View Full Version : Good business etiquette: the lack of which can be costly to smiths!

June 23, 2004, 10:13 AM
While it is not my nature to complain in an open forum such as this, I feel it is my responsibility to remind the professionals herein that it is the little things that will make you a successful business.

I recently sent my weapon off to a very big house that has a reputation for top-shelf work. All I needed was for them to install a fixed rear sight to replace the adjustable sight that kept breaking. The adj sight has a proprietary slide-cut that no other sight maker has come out with a fitting product for, so you kinda don't have a choice.

This all started out with the company sending me a rear sight, but upon trying to install it, I found that it sat approximately .030" below the top of the slide and was hanging over the rear face of the slide by approx .110". This just doesn't look good, certainly not professional, and I decided to send the whole weapon to their shop so they could see the problem and install a sight that fit better.

I enclosed a letter with the pistol that clearly stated the problem I encountered, and asked them to find a solution. I also asked them to do some additional cosmetic work and was even thinking about some "while you have it" stuff that would have made a really nice bill for my credit card!

Well, from day one I noted that their customer service was lacking some little things. In their emails, they never addressed me by name or offered any kind of greeting. There was no closing name to the block letter, and even in phone calls, they didn't feel it was important to identify themselves. To this day, I couldn't tell you a single name of any of the employees I spoke with. That's not very professional, and I won't even mention the bad spelling and grammar usage in a professional correspondence.

They stated that the rear sight was shooting about 4" high and would I mind them installing a taller front sight to bring the POI/POA in line? Heck no. You've got a green light for something like that, and I don't mind.

Anyhow, I get a message to call them to settle the bill. I do so and ask if the weapon is looking good, did the rear sight work out? "Oh, yea, she's real purty."

Fine, I'm trusting this house as their reputation for custom work is superb and raved about in mags and forums such as this. When my pistol arrives, I see right off that the didn't do anything about the sight sitting low in the slide. A minute with my caliper shows that it's sitting .025" below the top of the slide, making for a very noticeable step down.

Here's the question: This is obviously a custom pistol so why would you think that such an installation would suit me? Why wouldn't you contact me to see if I would be happy with said installation or offer me some solutions to the problem (like flattening and serrating the top)? When I asked you if the gun was looking good, why would you think that this is good looking? And, most importantly, did you release this pistol because it bore the name of another custom maker and not yours? Is this the type of work you would release if it was your name on the receiver?

What really irks me is that there was no real communication from this maker. I told them clearly that I didn't want the sight sitting BELOW the top of the slide, and I feel that they should have milled a one-off sight to correct the cosmetic problem caused by their design. I realize it might be costly, but how much are they losing by not getting my future business?

The biggest downside to this whole thing is that the weapon has to be retired from public use. I cannot, in good faith, disparage the work of the original smith by displaying the shoddy sight installation. Even if I explain the situation, people will forget the details down the road and remember only that this guy's name is on a gun with a horribly installed rear sight.

Bottom line: Pay attention to details. How you speak to a customer, especially in writing, reflects on your level of professionalism and what you think of your customers. Address them by name, or simply call them 'Sir', and sign your name at the end of every correspondence. If you talk to them on the phone, identify yourself and try show that you appreciate their calling your business instead of the other guy.

Thanks for listening. It's good to get this stuff off my chest.

Oh, and, yes, I did send them an email stating my displeasure with their work. To date, I have not received any response.

Just got an unsolicited email from the original smith. He didn't like the idea of the gun sitting in a drawer for the rest of eternity and has asked that I send it his way so he can try to find a solution. The last email I had from him was about a week ago when he told me how tied up he was with other orders. You've got to love a craftsman that isn't happy to see his work messed with! The gun will be enroute to Y/B in AZ by the end of the day.

June 24, 2004, 07:36 AM
Well, at least something worked out right. I'm sure that your original smith will make things right for you.