Support your LMS? I dont think so...

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Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by Phil_G » 14 May 2019, 23:11

Went to Modelshop Leeds today for some bits. Things have changed, and very much for the worse.
The shop is now divided into two areas, the customer has access to about 1/4 with 3/4 staff only.
All the accessories, props, connectors, hinges, tools, linkages, in fact almost everything is now behind the counter, which is strictly out of bounds for customers. Theres no wandering, you're not allowed to browse at all, not allowed to sift through linkages looking for something suitable, not allowed to rummage for inspiration, not allowed to compare two similar products in your grubby mits. I asked why and was told that customers are thieves, and we're not allowed to touch anything as we might mix things up and everything has to be on its exact peg for internet orders. I wanted to buy a switch harness, but I really wanted to compare Futaba/Hitec/JR/Perkins switches in my hands, to hold them and flick them on/off before I chose one. Too much trouble. "They're all described on the website, look it up". No kits to browse, no "touchy feely" at all.
They dont want the inconvenience of thieving visitors, they want you to order bits over the net. Which I will. But probably from elsewhere! Very disappointing and not the attitude you'd expect in a struggling industry.

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by Tobe » 15 May 2019, 05:45

It's a sad story but shows the impact of evolution where "species" like us old fashion modeler don't really belong anymore. Even worse is that the LHS (Local Hobby Shop) are there because we were there allowing them to establish by giving them our business sacrificing our hard earned money and not least recommended them to friends and fellows whom were entering the hobby. they have chosen the path of less resistance where we are more of a nuisance forgetting that they are there only because we were there.
The LHS was also a center were you could meet other fellows modelers outside the field and during the no flying season just to have a chat and window shop between the shelves dreaming if just...the LHS could create in us, in such way, needs to have that we didn't really new we had which not least also gave them business.
I know that I belong to a specie in way of extinction and it makes me sad not for me but for all of them that will never get the opportunity...
Last edited by Tobe on 15 May 2019, 13:56, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by NeilMac » 15 May 2019, 07:07

As a recent returnee to the hobby I was shocked to see the state of the industry. My LMS is slowly turning into an airgun shop, as airguns cannot easily be bought on the Internet, they have to be handed over by an RFD. They still do some model stuff, but a fraction of what they used to stock, and as for Bristol, just down the road, there used to be a number of really excellent shops there, now they all appear to have gone.

I know we all remember the shops from the past, my local was in Walthamstow and had a ceiling covered in all sorts of wonderment. The elderly chap who ran it always seemed delighted to have our custom, despite it only being a few pence for a tin of glowplug fuel, or some dope or a kit costing just over a pound, your experience in Leeds sounds horrifying Phil, it seems they have lost the art of 'customer service', and would be better shutting the shop and just moving the stock and office into an anonymous business unit somewhere, that way at least they wouldn't have to tolerate annoying customers actually wanting to buy something.
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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by Colonel Blink » 15 May 2019, 08:35

As Leeds Model Shop is an awkward almost 2hr round trip for me, I have very rarely used it in recent years. Last time I went in (probably a couple of years ago), I was actually pleasantly surprised by the layout and the opportunity to 'browse and rummage' as referred to by Phil. And yes, I did spend more because of it - probably a fiver more.

And that is where the issue is. The layout meant I personally spent a fiver more - but not everyone will spend more and the sad fact is that there are too many people who think that stealing from a shop is somehow a victimless crime - if they think about it at all. Having worked in a motorcycle shop, a not-as-small-as-you-think proportion of customers are simply toilets who will indeed thieve anything when your back is turned. Margins are tight, and one theft can wipe out the income from ten sales.

Whether we like it or not, the marketplace - especially for 'specialist' niches like aeromodelling - has changed. Right from the loss of the 'model shops of the 50s' which apparently were Meccas of aeromodelling, where knowledge and social interaction was there for the asking, through the loss of the later model shops of the 80s & 90s (which were often criticised for not being like those of the 50s) to the advent of Internet shopping. Since my return to the hobby, I have very much been an internet shopper, and in fact I prefer most aspects of it - not being restricted by the stock profile of one shop, comparing prices to ensure you don't get overcharged, not having a wasted journey because the part you want is out of stock, not having to wait until Saturday to go and buy what you are hankering after etc etc. For the retailer, having a good stock so someone online at home can buy everything they want with one credit card transaction is a better route to a successful business.

So yes, although I agree with you Phil that it is very sad indeed that Leeds Model Shop have succumbed to the importance of Internet sales, and have lost that joyful clutter that we all enjoy - but at the end of the day I believe it was probably inevitable. I don't know their situation, but it may even have been 'change or die'. However, I would still expect an attitude of respect offered to me as a customer who walked through the door, and by the sounds of it that was not offered to you which is unforgivable. As for Leeds Model Shop on the net, any time I have looked to buy anything they do not have the keenest prices nor the best stock, so I wonder how that will go........

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by ozrs » 15 May 2019, 09:20

I haven't been to a LMS in years now, too many long trips where they didn't have what I needed, bought something that "might" work, and ended up having to order online anyway.

They all seem to be mostly full of RTF foamies and quadcopters and spares for those with little traditional material.

If its balsa you are after, I have found that "Bunnings" (a hardware store chain in Aus) has better choice and quality, and is closer than the LMS.

Ordering online, you can get exactly what you want and great prices - just have to be patient if ordering from overseas.

