My First Unpleasant Gun Store Experience – Thoughts?

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on August 15, 2009 at 12:01 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > Gun Related News > My First Unpleasant Gun Store Experience – Thoughts?

I’ve generally been quite happy with the gun stores and ranges I’ve been to, both in the Chicago and Quad Cities areas.  However that streak came to an end today, with a trip to B & B Shooting Supplies.  The story is below, and I’m curious what other people think of the situation and my reaction.

For the second time this week, I stopped by B&B Shooting Supplies in Bettendorf, IA after work, looking for a particular model of the Ruger 10/22. I have one 10/22, but have wanted a second for some time.  I asked whether they had this 10/22 in stock, and was told that they did not.  I asked if they had an idea when they would get it in stock, and was told that they had no idea. I then asked how much they would charge if I had another gun dealer ship the rifle to B & B, so that B&B could transfer it to me.  At this point the employee (actually the owner, I’m pretty sure) of B&B said that they would not be willing to do a transfer, because they would rather sell me the gun themselves.

I was rather shocked that B&B flat out refused to perform the transfer.  I certainly understand their desire to sell me a gun themselves.  I could understand charging me $100 to transfer the $250 gun. In fact, I could even understand them refusing to perform the transfer if they had the rifle there for sale.   However, when they don’t have the gun in stock, and can’t even estimate when they will get the gun in stock, it is a different story –  especially since I was quite willing to pay a substantial fee for the transfer.  What really irritates me is that I’ve spent over $2,000 at B&B in the last two months alone, buying a Rock River Arms AR-15, hundreds of rounds of .223 ammo, hundreds of rounds of .40S&W ammo, thousands of rounds of .22 LR ammo, magazines, targets, cleaning supplies, and other gun accessories.

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So, for the first time, I’m going to (partially) boycott a gun store.  Whenever reasonably possible, I’ll buy firearms from the other half dozen gun stores in the area, even though B&B is close to my home and work.  I’ll buy my ammo from other local gun stores, or online gun stores too.  While I don’t expect that this action will have any real impact on B&B’s bottom line, especially given the record pace of gun and ammo sales, as a matter of principle I just don’t wish to give them any more of my hard-earned money.  I’ve written the store a letter to this effect.

I’m curious what everyone thinks.  Do your local gun stores flatly refuse transfers, even when they don’t have the gun in stock, can’t say when they will get one in stock, and you’re willing to pay a hefty fee for the transfer? Would you be as irritated by a transfer refusal as I am?

Note: For those that don’t know, federal law prohibits a gun store from selling a gun online and shipping it directly to the buyer’s house.  Instead, the gun must be transferred from the online gun store, to a local gun store (or other FFL holder), and then to the buyer.   The local gun store often charges a fee of around $25 to perform this transfer, although I’ve seen fees as high as $150.  What I’ve never seen is a flat out refusal, since doing so effectively prevents the buyer from getting the gun they really want, while also depriving the local gun store of any income from the transfer fee.

UPDATE: I received a letter from B&B, in response to the letter I sent to them.  Basically B&B expressed regret that I was unhappy and would no longer frequent their store, but didn’t really seem interested in resolving the problem. While I appreciate the effort they took to reply to my letter, I don’t appreciate that both in person and in their letter, they were more concerned about the miniscule profit from selling a cheap rifle than keeping a customer happy – especially when that customer has spent $2,000 in 2 months, and for the other reasons I discussed above.

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UPDATE 2: I found a local FFL who will perform transfers.  More information here.

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  • http://dixiecarpetbagger.com/ Dixie

    "Would you be as irritated by a transfer refusal as I am?"

    Yes. The gun store in my hometown charges $50 for transfers, plus the fee for the background check, PLUS sales tax. All fees are non-negotiable. And if they have something similar in stock, they'll try to sell you on it.

    A good source for transfers is to do a search for FFLs on the various online gun stores. This will usually turn up dealers who aren't in the phone book, but they may open their store by appointment only. The plus side is that they are usually cheaper, and much more helpful.

    Dixie

  • http://www.cemeterycas.wordpress.com Cemetery's Gun

    All the shopkeeps near me **strongly** frown upon incoming transfers of items they can get. But in the end, I've been told *Hey, it's your money, and this is our fee*.

    Did this guy offer to order a 10/22 for you?

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    Cemetery,

    He offered to order it, but had absolutely no clue when he could actually get the gun to me.

  • Jaybuck

    You are right to be disturbed by his actions.

    In Southern Illinois my local dealer has made three different firearm transactions to me for a $30 fee. He did not have the guns in stock but he would not have had a problem either way.

