Motor ordering problems

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Well-Known Member
Jan 19, 2009
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I hope this won't turn into a rant, but I'm encountering some disturbing problems when I order rocket motors online. Specifically, I've recently placed four orders over the last few months for various LPR (Estes A-D) and MPR (Aerotech F & G, SU and RMS) motors through two different online hobby shops. (More accurately, brick and mortor shops with web-based shopping). On two of those orders I waited three weeks for delivery, and upon calling to check on the status, was told that the order hadn't shipped yet. On another order, half of the items shipped were wrong. In total, three of four recent orders goofed up. None of the delays or problems are the result of postal service, hazmat, ATF or other bureaucratic delays. The closest thing to an excuse was that one or two of the motors was not in stock (but, my money was still accepted and no communication about out-of-stock was received.)

I'm able to get most of my LPR motors locally, but am not able to get any MPR motors at the local hobby shops, so I must rely on online vendors. I'm also very aware of the sporatic availability of motors, particularly Aerotech MPR motors and reloads. I guess what bugged me this time was the casual, "Oh, I guess we never sent that out. Oops" attitude that came with the most recent problem, along with the lack of any communication when a back-order or out-of-stock situation occurs.

I have chosen not to identify the vendors in question in this post as perhaps my experiences have been an exception, rather than a rule. If others have motor vendors that they have found to be reliable, I'd appreciate knowing.

And just so this isn't completely a rant, I am very pleased to single out Jim Flis and FlisKits, and Balsa Machining Service for outstanding response and customer service on multiple orders. Too bad they don't sell motors!

Thanks, I feel better now.

Hope things work out for ya man...there have been a few probs in the past and hopefully you researched this section to make sure you stay away from them.

Once again, Good luck...hope they come through,

I've found that the best place to order motors from is Countdown Hobbies. You have to call to place the order. The owner, Kevin, is a great guy. If you ask if he has something in stock, he actually looks for it. You can hear him rummaging around. He usually sends the stuff out that day. I live just a few hours from the store, so when I order high power stuff, I get them the next day.:)
I would always suggest callling and talking to whoever prior to ordering via the web for engines from a vendor the 1st time....Most of the engines you described are able to be shipped ONLY US MAIL Parcel Post....which is it can take 2-4 weeks for them to make it to you......
I concur with the calling thing. I personally do a lot of my shopping online, but, for some reason, have had horrible luck when trying to do so from hobby stores. On the other hand, my experience with telephone orders has been very good through the same stores (well, except for DHC, but that's another discussion).
I've ordered from a few places: - timely accurate shipping (including Estes motors) - I have placed multiple orders - super fast shipping, 1 inaccurate order but it was taken care of and I got the corrected order on my doorstep faster then the original order would have come through from some places - I have placed multiple orders - fast accurate shipping (including AT motors) - I have placed multiple orders - unfortunately the order was very slow, prompting calls by me, and it was hard to get through and get a response - I have placed 1 order

www.rockethead.rockets - order was accurate but I'm not sure of the timeframe because my wife placed the order as a gift to me - I have placed 1 order (Flying Silverado) - timely accurate shipping - multiple purchases, some direct and some through ebay
I should restate my post. I've ordered from FlisKits and gotten my package quickly and accurately (although my preferred method of purchase from Jim is face to face :)).

I haven't ordered from hobbylinc and, while I've ordered from Magnum, it's always been via phone, as I've usually had a question or two to go with my order and Ross has been very helpful with those as well.
Thanks to all for the thoughts, recommendations and suggestions.

I will acknowledge that one of the vendors in question was Discount Hobby Center. (I am chagrinned, had I spent some time searching the Forum or ROL prior to my orders, I would have heard about their problems.) One DHC order was delayed ( it was 3.5 weeks before I called), and one order was fairly timely, but goofed up. Both orders were called in directly. To give them some amount of credit, both orders ended up being completely filled (and they gave me a credit for my postage in returning the wrong shipment), but not without some follow-up on my part. The other vendor was Red Arrow Hobbies. My first order through their web shopping cart went very well. However the second order was delayed over three weeks. Again, I used their web shopping cart, which claimed to be up to date, but in the follow-up conversation, it was clear that at least one item was not in stock so the whole order was shelved until that item arrived. Then, the order appeared to have been "forgotten" until I called.

