What is Customer Service?

This blog post is going to be a little bit different as I’m writing it over a period of a few days to document a story.  I know exactly where the story will lead me and how I’ll feel when I complete the journey. 

What is Customer Service?  Does support and service after the sale exist today?  Does it exist in our hobby?  My story will sum all these answers up….please keep reading.

As I’ve mentioned a few times since starting this blog, I’m returning to the hobby after a multi-year break.  Please read this blog post if you haven’t already to bring you up to speed on my past experience with the flight sim hobby.    But to summarize, I’ve been flying computer sims since the early 80’s (I started on the Commodore 64) and I got super heavy into it around 2000-01 timeframe.  So much so that I replaced the joystick with a yoke and peddle set and began purchasing some additional hardware from a company called GoFlight.  You’ve probably heard of GoFlight.  They provide various pre-made hardware modules to enhance your flight sim experience.  From 2000 through 2002 I purchased eight items from GoFlight and used them in their flight deck console unit. 

While the GoFlight hardware modules may appear expensive at first glance….let me tell you the equipment is built solid.  You won’t find any plastic where plastic shouldn’t be.  They are constructed from metal and alloy materials.  They honestly feel like the real thing and will compliment any home cockpit setup.  These things remind me of my old Tonka trucks from the mid 70’s.  Anyway, I used this equipment without issue on my old Windows XP and FS9 setup for several years.  When I stepped away from the hobby, my GoFlight equipment was wrapped up carefully and stored.  I knew I would eventually return to the hobby when life settled down.

Well that time is now and as you know I built a brand new gaming machine dedicated solely to the hobby of flight simulation.  You can read all about my new hardware specs here.  I designed the system to run Windows 7, 64bit and FSX with all sliders set to MAX.  In no time I was ready to connect my GoFlight equipment and head to the skies.

I’ll admit that I forgot more than I probably ever knew about flight simming and specifically about setting up the GoFlight gear.  I still had my old PC which ran Windows XP and FS9.  When I would connect my GoFlight gear all worked and all worked as designed.  But on the new machine I encountered many issues.  With a little “tech support” from GoFlight I was able to correct 85% of my issues.  But something still wasn’t right with one particular GoFlight module, the GF-MCP Advanced.

The GF-MCP is the heart of my home cockpit setup.  The GF-MCP controls all the auto-pilot functionality and allows me to operate without the need to use my mouse to set altitude, heading, speed etc.  All these settings (including approach hold) are controlled by the MCP unit.  My problems with this unit were mainly centered around it’s ability to remain functioning for a long, cross-country flight.  In most cases a short 30-60 minute flight would function fine.  However, for longer flights the GF-MCP would appear to go to sleep or just simply stop working all together.  About 50% of the time I could “wake” it by turning each knob and pressing each button.  However, on more times than I cared for, the speed hold would just stop working.  It was becoming annoying to say the least.

I had read on the GoFlight forums and elsewhere that the problem could be with the GF-MCP and specifically with the advancement of USB technology today versus 4-5 years ago.  Equally the issues pointed to Windows 7 and FSX.  In my research (and in discussions I had with GoFlight) I believed everything should work without issue with Win 7, 64 bit OS and FSX.  But why was I having issues and what would need to happen to fully resolve the problem?

Much to my surprise within a day or two I received an email from Mitch at GoFlight.  Mitch is the Operations Manager for GoFlight.  Mitch had been the Operations Manager at GoFlight around the time I purchased my equipment and has now returned.  The goal for Mitch and GoFlight is to make their Customers happy.  After explaining my issues to Mitch he simply told me not to worry and he would be shipping me a brand new GF-MCP Advanced module.  WOW…this truly is a company which understands how to keep Customers happy. 

According to Mitch at GoFlight, my replacment MCP unit will ship Thursday, 16 September.  Mitch did just as he said and I received the replacement unit on Monday, 20 September.  Due to having family in town, I didn’t have time to test the replacement MCP until the approaching weekend of 24, 25 and 26 September.  I couldn’t wait to determine if this replacement MCP would solve my issues.

The moment of truth arrived and on Friday evening I installed the replacement GF-MCP Advanced unit, double-checked that it showed up in the GF-Config setup utility and loaded up FSX.  Just as expected, the GF-MCP Advanced lit up and was in perfect sync with FSX.  But would it stay that way?  Would the GF-MCP operate for an entire flight?  Would it work for a full, long-haul over the pond sort of flight?

The answers to all those questions was YES!  I was back in business.  I suppose GoFlight didn’t have to replace my older MCP unit.  However, GoFlight certainly went above and beyond and I’m a very happy customer.  So much so I have recently placed an additional order for a few more toggle and push-button switch units.  I truly love GoFlight and how they enhance the enjoyment of a long time hobby for me. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT


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