never been soldered to its tag. So with trusty soldering iron to hand I promptly set about remaking all the wire connections down there (a steady hand with the old trusty 25W iron was needed; iron yes, steady hand? maybe not) - and while I was at it, re-did the connections to the pcb on top as they looked a bit on the 'dry' side.

At least it runs better again now. And I'm giving it a really good running session to make sure before I put the body back on - just to be sure it stays that way.

But, so it seems, the sorry saga of the dreaded Hornby R3661 Class 31 goes on. At this stage I'm not willing to return the loco to the supplier for such simple (but unnecessary problems) but to soldier on with it in the hope that, surely, there can't be much else that can go wrong with it. But having put the soldering iron to it I've probably blown my options to a degree on being able to simply returning it as 'faulty'.

Watch this space for the next installment - if there is a next.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 10th, 2019 10:23 am
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Dave C
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Very brief 'next installment'....

Had a need to have another attempt at soldering the pickup wires to the bus bar across the loco bogies - the solder didn't take too well on a couple of tags (both on the same rail side!) and I ended up with dry joints and intermittent running. This was down to my not wanting to put too much heat onto the solder tag as the bus bar is up against the plastic of the bogies and I didn't want to melt or cause issues with the moulding.

Anyway, a bit more heat this time and hopefully I've now got better joints.

As an aside to this, I'm a little surprised that the type of wire being used to make that connection is a little stiffer than I might have expected due to the amount of movement those wires will have to endure as the bogies turn left and right across curves and points. I might have expected to see a more "flexible" type of wire to better cope with the constant movement.

Maybe I'll replace these wires at some stage in the future if/when I get further problems in this area.

End of the saga - for now (again).



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 Posted: Sun Apr 14th, 2019 07:05 am
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Hi
Reading this and similar messages across other forums Hornby do seem to be having a number of QC issues at the moment, going from those outlined above, Princess Coronations with detail parts missing, models with failing motors, even one with its DCC decoder socket wired incorrectly.

Perhaps Hornby sell many more locos than Bachmann, but there are at the moment for more people complaining about Hornby QC than Bachmann or any other maker. Perhaps there has been a change at the factory in China Hornby are not aware of, or perhaps things have been pushed through production to quickly to try and beat the competition, but they do need to get a handle on the problem soon if they wish to survive at the end of the market they wish to be at.

Paul

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 Posted: Sun Apr 14th, 2019 11:12 am
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For what it's worth, I have come to expect trouble like this as a company gets back in the saddle after an upheaval



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