Thursday, October 05, 2006

Customer Service in the Gun Accessories Business

Does it exist? Ummmm.

Anyone reading my blog/journal of my shooting experiences will note that I've bought/traded into a few guns since retiring and that I've gotten some accessories for them. Recently, I've acquired two revolvers, a S&W M34-1 and a Colt Detective Special. Both guns required product support of one kind or another.

One product I "required" was a Tyler-T grip adapter. I had already ordered one, via mail, for my M36 3" (it has yet to arrive 6 weeks later) and had heard that they were having a problem getting the anodization done and the products were delayed. I called in an order (and finally got somebody on the phone) for a polished Tyler-T which arrived within a week! While they deny it, apparently they ARE having a problem getting their anodization done. Let me ask you, is this company giving good customer service? On the one hand they CAN ship a part quickly. On the other hand they can't be truthful about supply of some parts (anodized in this instance) and won't change the order...

The other products required were grips for the 34-1. S&W factory "banana" grips ordered via internet from CDNN arrived within a week. Grips purchased on eBay from an unknown to me seller likewise arrived within the week. I think that this is good customer service which I think is characterized, in part, by rapid accurate shipping of purchased items.

Then I got the Detective Special. Those ugly Pachmayr Compacs have their place but in this case they have to go! Unfortunately, a detailed search for vendors of factory or factory like minimalist grips turned up very little. This may be a case of having to have it custom made despite the large numbers of these guns which were produced. I asked, on several forums and among friends, for recommendations. Now we're talking mixed results! For any given vendor there is no unanimous opinion. All sellers will elicit a range of response.

This can't be good. It doesn't help the sellers/vendors distinguish themselves from their competition, it doesn't help the buyer make a choice and it certainly doesn't engender any confidence on the part of the buyer. I know that I delayed my purchase order because of those conflicting reports.

Finally, I submitted an order for grips to 2 sources. Gun Parts Corporation got an order for an Agent grip which appears to be correct for my grip frame. Also getting an order was Ajax Custom Grips. Now, due to some strongly conflicting reports I'm on pins and needles waiting to see what I'll get. Ajax has been raked over the coals in some forums. I've got my fingers crossed! Note that I've received a backorder notice from Ajax for a 2-3 week wait.

NOTE: I also found that Eagle Grips makes a series called Regular and will do these in Rosewood or Ebony and checker them for $20 extra. Perhaps this is where I'll end up...

Now these are my current and on-going experiences but one reads, in various forums, of the experiences of others. Most of the time the firearms related companies give excellent customer service. Sometimes they seem to have failed but we later discover that the customer was doing something they shouldn't or not doing something they should. Sometimes we find that clearly a particular company is making every attempt to defraud the customer and the small business that does this goes out of business shortly thereafter. I don't think that is the case with either company named, but such business practices are at the very least irritating.

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