Take the Test
Newer drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 or 3DR Solo are truly magical. Their capabilities are way beyond former models and they are effectively “miracle machines”.
However, the question remains – will YOU make a good drone owner, operator and pilot?
In order to test as to whether you are a potential Drone or Quadcopter pilot, we’ve made up the following short test. Consider these 7 statements:
“I spent $1K+ for this Quadcopter and it should just work no matter what.”
“Company X should be available to me by phone 24/7/365 and they should answer the phone with a live person who is capable of answering any question about my drone.”
“If there is any problem or fault with my drone, Company X should replace it – quickly, and with no (or few) questions asked.”
“I crashed (or lost) my Drone and I think it’s the fault of Company X – they should replace it or fix it quickly.”
“I should not have to rely on guesses and other users to provide me with technical support.”
“I use this drone for my work with photography/video and therefore cannot be without it. Lost revenues are the fault of Company X and therefore they should serve me even better and quicker”.
“I consider myself a tough customer and spend a decent amount of time on complaints, calls to manufacturers, lawsuits, etc. to make sure I get what I paid for”.
Think about these statements as a typical survey where you might answer True or False – or even with a 3-way answer such as Strongly Agree/Neutral/Strongly Disagree.
Ok, test over! Basically, if you feel strongly about ANY of these statements and assume that your purchase of a drone – at ANY price – is going to include “Amazon” customer service, you’ll have to either adjust your expectations or not buy a drone.
When it comes to Aerial Robotics (drones), we are all pioneers – that is, the industry itself in is the beginning stages. Similar high technology inventions took many years to become true consumer products. Some examples:
1. The Internet – Although it opened up in 1994 with the first modern browsers (Mosaic, Netscape), only those who were extremely technical or patient could connect for the first couple of years. This kept most Americans off the internet – only 22% of Americans used the internet in 1997. Even today you are unlikely to get instant service on your residential (or commercial, for that matter) internet connection.
2. Computers – I purchased my first IBM PC in 1982, well after the Personal Computer revolution was underway. The first thing the computer did when I turned it on was to ask for the date and time – it didn’t even know that much! Only about 600,000 personal computers were in the US in 1982 – compared to 500 MILLION internet connected devices today.
3. Aircraft – The Wright brothers figured out how to fly in 1903 yet the so-called “Golden Years of Aviation” were from 1919-1939. In other words, it took 14 years for the real innovation to get underway. Even then, the average person didn’t fly in an airplane until 50+ years after the original invention. And, yes, they still have bugs, problems and customer service has actually gotten worse!
And so, the reality is that you MUST agree with some or all of the following statements if you want to enjoy – and get the most out of – your drone:
“I enjoy learning new things and am ready to invest a lot of time – and perhaps some money – in learning all that I can about any new venture”.
“I am not a PITA type of customer – I don’t always expect that problems are the fault of others and am glad to take time to find out if I can solve problems with the help of other users”.
“I realize that exceptional customer service comes at a high price – and would EITHER settle for less if I get a bargain or else pay (20% to 100%) more for extended warranties and quicker service”.
There is nothing wrong with expecting a high level of customer service. Hundreds of years ago, visitors to restaurants and Inns in civilized places received such treatment. However, at the exact same time Wagon Trains were winding their way though the Great Plains and the Oregon Trail and not getting the same level of attention.
The Gory Details
For those who want more detail on the current state of the industry, here are the challenges we are dealing with.
Technological Problems: Drones are extremely complicated. It’s a computer, an aircraft, a radio, a tv, a GPS system and much more all rolled up into a compact shell. Despite attempts to make them easier to use, they still are reliant on complicated programming as well as outside devices (IOS, Android, etc.) for proper operations.
Lack of Consumer Education: We see this as some of our role here at Droneflyers.com.
It takes skill and intelligence to safely and properly fly a drone. You need to know about wind, weather, orientation, software and a myriad of other systems which are involved in modern aircraft. You need to know what is possible and what is not as well as your limitations as a pilot.
Manufacturer Shortcomings (and decisions): The R/C (Remote control) industry has always been based on hobbyists – people who take a active part in building, tuning and flying their aircraft. Manufacturers have catered to this type of person and now things have changed, but the manufacturers have not. Makes are scrambling to catch up to both product demand AND to the demands of their customers – but no matter how quickly they hire people, the demand for customer service outstrips the existing resources. Added to the “cry wolf” nature of many demands for service (some are real, many are not), makers are inundated and unable to help those who cannot help themselves.
Also, certain decisions have been made in terms of the cost/price/value of products. Customer service of the type “I crashed it, you should fix it” would likely cause the products to be priced 15-20% higher. It’s a marketing decision as to whether a company wants to burden all users for paying for those who are more likely to crash or lose their birds.
Like most problems, there are multiple solutions to the above…for example:
1. You can decide that a drone is not for you and/or commit yourself to taking the time to learn about what it takes to pilot a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).
2. Companies can raise prices and/or sell optional warranties which would allow the buyers to protect themselves to some degree against crashes. However, protection against loss is difficult or impossible – same as with iphones, tablets, etc. due to potential abuse of the system.
3. Companies ARE continuing to make the products more reliable and easier to use…but it will take many years before the completely uninitiated can open a box and safely use a flying robot.
4. You can team up with a pilot – maybe you are great at photography and video, but all thumbs when it comes to flying. Two person teams work very well with drones – in fact, some (DJI Inspire, for example) can use two Remotes, one for drone control and one for pilot control.
Once you decide to make the commitment, start on your journey by studying as many materials as you can. Download owners manuals, watch online videos and consider attending one of the various seminars or drone schools if one is offered in your area. Contact a local hobby shop that sells drones and ask them whether they do demos, instruction, seminars, etc.
The knowledge is out there. Aviation has always involved a learning curve and continuing education so make certain you ingest as much material as possible.