One of the best things about modern times is the ready availability of materials and supplies. Since the advent of the internet you don’t even have to travel to your local mall or distribution center to find that hard to come by toy or model, you can order it delivered right to your door! The only caveat to this plethora of supplies is that you don’t always know exactly what it is you are getting, without being able to see and handle an item before hand it’s possible to be fooled by images or overzealous descriptions. This is perhaps the bane of internet purchases, but don’t fear, with a little foresight and some care you can avoid these and other problems with online purchases.
The rules for buying model railroad supplies online, just as with any other purchase are simple:
1) Buy from a reputable dealer
2) If possible buy only known brand(s) and product lines that you have had experience with
3) Be sure to understand the return policy and costs associated with an exchange
4) Use a credit card or other method of payment that offers you some protection, especially on high-dollar purchases
There are many available online resources with proven track records and finding these by discussion groups and querying other hobbyists is always a good way to weed through the numerous suppliers. The lowest cost should not be the only deciding criteria when making a purchase but the quality of the materials and the friendliness and availability of the store personnel both online and if possible in person should be taken into account. This is especially the case when buying from auction sites or other low cost options be sure to double check the seller to make sure that they are providing a quality productprice isn’t everything.
When it comes to an ongoing hobby like model railroading you need to understand that you will probably be forming a long-term relationship with the vendors you like, and should expect them to act accordingly. With a little research a few bucks and couple of mouse clicks that special locomotive can be headed your way today and who knows what may follow?