When you buy something, you expect it to work, especially if it’s a gun. That’s just part of being a responsible gun owner. In the past few years, numerous firearms have experienced issues with the soft-touch coating on their grip becoming sticky, tacky, or otherwise difficult to hold. To address these issues, Browning and Winchester established a repair and replacement program. In 2018, a group of consumers filed a class action lawsuit which resulted in the firearm manufacturer making the necessary repairs. Other popular guns are believed to suffer from these same issues, such as Sako’s rifles. Sako is one of the world’s oldest gun manufacturers and a subsidiary of Beretta. Its products are not cheap and can cost upwards of $2,000. The Sako rifles include numerous models within the S20, 85, TRG, Quad, Finnfire II and Old Models Series. Many of these high-priced rifles have rubber stocks—what you use to hold and aim the rifle—that are prone to becoming excessively soft and sticky. This impacts your grip and affects your ability to use it for its intended purpose. When customers call Sako or Beretta to get help, many report receiving the run-around, where the buck is continually passed, and ultimately, pardon the pun, paid by you, the consumer, in terms of your hard-earned money.
A manufacturing defect occurs during the manufacturing process and affects a limited number of products.
A design defect exists in the product’s design. It usually affects all products made following that design.
A marketing defect happens when a defect makes a product more dangerous than expected. Companies have a responsibility to warn consumers of the inherent danger in the product. If they fail to warn of the danger, it is a marketing defect.
What Can You Do?
Unfortunately, a manufacturer standing behind their product is the exception, not the norm. In the United States, no federal or state agency can help consumers when a firearm has safety issues or is defectively designed. Browning and Winchester are just two of the numerous sellers of firearms in the United States. Even where a company establishes a repair or replacement program, this may be subject to numerous conditions which make it difficult to participate. These programs may cover some models of a gun, but not other, practically identical models. And there is no guarantee the repair will be successful. All these factors mean your individual options may be limited. Keep reading to learn what you can do if a company ignores your requests.
Step 1: Return It to the Seller
If you can, return the defective gun to the store where you purchased it. Some sellers have consumer-friendly return policies. Regrettably, even if you can return it to the store, a gun is considered used once taken out of the store. Plus, many defects do not appear until months or years after the purchase. This method may not work if you bought the gun from its original purchaser and lack all the paperwork that may be required.
Step 2: Search for the Manufacturer Return Claims Process
The next place to turn for a refund is the gun manufacturer. Many gun manufacturers offer lifetime warranties and customer service programs. You can use an online form or email most manufacturers directly to request a repair or replacement. Federal law allows you to ship guns to the manufacturer and receive the gun back regardless of whether you have an active Federal Firearms License (FFL). Having the manufacturer repair your gun is an economical option to have your gun fixed. However, you must wait for the manufacturer to receive and evaluate your gun before they will begin repairs. Also, some may require you have the original box it came in or the original paper receipt. Trying to get a company’s customer service to help you is hit-or-miss at best. We’ve all had experiences where our emails and calls go unanswered or ignored.
Step 3: Repair It Yourself or Visit a Gunsmith
If the manufacturer denies your repair request, you can choose to fix the gun yourself. Many manufacturers sell replacement parts, or you can hire a gunsmith to fix your gun. If you choose this option, you will have to pay the repair costs and lose the use of your gun until the repair is complete. The gun company may have promised to reimburse you for these costs, but when the bill comes due, good luck getting that money back. Choosing to repair your gun can be a learning experience but does not hold the manufacturer accountable for their mistake.
Step 3: Contact Attorneys Who Will Stand up for You
When you cannot safely and consistently use your firearm, it is an expensive—and potentially dangerous—paperweight. However, consumers can try to hold manufacturers accountable for defects through the judicial system. You may wonder, “How can I ask an attorney to help me with this, given that the gun did not cost more than $2,000?” Thankfully, our legal system is set up so that many spread out people who have a similar issue—such as a defective gun stock—can join together in a class action lawsuit. This lets an attorney represent you (and potentially others just like you) to try to hold the gun manufacturer accountable. While it may be easy for these companies to ignore the emails of a few people, a class action lawsuit is much more difficult to ignore. In fact, it can force them to make the necessary changes and compensate you for their defective products.
Sheehan & Associates, P.C. Can Help You Get a Manufacturer to Fix a Defective Gun
Since 2012, Spencer Sheehan has been helping clients navigate the issues that stem from purchasing a defective gun. This may include learning about the potential costs of a gun repair. Like all other companies, gun manufacturers must follow specific standards when creating products; they must ensure that these products operate as intended. If you have tried and failed to have a company, such as Sako replace your defective rifle, let an attorney at Sheehan & Associates, P.C. explain your options.