The country is slowly, haltingly opening up. That includes gun ranges. That means lots of first-time gun owners are finally taking their shiny new guns to the range (and folks will be taking their long-awaited Form 4’s with their new cans out for the first time, too). I talked to a few other dealer friends and all seem to be seeing the same thing and getting the same kinds of phone calls.
May days are going a lot like this:
- The phone rings.
- Someone asks me if we fix guns.
- I tell them, sure, what do they have and what’s it doing? I do some information gathering for the gunsmith to work from.
- They tell me that the gun they just bought doesn’t work and they’re not sure what to do. I explain the costs, the backlog and if we need to order parts, here’s how long you’re looking at to get it fixed.
- I hang up the phone, wait 10 minutes and have the same conversation again.
Not to play the blame game, but there are some brands out there that many gun owners are familiar with that don’t have the best quality control, manufacturing standards and other attributes that make for a reliable firearm.
I won’t name names, but a lot of them should be pretty familiar to many readers by now.
Folks who ran to their local gun store, stood in line and chose their first gun because “that was all that was left” likely aren’t as familiar with this. They’re about to get a painful lesson in why product choice is important and why a good firearm retailer will suggest spending a few more dollars with a manufacturer that makes a better product.
Folks expect their new firearm to run 100%, straight out of the box. Experience has taught us that isn’t always the case.
We’re getting a lot of calls from folks who bought their new gun from a big box store and didn’t get a lot of info with their purchase. Now they’ve got a gun that doesn’t work and they’re not sure what to do.
If you bought a laptop from Best Buy and you opened it up and it didn’t turn on, or the battery didn’t charge, you’d take it right back to the store and they’d swap it out for a different one on the spot.
For your typical consumer, that’s what they’re used to. Firearms are different and the conversation usually goes something like this:
Hank: Well, I can write up a ticket and get the gunsmith to check it out. It’s shop rate with minimum labor and we’re about three weeks behind right now before we can get to it. Hopefully we won’t need to order any parts in to get it fixed because all our parts vendors are three weeks behind, too.
Customer: It’s going to cost me money to have you look at it? But the sticker says I have a lifetime warranty!
Hank: That’s run through the factory. The manufacturer doesn’t pay us to fix their guns.
Customer: But this is my only gun. I’ve got nothing to defend my house if I send this back!
Hank: Well, I mean we could sell you another firearm…something perhaps a little more reliable to cover you in the meantime.
Customer: I spent all the money I had budgeted on this one . . . .
This is an unfortunate situation. We’re seeing new gun owners who were desperate to buy anything…and that’s pretty much what they bought.
What are they supposed to do now?
If there was ever a time for the late great Gilda Radner to don her Roseanne Roseannadanna wig and tell us, “It’s always something — if it’s not one thing, it’s another” – it would be now.
Some customers who have shopped at retailers without full-time gunsmiths on staff like an Academy or a Big 5 are now going to independent firearm retailers because, while those retailers do a fine job selling guns seven days a week, their staff simply aren’t trained or equipped to actually go in and turn screwdrivers and torque wrenches.
So these new gun owners are taking their guns to retailers who can fix them. But what happens if that’s not an option?
The customer can call the factory customer service line and a lot of times the dialogue goes like this:
Customer: My new gun isn’t running right.
Factory: Can you describe the problem?
Customer: It jams
Factory: Is it brand new?
Customer: Sure is!
Factory: Call us back after you’ve got 1000 rds shot through it and we’ll re-evaluate it.
But even if the customer is willing to fire 1000 rounds out of a finicky firearm, they probably don’t have the ammunition to do it because there isn’t that much on the shelves these days.
Hopefully, if you have problems, the brand you purchased will have good warranty support and the manufacturer will issue a shipping label and get the item checked out and returned to you promptly. For the uninitiated, warranty repairs do not have to go through an FFL. You can ship the firearm to the manufacturer yourself and the repaired firearms may be shipped directly back to you.
That can be one way of working through the issues you have.
Another way, if your retailer supports it, is warranty swapping your firearm. Some distributors we deal with like Davidson’s have a lifetime warranty on all firearms. If you buy a gun with the Davidson’s lifetime warranty, the retailer calls it in, arranges a replacement and it swaps out. It can be a lifesaver if you’re a customer who doesn’t want to be without a gun for very long.
These are just a couple of strategies you can use to get your firearm experience back on line if you have problems. Hopefully there aren’t too many of you having issues right now, but if you are, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear about what firearm you purchased and your experiences working with factory warranty departments.