Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lancaster Arms: 28 Better Business Bureau complaints, and growing...

As mentioned previously on this blog, these days, whenever someone inquires about Lancaster Arms on virtually any Internet gun forum, the answers that person receives are uniformly the same: "Stay away from Lancaster!"; "Crap quality, and crap customer service"; "I don't know how these clowns stay in business!"; "They've pissed off a LOT of people!"; "I ordered a Draco from them, was told upon ordering that I'd get it in three weeks, and I still haven't received it over a year later!" (By the way, as unbelievable as it sounds, that issue with the Draco is a 100% true story!)

And occasionally, someone will chime in and say something like, "Is Lancaster really that bad? Their rifles look nice." Or, "I bought a Lancaster three years ago, and it's been a great gun."

But when you look at the Better Business Bureau ("BBB") site for Arizona, and notice Lancaster Arms' "F" rating and the 28 complaints filed against this small company, you begin to realize that "something smells rotten in Denmark". (With my sincere apologies to Shakespeare for quoting him in this context.)

To put this in perspective, look at Century Arms; the largest seller (by far) of AK rifles in America, and a prime competitor of Lancaster. Because Century sells many, many more AK rifles than Lancaster, you might think their BBB rating would be questionable too, right? Wrong. Century Arms has had exactly one - that's right, one - complaint filed against them in the last three years. And even that complaint was "resolved" according to the BBB. So when Lancaster, a much smaller company than Century, comes along and earns 28 BBB complaints during that same time frame, well...you'd have to agree that something appears to be terribly, terribly wrong with Lancaster Arms.

Moreover, realize that filing a complaint with the BBB is often a "last resort" for disgruntled consumers. For every person who actually goes through the process of filing a BBB complaint against a business, there are probably at least 5 to 10 others who had a problem with the company, but didn't take it as far as filing a formal complaint with the BBB. In other words, it is very likely that the 28 filed complaints on Lancaster represents potentially hundreds of other people who have had problems with this company. No wonder seemingly nobody has anything good to say about Lancaster Arms.

Look, I realize that any company can mess-up, and have a disgruntled person or two file a complaint. Simply having one or two BBB complaints filed against you, doesn't necessarily mean anything is fundamentally wrong with your business. But I gotta tell ya...when 28 separate people feel like they have to file a formal complaint against you because you have wronged them, that pretty much proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the company in question is fundamentally untrustworthy, unreliable and stupendously incompetent. And that's putting it nicely! (And keep in mind, we're just talking about BBB complaints here. The Arizona Attorney General's Office has also been contacted about Lancaster Arms, and more than once I'm afraid.)

So, if you've been considering buying a Lancaster Arms firearm, or doing any business with them at all, you'd be well-served to think long and hard about whether that's really a good idea. With Lancaster, too many people have learned the hard way that it's never a good idea to do business with someone who has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted! And don't think ,"Well, I'll purchase it through another dealer, and that way Lancaster won't feel like they can sit on my money for months on end like they have with so many retail customers." Wrong. Lancaster has been known to treat its dealers as poorly as it has treated its retail customers, which is precisely why some of Lancaster's dealers (or rather, "ex-dealers") are now refusing to carry Lancaster's products anymore.

All that said, if you are new to this blog...welcome. Read all of the 25 or so posts here from the last year and several months. If you do, you will understand why this blog exist, and why Lancaster Arms has completely, utterly destroyed its own reputation over the last 18 months. It's shocking that this company hasn't either gone bankrupt, or been sued out of existence yet. Yet...

12 comments:

  1. One thing that you did not point out is that most of the BBB complaints are unresolved. Most of the time Lancaster never even bothers to respond to the complaint.

    Understand that the BBB is really toothless. They will contact Lancaster on your behalf, but if Lancaster just blows them off there isn't much else they can do. But it doesn't hurt to file a complaint anyway.

    Likewise, file a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission. Both can be done online.

    And when all else fails, contact the Goodyear, AZ, Police Department.