    All three transfers I ordered came from A&G with no problems whatsoever on either end. JD

  • BasinBictory

    This seems like a pretty mild case of "not providing excellent service" to me. When I read the header of the article, I thought initially it would be a racial issue.

    Yes, I would also be irritated if a store had refused to do a transfer for me, and would boycott any store where I felt like I wasn't being treated with respect – and in my lifetime, that has included several restaurants, car dealerships, and yes, gun stores.

    When I was relatively new to guns and shooting, I did have an unfortunate racial incident at a gun store, and have never been back to that f-ing place.

  • http://www.cemeterycas.wordpress.com Cemetery's Gun

    That's lame if he gave you hard time about not knowing when he'd be able to get that rifle for you. When I've inquired, the shopkeep's told me to check back in a few days. I'd say to shop around and try to find it at another shop.

    The first time I was in a gun shop, I got hassled, stopped going to them, but recently moved all my biz back to them, since I've had very pleasant conversations with the owner and his daughter, plus I learned the person who gave me a hard time is no longer at that shop.

    BasinBictory:

    Real bummer to hear you had a racial incident at a gun shop, my experience has shown guns to be an equalizer. Shops and shows have shown themselves to be the place for people to get their gunnutty freak on, and I've never noticed anybody, or heard of anybody getting hassled due to race or ethnicity. It's always been about bangs, booms, and smoke. Lot's of smoke if you're a black powder shooter.

  • BasinBictory

    ^ Yeah – I don't know why, but for some reason this guy behind the counter just came on really gruff and unfriendly. I can't even recall the particulars of our exchange, except that he didn't call me any racist epithets or anything, but did allude to me "looking like a terrorist." LOL – mind you, this was a few years BEFORE 9/11, and FWIW, I'm Asian, not Middle-Eastern, so I don't quite know where he was coming from.

    Anyway – fortunately that was, so far, the ONLY unpleasant incident I've had in my experience in the shooting sports, and the many, many, many positive and fun and enlightening experiences I've had far outweigh what this one bigot had against me.

    I've had great gun discussions from people ranging everywhere from an elderly white guy who was obviously extremely wealthy (this guy had a .460 Weatherby rifle he was sighting in – and used about 50 rounds to do it with) who talked about his African safaris that he had done, all the way to younger guys who just got their first gun (usually a Big 5 special) and wanted to break into the shooting sports. I remember once young man in particular who said he wanted to practice marksmanship because he planned on enlisting in the Marines. This was a few years ago, and I wonder where that young guy is now…

  • http://www.sharpdesigns.com Dan Sharp

    Bummer that you had this kind of frustrating experience. However, I'd strongly suggest writing a letter to the owner of the store. Boycotting a store simply by not shopping there is probably not very effective, unless you (a) rally lots of people to also boycott it or (b) communicate to the store owner(s) why they lost your business.

    So boycott away… but let them know why you are.

    Sez me…

    -Dan

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    Very true, Dan. I wrote a 1 page letter to the store, and mailed it out this morning.

  • Lynda

    Glad that you mailed your letter re the questionable service at B&B Shooting Supplies in Bettendorf, IA. Poor service means lack of return business and rightly so; but the store owner must be told, either verbally or via written complaint, so he may improve or risk losing more business when word gets around that he is uncooperative and inconsiderate. All of life is about choices. The choice he made will lose him business unless he makes changes. There simply is no excuse for lack of respect for a customer.

    I wonder if he knows you have a website.

    Please keep us posted re any response you receive or whether they ignore your complaint.

  • Kevin

    Unfortunately I have had a terrible experience at any store that specifically sells firearms, except for Shooting Sports Unlimited in Moline, IL(* I just got into recreational shooting so this is limited to only 4 or 5 stores). Mega Sports near Plainfield was very rude when I asked any questions that weren't "sell me this." I am almost glad I retain legal residence in IL to find this particular store, because the few stores I've been to in IA were run by very trashy-looking elitists that seemed more interested in talking to their friends in the store than sell me ammunition or answer questions. I'd much rather drive an hour to go to a decent store with good customer service.

  • Steve

    Out where I live (PA), not every store does transfers. The first one I decided to use really made my life difficult and they clearly were fairly annoyed (even though they do a fair number of them). Ultimately it got completed, but it was enough of an unpleasant experience that, like you, I've started to avoid the store. I agree with some of the other comments, that perhaps this is a bit "passive aggressive" and doesn't really let the store know why you are no longer a customer.

