By Abe Froman
I’m noticing a trend. I recently purchased a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, which I absolutely love. I view every gun as a tool designed for a specific application, and what separates a great gun from an ordinary one is how well it lives up to its design goals. The 10/22 Takedown measures up spectacularly. I just had one little issue . . .
The first time I took it to the range with a scope mounted, I noticed the scope base adapter getting a little wobbly. Turns out, all 4 screws had backed out after about 100 rounds. So I took it home, double checked the recommended torque settings, and gave each screw a little extra juice this time. Doh! Strip city. I wasn’t accustomed to steel screws and aluminum receivers. My mistake.
Now, I could have just surrendered and permanently attached the scope base with a variety of inadvisable techniques, and lived with the consequences of my mistake. But the gun is just so perfect in every other way, I couldn’t bear to not at least try to get it fixed. So I called Ruger to see how much this is going to set me back. Unbelievably, they say I can send it in and they will look at it. They will even pay for the shipping label and have it picked up from any convenient location. Wow! So feeling very thankful I send the gun off and wait for the damage report. A few days later, I get the email.
“Our technicians found this firearm needs to be replaced. We would like to offer you a new rifle of the same model at no charge.”
WHAT??? Gobsmacked. They could have easily sent back the damaged receiver with a note that read “Smooth move, operator. Try crazy glue.” and been done with it. But instead they decided to send me a brand new rifle FOR FREE, even though the rifle was damaged by my own misuse. Unbelievable. That is what you call standing behind your product.
This is not an isolated incident. I recently took delivery of a big, beautiful Fort Knox safe. It was a significant purchase, and like all significant purchases, I had concerns about whether I made a smart choice. The safe came with a little piece of paper that said something to the effect of: “Congrats, you never have to worry about this safe, ever. Doesn’t matter the reason, we got you covered”. Concerns eliminated, peace of mind achieved.
And it happened again when I bought my Vortex Viper PST. The scope is great, and a great value. But the reticle was canted, so I sent it in for repair. When it came back, the reticle was fixed, but there was a problem with the side focus. They looked at it again, confirmed the problem, and sent me a brand new one. It was accompanied by a note from an engineer saying he had personally verified this one had zero issues. No paperwork needed, no burden of proof on my part. And they paid for all the shipping both ways.
None of these exchanges required receipts. They didn’t have limits on a warranty. They didn’t ask for explanations. These companies take the position that if they made it, they stand by it. Period. No hiding behind fine print, no looking for the escape hatch. And it’s not just these companies. More often that not, I am finding manufactures who have a fanatical level of support for the products they make.
If you buy a Geissele trigger and want to install it yourself, you can watch a video tutorial from none other than Bill Geissele himself. A guy who sells hojillions of triggers to the military takes the time to instruct the noob-est of noobs, step by step. Incredible!
The trend here is that all these experiences happened in my pursuit of ballistic bliss. In my not-gun-related purchases, not so much.
I say customer service is a good barometer of civilization, and the world at large hasn’t been faring so well as of late. The practices of chasing down every last penny of margin, and particularly overseas manufacturing, has led to some bad trades in regards to customer service. I think we all have pretty low expectations of how much a company will stand by its product these days, and rightly so. The purchase of any appliance, no matter how state-of-the-art, is immediately followed by the strong recommendation to buy an additional warranty, lest the device fall apart on the way home.
But in the vast, cynical wilderness of cheap imports and indifferent sales staff, there stands the American gun industry as a shining city on a hill. Or at least some portions of it. Maybe not the average LGS scene, but enough of the whole. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. I am not quite sure what exactly killed off civilized interaction in other market sectors, or why it clings to life in the world of shooting. But I sure am thankful that it exists somewhere, and consider it to be further evidence that an armed society is a polite society.
Whenever possible, I make sure my dollars are channeled to businesses with exceptional customer service, and I make a point to tell them that is the reason I choose them over the competition. Happily, we shooters have many to choose from. Its not something I take for granted.
Now if you will excuse me, I suddenly feel the need to go purchase a new Ruger of some kind.