Joined Feb 2005
Don't buy from RC Country Hobbies in Sacramento
Wow! Get a load of this...
I called RC Country Hobbies in Sacramento, CA to get their advice on a beginner electric plane for an 9 year old boy. I explained that I already owned a Multiplex Easystar RTF and was very happy with it. Wanting something along the same line I was sold on an Aerobird Challenger RTF from HobbyZone.
While setting up the plane I noticed that the canopy would not remain closed. After about 15 minutes I noticed a small rubber band that attaches to the leading edge plastic dowel, was disconnected. This rubber band connects to the canopy on one end and to the dowel on the other creating tension thus keeping the canopy closed.
Next was the tail gear. It was tweaked bad enough that it made it impossible to take off from a ground position. Add throttle and the plane would immediately curve hard to the right before you could get enough ground speed to take off. I know what you're thinking, pliers, but you shouldn't have to.
Next was our first flight. Note that I've been flying for 20 years and no way is this a beginner plane. The plane had very little throw and was extremely slow in responding to left/right. The plane was unforgiving and required constant stick attention. The first two landings went fine. During the third landing I caught the plane by the nose. The moment it touched my hand, rubber bands went flying. When I looked at the plane I noticed that the tip of the plastic orange dowels on the leading edge used to hold the rubber bands, had sheered off! If this happened in mid-flight or during a roll, I'd be screwed. Defective plastic. I know what you're thinking - use a wood dowel, but should you really have to?
I called RC Country Hobbies to ask for a replacement dowel and to express my unhappiness with the plane. I was told they had white dowels for other HobbyZone planes but not for the Aerobird which is an orange plane. When I explained all the obvious defects and that I misled as to the flight characteristics of the plane, I was told that there was nothing they could do. I called around to 3 other hobby stores in Sacramento and all of the them said that are known problems with the orange dowels, so bad in fact that everyone was out of them.
I called HobbyZone (the manufacturer) directly and neither of the 2 support techs I spoke with had even flown this plane. They were nice enough however to send me new dowels and a tail gear at no charge. These guys should really fly their own planes before providing support for them.
After thinking about the response I got from RC Country Hobbies, I called back and asked to speak to their store manager. I explained to him very nicely that the plane was not a beginner plane and he whole heartedly agreed. When I asked if I could bring the plane back and get store credit for another plane, he said no. That because it had been flown, I was out of luck. At the end of the conversation he did offer to give me store credit only if I were to ship the plane back to HobbyZone and have HobbyZone send me an unopened boxed plane. The manager would then take back the unopened plane and give me store credit for another plane.
It is just me or does this sound like poor service by RC Country Hobbies? All other stores I called looking for dowels stated that they too don't have a return policy on flown aircraft, however ALL said that due to the circumstances, they would take the plane back, make it their responsibility to ship it back to HobbyZone (as defective) and give me store credit. Please note that money is not the issue here. The issue is taking care of your customer. Something I've always done in my business and which have made me very successful.
I'd love your feedback on this fiasco and would appreciate your comments. Something rarely discussed here are issues with stores, vendors and poor workmanship.
One last note, I strongly believe that HobbyZone would make good on their product if I were to ship it back, so I don't want to speak negatively about their planes. No manufacturer can guarantee zero defects on plastic. The bummer is when a hobby store misrepresents, then doesn't back their customers.
Thanks for reading such a long winded post. I hope it comes in handy to anyone thinking of buying from RC Country Hobbies.
Here are a few links:
RC Country Hobbies
HobbyZone - Manufacturer
John - aka Segway (my other toy)
I know that most electrical gear can't be returned. I go to this shop all the time and have always had good experiences. My first plane was the Aerobird. Yah it sucks! But hey it's cheap and ready to fly. And it would be hard for a 9 year old boy to destroy. Got me started. I always do some research before I get a plane. Good advice
Joined Sep 2004
The Aerobird Challenger was my first plane, got over 100 flights on it,
with no problems other than replacing a few rubber bands (did you use
all 6?). The tail rubber bands got old fast too - double those up. The
motor mount is questionable, but the wing dowels never broke on me.
It's a pos rig, but sturdy imho, i'd recommend it to someone who's not
sure if they're into the hobby or not. I kinda like the airframe design, but
it's hard to appreciate it with the incredibly glitchy radio system. I thought
about getting a Tipsy since it's the same airframe, but uses real electronics.
(TigerMoth 400, Stevens Aero Gride)
(I live in Sacramento, I got the Aerobird in Roseville at a local
Hobby-Town-USA -- there's a store in Auburn that's supposed
to be good too. I buy everything mailorder if I can, if for no
other reason than to make sure California doesn't get a dime
of my money if possible). Look into NorthEast Sailplane or
Stevens Aero... Aeromicro.com is a good store, but unfortunately
it's in San Jose CA (see CA comment).
Sorry to hear about the trouble you had there. I have been meaning to shop that store, but never seem to make it. I have, however, shopped at Modesto hobby ( 1 1/2 hour from me) and found them wonderful to do business with. It's sad when the nearest decent hobby shop from you is at least 45 minutes away. We do have a shop only 10 minutes from my house, but I would rather drive to Visalia or Modesto to do business due to poor customer service at our local store.
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