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  2. Good point, BW3249. And you are correct...of the 28 complaints filed, 24 have not been resolved, and for the reason you cite: Lancaster just doesn't care.

    I'm not certain why anyone would want to do business with a company that doesn't even care enough about its reputation to respond to formal complaints filed against it. But this speaks to just how clueless Chet Durda (the owner of Lancaster) really is. He seemingly has no idea that we live in a "reputation economy", where your reputation means everything. Chet Durda almost serves as a case study in how NOT to manage your company's public image. It's hard for me to even fathom how someone could be so out of touch with the marketplace they purport to serve.

    And you're right...while the BBB is toothless, it is important that people file complaints anyway. After all, those complaints do serve a couple important purposes. First, they inform consumers that they will want to steer clear of Lancaster. And second, when the Arizona AG's office or other officials investigate Lancaster (as I'm sure they will, if they're not already doing so), the sheer volume of BBB complaints against Lancaster will serve as powerful evidence that it isn't just a couple loud people complaining about Lancaster. Rather, Lancaster's mistreatment of customers really does seem to be widespread and pervasive.

    I have a feeling things will come to a head with Lancaster in 2011. Either law enforcement will start looking at their operation given the number of complaints filed with various government entities, or the marketplace itself will conclude that Lancaster has no legitimate place in this industry.

    Of course, all of this could have been avoided if Chet Durda simply cared. But he doesn't. The guy is fundamentally incapable of acting in a respectable and ethical manner. He just doesn't have it in him. You know things are bad when your fellow gun manufacturers - who are usually cordial with each other - actually publicly call you out as a "liar, thief and a con man". And those aren't even the worst things I've heard said about Chet!

    Like many others, I remain astonished that Lancaster is still in business. Since what they're doing simply isn't sustainable, it'll be interesting to see how long it takes before they are forced to close shop.

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  3. Well i am one of the customers that have been waiting for well over a year and half and i just got back from their shop demanding a refund or rifle. Well shop was closed and it looked like total crap inside like they were closed down. I think they are going out of business. One of the workers pulled up and he couldn't do anything about it and he gave me a runaround talking about how ATF halted all their sales due to the Tucson shooting. I told him I've been waiting and have been ignored by your company before the ATF got on their case. He didn't seem to give a shit. He claims they are moving to another bigger and better shop. Also claims thy could only get 4140 from Chicago and no where else in the southwest or west coast and that's what preventing them from making rifles. ITS CLEAR CHET IS LYING ABOUT "MILITARY ORDERS"!! I'm taking legal action. I'm so sick of this company.

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  4. Well I was dumb enough to order 3 rifles from this company late last year. I should have checked them out more. Its been 4 months now and all I hear are excuses. I went ahead and called the dealers that Lancaster lists on their website to see if they are having any luck getting rifles from them. It looks like they placed orders about the same timeframe as me and are also waiting to get their guns. Atlantic Firearms told me that they stopped carrying their guns because of the crappy service.

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  5. Sorry Anon 5:29. It sounds like you've been "Durda'd".

    Yes, when you call Lancaster to ask where the rifle is that was supposed to have arrived months ago, Chet or his toady Shane will reach into their big bag of excuses and pull one out. What they'll never tell you, is the simple truth. It's as if they're physiologically incapable of telling the truth. They are "pathological liars" in the literal sense of the phrase.

    At this point, you should start the process to get your money back. According to another recent poster on this blog, Lancaster may not even be making guns at the moment. This poster claims that he showed up on Lancaster's door step about two weeks ago, and was met by a Lancaster employee who claimed that the ATF had temporarily halted their production line.

    Although I have no idea if this particular excuse is actually true (frankly, it sounds like yet another Chet Durda lie), I have no problem believing that Lancaster may not be producing rifles right now. Of course, if that's the case, Chet wouldn't tell you. He would just keep piling on with the excuses, to see how long he can keep playing you. Trust me, I know from personal experience that he will sit on your money for as long as you let him.

