1/6/2015 - First let me preface this story with the statement that MotionRC has VERY good support. They react quickly and are very reasonable and friendly. They have quick telephone support in the good ole USA as well as fast email support. They ship quickly and orders over $99 ship free. I bought a FreeWing F-86 for $299 one week and was so impressed that I turned around the next week and bought another plane from them for $399. 

This story is not a complaint about MotionRC’s customer support. They sell great products and stand behind what they sell. Its more of a study in business profit and loss. Its about my experience with the purchase, support, eventual return and refund of a FreeWing Stinger 90mm EDF. I chock the issues I had with the kit to be poor quality in one box. I have seen a lot of these planes on video and in photos and all looked perfect from a fit and finish point of view. The one I received was very poor. All the hardware worked. It was the finish that was the issue. We all know that planes, especially foam planes get a beat up look to them over time. We expect hangar rash along with usage wear and tear. What we don’t expect is for them to look like a beater right out of the box.

The plane I ordered came quickly. It was double boxed. Externally the box had a small hole, but it had not reached the contents. Packing was excellent. The plane is white EPO foam with a red color scheme painted on. When I opened it the wings and stabilizer looked great. I pulled the canopy and rudder bags out and set them aside, then pulled out the fuselage. When I unbagged the fuselage and set it down I noted a large dark area on the rear right side area below where the rudder would mount. Looking closer I discovered that it appeared somebody had scratched it after initial painting and then tried to respray it in that area. The paint coverage on this half of the fuselage was obviously lighter than on the other half and the attempted repair made it stand out as a large dark spot. The overall paint job was poorly done with overspray on areas dividing white from red in a lot of places. Some places they had attempted to hand paint areas to touch up which stood out because they applied a heavier coat of paint with a brush then had been sprayed on the rest of the plane.

I unbagged the rudder and noticed what looked like a crease on the upper right side. I don’t know if it was damaged or an imperfection in the foam, but it looked bad to me and would be on the same side of the fuselage as the dark spot. I took the canopy out of its bag and placed it on the fuselage to see how it fit and looked. When I turned the fuselage around to look at the left side I discovered that the canopy had large wrinkles almost as if it was hit with a heat gun. Together with the bad paint I found the kit to be completely unacceptable. I could not believe that this kit came from the same factory that made my F-86. I’ve had servo issues with the F-86, but the finish and paint are first class. This plane would look like a beater on its first day at the field.

What follows is a story of good support and a satisfied consumer, but one left feeling a little confused and disappointed by how Freewing quality assurance could have let my kit slide by. The numbers and percentages are guesswork except for the price of the kit to me. I don’t think I am far from the mark however based on my business experience. If anything I am giving low profit estimations.

I called MotionRC support the same day the kit arrived. They asked me to use their website based support so I could upload pictures of the kit. I sent them a bunch of pictures and described the issues. We went back and forth via email and telephone for several days to work out a settlement for the purchase. Once we got there, everything went like clockwork quickly and easily. Like I said, MotionRC has very good customer support.

How we got there and what it cost them is what puzzles me. Somebody help me with the math.

The kit cost $399. For arguments sake lets figure a conservative 25% markup on the product. So their cost would be $299. Shipping was free to me but they paid around $30 to ship a big box via UPS ground. Add that back into their cost and they are out of pocket $329. That leaves profit for them of $70. I’m being conservative on profit here. I imagine it could be higher, but lacking data I am going on retail sales profit percentages.

Replacing the canopy would cost me $34.99 retail. Sounds a little outrageous for what it is. Lets figure a markup of 50% on the part. So their cost was more like $17.50. 

They offered me a new canopy and $20 store coupon for my trouble and the bad paint job. Lets figure $5 to ship the canopy. So their compensation would cost them $42.50. That leaves them with profit left of $27.50. Keep in mind the store coupon really is a guarantee of a future sale of some type.

I felt that was an initial lowball offer. I asked for the canopy and a $40 store coupon knowing it was going to cost me that much and more to repaint it in supplies and labor. This would leave them with a profit of $7.50. They countered with the canopy and a store coupon of $30. So their profit would be back up to $17.50. They would go no higher on the compensation. 

I asked if they were willing to just send me another plane and have me return the bad kit. This was not entertained. I asked about them sending me a fuselage and canopy without any sort of coupon. They said that that was not possible because the kit parts are a little unique to each other. As a last option they said I could return the plane to them for a full refund and they would pay the shipping upfront. Returning the plane to them would cost the same $30 it cost to ship it to me originally.

I think I caught them a little off guard when I replied “Send me the label and I will return the kit for refund”. What this meant was they were out the $30 it cost to ship to me, an additional $30 to return it, the labor of the support process, processing the return and handling a warranty claim with the maker of the kit for around $10 labor. All together it amounts to a net lost of $70 to them and no revenue to show for it at all. I am assuming they will be compensated by Freewing for the defective kit or sell it as an open box to recoup their loss on their purchase.

Does this make sense? Some profit is better than no profit. Revenue is revenue and more is always better. That said, I highly recommend MotionRC and wish more companies offered the kind of support that they do. I don’t think this kit is indicative of the majority of the products that Freewing makes, just that quality control was not up to snuff on the day my kit hit the box

Here are the pictures of the kits issues. Each by themselves, except for the canopy is not a big deal, but combined they make for a bad kit. The dark area was very difficult to capture on camera, but in person it was very evident.

This is what I was hoping for when I ordered the kit

Freewing Stinger 90

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