Wednesday, April 26, 2017

You never get a second chance to make a first impression!

I'm sure all of us have dealt with great and poor customer service even in the ham world. I have heard it time and time again that it's customer service that will make or break your business. Now having said that I understand there are those out there that no matter what you do for them it's never good enough, that being said I'm the person who wants to inform a business when they fall short but at the same time I want to make sure I inform a business when they have given great customer service. This post has to do with both an Amateur radio business that went above and beyond and another that in my humble opinion fell short. From my last post you all are well aware that I purchased a Chameleon CHA P Loop antenna. The loop was purchased from DX Engineering and it's now time for me to toot my horn regarding above and beyond customer service!
  1. I emailed DX Engineering regarding some questions I had about the loop and I was promptly emailed back with an answer. 
  2. They did offer free shipping on orders over 99.00 but it was CLEARLY indicated that for orders outside the U.S this did not apply (I'm in Canada). I hate very small print or no print regarding this but DX Engineering had it plainly stated. 
  3. I ordered the antenna on a Monday evening and it was shipped Tuesday. 
  4. The antenna arrived Wednesday, over the boarder, through customs and to my door. 
  5. The price I was given for the antenna and shipping (FedEx) was the TOTAL cost. In the past I have dealt with Amateur radio dealers in the U.S. I pay for the item, it gets shipped and then I get a call from a carriers "broker" who tells me to clear the item it's going to cost "X" amount. Then I'm asked for my credit card number or it goes back. Let me tell you it has never been cheap.
This is where DX Engineering went over the top!

The antenna came with a carry bag which was a big plus but I noticed the zipper on the bag was defective. I attempted to open the bag for the first time to place the antenna in. Here is what happened:
  1. I sent DX Engineering an email regarding the bag and I was promptly answered that they would contact Chameleon and have them send me a new bag. 
  • DX Engineering contacted me promptly after the sale when there was an issue.
  • I was not passed off and told to contact Chameleon myself, they took ownership. 
    2.  I was then contacted via email from Maria at DX Engineering and also a phone call regarding 
         the outcome of contacting Chameleon Antenna. (more on Chameleon's reply later) I personally 
         spoke with Maria on the phone, she told me at DX Engineering they tried to see if one of their 
         bags would work. It was determined it would not meet the need of the antenna. Maria then told
         me to go and get the bag repaired and they would cover the cost. 
  • I was contacted in person by Maria who was the person dealing with my issue from the start and was very knowledgeable on the situation. 
  • DX Engineering took the time to see if one of their bags would work but would not. 
  • They did not stop there I was then told by Maria to get the bag fixed and send them the bill. Again DX Engineering took ownership and went out of their way to solve the issue.  
    3.  I went out that day and contacted DX Engineering with the cost and was told not a problem to
         scan the bill and email it to them and I would then be re-inbursed for the cost. 
  • 10 out of 10 to DX Engineering for the way they handled the issue! Thanks very much Maria for your personal attention and professionalism .
This is where Chameleon Antenna dropped the ball!
First off let me post the email Chameleon sent DX Engineering regarding the issue I was having with the carry bag:

 We realized about a month ago that the last batch of bags that we ordered last year have more or less all the same issue which is if they press fit too much things into the bag then the zipper might fail. They seem to have all the same issue. Those zippers aren’t the best! But if they use the flap over with Velcro without the zipper everything will be fine. So sending a replacement won’t change anything as it already happened to few other people already and we can’t do anything about it. To be honest, It would be better for him to get a local zipper replacement for about $5 or $10.
As you close the bag the zipper opens up

  1. Chameleon only admits to having an issue with their bag to the customer and supplier when the defect has been mentioned.
  • This is poor support for the distributors who sells this product under there name and reputation. 
  • Knowing there is an issue with the bag and still sending it out promotes poor customer trust.  
  • I also emailed Chameleon regarding the issue and I received the exact email that DX Engineering received. Seems like it's a cut and paste answer to all who email about this issue.