    Hopefully you paid with a credit card. If so, do a chargeback. Immediately. If you made the extremely poor choice to send a money order or check to Lancaster, then contact the Better Business Bureau, the Goodyear Police Dept., and the Arizona Attorney General's office. That's the only way you'll get your money back. Guaranteed. Chet Durda does not understand "Refund my money immediately." He has to be forced to do so, and that means contacting law enforcement. It's almost unbelievable that a guy could be SO dishonest and shady, and yet...he is.

    As for Atlantic Firearms, if they placed an order around the same time as you, then that means Atlantic lied to me. I say this because in mid-November I asked Atlantic Firearms myself whether or not they still had a business relationship with Lancaster. They gave me a suspiciously evasive non-answer and claimed that they hadn't placed on order with Lancaster since last June. So if what they told you was accurate (that they placed an order around the same time as you, four months ago), that would have to mean Atlantic Firearms was lying to me when they said they hadn't placed an order since June.

    Also, if Atlantic had truly severed ties with Lancaster, I would find it hard to believe that Durda would have updated his website just two weeks ago listing them as a stocking dealer. What would Durda gain by listing a "stocking dealer", that doesn't actually stock his products? That makes no sense. And if Atlantic was truly not a stocking dealer because of Lancaster's crappy service, then why would they not call Lancaster and demand that their name be removed from Lancaster's website? That doesn't make any sense either.

    As always seems to happen when Lancaster is involved, things just don't add up.

    Regardless, good luck getting your money back! If I can give you two pieces of advice, that advice would be: (1.) Get your money back IMMEDIATELY, and don't hesitate to call law enforcement to do so, and (2.) Don't believe a single word that comes out of Durda's mouth. He will tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear.

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  6. Ex-Lancaster Customer, let me clarify a bit. Atlantic did not say that they placed orders with them. Atlantic told me that they stopped dealing with them completely. Some of the other dealers listen on his site told me they had guns on order with him. One dealer told me he ordered $60,000 worth of guns from Lancaster. It took lancaster 4 years to get that order filled. Another dealer told me he has 3 guns on order from Lancaster. He placed the order on Oct 24th 2010 with them. I unfortunately fell for the "send me a certified check ASAP and you can have the guns in 8-10 days" trap. I did get the story from Chet that the ATF shut him down for a week because of the Tucson shooting while they count all his guns. Who knows if its true. I wonder if the ATF field office in Phoenix would tell me if they did visit them. In any case I will be calling him ASAP to get my money back. What are my chances of getting money out of him?

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  7. Thanks for the clarification.

    Although, I still find it odd that Atlantic wouldn't pick up the phone and say to Lancaster, "Please take us off your dealer list." I run a business myself, and if a shady vendor had me listed on their website when in fact I wasn't doing business with them, I would be calling them every hour on the hour until they removed my name. My reputation is too important to my business to allow an unscupulous outfit to co-opt my name. You'd think they would be concerned about this.

    Regardless, as for the ATF, I don't see what the Tuscon shooting has to do with ATF needing to count Lancaster's guns. I do know that as part of "Project Gunrunner", ATF is cracking down on gun dealers in SW border states and paying closer attention to their inventories. Perhaps that's what Durda was referring to.

    Durda also told another guy that there were delays because he couldn't get 4140 steel anywhere in the SW. Which also sounds like "BS". Whatever the reason, Lancaster ALWAYS has some kind of excuse, and those excuses never seem to implicate Lancaster itself in the delays.

    With regard to your money, after waiting 4 months for rifles that were supposed to be there in 8-10 days, I wouldn't even bother asking for a refund. You'll just get "The check is in the mail", but you won't ever get the check.

    You have a few options. First, if you sent the check via the Post Office, file a complaint with the Postal Inspectors. What Lancaster has done to you is otherwise known as "mail fraud", and trust me...they WILL investigate.

