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BBB warns customers about Rural King, citing 'an underlying pattern of complaints'

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Rural King

A promotional Rural King photo was provided by the BBB.

MATTOON — The Better Business Bureau issued an advisory on Monday urging consumers to use caution when considering doing business with Rural King Supply, headquartered in Mattoon.

The nonprofit BBB reported in a news release that consumers have alleged false advertising, prices not honored at checkout, products ordered but not delivered, and overall poor customer service. A Rural King executive responded that the complaints comprised well less than 1 percent of Rural King's transactions and that the company is working to ensure that its customer service reduces these complaints even further.

According to the news release, many of the 90 complaints registered and negative reviews posted with BBB in the past three years have been related to online business at ruralking.com and rkguns.com. The BBB reported that Rural King has an "F" rating, the lowest on BBB's scale, due to numerous unanswered consumer complaints and "an underlying pattern of complaints." 

"When a company fails to be proactive in addressing ongoing complaint activity, it can cause consumers to question how much the company values their business," said Michelle Corey, president and CEO of BBB St. Louis.

John Leonauskas, vice president of marketing for Rural King, said via email that customer service is the first priority of Rural King and that the company sent a May 8 letter to the BBB about its efforts to resolve any customer issues.

The letter states that Rural King has created an internal team whose top priority is to respond to and resolve all BBB complaints within 72 hours, and that the company's goal is to obtain an "A+" ranking with the BBB.

"Of over 100 million completed sales by Rural King in the past three years, we are currently aware of 93 complaints through the BBB since 2015. While this represents less than .000093 percent of our transactions during that same time frame, our goal is to reduce that number to zero," Leonauskas said. "To that end, while we may not have responded to each complaint through the BBB, we do in fact strive to address all known customers' complaints with the customers themselves directly."

Leonauskas said there is only one outstanding BBB-related complaint from 2018, which Rural King is working to resolve. He said no new complaints have gone unanswered since that time. He said all new complaints have been closed within eight days.

Rural King has been working with the BBB to resolve all existing complaints referenced in the BBB press release, Leonauskas said. Rural King will continue to partner with the BBB to solicit customer feedback and ensure customer service is continuously improved, he said. Rural King welcomes customer feedback at local stores and at www.ruralking.com/contact-us and strives to address all customer concerns, he said.

"In closing, we know our customers have choices and they vote every day whether to shop or not to shop at Rural King. We are humbled and pleased that Rural King is increasingly a place our customers choose to visit. To that, we say thank you and we will see you soon," Leonauskas said

The BBB's press release includes reports of a North Lewisburg, Ohio, customer who was unable to get Rural King to honor the “new everyday price” advertised for items at his local store and a Knoxville, Tenn., man who tried online to buy a pistol that Rural King advertisement for $310 but came up with a $479 price when he clicked “buy.”

Several consumers reportedly told BBB of call waits of more than an hour as part of their complaints about placing online orders or calling for customer assistance. The press release includes reports of an O’Fallon, Mo., man who spent hours on the phone while trying to get a $52 firearm rebate and a Gainesville, Fla. woman who had trouble canceling an order for rocking chairs that she never received even though she was billed twice.

This story has been updated.

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