In my opinion, we live in the greatest country on earth. One of the greatest things about it is that its economy is a capitalist one. That means, among other things, companies are largely free to be managed however their management sees fit. An even greater thing, however, about this country is that we all have the right to free speech. So in a democracy, if I feel that a company is being managed poorly and it results in a negative customer experience, I have the right to tell anyone and everyone about it so that they can avoid the same headache.
As I tell my story here, then, please take heed and consider it the next time you are shopping for ammunition and other hunting/shooting supplies.
Up front, I would like to apologize to anyone who, like me, browses numerous forums. I’ve posted this lots of places, so I apologize that for many of you, it will be redundant.
Due to uncertainty over the results of the recent election, I decided to stock up on ammo. By “stock up,” I mean to buy enough for a couple of years. That would be no small feat, as there are weeks in which I go through 1,000 rounds. So my plan was to set aside as much as possible from each paycheck for 6-8 months, and order as many good deals as possible each month. About month two (October), I placed a small ($300 or $400) order at Sportsman’s Guide (www.sportsmansguide.com
). I noticed their “Buyer’s Club” at that time. For $30, you save 5% on ammo and 10% on everything else; for a whole year. Since it wouldn’t have saved me any money on that order, I didn’t join. After my order, I got an e-mail offering to credit me what I would have saved on that order towards purchasing a membership. This e-mail mentioned nothing about any limitations of the discount during that year.
A month later (November), it was time to place another order; this time, a large one. I decided to accept Sportsman’s Guide’s offer and join their Buyer’s Club. Knowing that I was going to order large quantities of ammunition, I knew that my $30 would pay off several times over the next year. It’s important to note that I thoroughly reviewed the Buyer’s Club page on their website (http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/club/ClubTour.aspx?
) and saw nothing to indicate that I wouldn’t be able to use this discount for a whole year or that there were any limitations to it. I ordered a Buyer’s Club membership and then placed the larger order on which I received the discount to which I was entitled.
A few days later, I received a Buyer’s Club membership package in the mail. Once again, there was nothing in it indicating any limitations to the discount. Again, 5% on ammo, 10% on everything else, for a year.
December rolled around, and my ammo buying was in full swing. I gathered up another batch of stuff I wanted to order from Sportsman’s Guide, placed the order using my Buyer’s Club number, and thought all was well. When I came in from hunting at about 6:30 PM the next day (Friday), there was a message on my answering machine from Sportsman’s Guide asking me to call them back. This was not unexpected. On the previous two orders, I had to pay extra shipping for heavy/bulky items. The customer service representative gave me the shipping amount, which was reasonable. Then, however, she told me that my Buyer’s Club membership had been cancelled because “upper management” reviewed my order and determined that I was a commercial customer. Hence, I would receive no discount for which I had paid on the current order or on future ones. I was dumbfounded. I asked to speak to someone in “upper management,” but they had gone home for the day. So I left a voicemail for a Ted, asking for a return call on Monday.
Ted called me back Monday, but I was temporarily unavailable. I called back later, and Ted was not available. I spoke to someone else who assured me that she was in the same position as Ted (I did not ask her name). I asked her to explain the policy to me. She only stated – several times – that because of the quantity of items I ordered, I was a commercial customer. I clarified that I am not an ammo dealer of some sort – I’m a CPA – but that didn’t matter. It was solely based on the quantity. I asked what criteria qualify someone as a commercial customer, but she said it varies. She wouldn’t tell me a certain number of rounds or dollar amount or anything that triggers it. I pointed out that it was not on the webpage that explained the Buyer’s Club, and she pointed me to a small, out-of-the-way section of the shipping and handling page (http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/main/shipping.aspx?
) of the website. Sure enough, in small print, there it was: “Large quantity orders may be considered commercial account orders, which would not be eligible for the Buyer's Club discount, and may require additional shipping charges.” So I pointed out what seemed obvious: that the Buyer’s Club is an advertising gimmick to draw in customers, but if someone attempts to actually use it and save some real money with it, Sportsman’s Guide pulls the plug on it. She disagreed, stating again that the policy is that ordering a large quantity of items permanently tags someone as a commercial customer ineligible for the Buyer’s Club discount for which they have paid.
So what was a guy to do? I told her to go ahead with this order but that they had lost a customer in the future. I asked to speak to someone in their complaint department, but there is no such thing. She assured me that she entered my concerns in her computer and that someone in “upper management” would review them. So I assured her that I would do all I could to make other folks aware of my concerns so that they wouldn’t have to endure the same deceit that I have from Sportsman’s Guide.
I say deceit, because I’m not the only one who has been through this ordeal. Since my experience last Friday, I have searched for and found similar complaints. See:
In addition, I checked them out on the Better Business Bureau’s website (http://minnesota.app.bbb.org/report/8634
) and as you can see if you follow that link, they have had numerous complaints filed against them in the last 36 months and that the BBB rates them as an unsatisfactory business. I’ve filed another one against them.
In conclusion, one more great aspect of participating in a capitalist economy is that, as consumers, we’re ultimately in charge. As I told Sportsman’s Guide, they have lost my business. They’ve caused me to do two things I never have before: file a BBB complaint, and get on every gun forum I know of and post this description of the experience I had with their Buyer’s Club. I hope that people will hear the complaints of myself and others who have been deceived by their marketing practices surrounding the scam that is their Buyer’s Club and will avoid the same headaches. Eventually, they might lose a noticeable amount of business; and hopefully, change their practices to more honest and ethical ones.