View Full Version : Sportsman's Guide Buyer's Club complaint/rant

December 23, 2008, 10:01 PM
In my opinion, we live in the greatest country on earth. One of the greatest things about it is that its economy is a capitalist one. That means, among other things, companies are largely free to be managed however their management sees fit. An even greater thing, however, about this country is that we all have the right to free speech. So in a democracy, if I feel that a company is being managed poorly and it results in a negative customer experience, I have the right to tell anyone and everyone about it so that they can avoid the same headache.

As I tell my story here, then, please take heed and consider it the next time you are shopping for ammunition and other hunting/shooting supplies.

Up front, I would like to apologize to anyone who, like me, browses numerous forums. I’ve posted this lots of places, so I apologize that for many of you, it will be redundant.

Due to uncertainty over the results of the recent election, I decided to stock up on ammo. By “stock up,” I mean to buy enough for a couple of years. That would be no small feat, as there are weeks in which I go through 1,000 rounds. So my plan was to set aside as much as possible from each paycheck for 6-8 months, and order as many good deals as possible each month. About month two (October), I placed a small ($300 or $400) order at Sportsman’s Guide (www.sportsmansguide.com). I noticed their “Buyer’s Club” at that time. For $30, you save 5% on ammo and 10% on everything else; for a whole year. Since it wouldn’t have saved me any money on that order, I didn’t join. After my order, I got an e-mail offering to credit me what I would have saved on that order towards purchasing a membership. This e-mail mentioned nothing about any limitations of the discount during that year.

A month later (November), it was time to place another order; this time, a large one. I decided to accept Sportsman’s Guide’s offer and join their Buyer’s Club. Knowing that I was going to order large quantities of ammunition, I knew that my $30 would pay off several times over the next year. It’s important to note that I thoroughly reviewed the Buyer’s Club page on their website (http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/club/ClubTour.aspx?) and saw nothing to indicate that I wouldn’t be able to use this discount for a whole year or that there were any limitations to it. I ordered a Buyer’s Club membership and then placed the larger order on which I received the discount to which I was entitled.

A few days later, I received a Buyer’s Club membership package in the mail. Once again, there was nothing in it indicating any limitations to the discount. Again, 5% on ammo, 10% on everything else, for a year.

December rolled around, and my ammo buying was in full swing. I gathered up another batch of stuff I wanted to order from Sportsman’s Guide, placed the order using my Buyer’s Club number, and thought all was well. When I came in from hunting at about 6:30 PM the next day (Friday), there was a message on my answering machine from Sportsman’s Guide asking me to call them back. This was not unexpected. On the previous two orders, I had to pay extra shipping for heavy/bulky items. The customer service representative gave me the shipping amount, which was reasonable. Then, however, she told me that my Buyer’s Club membership had been cancelled because “upper management” reviewed my order and determined that I was a commercial customer. Hence, I would receive no discount for which I had paid on the current order or on future ones. I was dumbfounded. I asked to speak to someone in “upper management,” but they had gone home for the day. So I left a voicemail for a Ted, asking for a return call on Monday.

Ted called me back Monday, but I was temporarily unavailable. I called back later, and Ted was not available. I spoke to someone else who assured me that she was in the same position as Ted (I did not ask her name). I asked her to explain the policy to me. She only stated – several times – that because of the quantity of items I ordered, I was a commercial customer. I clarified that I am not an ammo dealer of some sort – I’m a CPA – but that didn’t matter. It was solely based on the quantity. I asked what criteria qualify someone as a commercial customer, but she said it varies. She wouldn’t tell me a certain number of rounds or dollar amount or anything that triggers it. I pointed out that it was not on the webpage that explained the Buyer’s Club, and she pointed me to a small, out-of-the-way section of the shipping and handling page (http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/main/shipping.aspx?) of the website. Sure enough, in small print, there it was: “Large quantity orders may be considered commercial account orders, which would not be eligible for the Buyer's Club discount, and may require additional shipping charges.” So I pointed out what seemed obvious: that the Buyer’s Club is an advertising gimmick to draw in customers, but if someone attempts to actually use it and save some real money with it, Sportsman’s Guide pulls the plug on it. She disagreed, stating again that the policy is that ordering a large quantity of items permanently tags someone as a commercial customer ineligible for the Buyer’s Club discount for which they have paid.

So what was a guy to do? I told her to go ahead with this order but that they had lost a customer in the future. I asked to speak to someone in their complaint department, but there is no such thing. She assured me that she entered my concerns in her computer and that someone in “upper management” would review them. So I assured her that I would do all I could to make other folks aware of my concerns so that they wouldn’t have to endure the same deceit that I have from Sportsman’s Guide.

I say deceit, because I’m not the only one who has been through this ordeal. Since my experience last Friday, I have searched for and found similar complaints. See:

In addition, I checked them out on the Better Business Bureau’s website (http://minnesota.app.bbb.org/report/8634) and as you can see if you follow that link, they have had numerous complaints filed against them in the last 36 months and that the BBB rates them as an unsatisfactory business. I’ve filed another one against them.

