Friday, July 15, 2011 - deceptive marketing confirmed?

Earlier this week I reported on a post over at Walls Of The City, investigating whether a number of online ammunition retailers were, in fact, one and the same company, masquerading under different names in order to ostensibly compete with one another, and get around search engine optimization restrictions.

It appears Linoge was quite right to be suspicious - in fact, there are six, not four companies involved! In a follow-up post today, he provides more evidence.

It turns out we were right – Lucky Gunner,,,,, and Military Ballistic Industries (the brand of bulk reloaded ammunition Lucky Gunner sells) are, in fact and truth, the same exact limited liability company.

. . .

... I do not mind any of these companies being “drop shippers” – in truth, being an industrial engineer, the concept of drop shipping appeals to me greatly on a variety of levels. As I tried to explain in the previous post, my bone of contention with Lucky Gunner is that they operate multiple, separate, disjoint storefronts as if they were competitors, and do not make the fact that they are all the same company publicly known anywhere – I, personally, find this to be rather misleading, manipulative, and deceptive.

There's more at the link, including corporate filing information from the State of Tennessee bearing out the common identity of all these companies.

I agree with Linoge. Such conduct is indeed 'misleading, manipulative and deceptive' - at least in my book. For that reason, I won't be doing business with any of the companies mentioned above. I'd like to suggest to my readers that they carefully consider whether they want to reward such business practices with their hard-earned dollars.



Jerry said...

Actually, this situation is a lot more common that most are aware.

Not long ago I worked for an auto parts supplier that was heavy in the aftermarket. In our niche, we sold about 80% of the total market; only we had only one real brand name. Most parts sold through Pep Boys, Autozone, O’Reilly, etc. The common feature was a white box with a blue number stenciled on the end underneath the customer label.

Does this mean we were “defrauding the public”. No, we produced a quality product at a competitive price. Our customers chose the quality level & set the price they sold to the public.

Years ago, I worked for Wagner Electric, a brake vendor. Wagner was actually an interlocking set of corporations. It was one method of shielding Wagner from liability. Braking businesses need lots of shielding. Every time someone gets drunk and drives into a tree, it’s the brakes fault that the vehicle didn’t stop & Wagner has deeper pockets than Joe's Garage that screwed up the installation. Sue the wrong company for whatever reason and you receive the total value of that corporation; a chair, a desk and desk lamp.

So what do I think about Lucky Gunner? Do they provide a quality product at a good price? So far as I know, yes. So why the subterfuge? Probably for the same reasons that Wagner Electric had a Wagner Sales Corp, a Wagner Service Parts Corp, a Wagner… The ammunition business is just as lawsuit intensive as the braking business. From my automotive experience, I can tell you whoever does the manufacturing will not be as flashy as Lucky Gunner but Lucky Gunner does the sales & advertising as does Able Ammo and the others. The enterprise needs both parts like my company needed Pep Boys, Autozone O’Reilly, etc.

Dave H said...

As I mentioned over at Linoge's blog, I don't object to a company having multiple fronts - jewelry stores, book clubs and music clubs have been doing it for years. As long as the customer is getting the value he expects for his money, it's only a philosophical issue.

What I do object to, though, is link spamming. Having multiple sites that present the same content (or merchandise, in this case). I don't have any patience with people who abuse the net. (Me, a nerd? Damn straight.) I won't be buying ammo from LuckyGunner for that reason.

It's just another reason for me to support my local gun shop.

Old NFO said...


Linoge said...

Thanks again for the linkage!