Lighting: The whole story

My layout lighting – a 12-volt halogen landscape lighting system – has arrived and I’m very pleased with the product. Unfortunately, I’m less pleased with e-conolight, the company that currently offers it.

I knew I’d be pleased with the lights because I used the same system with great success on my O scale, Maine two-foot layout. This system was originally offered by Ruud Lighting, but only to professionals. I was fortunate to acquire mine through a friend in the business and loved the way it added light and shadow to my slate quarry layout. All of the photos in the story, below, were taken with a digital camera under the Ruud lighting system – no additional lights were used:

Ruud Lighting system in use on my On2 layout.

Having tried some other ideas for the expansion of my Maine two-footer, I decided that the Ruud lighting really did make the difference so I decided to use it for this S scale CNR layout. But when I contacted my friend in the business, I learned that the product had been sold to e-conolight. I then learned that e-conolight will only ship to addresses in the Lower 48 States.

The system is not cheap, and I’m baffled when I hear of companies on either side of the Canada/USA border who only deal domestically. It’s less of a problem with Canadian companies because America has 10x our population and therefore represents a huge market opportunity. But in this, the Recession That Never Seems To End, it seems like one is shooting one’s foot to deliberately shut out a trade-friendly market that’s 10 percent the size of the United States. Yes, shipping internationally is extra work. But that’s what the “Handling” part of “Shipping and Handling” is for. Charge us for your time to fill out the forms. We understand.

However, I have friends with US postal addresses at UPS Stores – so if I wanted the lights, I could get them. And I wanted these lights – especially since I had already used them, and had saved the fixtures from my previous layout.

It should’ve been easy, especially since e-conolight uses UPS for shipping. But e-conolight managed to mess up the shipping invoice as well – despite a conversation I had with a couple of their customer service representatives, specifically to make sure the correct information was on this document. As a result, the lights went to the right street address, but they did not go to the right unit number. It cost my friend $20 and a fair bit of aggravation to get my boxes out of what he refers to as “UPS Jail”.

$20 is a cheap fix. The aggravation? I can’t pay back my friend for that, unfortunately. But I can, quite publicly, suggest to e-conolight that the company drag itself into the global marketplace. It won’t hurt, if properly done. It might even make them a bit of extra money – always a good thing, but especially when the e-conomy is in the e-toilet.

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