    If you used FedEx or other courier, you can call their fraud center and see if they can help. They probably won't be able to, but it's worth a shot. Same thing with the bank that issued the check. BTW, now you understand why Lancaster no longer takes credit cards. ;)

    If all that fails, call the Goodyear Police Department and report the theft of your money. Before doing that, you'll need to give Durda a heads-up, as the police will want to ensure you've asked for your money first. Another customer told Durda he was going to go this route if a check wasn't issued within a few days, and apparently Durda told him in a menacing tone to go ahead and file the complaint immediately. Yeah, Durda has quite some gall to rip people off and THEN also give them attitude when they call him on it.

    Whatever you do, be proactive. Durda hopes to wear people out or to stall them for as long as he can. He hopes that most people will just give up on trying to get their money back.

    Stay on him like white on rice. Don't trust a single word he says. Let me repeat that: DON'T TRUST A SINGLE WORD HE SAYS. He will tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear, including "the check is in the mail." He will keep doing this for as long as you let him. It is an unfortunate reality that in many cases, you will eventually need to involve law enforcement to get your money back.

    And DO get your money back. I just don't understand why anyone would even want to buy a rifle from a guy like this. If he runs his business in such an unethical manner, with seemingly no care about customers whatsoever, what makes you think he's going to care whether or not the guns he builds are of good quality? Obviously, he isn't concerned about his reputation. If I owned a Lancaster gun built in the last two years, I would forever wonder what kind of short cuts were taken in building that gun.

    Let us know how it turns out.

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  8. DeltaElite lmt_7816@msn.comMarch 4, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Hi Guys, My story is the previous article. I DID get my money back. However, I still want to help everyone else. The Goodyear Police Dept. is finally starting to coordinate and compile all these complaints. I just spoke to a Cmdr. there and again related my story, told him of THIS website, and told him of the AZ Attorney General's ongoing suit. He also was contacting BATFE. If you haven't gotten your money back, this is how to do it:
    1. Tell Chet or Shane to refund your money within 48 Hours.
    Assuming your refund never arrives:
    2. File a BBB Complaint (This is for record purposes only. Chet will not respond to it. Do it, though, it helps your case.)
    3. File a complaint online with the AZ Attorney General's website or call them. They have an ACTIVE Lancaster Arms file.
    4. Call the Goodyear, AZ Police department and ask to speak to a detective regarding Lancaster Arms.
    5. If you sent your payment through US Postal Service (Including Express or Priority), file a complaint with the Postmaster General online or at your Post Office.

    The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they DO grind. It took me months to get my money, but I DID get it. If you follow these steps, you will stand a much better chance of getting your money back sooner. Email me for questions; I'll respond from another email. lmt_7816@msn.com

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  9. Lordy Lordy!

    Well, it would seem that ol' Chester has done it to me too. However, what comes around goes around. Ordered a couple of AK-74 receivers from this little weasel back in January (Jan 05, 2011) and like all of you, nada, zilch, ZERO. Therefore, after having read (too late) the complaints about this clown, I've decided to not wait YEARS to take action. I've filed a complaint with the AZ AG's office this morning and another with the BBB of Western Arizona. Yeah, the BBB are about worthless, but what the hell- they are a place to look for complaints. Next up, the Goodyear Police will be getting a call from me, as well as the IG at the Post Office. Yes, I kept ALL RECORDS of my transaction, receipts, dates, emails, etc. After that, I'll be checking in with the FBI Internet Fraud Division, as well as talking to the folks over at BATF. I'm pissed and I want freakin' payback. Plain and simple. This guy is a scumbag and he needs to be rotting in jail for fraud.

    Do you understand what 'Rump Ranger' will mean to you Dear Ol' Chet?


