Friday, August 5, 2011

Better Business Bureau: online zombie-killer rifles and silencers slow to come

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM

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Whether you're stockpiling to protect yourself and your loved ones from the coming zombie apocalypse or merely enjoy causing heartburn among your Obamaton friends after a dinner party by trotting out your growing collection of flat-black marksman rifles for an unprompted show-and-tell, online gun purchases can be a risky business. Your Better Business Bureau wants you to know that 1. it supports your Fourth Amendment right to all the cutting-edge firepower you can muster, and 2. some custom gun makers are running a little behind schedule filling those silencer requests.

As Surefire boasts on their website: Sound suppressors are an indispensible add-on, by "concealing shooter's position; reduce or virtually eliminate muzzle flash and dust signatures, concealing shooter's position, preserving night vision and unobstructed view; reduce recoil, improving bullet impact observation and allowing faster follow-up shots."

Concealing your favorite sniping spot was so important, they listed it twice.

A press release from the BBB received by the Current today:

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Better Business Bureau advises consumers to do their research before making expensive gun and shooting purchases online. One Coastal Bend area company earned an F rating from BBB and left a string of frustrated customers who paid in full for their products but never received them. Mike's Gun Sales & Service is an Aransas Pass, Texas, company offering rifles, suppressors and shooting accessories for sale to consumers nationwide on its website, www.jetsuppressors.com. The company claims to specialize in building custom precision rifles. Consumers allege they paid an average of $1,500 to this company in advance, some as much $3,900. Unfortunately, some consumers have contacted BBB after their gun or gun related products were not delivered in the expected timeframe, if at all. Corpus Christi resident Richard Epstein told BBB it’s been a year since he paid Mike’s Gun Sales & Service $1,300 and he still has nothing to show for it. Initially the company tried to blame the lag on paperwork required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for approval of the application. “[The company] says it could be up to 13 months for the government to handle the paperwork,” Epstein said. However, he told BBB that when he contacted government officials to confirm, they estimated the process should take only three months. Additionally, Epstein was told he could verify whether the paperwork had even been filed if he got a serial number. In his last phone call with the company, he asked for that serial number, but never received it. Nearly 11 months after paying his money, Epstein filed a complaint with BBB. Unfortunately, Mike's Gun Sales & Service did not respond, and he still has received “no refund and no product,” he said. He’s not alone. BBB has received five complaints in the last 12 months from consumers who allege this company failed to deliver products when promised, the company has not responded to any of those complaints. Based on recent complaints, BBB requested that Mike’s Gun Sales & Service provide an explanation of the cause of the disputes as well a statement explaining what action the company would take to address consumer complaints and prevent them from arising. BBB contacted the company again on June 1, after receiving another consumer complaint alleging the same concerns. Once again, the company did not respond. Epstein found Mike’s Gun Sales & Service online while searching for shooting and marksmanship products. He admits he did not do enough research before agreeing to work with the company. If he had, he said, he would have seen BBB’s F rating and read the numerous negative reviews. To help consumers avoid paying hundreds of dollars to online dealers for firearms or related products they may never receive, BBB offers the following tips: - Federal laws should be followed. If the gun must be shipped, then it must be shipped to a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder. Before a gun is released to the buyer, the FFL holder will often charge a small fee for required background checks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a full list of restrictions on its website. - Review the return, refund, shipping and handling policies. If you can’t find them, ask the seller to provide them to you in writing. - Use a credit card. If you have an unauthorized charge on your credit card, under federal law your liability is limited to $50. In fact, some credit card issuers and website operators say that under certain circumstances they will even pay this amount for consumers. In addition, some credit card issuers grant extended warranties or other advantages for purchases made with the card. - Print the terms. Date and have a copy of terms, conditions, warranties, item description, company information and confirming emails and save them with all records of the purchase. To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB.org.

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