    2. Chameleon's email states "If they (the customer) press fit too much things in the bag then the  
        zipper might fail"
  • You never win when you blame the customer. 
  • The only items I planned on fitting into the bag were the antenna items that the bag was meant to carry.  
  • My zipper "failed" while opening it with nothing in the bag for the first time. 
    3. I am asked to repair a bag that is expected to work but does not. The cost is 20.00 Canadian to 
        replace all 3 defective zippers on the bag. (main compartment and 2 side pockets that failed.)
  • Don't ask the customer to fix your bad and to foot the bill. 
  • Chameleon should bite the bullet and order bags that work, not sell the bag or inform the customer on their website of the known issue. Informing there dealers won't not hurt either.
Some may think this is only a small issue but to me it is the lack of customer and dealer support. Also the lack of taking proper responsibility for the issue. Having said the above about the carry bag I do want to say the Chameleon CHA P Loop antenna is a quality product and I tend to give it the glowing review it deserves in a later post. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

A fast cool trip to the park

Starting out on my cool walk
CHA P-Loop antenna
I had the day off work today and it looked very nice outside, the sky was clear and the sun was out. I wanted to take this opportunity to test out my new portable antenna. I packed up my Elecraft KX3, batteries, key and my new Chameleon CHA P-Loop antenna. This post is not a review of the new antenna before I do that I want to try out the antenna several times. Before heading out I did not check the propagation reports, I find if I do this and they are poor it casts a shadow over the outing.As I was saying the day from inside the house looked nice but once out there was a cold wind off the lake, it felt like a cool fall day and not spring. Anyway.....because of the poor weather, my lack of warm clothing I quickly setup the antenna, checked out how it tuned on 10, 15, 20 and 30m and gave a few CW CQ's. With no answers and the wind picking up I was satisfied the antenna at least worked.
My setup 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Upgrade to K1EL Winkeyer USB

New IC chip installed 
I recently upgraded the IC chip in my K1ELWinkeyer USB to version 3, it was only a 10.00 upgrade that gave me some nice advantages over the old IC chip. It was a very straight forward change out as the IC chip was not soldered in place.  One of the main advantages is this IC chip has the ability (via supplied software) to be upgrade over the internet. As new functions become available in the future the upgrade is just a click away.  Some of the other new features are:
1.     With WK3tools downloadableprogram software you can store messages and retrieve messages. For example in contests you can store the contest exchanges, give the file the name of the contest. In the future when setting up for the contest just download the file to the keyer and your 4 push buttons (that can be preprogramed for 8 messages) can be used for that contest. When the contest is done simply reprogram the keyer with the file for calling CQ.
2.     You can custom configure the keyer for 2 separate users or like me if you’re the only one using the keyer…..then have one configuration for contesting and one for QSO’s.
3.     You can now adjust the side tone frequency which is not a big deal for me but for some it may be.  
4.     You can put your rig into tune with just the pressing of 2 of the Winkeyers top buttons the command and PB4 buttons.
5.     During the transmission of a message a simple tap of the keyer will stop the message.
6.     When and if you operate the unit from an internal battery the battery life has been extended by less drain.
7.     Finally on the K1EL’s website under the software tab you will find some great finds. WK3tools, Winkeyer3 test app, WKscan that finds out what comport your Winkeyer is using, WK remote app and a software tools that is in the development stage and according to the website soon to be released a Winkeyer  QSO simulator app,
With added volume and headphone jack
These are just a few of the changes in the new IC chip to get a full rundown go to K1EL’s site where you can read thingsin more detail.

You may notice from the picture, if you are familiar with the insides of the Winkeyer USB that is I have done some upgrades to the unit of my own. I removed the internal speaker and added a headphone jack, I also added a volume control for the headphones.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Some DX contacts today.

I had some spare time today  and was able to get on the radio! Over the past month or so it has been lots of work and no time to play radio. Today while on 20m CW  I was able to snag HA7GN from Hungary, IQ0PG from Italy I was given special report number of UN90ARI1.  According to their site this qualifies me for there ARI 90 years award. The last contact of the day was IO0MDC again from Italy and this call was in celebration of 20 years for the Mediterraneo DX club. I was thrilled with
these short contacts and I really was only on for about 20 min's. On a side note.........I have posted in the past that I am the proud owner of an Elecraft K-pod. This thing works great and is a great asset to the shack. It has 8 programmable push buttons, at my age I loose track of what is on what button! I came up with an idea of adding some magnetic strips with the naming of each of the buttons. Since they are magnetic I can remove them when the button macro has been changed or rearrange them if need be.