    Plain Brown Paper Bag

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  10. I Finally got my AK-74s from Lancaster. The packing was not what I was promised but at least I got the guns. I ordered 3 guns from Lancaster. Here is what I see so far: At first glance the guns look very good. Two guns cycle good, one gun has a small issue with the bolt carrier hanging up in the full back position. A bump on the charging handle brings the gun into battery. Two guns have a slight cant on the FSB. Looks like one gun had some dremel work done to the hammer to cycle better. The wood looks good. Looks to be original Bulgarian wood that was refinished. The barrels do not look to be chrome lined. I was promised chrome lined barrels. I have not found any other issues yet. We will see how they shoot. I did get a Russian mag with one of the guns that was a nice surprise. No invoice in the packaging. Had to call Lancaster to get one. Looks like they do not keep very good records as the prices on the invoices did not reflect the correct prices for the guns. The invoice does add up to the amount I paid. I will say that Ashley at Lancaster was very helpfull in getting me my guns. I was promised the guns in 8-10 business days back on November 8th 2010. I got my guns Mar 8th 2011. Thats 4 months of trying to get my guns. Ohh and one more thing the guns are not 922R compliant. They shipped them out with non US pistol grips. They are sending the correct grips in the mail to me. Overall my experience with Lancaster would rate at a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10.
    P.S. Calling the Goodyear Police did not yeild results for me. They can't do anything about it. The AZ AG should help though. Good luck to all who are still trying to get their stuff from Lancaster. They are shipping stuff cause I got mine. I did have to call a million times and had to resort to threats. Not something I like to do.

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  11. I called the Goodyear police as well as emailing the mayor and city council. They put a detective on the case an the guns shipped 2 days later. No mags, scope rail or paper work.

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  12. Guess I got lucky with my AK purchase, although it was a nightmare. I first placed my order in Dec 2008. Initially I intended to have it sent to my FFL in AZ. After weeks and months (approx 3 months) of promise after promise and excuse and excuse, I decided make arrangements to go to Goodyear and pick up my rifle is person, and only after explaining I was about to deploy overseas. And yes they had my charged the full amount due the first day of the order. I went to Lancaster, met with Chet Durda. Got the full used car salesman routine. He talked great in person, told me everything I wanted to hear, had an excuse for every single inquiry I brought up. Finally after about waiting for 20-30 mins, my rifle was brought out. At this point I was fairly excited and almost left without inspection, hardly believing I finally had my AK in hand, especially knowing that others had orders pending for up to a year at that time without and product in hand or prospect of such. I closely inspected the rifle to find that it did not have the Nodak Spud reciever in which I had specifically inquired about, many times, and was promised. The rifle was taken back and about 20 mins later, the proper hardware was received. I was so glad I had caught that there cause I doubt I would have ever been able to have the issue corrected otherwise. After leaving and upon arriving home (across the state), I noticed a hairline crack on the lower portion of the front hand guard. I immediately called Lancaster and demanded a replacement. I was told that I must send in the old one, so they can match the new one to the old color (Russian Red). I sent it off immediately, and was told to expect an immediate replacement. Nothing came for several weeks and I became yet again irritated with calling often to either be told its on the way, or have my call not answered due to caller id. I know that calls were intentionally ignored as when i was in the office with Mr. Durda the phone would ring constantly, and he would look at the caller id and either answer, not answer, or pick up and hang up before even greeting the customer. Finally after about a month i received my new front hand guard, and it was a somewhat match, but not the exact i had hoped for. At that point I was so glad to have my AK and be done with Lancaster Arms and their web of lies. I must say that I am considered lucky because from start to finish, It took only approx 4.5 months to have my finished product. Which by the way is about the only good thing that ever came from Lancaster Arms. Yes its a nice AK, great fit and finish. Shoots great and no other issues. I just hope I never have to deal with them again tho and the experience was quite taxing and most difficult to say the least.

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You are welcome, and in fact encouraged, to leave your comments about experiences with Lancaster Arms. The only requirement is that you stick to facts, or well-documented opinions.

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About Me

But quite willing to "help" Lancaster Arms fully understand why the way they run their business, is completely unacceptable.

Welcome to LancasterArmsSucks.blogspot.com

This site exist to help police a firearms manufacturer that has decided to run its business using questionable ethics. Too often, there is not enough complete, accurate information on the Internet about companies engaged in the manufature of firearms. It is my hope that this blog shall serve as a useful tool to help guide potential customers of Lancaster Arms to a fully-informed decision. As of the start date of this blog, many, many people feel as though Lancaster Arms does not run an honest business. We'll let the chips fall where they may...