First Word: 07/06


Several times a week, at least, readers e-mail or phone me about problems with subscriptions-missing issues, billing errors, rejected passwords for the Aviation Consumer Web site, that sort of thing. Technically, my job is words and pictures; we have a fully staffed (and efficient) customer service department to handle the subscription queries. Nonetheless, I chase down these complaints and I often leave the original note lodged in my inbox so I can follow up a few days later to confirm that theyve been corrected to the customers satisfaction.

Although I hardly have time to burn to do this sort of work, I find the time because in the modern world of business, every person in every organization is a customer service representative. Its that simple. All of us have had the frustrating experience of phoning a company for assistance only to be given the thats-not-my-job runaround before being put on hold or simply cut off. Worse yet is the company that simply doesnt respond at all.

Because I am occasionally asked to intercede between a customer and a “problem” company, I have learned that non-response occurs with distressing frequency. Each time I encounter it, I consider it a harsh lesson in how not to deal with customers. For example, this month, a long-time reader e-mailed to report an ongoing problem with a Lowrance 2000C GPS. After a month of no response from Lowrance, hes fed up: “As a result of the treatment by Lowrance, I cannot recommend that anyone buy a Lowrance product. And if I did not have $1100 tied up in the thing, Id throw it away.” Experiences like this hardly engender customer loyalty.

Elsewhere in this issue, were reporting on Cheltons FlightLogic EFIS, the only glass panel system currently offered in the aftermarket. One customer, after having spent $100,000 plus to install this system, encountered numerous problems and escalated his complaint all the way to the senior management level, which was slow to respond to his queries. Putting this in perspective, neither Chelton nor Lowrance are what we would call problem companies. In fact, after our calls, both contacted the customers in question to resolve their complaints. It just took a little nudge. While Im at it, Ill bitch here about the continuing trend of some companies to bury their customer support contact information on a Web site or relegate it to e-mail. If obtaining a phone number is a game of find the hat, the company is telling you it doesnt want to talk to you. Or it will only communicate with you on its terms. Buy from someone else.

Then there are the companies to whom rapid and responsive customer support seems wired into the DNA. Two that come immediatley to mind are Aircraft Spruce and Specialty and PreciseFlight, whom we worked with for articles in this issue. Another is JameCo, from who we bought some instrumentation and test gear. We had a question about a product from Aircraft Spruce and the companys CEO, Jim Irwin, promised to get back to us within the hour. He did, too. PreciseFlight stuck with us in our ongoing efforts to test bulbs and their Pulselite product. Personally, I use companies like these as the standard to which we should all aspire.



In our report comparing three trainers in the May issue, I called the Diamond DA20 a Katana. “Its not a Katana,” one dealer phoned to say, “its an Eclipse.”

Hes right. When Diamond re-engined the Katana with the Continental IO-240, it became the DA20-C1 Katana-I have a POH with that nomenclature. But later, Diamond renamed it the Eclipse and thats the name we should have used, not Katana. (Never mind confusing it with the jet by the same name.) Further, we gave an incorrect value for the useful load-its 600 pounds, not 450 pounds. These corrections have been made in our online version.

-Paul Bertorelli