Some companies are just lousy at what they do. And while I don't put much faith in reviews at Eham - at least not until they demonstrate some legitimacy and remove reviews where the writer openly reveals that they've evaluated some piece of equipment for just one weekend - take a close look at some of the major ham manufacturers and tell me which one ends up with the worst reviews. It won't be hard.
It is a manufacturer that is routinely bashed and has earned a very unflattering nickname from its initials. You know who I'm talking about.
Take a look at their product line. Have you ever seen a more wasteful lineup? 75 different iterations of the same thing. Model 999A has an SWR meter 1-inch wide. Model 999B has an SWR meter 1-1/2 inches wide. Model 999C has an SWR meter 2 inches wide. All the way through model 999Z, which has an SWR meter 3 feet wide. It's idiotic.
Well, today they took it to a new level, at least for me. Not only are they manufacturing a bunch of cheap crap, but they're employing workers who make the sloth-like customer service at the US Post Office look like Jiffy Lube on meth.
For a couple of years I used an LDG antenna switcher. It was inexpensive, it worked, it interfaced via serial connection with my logging program. It was slick. I use the word 'was' because I was stupid enough to leave it connected during a freak lightning storm earlier this year and it got zapped. Dead. Worse, LDG no longer manufactures this model. I don't know why, but they don't. I didn't see a single one at the massive Shelby hamfest today, which must mean that folks are either holding on to them or they only manufactured three.
So, off I trek to Shelby...er...Dallas in search of a remote antenna switcher. I had done some research beforehand. I could spend gobs of money on a unit from DXEngineering that I had confidence in, but didn't figure would be at the hamfest. I was right. I could spend quite a bit less money on one from Array Solutions, but they wouldn't be there either. Or I could spend even less on one from Ameritron, which just happens to be part of the previously referenced but unmentioned company earlier.
So I arrive at their booth, which had no customers when I arrived and took a look at the offerings. I knew I either wanted the RCS-4L or the RCS-8L. The individual manning the booth saw me but made no effort to greet me or offer to assist. So finally I approached him and asked if he could help give me some information. Perhaps he was disappointed that I wasn't looking at an amplifier, but I asked him the difference between the two units. His reply? (Pointing) "This is the RCS-4 and this is the RCS-8."
So I asked again, what's the difference? One has 4 inputs the other 5, I was told. Oooooookay...anything else? A little irritated, he asked, "What are you using it for?" What the hell? To switch antennas, you numbskull. But I politely explained that I had 3 HF antennas that I wanted to have a remote switch for. "OK, either will work."
Dumbfounded, I asked about the control method. "Doesn't one use a control cable and the other use the coax?" Without saying which one he says, "Any 5 conductor cable."
"What about lightning protection?"
"What is the lightning protection?"
"They both have lightning protection."
I gave up. I stepped back. While I did, another man came to the booth and asked some questions about an amplifier. I figured I'd done enough research on my own, so I decided to take the plunge. "OK, I'll take the RCS-8L."
Instead of going to get it, he turns around, grabs a stack of catalogs and begins fanning them out on the table. Checks his cell phone. Then finally goes and starts to sift through two or three large cardboard boxes.
Now, surely you've read about the poor solder joints of most of their products. Let me tell you so you'll know how it happens. As he took boxes out to read their descriptions, he tossed them onto a table. Not gently, mind you, he literally tossed them. After halfway rummaging through 2 boxes he walked back over and handed me an RCS-8. Not the RCS-8L. I took a look and said, "Does this have lightning protection?"
I handed it back to him. He put it back in the box but didn't look anymore. The third cardboard box was not searched.
He didn't even bother to come back over to me.
As I stood there like an idiot, contemplating whether to suggest he look in the third box while I squeezed my hands around his neck, my internal voice spoke up.
"Why? I need this."
"No you don't. You're going to buy this, get it home, and something will be wrong with it. You know that."
"Yeah, you're probably right."
Listen to your internal voice and don't buy crap.