Lessons learned: Order by phone, not by web, fax or e-mail, then follow-up with a faxed hard-copy of the order so there is a paper record. Use a credit card, not a debit card. If possible, place the credit card order early inyour card's billing cycle, that gives you as much as five to six weeks to resolve any delays or problems before the bill needs to be paid, or if necessary, disputed. Finally (and this is something I will start doing with subsequent orders, particularly first time orders), call about a week after placing the order to determine that the order has shipped, or if delayed, find out why and when the order is due to be shipped. That way I'll know that the order has (or has not gone) out and only need to wait out the postal delays.

Again, thanks to all for excellent recommendations and vendor suggestions.

Magnum seems to always be very solid, and I know several people that order from Hobbylinc on a fairly regular basis without problems. I've ordered from Great Lakes Hobbies twice, and always had the order very quickly, and accurate. They have great prices, to - especially on their kits.

I've had some AT F12-4 econojets on order from Red Arrow Hobbies since Dec 30. I called Dave at Red Arrow today and he told me that the post office was sitting on about 50 of his orders!
All due to some kind of confusion at the post office about haz-mat ratings and proper forms.

Has anyone heard about this besides me? I have no reason to doubt what Dave says so I wonder if the government is changing thier haz-mat regulations.

Any ideas what may be going on?
Originally posted by stevem

Has anyone heard about this besides me? I have no reason to doubt what Dave says so I wonder if the government is changing thier haz-mat regulations.

Any ideas what may be going on?

Yep. I know exactly what's going on. A while back I located a hobby shop that had some RMS reloads. Ken Parker had shown interest and pursued purchasing from them. After several phone calls back and forth, the hobby shop owner had his hands tied. Seeing how he did not have a HAZMAT shipping license (or something to that effect), he was not able to send them to him. On the bright side, I ended up visiting my brother which is conveniently 30-40 minutes from Ken's place and hand delivered them.

Check out this thread for the details of what happened - <a href="">Trouble Shipping Motors</a>
sometimes you wonder why many hobby shop/motor vendors

1)do not have a clue what is, and is not in stock
2)forgets about an online order?
3)many have out of stock items listed as, in stock
4)cant keep quantitys up to date on a day to day basis

why should I have to call someone ,who has a shiopping cart set up?(unless they specify to call on certain items)

If that was my living , I would try a little harder
I mean how busy is a person at a hobby shop most days anyway
......get off the can, and run your business!

I'm tired of the same run around as everyone else

*note,,this does not apply to all vendors ,just alot of them.
I'm in the same boat with Red Arrow and am getting the same explanation. However, I did have an order go through Red Arrow in early November 2003 that went through with no problems. According to the regulations, most G and under single use motors are mailable, however, the shipper needs to have an approval letter from the postal service and the box needs to be marked appropriately. The November shipment was marked appropriately and came through in less than a week. One possibility is that the approval letter may no longer be valid (or some low-end clerk at the Podunk Post Office may no longer think it valid--I've run into this problem before, clerks who don't know what the rules are).

However, what I do know is that I have an outstanding order from Red Arrow of over $200 in motors and other supplies that has been there for over a month and, because of PayPal, has already been paid for. They have not responded to my most recent two e-mails which is, to me, the bigger problem. In this day and age of over-regulation and confusing regulations, I can sympathize with problems of this sort. I cannot, however, accept lack of communication and accepting payment without delivering the order or refunding the payment in a timely manner.

I just hope shipping rates don't increase. I know certain places are starting to charge HAZMAT for friggin' G motors. There's no way I'm dropping $20+ for shipping on a darn motor.

I hate regulation. It's like Chris Rock says about going into a night club - no one inside has a gun, but the people outside do and they'll be waiting for you. (...or something to that effect.)
ghp3 - call Red Arrow and speak to Dave. I have called there a few times and I always get Dave on the phone. I think he is a stand-up guy but somewhere things went wrong at the Post Office. Red Arrow's phone number is 1-269-429-8233
Had a similar experience with Red Arrow.
I ordered lots of parts and a few motors that included some F20-4's. After a couple of weeks and no delivery, I called and they said they were out of the F20-4, but had F20-7 if I wanted those instead, and they were waiting until they heard from me to ship my order. ?! I felt they should have contacted me, instead of waiting for me to contact them.
I accepted the F20-7, and about 2 days later my parts arrived. A couple weeks later, the motors arrived because of the required shipping method. No problem, I'm happy now.
My parts shipment was missing a couple of tubes and I ordered some 4" CR's but received 3". I called about the mistakes, and the correct items arrived a couple days later, and they told me to keep the 3" rings.

Now, this was a rather large order, so I can understand the mistakes, and appreciated the way they took care of them.
My only complaint is that they didn't contact me about the motors. Other than that, I was satisified with their service, and from what I've read here they are a good company.
I will order from them again.