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Numbe* 29 on your Feed back card p^ Numoer ¿y on your

Consumer Complaints

We gel a few letters every week from hams who are having a problem, teal or imagined, with one ol our adversers. Every once in awhile we are alerted Jo a real scam, and we quickly take appropriate action. Most of the time, though, the problem ends up being eilher a misunderstanding by Ihe cus-lomcr, an honest and correctable error on (he part of the business, or some factor beyond Ihe control of either that has been blown out Of all proportion by one or both Darttes.

Even though [here is Utile we can do about most complaints other than pass them along to me company -nvoiced a staff of less than 10 people, we really cant act as consumer watchdogs forme amateur industry), we are glad thai our readers inform us of when they're having problems. Every once in awhile, especially if one of us here al 73 happens io be fiends With someone at ihe "offending" company, we'll make a phone call or two to see if we can gel things slraghiened out

The other day I recerved a six-page, photocopied newsletter that waii dedicaied to complaining about a longtime 7'J advertiser, it appears that this guy goi Ircked oft at the company and then sought out and found a bunch of other people who had complaints about Ihis company, and he put them all together in Ihis newsteiieMype arrangement and mailed ti cut to a bunch of hams (or maybe he just mailed si 10 us) The thing ¡ha! is unusual aoout this instance is thai t happen to be friends wrth ihe president of me company n question and nave a ¡way 5 round him :o be one of the nices; guys ri me amateur rado industry. 1 iiavo used his products and have never hao a problem with ihem. In fad. my experience has been that ¡his particular company is one of the best when it comes to helping customers who have problems or questions.

Just last week, we got a call from a reader who was having a problem getting some-ihing shipped from a mail order company. He said his check had been cashed, but he had noi received his product yel, and it had been "almost four weeks/1 I asked the gen-llemnn whether or not he had written id the company inquiring aboul the status of his order He said he had called, but was connected with an answering machine (with many smaJi mail order companies oeing opera-eel part-Ume from pco?:e's homes, this is not unusual), l quckty tookec up me ad in a recent <ssue, and ngjht there in easy-to-read type was "please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.- i pointed (big oui 10 me gentleman, who didn't seem to feel that the company should cash his check before he recerved his product- I tried to explain how that happens. bui this guy wasn't interested. By now I knew that this ham was more concerned with bitching than he was In receiving his product \ advised him to put everything in wriiing and send it to the company. If he didn't hear anything in two weeks. I inviied him lo call me again.

While it is important that you share with us any problems you're having with our advertisers, we would alt be belter off if you made sure you actually have a problem before asking us to look inio it. or before unjustiftabty slandering the name of a good company

If you nk you have a comptanf. the i rst thing to remember is 10 leave a paper trail. That means all of your con:aci wrth me company sfiouti be in written (orm, and yoj musl keep copies of everything When you speak with someone on the phone, gel their name antf make a nole 0! ri, as well as the lime and date of the phone call and what was discussed. If somelhing important was implied or promised during the phone con-

versalion, follow up ca^i with a tetter reiterating the main points of the understanding.

Make sure you give the company sufficient time to process your order Unless you have paid exlra for next day delivery, most companies use regular package delivery or parcel post Thai can take weeks to cross Ihe country, so don1! compare the speed of the company in the next town with one halfway across the globe,

If a reasonable length of time has passed {four 10 stx weeks is pretty standard) and you si ill have not received your ¡¡em, make a phone call and follow it up with a letter. If you have a canceled check or credit card bill lhai ¡:sls the company's charge, make sure you include photocopies of them. You win usually fird thai any Delay ir shipping your product to you is caused bp a J The product was shipped, out has obviously been, lost m transit or b) some pari or item on back order from :he company's supplier.

A company should not charge your credit card unless they have processed the order If your order has been shipped, the company can pui a 1 racer on it. This might take a day or two, but it's not the company's fault. Checks are deposited on a daily or weekly basis, so it is possible that you could have received the canceled check before receiving your item. Either way, you have the right to cancel your order and receive a full refund if you haven't received Ihe item within six weeks You don't have to be nasty about it. Simply inform Ihe company in writing that you nre canceling your ortier.

