Questions, questions, questions     


Here are answers to many of the questions I receive from time to time.  Even if you don't have any questions, you might find some of this interesting reading!

Who are you, and how do you do business?
Aren't all Marklin dealers "Digital Dealers"?
When do you expect you'll be able to ship my order?
Why should I pre-order items early in the year when they won't be delivered for many months?
What's the difference between regular, export, limited and MHI items?
Why do you stock so few product lines?
Why do you often have to order things I want?
Does Marklin ever have sale?
What if I have a problem with a purchase?

Q: Who are you, and how do you do business?
A: I have been an authorized Marklin Digital dealer for more than 20 years. By arrangement with Marklin, due in large part to my support of their products via my software, I am able to provide all Marklin products and repair services for conventional and digital equipment in all gauges: HO, Z, 1, and MAXI. While I specialize in HO, I can help you with all gauges and can provide you with all items in the Marklin catalog. I'm one of Marklin's largest dealers and have earned the Marklin Outstanding Achievement Award for the past 6 years.

Being one of Marklin's largest dealers in the US allows me to offer very competitive pricing and unsurpassed service. I'm around on evenings and weekends (when it's convenient for you), so you can call or e-mail me to ask questions. Confused about what types of contact tracks or signals to use? Need some help in getting started with digital? Maybe you just got a starter set and don't know what to do next? Perhaps you just saw something on eBay and you're not sure what it's worth? It doesn't matter if you're a regular customer or you just stumbled across my web page by accident -- I'm here to help you with any question or problem you may have with your Marklin products!

Q: Aren't all Marklin dealers "Digital Dealers"?
A: NO! Only a select group of Marklin dealers who have been certified by Marklin are authorized to sell, install and repair Marklin digital components. I am a Marklin Digital dealer and carry the full complement of Marklin Digital products. I have also installed decoders on literally hundreds of Marklin engines.

When can I expect to get the items I ordered?

A: About a week or so after I do. Seriously, Marklin does not share their production schedules with their distributors (Marklin US) or their dealers. And, although Marklin does provide "anticipated delivery" dates on their New, Export and MHI items, these are estimates at best, and it can often take significantly longer before these items arrive. New Items and Export Items, announced in February each year, are scheduled to be produced throughout the year. As a result of how Marklin schedules production, most new these items are scheduled to arrive toward the end of the year (e.g., November or December). Often, these schedules cannot be met, and it often happens that items ordered in February don't arrive until January or February (or even later in) the following year. While I do understand that this can be very frustrating, there are still advantages to ordering early in the year, which is covered in the next question.
Q: Why should I pre-order items early in the year when they won't be delivered for many months?
A: Very simply, Marklin offers their dealers a discount for placing their orders early in the year, and I pass the ENTIRE amount on to my customers.  Yes, I understand how frustrating it can be to order items in February or March and wait many, many months for these items to appear. But, please understand, there are good reasons to place your orders early. Aside from the savings you realize by ordering early, you also increase your chances of getting these items at all! Unlike many companies who produce more when they know they can sell more, Marklin only produces a limited amount of many of their items. Ordering early is your best way to make sure you'll get the items you want. All too often, customers come to me mid-way through the year and ask if they can order special engines or sets, only to find out that Marklin is "sold out". How does this happen? Well, besides Marklin (Germany) deciding to "fix" their production schedules in order to produce all the various new and regular items in their program, there's another "wrinkle" of sorts. Marklin US has to provide the factory in Germany with quantities of what they will purchase during the year. In the case of New Items, as you can imagine, this amounts to a "guess" on their part. If, for example, Marklin US orders 100 engines and they subsequently receive orders from their dealers for 120 engines, it may very well happen that 20 engines will not get delivered (or may not be delivered until a subsequent production run is made the following year). In short, "the early bird gets the worm" (and saves money). Of course the availability of items often depends on the "type" of item it is, as explained in the next section.
Q: What's the difference between regular, export, limited and MHI items?
What's with these "Summer" and "Fall" programs that seem to come out of nowhere?
Why does the catalog often say "This item is sold out at the factory, your dealer has already placed orders for these items" ?
A: Let's cover these one at a time, in order of their complexity:
  • Regular Items - These, as the name implies, are items that become part of Marklin's year-to-year program. They are introduced in a particular year (there has to be a FIRST year after all) and they continue to appear in Marklin's program and catalogs until they are discontinued. The "life" of a regular item is not fixed, but it typically stays in the program for several years.

  • Export Items - These are produced, typically, only for one year, and are made predominately for distribution in countries other than Germany. The models are of non-German engines, cars and sets, and cover all the "major" European countries in which Marklin does a significant amount of business (e.g., Switzerland, Austria, France, Holland, etc.) As a point of interest, it should be noted that, many years ago, there was no Export program as such. Marklin, as part of their regular program, had models from several non-German countries available in their "regular" program. In the past 10 years or so, Marklin has relegated most of their non-German models to the Export Program.

    The important thing to realize here is that these items are made in limited quantities and often sell out early in the year. There's always a chance you can still order these in a subsequent year, but your best (and sometimes only) chance to get these is to order early in the year they are first introduced. There are often many interesting items produced each year. They appear in the separate Export Items brochure, and I identify them with an (E) in their description.

  • Limited Items - As the name implies, Limited Items are produced only for one year, and in limited quantities. I always identify these as (L) on my price lists. These items are typically special models or train sets, often with special combinations of cars with unique road numbers. These are sought-after items and usually sell out early in the year.