    On a somewhat related note, I found my first used gun buying experience (related to the above) to be generally disappointing. The only other person I've talked with about used guns had a similar opinion. If you'd ever like to comment on pros and cons, I've love to here your thoughts (perhaps even a forum for discussion)

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    Steve,

    To be clear, I mailed a letter to the store explaining in great detail why they lost my business.

    My opinions on used guns are mixed, and I agree that would be a good topic of discussion…

  • Anders

    I have found that most gun stores, in my area, are not run by businessmen, but by shooters.

    They may not know how to run a business, but they know a lot about guns.

    Sorry to hear about the bad experience with used guns. My first three guns where secondhand, my favorite thing to do at gun shows is to look for used guns. If you know what to look for and how to fix small things on a gun, there are great deals to be had.

    Used guns discussion should be part of Learn About Guns, it is a great way to save money.

  • http://www.conservativescalawag.blogspot.com Michael

    I have had similar incidents with gun stores in my area too, where they treat me like a market and not a customer.

    And do want to know what has worked for me, someething I like to call capitalism. It is where I take my money someplace else.

    I don't boycott or show my butt, I just walk out of the store and spend my money where I am appreciated and treated like a customer.

  • B&B Shooting Sup

    In response to the above statements. From the retailer. It is our policy not to transfer ANY guns that we sell out of this store. If I were to let you transfer a gun in. Then when you posted your letter on your web site, I would have to let all the other people transfer there guns to our store. Which would result in us not being in business very long. Would you walk into Best Buy and tell them you want to have a TV shipped over from Bob's online TV sales because they had it in stock. I can tell you they would laugh at you.

    As for when you were in the store asking about the 10/22 you were told that we did not have that gun in stock at that time. And we checked our distributors web site and found out that they didn't have any in stock either. You were also told that if you wanted to back order the gun that we could do that and you would be called as soon as the 10/22 came in. As for us telling you that we had no idea when it would be in stock, There is no way for us to know when Ruger would ship the gun you wanted to our distributor and how many they had on back order before they would get us one. We also told you that we always try to have that gun in stock and that we had them ordered. We just didn't have a time frame for the shipment.

    As for you offering to Pay a large transfer fee to have it shipped in from some other place: I as a business owner and a gun enthusiast I can not under stand why some one would want to pay 150.00 over the tag price for a 10/22. we charge only 25 dollars for a transfer fee, then you would have shipping costs which online they would gouge you. Then you would pay the other shops transfer fee. any where from 25 to 75 dollars. I just don't feel right doing that to some one.

    I am sorry that you feel you were wronged at our store. But you need to look at it from the other side too. We strive very hard to work with every one and keep cost down. But giving sales away to the internet helps no one in the long run.

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    B&B:

    I don’t think the TV analogy works, since I can easily buy a TV and have it shipped to my front door. Guns are different, since ordinary (non-FFL holding) citizens have to go through an FFL. If Best Buy didn’t have a TV and couldn’t get it, I could go to Amazon.com Buy.com, Ebay.com, etc. But with guns, unless I can find an FFL that sells the gun or will perform the transfer, I’m essentially without the ability to buy the gun.

    You see to be missing why I am so displeased with your decision to deny the transfer. Allow me to explain again: I tried my very best to buy the gun from you, but you didn’t have it in stock, and you couldn’t give me an estimate as to when you would be able to get it. I wanted that gun then, not at some time in the future that couldn’t be determined. By refusing the transfer, you effectively prevented me from getting the gun that I wanted, which doesn’t make me a happy customer at all. It is especially insulting that you value that tiny profit you would make on a $250 rifle over the happiness of a customer who just spent over $2,000 at your store, including the purchase of a RRA AR-15. Also, note I *chose* to buy the AR-15 from you, even though I could have bought it online for less. But when I bought that AR-15 a couple months ago, I liked your store, and wanted to give you my money. Believe it or not, I (like many gun owners) care more about getting the guns I want, when I want them, and from a store that I like, than I care about the price. When I bought my first Springfield XD pistol, I paid $50 more to buy it from my favorite Chicago area gun store instead from my least favorite gun store in that area. I liked the store , and wanted to see it do well for years to come, so I gladly gave them my money. The idea that performing a transfer of a gun that you didn’t even have would drive away business is just not accurate. Instead, what drives business away is making customers feel negatively towards you.