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by VC10 RON » 16 May 2019, 05:13

I had the same experience from Leeds. I was after a brushless motor for my dazzler and wanted to browse and compare. Now, I know I should know better, but I’m not one for working out what size motor to use I just like to hold them, feel them, compare them in my hand. This wasn’t possible. I was told “tell us what you want and we’ll see if we have it” I asked if I could pop behind the counter and have a quick look. I was told absolutely not. It’s a shame because I was gonna purchase a speed controller and lipo battery too at the same time plus propellers and other stuff. You just need to look at a lipo and feel the weight etc. Problem is, I don’t mince my words when people annoy me, and actually told them what I thought, basically saying if I need to purchase a motor somewhere else, I may as well purchase everything at the same place. The guy behind the counter just ignored me and turned to another customer and started serving them. Now normally when I go to LMS I like to spend a good hour browsing stuff, then a good half hour upstairs browsing the kits etc. I was literally in the shop no more than 5 minutes.
I was quite annoyed as it took me over an hour to get there.
Very Poor service and I won’t be going back unless I’m extremely desperate for something. Over the years I’ve spent several hundreds of pounds in there and it’s mostly been on impulse, like going for a pack of clevisis and coming out with a full DX8 set. Won’t happen again!
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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by Colonel Blink » 16 May 2019, 08:14

Mind you even the wonderful ease and generally wonderful impersonal nature of Internet shopping isn't always free of human rudeness....

A few years ago, BRC Hobbies (now part of Robotbirds) was my supplier of choice; their website showed motor powers in Watts with different voltages and props and they were all as a result of tests. Stock was good, service was great, prices were keen. In early 2017, I was searching for a motor for a 48" Boddo Tiger Moth and I ordered a A2217-9T 950KV from BRC which was shown as producing 220W on 3S. However, I was supplied a different motor, an D2836-09 880KV which when I put it on test, gave only 140W on any prop.... the max I could get out of it was about 155W on high timing and a prop which was too big for the Moth.

I rang BRC, and then had to ring 'their technical guy' in Newcastle (who I now believe was the original owner of BRC) - he described exactly the motor I had, and the visual differences to the motor I expected; he told me to return it and he would ensure the correct motor was sent out. Just over a week after returning it, I phoned again to ask whether the correct motor had been sent yet; I was put on to someone who I suspect was the boss of Robotbirds - he proceeded to tell me I that I did have the correct motor, that it was 'an equivalent' to the one on the website and that they don't guarantee power outputs. I said that I could understand that if it had been within 10% of the figures on their website, but this was 35% down on power. At this point he just kept talking over me saying 'We don't guarantee power outputs'; 'You received the correct motor' and 'Chinese motors aren't consistent', whilst totally ignoring my point (I have visited and audited Chinese factories in my professional life and so I have a feel for how consistent they are). I said then that I was surprised at his manner, especially as I had spent a total of nearly a thousand pounds with them in all - to which his reply was a heavily sarcastic 'Really........?' (as in 'so what?')

That was the last straw for me. They refunded the cost of the motor, since then I have refused to use BRC / Robotbirds again. I always say that any company can have problems, but its how they are dealt with which matters. On that count, they failed miserably. The BRC guy was great, the Robotbirds guy was a complete arse and the poor attitude and downright disrespect with which I was treated was unforgivable.

I'm still fuming now!

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by jackdaw » 16 May 2019, 12:00

Well all this can only get worse in my opinion. Assuming the 'registration' scheme is implemented as is then the first dose of a terminal poison for hobby/pleasure flyers will have been administered. I'll leave it at that as I guess there will be many over optimistic modellers(seems to be endemic in aero modellers) arguing against my pessimistic(as they would see it) forecast of the future.

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by Sundancer » 16 May 2019, 12:36

Having been living in rural model shop-less France since 2006 it is a long time since I visited a UK model shop, I think the last time was 2009 on a visit to relatives. This was Steve Webb's at Frodsham, which had long been my shop of choice when I lived in Cheshire; I can only speak for 2009 but it was then an excellent establishment, a "proper" model shop, with an upstairs full of models hanging from the ceiling and racks of kits. Of course we have had the drone revolution since then so things may have changed.

So all of my buying is on line and fortunately I have found a couple of good reliable French sites so these together with Hobbyking keep me supplied. In my first few years over here I dealt a lot with BRC Hobbies and always had complete satisfaction, but I have to agree with Colonel Blink in that when they were taken over by Robotbirds the quality of service took a nose dive, hence my move to French suppliers.

Ah well, it's not like the old days any more in Cutriss Brothers of Doncaster, or Charlie Jackson's in Ashton under Lyne, both places where I spent vary many happy hours browsing, talking modelling with the friendly and expert owners and other shoppers and, yes, buying stuff! All things change, sometimes for the better sometimes not.

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Re: Support your LMS? I dont think so...

Post by Mike_K » 16 May 2019, 18:13


Most LHS have become internet outlets where you can "collect from" (ie visit) to save you the postage, the internet is where they make their income and customers visiting the shop are a bit of a nuisance. They want everything in its place on the shelf, so untrained staff can pick, package and ship without any modelling knowledge. Old codgers like me looking through their stock and putting it back in the wrong place is the last thing they want :(

I'm lucky that Al's Models is 45 mins away, hold good stock and Ali Machinchy knows his stuff (as do the other staff), you even get a cup of tea or coffee. And if I haven't time to visit, they do a very good mail order service. Just don't mention HobbyKing when visiting, otherwise, you'll be thrown out! And his collection of radio's, engines and classic kits is to die for.

Robotbirds = An inferior UK version of Hobbyking where prices are higher and the quality is equal or lower. I bought an Acrowot/Wot4 foam e replacement motor from them at a show and put the same prop on as normal. The motor had no power in the air, got very warm and was converted into a paperweight. Having said that I've had quite a bit of luck with their ducted fans, but that may be due to the BRC Hobbies link.


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