In conclusion, one more great aspect of participating in a capitalist economy is that, as consumers, we’re ultimately in charge. As I told Sportsman’s Guide, they have lost my business. They’ve caused me to do two things I never have before: file a BBB complaint, and get on every gun forum I know of and post this description of the experience I had with their Buyer’s Club. I hope that people will hear the complaints of myself and others who have been deceived by their marketing practices surrounding the scam that is their Buyer’s Club and will avoid the same headaches. Eventually, they might lose a noticeable amount of business; and hopefully, change their practices to more honest and ethical ones.

December 23, 2008, 11:13 PM
I too have been booted because I wanted to buy commercial quantities. You are more articulate than myself, because I just told them where to go and cancelled my order, according to all my literature Gary Olen wants everybody to think he is looking out for us, but I believe he must just like lining his pockets.

December 24, 2008, 10:27 AM
257roberts, he wasn't listed as an owner on BBB's page about the company, but he still shows up on their website and in their catalogs. I hold out hope that he's an honest man who sold his company to people less honest than himself, and that it's out of his control.

December 24, 2008, 11:03 AM
I agree that their statements about the buyers club seem misleading, but they are in it to make money after all. If they lost money on large orders because of high shipping costs they would be out of business pretty soon.

45Marlin carbine
December 24, 2008, 11:27 AM
I'm somewhat in agreement - about a month back I called in a credit card order (only 100$ or so_ and was talked into the Buyer's Club thinking I was going to get a discount on shipping (bulky item, a tree stand/ladder).
I was sent an email about 4-5 hours later saying that I was being charged a total of slightly over 150$$ for my order!
immediately I called customer service and cancelled my order and club membership. had the explanation when I ordered been concise and informative I would not have ordered at all.

December 25, 2008, 03:13 PM
I had promises on treestands in stock two years in a row, two months before season, (august something) and didnt get the first one till december and cancelled the second order in late november. Will never buy from them again, they lie to you directly.

December 25, 2008, 03:18 PM
I have had bad experiences with SG in the past also. Most of their stuff is CRAP. The camo clothing is high, deer stands are cheaper at Walmart or Dicks. Many of the knock off scopes are junk. I find very few deals in there mailings. Mostly you see people buy there ammo because they seem to be one of the few that have it in stock. But I will never buy from them again after what I went through with some German pants a few years ago. Their service SUCKS.




December 25, 2008, 03:37 PM
Perhaps you have to be a small-timer like me to have a good SG experience. I buy ammo only, usually less then $125 per order. With the club discount, coupon, and SG Visa discount I spend less on the total order – including shipping and the $20 membership fee – than I do any other online seller.

December 29, 2008, 02:34 AM
Only good experiences here so far..but that's probably because I only spend about $100 a month..all on ammo! Stocking up because I have a new shooting partner and I hope that she and I will get in a lot of range time in the upcoming year!

December 29, 2008, 09:22 AM
I hope that people will hear the complaints of myself and others who have been deceived by their marketing practices surrounding the scam that is their Buyer’s Club and will avoid the same headaches.

As this "rant" has been posted verbatim on at least 3 other gun forums, it's no doubt your hopes will be achieved...

December 29, 2008, 02:29 PM
Wadda ya expect buyin' from a bunch of Frogs. It's my understanding that SG was sold to the FRENCH.

December 29, 2008, 04:45 PM
Sorry but if your ordering large quantities and several times a year they are going to start red flagging you. Honestly how are they to know your not selling it at a handsome profit. On your side its darn well irritating to get the "treatment" but understand were they are coming from.

Dont take it personal and since ive never had a bad experience with them ill keep buying from them. I really dont see why you would be so piping mad though.

If you want to buy 1000s of rounds just do it though a dealer. They can get a steep discount, they make a few bucks, you save a few bucks, and everyone is happy.

January 3, 2009, 10:13 AM
I have'nt bought any ammo yet, but I did purchase clothing,boots,knives etc., priced right and quality good, speedy delivery also. sorry about your misfortune, but if you want personal service,you should deal with a person, not a computer.

Brian Pfleuger
January 3, 2009, 12:20 PM
Well, that sucks indeed. What a ridiculous policy. Especially when it's not even a policy at all since, if it was, they could quote you the wording thereof. I ordered 12ga slugs from them and the shipping took FOREVER but I wasn't in a hurry. I guess I'll not use them again. I hate business' like that.

If Georgia Arms carries what you need you should consider them.

January 3, 2009, 02:13 PM
I only live 10 miles from them ,so never need to ship,and I get to go there and inspect the items before purchase.All I can say is order carefully.
Last item i bought there ,I was going to pay cash,the guy behind the counter suggested I use a card,if I thought I might be returning it.I asked why,and he told me it might take some time to get a refund if i paid cash.:confused:
I wouldnt order anything from them sight unseen.Most times I go there,I end up not getting what I went to look at.

