Thursday, March 09, 2017

Why I Stopped Renewing My Sportsman's Guide Buyer's Club Membership

So I have a weird thing for military surplus. If you don't know, military surplus are goods no longer wanted by the military of any country. It usually gets sold at a government auction, then passes down to retailers then to the public.

The appeal of surplus is it's usually very high quality stuff at a low price. It's a great source for camping gear or GI Joe style clothing. Buying surplus online is usually a bit of a gamble. Clothing often doesn't fit, things can be worn out or moldy. But often you end up with a real bargain.

So one of the popular retailers for surplus is The Sportsman's Guide. They often have good prices and sell things in small quantities. They cater to gun enthusiasts and the hunting crowd. I enjoy shooting guns as much as any guy but killing animals is not something I'm into so I don't buy any of that stuff.

I had a Sportsman"s Guide Buyer's Club Membership from 2011 up until February of this year. The buyer's club is a savings gimmick they push on you at their site. You pay a fee to join, for a long time it was $29.95 a year. Last year they increased the price to $39.95 a year.

They used to offer a lot of incentives to join the club when it was $29.95. They would often have a free gift which was usually something decent worth like $15 or $20, sometimes they would throw in a gift card for $20 or $25. This was in addition to what you still get now, two $10 coupons, double discount and free shipping on first order. So at $29.95, it was a no brainer if you planned to buy a few things over the coming year.

So my last order was $35 plus shipping. They gave me the renewal offer for the club. I would have saved $13.00 on the last order but with the $39.95 charge and just the two future coupons, it's not worth it for me anymore. Now if you're someone who buys guns and ammo or expensive stuff from them regularly, maybe it's worth it.

And the club isn't everything it's cracked up to be. The two coupons they give you can't be used with any other offers they might have going. The 'Buyer's Club Only' special sales are never very appealing.
Another caveat, when you do join the club, they put you on auto renewal and it's very difficult to opt out of that on the site.

They have some other practices I don't care for like putting your credit card on auto save unless you notice it and uncheck the box. They also try to push a .99 cents package protection fee on you at the checkout. Seems like a scam, they're obligated to deliver your package intact anyway so this protection is meaningless.

Another thing, they sell some items as genuine military surplus but they're actually cheap repros from China. A perfect example of this would be the US Military wool blankets they're selling right now. The're actually cheap repros imported from who knows where. A genuine surplus item from any country will have a tag, label or stamp marking of some sort. In fact, I believe it's illegal to sell a new textile without a label.

One last gripe, and this might ruffle some feathers.
When you buy anything from them, Sportsman's Guide gives your name and personal information to the NRA.

Yes, you will begin to receive regular mailings from the NRA, all begging for donations. I've got news for Sportsman's Guide, not everyone who buys guns or surplus wants their name given to the NRA. I can see a retailer selling your name to another retailer, I don't like that either but it happens.
But giving your personal info out to some quasi-political group is disturbing and very unprofessional.

On that note, Sportsman's Guide is a great source for redneck 'Larry The Cable Guy' style shirts.
Who wears this stuff?

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