I've opined on various spots over the years that American business would be a lot better off if it stopped blaming its problems on everything but themselves, and got back into the game of customer service. Sure, we all shop for things based on price, but nothing can keep a customer from coming back like crappy customer service.
Ladies and gentlemen: I give you Artex.
I bought a 406 ELT from Aircraft Spruce (oh yeah, I also give you Aircraft Spruce) several years ago, and then didn't install it in the plane project until a year or so ago, after its warranty had expired.
I decided to put the antenna outside the aircraft rather than hide it behind the rollbar because (a) I actually like the look of antenna arrays (I think it's from being in the radio business and (b) Aircraft Spruce's catalog item insisted the antenna would withstand a 200 knot breeze.
While still in my Phase I, without any gear leg fairings or wheel pants, my antenna snapped off. As you may know, it's impossible to go 200 knots in this condition. In fact, with my fixed pitch prop, it's impossible to go 130 knots. But there it was, a stub sitting where my antenna used to be.
A new antenna, Aircraft Spruce told me, would be $226, so I took the advice of people on Van's Air Force and contacted both companies to see if they have any shame about selling a substandard piece of equipment, and any interest in customer service.
"Scott," who identified himself as a manager at Artex, called me right away after receiving my letter and story and he couldn't have been nicer. "That shouldn't have happened," he said. "We'll send you a new one tomorrow." He said the model I had was an old one and there had been an improvement and a revision. I got the sense that the company realized they were selling units that didn't confirm the performance claims.
And that was the last I heard from Scott. No antenna ever showed up and this week I called for the third time and left a voicemail message, and for a third time, the call was not returned.
It's a most curious situation, indeed.
As for Aircraft Spruce, they asked for the antenna back for evaluation. I sent it back, and that was the last I heard from Aircraft Spruce.
In the meantime, my RV-7A is sitting on the ground with a hole in the top skin. It's not going flying without a functioning ELT; it can't.
In the end, I'll have to spring for a $226 antenna, to replace the one that couldn't survive 30 hours of flight time. I should probably move the antenna to behind the rollbar, but, frankly, I don't want to rewire the plane at this point, I question the performance of an antenna in that position and, besides, I want the products I buy to perform as advertised. I want manufacturers and resellers to value the amount of money I've spent (not only on this, but on all the other stuff I've purchased for this plane) enough -- I want them to value their customers enough -- to make me satisfied. I'll spend more money with a company like that.
Or, you companies can just bitch about how the world is against you and your business is declining through no fault of your own.