MY YAESU FT-991A & HRO NIGHTMARE!

I’ve been a amateur radio operator since October 16, 1996, Amateur Extra class licensee since April 1997 and have owned several radios over the years, but until recently I had never purchased a brand new radio, I’ve always bought second handed radios to save a lot of money. I started out with a Icom IC-745 I ran for my first 8 years on HF, then a Kenwood TS-570D I ran for 4 years, and then a Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark-V (I’ve owned two of those now since a direct lightning strike tore up my first one. 

Well, when Congress announced the stimulus check that went out in April 2020 I decided I was going to purchase a Yaesu FT-991A from HRO (Ham Radio Outlet). I found a open box one at the Woodbridge, VA location that was priced at 10% savings plus $100 off on a instant coupon discount being offered by Yaesu and $30 off in the Spring Savings sale being offered by HRO that were set to expire on May 1st, 2020. I bought it on April 29th before the discounts went away and after NC added their 7% sales tax of $73.50 I got the radio for a total purchase price of $949.96! 

I received the radio on Friday, May 1st, but never got to enjoy it until the following week because apparently HRO never ever bothered to check the radio out after the original buyer returned it within 10 days of the date of purchase because there was no power cord in the box with the radio! I spoke with Steve Gilmore, W4HSG, HRO’s National Sales Manager, via email and he shipped me a power cord the following Monday, May 4th that arrived Tuesday, May 5th, 2020. I ran the radio a few days and really liked all the features, but then it began having a problem. The power output on HF would be working fine and then suddenly the meters stopped working and so did the transmitter power output. I could turn the radio off and then back on again and it would start working again, but only briefly until it would do the same thing again. I called Steve Gilmore and he had UPS come by and pick the radio up on Monday, May 11th. Steve said they didn’t have anymore FT-991A radios in stock, but he would ship me a new one as soon as they did. 

Well, I emailed him on May 25th, 2020 and ask him if he had any idea when they would be getting them back in stock and he replied, “we have been told the first week of June”.  Over another month went by and on June 30, 2020 I emailed Steve Gilmore, W4HSG, again and said, Do you have an update from Yaesu on the arrival of the FT-991A’s? Also, it would go a long way toward future purchases/sales if you would take a few minutes of your time to keep your customers updated on things like this rather than make them have to contact you instead. 

Steve never even replied to my second email and to this date he never has! I found out on Friday, July 17th from my friend Donnie, KN4RA, that HRO had the FT-991A’s back in stock at 7 different HRO locations although Steve Gilmore nor anyone else at Ham Radio Outlet in Woodbridge, VA bothered to email, telephone, or notify me of at all, nevermind they had almost $1000.00 of my money they had since April 29th, 2020! 

I called them on Saturday, July 18, 2020 and the guy who answered the telephone at first acted like he didn’t know what to tell me and told me he would telephone me back that day and let me know something. Well, he kept his word and at 4:56 PM he called me and told me he was shipping me a new radio on Monday, July 20th and it arrived via UPS on Wednesday, July 22nd! Finally! They shipped me a new in the box factory new FT-991A! 

I learned one thing from this experience and that is when spending a thousand dollars on amateur radio equipment good customer service is of utmost importance, something HRO in Woodbridge, VA and that Steve Gilmore, W4HSG, HRO’s National Sales Manager, don’t seem to grasp! Also, I learned from this experience that I will never ever purchase another item from Ham Radio Outlet! I’ll go with Gigaparts, DX Engineering, or any company that treats me like they would want to be treated themselves if they were the customer! 

I could have just let this slide and not mentioned a word of it to anyone, but if me posting this saves just one person from getting jerked around by HRO’s customer service the way I was I will have accomplished what I set out to do by telling my story. I still don’t understand why! Did they think I was just a dumb NC Appalachian mountain hillbilly they could do any old way without any repercussion? I have no idea why!

HRO needs to adopt the strategy that a man adopted in 1912 when he bought a chain of 3 stores called “The Golden Rule” stores because the Golden Rule says, “Do Unto Other As You Would Have Them Do Unto You”. This man made a great success of his business with that strategy towards customer service. The man’s name was James Cash Penney, but he was more widely known as J.C. Penney. 

*Note: I have receipts & emails to support everything I have stated in this blog post. 

Revised: July 28, 2020