    Regarding the “hefty transfer fee” I would have been much less displeased had you said that you would do the transfer for some high fee (like the $150 that some Chicago gun store charge). Why? I appreciate having options. Even if an option isn’t objectively practical, I still enjoy having it. I would rather have the choice of paying a high fee for a transfer than being without the option to buy the gun. The reason I wanted this gun was that I had a friend coming in to town, who was not a gun owner. I wanted to have a low recoiling gun that I could teach my friend to shoot with, that didn’t have a scope mounted to it. My current 10/22 has a scope, and I don’t want to take it off, since it was a pain to get mounted securely and sighted in (long story of broken rings, stripped screws, a mis-tapped receiver, etc). So yes, having that gun within a week of when I wanted it might very well have been worth a high transfer fee to me -and it should have been my decision to make as a customer. The same is true when it comes to the shipping costs (which are actually free from budsgunshop.com, negating your argument in that respect). When I walk into a store, I’m looking to complete a transaction – not to have the retailer counsel me as to their thoughts on the fiscal wisdom of my purchase.

    Had you performed the transfer, I would have continued to shop with you for years to come, buying guns from you (when you had them or could at least get them in a timely fashion) and gun accessories. However since you refused to perform the transfer, I’ve taken my local gun buying business to Square Shooters. I also spent about 2 hours of time finding a local FFL who will do transfers for $10 (a post about that will come in the next week or so, after my first order with them is completed. spoiler: I bought a $1,500 break open trapshooting gun – a Browning BT-99 – that I would have gladly bought from you, had you not refused the transfer of the $250 Ruger 10/22 I wanted.) In fact, had you performed the transfer, I would have never even found this FFL. Instead, you didn’t get the profit on that $250 rifle, nor did you get a transfer fee. You also lost out on thousands of dollars of business from a gun owner who just finished law school and has more disposable income than he has ever had in his life. Like I said in my letter, I’m not businessman, but I really fail to see how denying my transfer (or the transfers of other similarly situated people) has helped our your bottom line – especially when you could charge a transfer fee sufficient to more than make up for any lost profit.

    One other thing that I would like to note: I appreciate that you took the time to reply to the letter that I sent you, and to reply on my website. While I am still dissatisfied with your store and won’t shop there again, I do appreciate your effort to explain your decision (although I still think that decision is wrong for your business as well as inconsiderate to your customers.) Anyway, I hope this clarifies my position further. If not, then I invite you to read the post that will come out in the next week about my experience dealing with the local FFL for the transfer of the BT-99 that I bought online. I’ll recap those arguments, and do it when I haven’t been at work for 11 hours and awake for 22, unlike today. In the end, I find it unfortunate that we’re at this impasse. I’m a gun enthusiast, and don’t like the fact that the gun store closest to my house is one that I won’t be shopping at again. Nor do I like the amount of time that I’ve spent dealing with this issue, since I would have rather spent it writing pro gun rights articles. But I also don’t appreciate poor customer service…

  • http://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    As promised, the post about my use of a local FFL to purchase a trapshooting shotgun: http://www.learnaboutguns.com/2009/09/04/the-solu

  • ChrisCP

    I just found your website today through a google search for BB guns, of all things. That's my fun gun–a BB gun. My EDC is a .380 (I've seen all the arguments on gun sites that go, "I won't carry anything smaller than a…" followed by 9mm, .40, .45, rocket launcher, etc.) that I haven't had to use in the four years I've carried it.

    I'm working my way through your website and really enjoying it. This entry is especially fascinating as it seems the owner of the gun store does not appear to understand how his business practices can/have hurt his business more than any amount of transfers could. I've never done it, but my father's had a few guns transferred through a local hunting/gun store that doesn't seem to have any trouble staying in business.

    Maybe the owner of B&B should talk to the owners of other gun stores that are doing well in spite of doing transfers.

  • JoGusto

    Hey Eric,

    I agree completely with your irritation at the store who would not do the transfer. I have three dealers in my area. One sells long guns and handguns, and couldn't care less where the gun comes from. They charge $75 on top of the state fees for handling the transfer, and they're happy to get the business. One dealer won't even do private party transfers, which are mandated by California Penal Code to be offered by all licensed dealers. I reported them to the Calif DOJ who gave them a good talking-to. The third dealer sounds exactly like B&B…. they have a bunch of consignment used guns, sell a few Benelli and Glock items new, and really don't want to handle a transfer for something they can "try to order for you" themselves. Well, I think you can guess where my orders from Buds Gun Shop end up going! Even with the higher transfer fees, my online orders beat their retail price every time, but they really just don't care. Stuff is flying off the shelves anyway!

  • Gallstones

    I have done three transfers through the same pawn shop. They were very professional and I tried to facilitate the transfer as much as I could (UPS tracking info etc). They only charged me $10 per. A pawn shop is in the business to sell lots of things and doing firearm transfers is providing a service for a fee where no sale need occur. I started with them via word of mouth.