January 4, 2009, 11:08 PM
Never had a problem with Sportsman’s Guide but I don't order my Ammo from them. I have found much better prices at the gun shows, plus no shipping charges.

January 25, 2009, 04:56 PM
I've got some good deals from them and i've got some real garbage.Most of their military surplus if it says good condition ,used,avoid like the plague.It usually means that its been patched,worn,and washed to the point that its almost useless,thats why it was sold as surplus.
Their buyers club is almost useless,discount doesnt ammount to much,and as i told one of their girls why not give it to high volumn customers?Their 100% return policy means you pay to return it,bad product,broken product,not as advertised,you pay the return shipping.
And last i hate their customer reviews,how do you leave a review?i have e-mailed their customer relations twice and no response.On the products i have received that was garbage, fit for the dumpster ,it has glowing reviews on their webpage.

January 25, 2009, 08:51 PM
I just bought a dynaglo heater from them. Holding my breath. Just looked more into it and it seems the kerosene variants are crap. Didn't find anything bad on the propane.
I have bought things from them befor without problems. Never anything milsurp or firearms related.

January 26, 2009, 08:06 AM
I agree that their statements about the buyers club seem misleading, but they are in it to make money after all. If they lost money on large orders because of high shipping costs they would be out of business pretty soon.

A reputable dealer would be up front with their policy and not have it tucked away in the fine print or at least they should state a limit on the quantity in their sale offer. I have been contemplating joining the club to save a buck or two, but not now.

I requested information in December from them on the quantity I can order before it is considered to be a commercial order. I normally buy from on line when I can't get ammo at a reasonable price from the local "Rip Off" gun shops. I have not received a reply to date and have bought my ammo needs elsewhere.

January 27, 2009, 04:07 PM
Every time I start to order from them, almost everything in my shopping cart is "out of stock" I'm also sure the REVIEWS cannot be trusted as if you go through several products you will see several very similar if not identical reviews. I was wanting to order a large quantity of 7.62x39 and a few other rounds but like I said they are always out, I guess I will go back to Midway at least they will treat you like a person rather that as a dolt. Bye Bye, Sportsmansguide!

January 27, 2009, 04:22 PM
Well I received my shipment today. Instead of the Dynaglow heater I received a large copper bowl with a grill grate. I assume it was some sort of outdoor grill set up. The metal bowl was only copper coated and I think it was zinc under neait, not sure I am no metallurgist. I called them they are sending me a return slip and shipped my heater out immediately. Lots of other retailers could have made this mistake and I was happy with their service department. I am still a little weary though.

January 28, 2009, 07:36 AM
Well did they at least refund your buyers club cost? I would think that if they say that they can not offer the buyers club to you because of your buying practics, they should at least offer to refund the cost of the buyers club.

What I would suggest for you to do since it looks like you buy "larger" quantities of ammo is to get a C&R license. It will cost $30 and take you about two months, but you will be able to buy your ammo at Grafs at true dealer cost. You can also buy at MidwayUSA with your C&R dealer discount, but their ammo prices are higher than Grafs. You will find that the ammo prices at both of these companies with the dealer discount is cheaper than SG just about every time.

Another option may be Natchez Shooting Supplies if you watch their sales.

January 28, 2009, 12:53 PM
If I were you buy from Wideners you can get what you need.:)

January 30, 2009, 08:59 PM
I had two ordeals with Sportsmans Guide VISA. Briefly, they do not send out a bill, emailed or by std mail, till there is late charges applied and the CB notified. After, they insure you receive a bill. I do 1000's of dollars worth of biz on two other cards, per year. I did twice with this VISA out of Columbus, OH, for a total of 57 bucks. Never again. I have not one problem using my other two, major credit cards. No more SG. They can keep their junk and trinkets. Turned this in to the FTC and local state attny gen. My advise.... Run from this company.

January 31, 2009, 07:03 PM
I received my heater Friday. It requires a 100 pound propane tank according to the packaging. Was planning to get a big tank anyways, but now I won't be able to run it off of my grill tank in the mean time.

February 7, 2009, 10:53 PM
if yocan hook it up why not.does it use that much gas??

August 29, 2016, 11:39 AM
I've just completed my first and most certainly my last transaction with Sportsman's Guide. I ordered a night table safe and long story short, had to call in FIVE times to verify credit card information because I was a new customer. Why five times? Because whatever needed to be done on their end as a result of the verification in order to progress the order forward, just wasn't done. They even had me conferenced in with the issuing bank - something I've had to do with online orders in years and years and through thousands of orders, exactly NEVER. But even then, the order sat pending, thus resulting in yet another call.

No kidding, I spent a total of 3 hours on the phone for this order, including with supervisors twice, and not a single person sounded as though they cared even slightly.

Their processes are ridiculous. Their staff simple couldn't care less (including supervisors), and it's evident that management has absolutely no interest in improving things after a long history of complaints and poor ratings.

They simply do not deserve your hard earned money. With so many other places to get the stuff we want, I will never ever choose Sportsman's Guide again and would very strongly encourage you to spend you hard earned money someplace more deserving.