Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lancaster Arms Finished???

I got a tip in the comments section of the previous post that as of today, Lancaster Arms ’ website is no longer working. So, I checked online with the Arizona Corporation Commission to see if Lancaster Arms was still a going concern. Sure enough, as of November 16th, 2011, Lancaster Arms is no longer an Arizona corporation in good standing. It appears that Lancaster’s statutory agent resigned back in August, and Lancaster Arms failed to register a new agent in the allotted timeframe.

There could be several reasons this agent resigned. It could be lack of payment on legal bills (that’d be my guess), it could be that Chet Durda told this agent that Lancaster intended to go out of business (another good guess), or it could be that the attorney just decided he didn’t want to be associated with Lancaster anymore. Whatever the reason, as of this moment, Lancaster Arms is not properly licensed to conduct business in Arizona. I’m gonna put forth a guess here that Lancaster Arms is no longer in business.

If true, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. When the Arizona Attorney General and other law enforcement officials started looking into Lancaster’s operations earlier this year, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Lancaster would close its doors. Over the last few years, Lancaster Arms managed to rack up an almost unbelievable number of complaints with the Better Business Bureau (63 filed complaints as of today) and Arizona Attorney General’s office. This unusually large number of complaints prompted the authorities to dig a little deeper, and what they uncovered at Lancaster was a series of “poor business dealings” that, in my opinion, were indicative of a business that just didn't give a damn about staying in business.

I truly feel bad for all the people who had the misfortune of being screwed by Lancaster Arms and its owner, Chet Durda. Just a few days ago in fact, someone complained to the Better Business Bureau that “[I] sent a rifle for warranty repair in August and never saw my gun again!” I suspect this individual is not the only person who is now out either money, or a gun for which they paid. Here too, I’m not the least bit surprised. To say that Lancaster’s business model (such as it was) was “unsustainable”, would be putting things nicely. Anyone doing business with Lancaster in 2011 was, in my opinion, accepting a huge risk that they might never see their gun or money again. This is why in several previous posts on this blog, I warned people to be extremely careful when conducting business with Lancaster Arms.

Of course, there are several lessons to be learned from all this. The first lesson is that we now live in a “reputation economy”, and any business that is willing to sacrifice its reputation in the name of making money, will find it difficult to stay in business. In the Internet and social media age, if you are not 100% honest and ethical in your business dealings, you can be certain that everyone is going to hear about it. Apparently Chet Durda never got this memo.

Second, whenever you are contemplating doing business with a company – especially for large dollar purchases - do your research first! Check them out on Google. Look-up their Better Business Bureau profile. Look at review sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, etc. to see what other people say about that business. And if possible, try to find a person (or people) you trust who have direct experience with the business and see what they say. This blog has been in the top 3 search results on Google for “Lancaster Arms” for almost two years. During that time, anyone who bothered to Google “Lancaster Arms” before doing business with them would have received fair warning that there were substantial problems with this business. (And it wasn’t just this blog they would have seen. A search for “Lancaster Arms” would have revealed a significant number of different links suggesting that this company had “issues”.)

Third, if you’re ever dealing with a company and you get a “gut feeling” that something isn't right, listen to your gut! Most of us have been around the block long enough to know when a business transaction is not going as it should. If this happens to you, start asking questions, start keeping notes of your interactions with the company, and start demanding some accountability. Most businesses are honest outfits that want to do right by you. But it’s an unfortunate fact that every once-in-awhile you may encounter a business like Lancaster Arms, where your satisfaction is the least of their concerns. If this happens to you, don’t be a patsy. Start asking questions. Along these lines, also be on the lookout for business practices or policies that seem odd or non-standard. For example, when Lancaster Arms stopped accepting credit cards a year or two ago, and would only accept money orders and cashier checks as payment, smart people should have asked themselves, “Why would a business that primarily sells $500+ products, not accept credit cards?” That fact alone should have raised numerous red flags to any thinking person.

Fourth and finally, if you ever have an unusually horrible experience with a business, let others know about it! Now, this comes with some caveats. I am not saying that if an employee of a business is rude to you on the phone one day, that you should run out and start bad-mouthing that business all over the Internet. Businesses, and the people they employee, sometimes have bad days or make honest mistakes. It happens. I’m also not saying that just because you “feel” wronged, that you should always complain. As I’ve found out myself in the business world, sometimes the customer is NOT always correct. It is up to you to be reasonable, and not trash a business online just because you had unreasonable expectations to which the business wouldn't cater. No, what I’m talking about here is when you have truly been wronged, and when the business won’t fix the problem after reasonable and adequate requests to do so. When that happens, you will be helping other consumers by letting them know what they might expect if they choose to do business with a particular company. I can only guess how many people were spared from having to deal with the pathological liars at Lancaster Arms because those people saw numerous bad reviews, and knew to stay far away.

If any of you have thoughts on all this, and especially if any of you are still owed money or a gun from Lancaster Arms, leave a comment below. I will update this post and this blog as I learn more information about what has become of Lancaster.


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...