Question from a Reader:
I opened my shop a few years ago. Recently, I had a customer who has not picked up their completed firearm for months. What is the general recommendation on how to handle this?
– James Vessels
james -at- superiorguncare.com
Please submit your comments below. Thanks!
Laws differ from state to state and sometimes city to city. If you have a lawyer, and being in business you should have, check with him/her. otherwise check with the city, county, or state attorney’s office. In my limited experience there may be a minimum time without contact before you can do anything and that will vary. You will also probably have to show a good faith attempt to contact the owner and have proof in the form of registered mail receipts or letters returned as undeliverable. Again your rules on what and how to get the property declared as abandoned and your ability to take ownership based on the value of the work done will most likely be a local matter.
As Mr. Mazan already stated, laws differ by location. One of the reasons having an attorney on tap is important. I once had one set in my shop for 2 years as it was a rare model and I thought surely he’ll be back for it lol. Keep your “attempts to contact” filed for however long your location requires.
First, what does it say in your contract that customers sign? Second, what does your state or local jurisdiction have on the books about abandoned property?
A contract clause something like ” Firearms left longer than 60 days will be charged $20 a month for storage fees, Firearms unclaimed after one year become the property of XYZ gunsmithing” will pretty much spell out what happens. Otherwise, you’re doing what local laws require, which might include court filings and fees.
The easiest way is to mail the firearm owner a certified letter stating that the customer has 30, 60 or 90 days (whatever you choose) to pick up the firearm and pay for repairs or the firearm will be forfeited to cover the repair/storage costs. Also put in the letter that the owner should contact you immediately to work out the details of either them picking it up or if they no longer want the firearm. If no response is returned after the ending date that you give them to respond, then you can legally take ownership. I would give the more expensive firearms the 90 days and the inexpensive ones 30 days or so. Again, though, you might want to check with a couple or more shops in your state to see how they typically handle this. But for me, in Florida, the certified letter takes care of it (either way).