If you already have the product and are not pleased With it, first make sure that it 15 installed correctly and that you fully understand how to operate it. A tneno-v can to the company win usually get you ar the help you need m figuring out how lo mstall or operate some of :he complex pieces of gear we use these days.

lf you truly feel that something is noi ngftl wiih the item, rt's worth a telephone call to the company before shipping the producl back lo them. Remember, the company wants you 10 be happy with the product. That's how they stay in business. They aren't out lo screw you, but if you star! screaming at someone on the phone about their "piece of crap thai doesn't work* you probably won ' make any mends. Explain the problem you're having, and give ihem a chance to lix it Don't expect me person who answers the phone to know what you're talking about Also, don't be surprised if you get transferred around a few i:mes or if someone offers to take a message and nave your cafi returnee Later, Remember they re trying to help you, and they are fuUy aware that it is m iheir own best interest lo solve your problem.

H you have lo return the item lor repair or replacement, include a briel nole outlining the trouble you're having and astach il to the piece of gear. Also, include a letter (keep a photocopy) outlining what you were I old on the phone and asking for what you want ("Please repair and return to ma , * ** or "Please return my purchase price

Only after you have exhausted all other avenues should you bother to contact the magazines We usually can't do much except note your complaint. It we start getting a to- of comp-aints about the same adverts er we iWfbofc mto it but a s-ngie dissatisfied customer does not mean the company is run by a Dunch of crooks,

II *ias been my experience thai, with very few exceptions, the amateur raoio industry is serviced by some ol the nicest people ana mo si hone SI companies anywhere- As long as we all ireat each other wrih a title respect I'm sure (hat your problems will be solved. Usually a I Ml takes is a little communication. Isn't that whal this hobby is all about?

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Propagation

Number SO on your Feedback card

Jkn Gray WJXU 210 Chateau Crete Payson AZ8B54 i

Traditionally, March can be a very good month to? radio propagation on the HF bands. The spring equinox on March 21 brings hours ol darkness and daylight and Ihe ionosphere has good UV excitation once again. March is also a month ol wind and siorms so you can look lorward to some days of excellent HF conditions and good weather, as well as some days of very poor propagation and weather. The daily chart shows the poorest propagation conditions during the week of March 7th ;o i4iht "Good" propagation rs expected between ihe 22nd and 28th, while only 'Fair propagation is anticipated: Jot the rest of the month, when conditions may be very unsealed and the ionosphere vacat e from cay ¡0 day. Be aware of the poss bility of some extreme weather on the days surrounding me eih ana the t2th. Propagation can be very good or very poor immediately following a solar flare or some other major disturbance on the sun, Usually a "blackout" ts followed by a day or two of very good conditions on Ihe HF bands. March 30th and a day either way could be "Very F00C

Jim Gray W1XU

morning hours Short skip between 100 and 1.000 miles during the day and beyond 1,000 miies at night, should preva: on *GoocT days. The SO and 150 meter bands should show fairly good OX a!ter sunset, with 160 peaking al midnigbi and again just belore sunrise. DX on BO meters should be good at these limes, and short skip up to 1,500 miles or so should be good during nighttime hours . , , again on me 'Good™ days. 'Fair (F) and "Poor (P) or "Very Poor* (VP) days will seem almost impossible ... with the lower HF bands affected teast and the higher HF bands affected the most. Even on "Poor* or "Very Poof days, an occasional opening may occur on north-south paths across the equator. Enjoy March: ¡1 ought to be irneresiing

EASTERN UNITED STATES TO:

Unexpected Benefits

You may have noticed that December 1992, ordinarny expected to exhibit poor DX cond;tons, was unusually active and a "Good" month tor DX, due to the solar liux rising to values between 140 and 160. and magnetic i>eid indices lower than usual with a quiet freld. These are me conditions that prevail as this column is being prepared and — frankly—somewhat of a surprise to ibis author.

On "Goocf (G) days, you may expect fairly good openings on north-south paths for Ihe 10-12 meter bands, in the afternoon, and also excellent skip to Africa and the Pacilic. Openings to Europe will be fewer, but good short skip from 1300 lo 2300 miles during daylight hours should occur. The 15 and 17 meter bands should provide good world* wide propagation on 'Good" days dunng the daylight hours, and excellent trans-equatorial conditions, pea^irg during the a^emoon hours. The 20 me:sr band qugnt to be very good irom sunrise io sunset, with conditions peaking during the eafly moming and mid-afternoon hours. The 30 and 40 meier bands will show Ime DX opportunities during the late afternoon and through the evening hours. and again in the early

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