Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
I am not a marketing expert. I am not a logistics specialist. I do work for the US military, teaching people how to handle people in the most difficult situations imaginable. I do not post on this site very often, because as a first time builder I do not think my advice is generally “expert” enough for others. When I have questions or concerns, I tend to go to the experts for advice. Now, I have a concern that effects us all as builders and customers. I have read many posts explaining your interactions with various companies that supply us with parts and equipment. I have rarely seen negative reviews of aviation related companies. The ones I do see are not well written or describe situations where someone was expecting far more than what was offered. I personally have certain requirements when dealing with suppliers. I am starting to believe I might be asking too much.
Is it unreasonable to expect a delivery date or even a general idea of when something will ship, once you have spent thousands of dollars for an item? As the customer, am I responsible for “reminding” a company of my orders? Do you as customers accept an automated “order received” email and then no contact for weeks? If a company highlights a new feature for a product but does not list any change to the ordering page of the website, would you expect to receive that feature when you order? Most importantly have you ever thought about not writing a negative review or comment in the fear that the company might not continue to sell you parts?
I have dealt with problem companies in this long journey of building my plane. I even went with a Viking engine, knowing the history and customer stories. Because I knew what to expect, I was able to make adjustments and work through the issues. My impression of MGL Avionics was very positive based on what I have read here. I chose them for the final items needed to finish the project, with the understanding they were a quality company. Now I am wondering if I am just wrong in my expectations.
Maybe I am asking to much.
i guess I might have been a little harsh when talking about Viking. I did not have any major issues with Viking. In fact, Jan himself just called me to ensure I was happy with my engine and to square away any issues. What I was trying to say is that I expected there to be issues. When you push the boundaries and go with an auto conversion, there are going to be issues. When you choose that route, getting things like cooling and fuel supply correct is your problem, not the engine company’s. There were minor mis-communications and small problems with one of Vikings suppliers when getting all of the items for my build. Again, it was expected and was fixed quickly and to my great satisfaction. Which I guess is the point I am making. Jan called me! He has already made his money from me and still is interested in making sure I am happy. That is what I was expecting when I read the glowing reviews of aviation companies. I don’t want everyone to think I am throwing stones here. I do know the difficulties in a project like this. I do have plans to write a complete review/info paper on my experience, once the plane flys. There are great people and companies out there. I am concerned that maybe I am expecting to much. Is the great customer service from Viking and Spruce what you expect? When I order “off the shelf” parts for a system that a company is advertising, I expect to get what I ordered. (Please do not read into my words and somehow construe that I had cooling problems or fuel issues- just an example of things people have complained about in the past.)
Thanks Tom, and anytime you have questions, concerns or need help with your engine or your build in general you are always welcome to contact us. -Alissa/Jan
I know nothing about Viking, but my limited experience with MGL was excellent – I wanted a couple of their older Velocity singles and although I placed an order with one of the largest retailer (whom I’ve dealt with many times), the gauges never showed up and calls to the retailer only got me an out of stock, expected any day now, responses. Wanting the gauges nonetheless I called MGL – long story short, I had the gauges within the week (of course the plane isn’t built yet, so I cannot tell you about after-purchase support, but so far so good…). Maybe the trick, if there is one, is to deal directly with manufacturer for difficult to duplicate parts -- who knows...
You're not the first person to say they have a problem with MGL on here. My own experience has been 100% positive, I had to return my EFIS as it developed an issue before I'd even run the engine but they repaired it quickly and I've had answers to my (mostly dumb) support questions very quickly. Matt in the Torrence office has always been very helpful - have you tried reaching out to him directly?
Sorry you are having issues, I have both the V6 COM and the iEFIS and love them both.
I can't comment on MGL, but I do know that with Zenith, Dynon, Viking, Garmin and Approach Fast stack I had to be hands on thru the ordering and delivery process. Aircraft Spruce, Mcmaster/Carr, Sporties and Amazon are the only places I could treat as fire and forget when ordering stuff (like I except from Amazon).
Avionics, Engines and Airframe kids are complex and custom, they are not off-the-shelf and you should expect to have to engage with the sales and tech support folks thru the process. I have found that when I don't, that is when the gaps between expectations and delivery happen. Be specific about what, when and where your want things, and make sure they understand. You probably would not buy a car sign-unseen mail order, avionics cost as much and are much more complex.
I *love* zenith, but there ain't no way I could have send a check, got a plane and built it without a significant number of calls back and forth. The key to good customer support is not that there won't be issues, there will be for sure, it's minimizing the needless ones, and making the ones that happen as pain-free as possible.
For instance in Zenith case I had a horizontal stabilizer spar that was shipped un-drilled, upon finding this out I let them know and a new drilled one was at my house by the weekend. When I ran out of rivets before running out of holes, they send be a few bags of extra rivets at no charge. I often have to call over a change in the drawings or assembly guides, but its often because of an improvement they have made. I could not afford to buy a CH750 Cruzer kit in a world where every last instruction was up to date, and the last rivett went into the last hole. It too much work to be perfect, but quickly correcting mistakes can be close enough to perfect for a lot less money.
I needed some feedback to keep my motivation up. I dealt with all the issues and phone calls to this point and I guess getting so close to the end had me way to excited to finish. I personally think the point you’ve made is something we don’t do a good job of getting across to possible new builders. I love the building process and figuring out mechanical problems. I struggled with “lead time” and changes to products that were not covered on ordering sites. At this point in my life, time is the hardest commodity to get. Having the time and not being able to use it is frustrating. New builders need to realize you can’t always be moving ahead, sometimes it’s about waiting patiently.