Christmas 2008 my son received a Lionel Polar Express train from his grandparents, and at our Christmas party it stopped working. My son (who was six at the time) said “it just stopped” but I assumed with a house full of kids it may have gotten roughed up. I found LaGrange Hobby Center (LHC) via Lionel’s site and brought the train in for repair & explained the circumstances in which the train stopped working. About a month later I received a call stating the train was done. When I got the train home, I tested it out myself & it worked for maybe 5 minutes before it stopped again.
I checked my receipt:
$40 – Replacement Golden Whistle & cleaning
This was a brand new train & it appeared that I paid to have it cleaned & to have an ornamental whistle (a $3 piece of plastic) replaced. It was however now under their repair warranty, so I brought it back. Over the next year I repeated this four times, with each repair time extending from one to almost four months with no phone calls to inform me what the problem may be.
On one occasion I spoke to the owner of LHC who explained that it has become difficult to order parts from Lionel, which is something I confirmed with other Lionel Dealers in the area. My problem was the lack of phone calls. If this had been a car or a computer I would have gotten a phone call in a day or so stating the problem, the cost & time of the repair. I would have been OK with the time frame if I at least knew what was going on, but just wasn’t being called. My receipt was always vague & never included any information as to what parts were ordered & replaced. The repair man (who was constantly rude to my family) also attempted to blame my son for breaking the train after it was repaired, which was interesting because aside from the repair man, I was the only person handling the train. I wouldn’t let my son touch it until I was sure it was repaired.
A literal year later (with an additional $15 in vague repairs) I was done dealing with LHC and took my son’s train to Berwyn Toys & Trains who returned the train in ONE WEEK in perfect working order with a receipt detailing the repairs. The only problem was a wire, which had nothing to do with the way my son handled the train. The owner even came out with the wire & explained what the problem was.
LHC seems to be a great hobby center & even after this experience I am sorry that I won’t be returning to or recommending their shop. Aside from trains they have a great selection of models that I would have loved to buy & spend the weekends building with my son. However, I feel their repair man was dishonest & rude to my family, and upon bringing this to the owner’s attention, I was told that no complaints were ever made about their repair man & my issues were left completely unresolved. I have since written & spoken to Lionel and recommended LaGrange Hobby Center be removed from their site as a licensed repair center.
Pros: Great selection of models, trains and such.
Cons: Customer service, repairs...