On this past Monday, I sent the following email to the customer service address at Lucky Gunner:
Sir or ma’am,
My screenname is Linoge, and I write at "walls of the city" (http://www.wallsofthecity.net/). As you may or may not be aware, I recently came into some information indicating that Lucky Gunner, Ammo.net, BulkAmmo.com, AmmoforSale.com, GunsforSale.com, and Military Ballistics Industries were all the same company, without any obvious, public disclaimer of that relationship. My posts concerning this discovery can be found at http://www.wallsofthecity.net/2011/07/online-ammunition-retailers-a-hypothesis.html and http://www.wallsofthecity.net/2011/07/lucky-gunner-hypothesis-confirmed.html, and if you have a moment, I have a few questions for you.
First, why do you operate several, distinct ammo-selling websites without disclosing their affiliation to customers?
Second, how would you answer the concerns of my fellow gunnies when they are shopping around for ammunition online and think they are getting independent price quotes from actual competitors by visiting your various sites?
Third, do you operate your own warehouse? If not, who do you use for order fulfillment? And, in both cases, where is the warehouse located?
Fourth, as its name indicates, GunsforSale.com sells firearms – who is the FFL for that webpage, and where is s/he located?
Thank you for your time, and whatever answers you can provide.
The only response I have heard in return was their automated ticketing system acknowledging receipt and assigning a case number ([25A-15B6FDD7-08EA], if you are interested); if I do not hear anything back by next Monday, I may take the more-direct approach of individually emailing the employees of the company.
You and I are in agreement. I do not think that this is a good business practice. I personally would not buy from a website without more personal information published on the site to confirm the entity. I myself have been in the ecommerce business since 1996 and I have worked with thousands of small and mid size companies. Publishing your identity on the website is critical to the sites credibility. I also was the webmaster / web consultant for Aimsurplus.com for 8 years so I have a lil background in the ammo business and Aim took a different approach buy offering exceptional customer service and great prices, that worked for them and they grew. DO I think LG is doing the right thing, no Google webmaster guidlines identify this approach to marketing and they reject it http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769.
I am indefferent to LG and their approach, they have advertised with us in the past and we appreciate thier business, They have sent us articles to publish and we published them when we thought they were a value to our readers. They do sponsor some gun shoots and they have invited ammoland to the meet ups. I dont think SEO is a crime and its clear that LG is all about SEO. setting up some “no follow” links will allow a pro gunner blogger to remain positive with LG while remaining pure to their objections.
I like reading about this on walls of the city because I have known about this issue for a long time and too many gun bloggers seemed oblivious to what was going on. As pro gun people, bloggers and information providers I think we have a responsibility to keep our enviroment clean of nafarious people or people who may be less then honest in their practices and discussion amoungst us all is the only way to achive that function.
So thanks for the reveal. its good work by all.
I dare say he strikes to the very core of this matter… When you are engaging in business with a company, you are exchanging your hard-earned money for a product they are offering. That relationship has always been based on mutual trust – theirs that your money will be good, and yours that they will provide a good product – and that trust can be all-too-easily destroyed by things that may or may not have any bearing, whatsoever, on the actual transactions being discussed.
Whether or not the practice of running not-really-competing, not-really-individual companies under the auspices of one master company is a matter you will have to settle for yourself, but at least now you know what the score is.