  • MHI Items - This group of items is, perhaps, one of the least understood and, at the same time, the most controversial. The MHI (Marklin Handler Initiative) is basically a cooperative of German Marklin dealers. The dealers who choose to participate in this program, also known as the EXCLUSIVE program in some circles, "commission" Marklin (Germany) to make a variety of one-time only "exclusive" items. These are announced at the beginning of each calendar quarter. The number of items varies per quarter. Sometimes the assortment includes an engine, sometimes just a car set or two, etc. Over the course of the year (in HO), there are usually about 3-4 engines and a similar number of cars and car sets.

    Ok, here's the "catch". The only way that a dealer can order these is if he commits to purchasing an entire "subscription" or, simply stated, one of everything that comes out in a particular "group" for the entire year. These "groups" or categories are:

    Marklin Digital HO Locomotives
    Marklin Digital HO Packaged Train Sets
    Marklin HO Car Sets
    Marklin HO Cars
    Marklin Z Gauge Locomotives
    Marklin Z Gauge Cars
    Marklin Z Gauge Car Sets
    TRIX HO Locomotives
    TRIX Cars/Car Sets
    Minitrix Locomotives
    Minitrix Cars/Car Sets

    Now, I, as a dealer, during February and March each year, survey my customers and ask each individual if he/she would like to participate in one or more of these categories. I presently have a number of people who subscribe to all the HO digital engines, sets, and cars/car sets. This means that these people have promised to purchase (one of) everything that comes out during the year in those categories.  Since I know that there are other people out there who may not want one of EVERYTHING, I'll actually order a couple of extra subscriptions of these, knowing that some Marklin HO fans will purchase these "extras". On occasion, when something is really popular, I have been able to order just a single quarter's item(s) for a customer. But in that case, it's purely "hit or miss". That's because Marklin fills the orders for the committed subscribers first. They (Marklin US) order some extras from the factory as well, but there's rarely enough of these to go around. So, if you really want to be certain that you will able to get these hot items, you have to subscribe to the entire year's production. Otherwise, it's a "hit or miss" proposition, and you may find yourself paying a premium to get some of these sought after items from other dealers.

    The idea here is that Marklin will (to the best of its ability) basically guarantee delivery of these items, but only IF you agree up front to purchase the entire year's worth of items in a given category. Granted, depending on which categories one chooses to subscribe to, it can wind up being a sizeable financial commitment.  

  • Summer and Fall programs - For the past several years, Marklin has announced an interesting selection of items during the Summer and Fall. Please note, I wrote "announced", not delivered. Delivery dates for these programs can stretch out for many months. Most of these items are very limited and it is absolutely imperative that you let me know immediately if you want any of these.  (Even the brochures describing these are sometimes impossible to get, so you really need to watch for my e-mails!)

  • Other special items - Occasionally, Marklin will, with little warning, announce a special engine or car set that is being made as a limited item. There's no rhyme or reason as to when this happens. I always try to find out about these things early and let everyone know about them. Unfortunately, these are often VERY LIMITED in availability, so all I can do is try to get as many as I can and deliver them on a first come, first served basis.

Q: Why do you stock so few product lines?
A: In a word, it's all about service.  I want to carry only the best of everything: trains, electronic equipment, etc. I want to be able to provide the best service possible, and I can only do that by doing business with suppliers who stand by their products and give me world-class support and service. If they can't support me, I can't support you -- it's that simple.
Q: Why don't you always have what I want in stock?
A: Here, it's all about price.  I don't have a store where people are coming in all day long to purchase items.  But, I do keep a LARGE inventory of the items people most often need: C-Track, switches, digital decoders, transformers, boosters, plugs, wire, screws, etc. By NOT stocking quantities of engines, sets, etc., I don't have to finance a large inventory. This, of course, means that I don't have to keep a lot of money tied up, losing (or paying) valuable interest. What I don't have to spend in tying up my money, I can provide to you in the way of savings. Most of the time I can get items from Marklin US in just a matter of a few days. In an emergency, I can have items shipped to you directly.  So, the long and the short of it is: low inventory of expensive items translates into low prices for you.
Q: Does Marklin ever have a sale?
A: Actually, the answer is "yes". Once or twice a year, Marklin puts items on sale. These are often items that they've had laying around for a while, overstocked, slow movers, etc. But, the savings can often be substantial. I always let everyone know when these sales are going on. But, you've got to be quick! Often, there are only a few of each item available.
Q: What if I have a problem with a purcahse?
A: Unfortunately, problems can occur.  Wherever possible, I will do whatever I can to make the situation right. If it's a simple, inexpensive item, I'll be happy to replace it from my own stock. If a locomotive requires a simple repair, I'll be glad to fix it at no charge. In the event that an item is broken, defective or requires more attention, I will ask you to either send it back to me (and I'll send it back to Marklin to have them repair it) or ask you to send it to Marklin directly -- that can often save time.

If a situation occurs where you feel you must return an item for refund, that will be handled on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of the problem.  Generally speaking, items that have been used (for example, locomotives -- even for a very short time) may have to be considered as "used" and will be subject to a restocking fee. If you have any questions about my policies, I encourage you to ask before you purchase. Unless arrangements are specified before purchase, I reserve the right to accept returns for refunds at my discretion.