Perspective on gun dealers and FFL transfer fees


PDA






leadcounsel
September 20, 2010, 08:22 PM
Okay - so I need the insight of others on this topic.

Background: I use an FFL who charges about $20 for a transfer on the first weapon, and $5 on each additional one per order. From my foxhole, that seems like a decent profit for, what amounts to, receiving a shipment and then processing the form/making the call to the local ATF (state bureau), and filing the form. A monkey can do it and it takes minutes worth of work. In fact, if that was your entire business and you did 20 per day, at $20 a piece, I think it would be easy money for little work.

He runs a relatively robust business, but not a big box store. Probably carries 100-200 various long guns and handguns, and 5 isles of overpriced accessories.

I've been shopping there for a couple years. I have purchased guns directly from him (displays and special orders) and I have had things shipped there and paid the transfer. I even buy SOMETHING nearly everytime I'm there to keep the cash register ringing (ammo, mags, sling, tools, etc.). And I recently sent my girlfriend there for her first handgun purchase! :)

Finally, it turns out we were in the same UNIT in the Army together (he was 2 decades before me)...

I recon he's made at least a few hundred off me, and he frankly charged my girlfriend more than I was comfortable with for her handgun. (I was not there and she wasn't upset about it so I didn't act on it). He charged her $650 out the door for a CZ P01. :fire: But not my battle to fight.

So I found a good deal on a pistol on the internet from a big box store. I called my FFL and he tells me that they've changed their policy and will no longer be taking any FFL transfers!!! :what::banghead::fire:

He goes on to explain that he's getting undercut by big box stores, whine whine whine.... I didn't argue with him, I just let him whine about it. I told him thanks for letting me know, and hung up.

Now, I'm pretty T'd off. I also think he's making a mistake by driving customers away. It's a small piece of the FFL transfer $ better than no piece of the pie at all? He doesn't carry CZs at all, so if I want one from him he special orders it and his COST is more than the big box store is offering to sell it for. And then, there's his markup! All said and done the pistol would be a good 10-20% more if I buy from him.

Driving away any business just seems like a bad business model. I mean, let's face it, it's the savy customers that are ordering guns, right? They aren't likely to pay over inflated prices anyway, they'll just order it delivered to a different FFL.

So I'm just going to go with the FFL down the street that charges the same and I'll likely never be back to the first FFL.

I guess I'll tell him why at some point.

If you enjoyed reading about "Perspective on gun dealers and FFL transfer fees" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Freedom_fighter_in_IL
September 20, 2010, 08:36 PM
Be glad you can find an FFL that only charges 20 dollars. The lowest one within 30 miles of me charges $50 and the lady on the phone had the audacity to tell me that was a fair and reasonable price as everyone else was even higher. The online and big box stores are running the mom and pop stores out of business so this is the only way they can see making up for the losses. Welcome to free market structure and gun control through our wallets instead of the legal system!

WillDe83
September 20, 2010, 09:01 PM
the cheapest one around me is 40 (use to be 20) for transfers.

Shipping is 50 (use to be 25) for a handguns and thats over half as much as other places charge for shipping, one place quoted me 135 to ship a handgun and another place told me they would do a transfer for 90.

PT1911
September 20, 2010, 09:10 PM
A friend of mine owns a shop an charges a flat 25 dollars per gun... Why? because he has spent the necessary money to have an FFL. Furthermore, he will only transfer guns (excluding used guns) that he himself cannot get in new for one reason or another. It is his business and how he makes a living. By your logic, he should also sell guns at wholesale because the accessories are making profit. I think you overestimate how much a single shop owner makes. I certainly did before I began spending a lot of time in a relatively small shop.

There is nothing stopping you from getting an FFL except several hundred dollars and a storefront (separate area from your home to conduct business.)

As said previously, you are lucky to get someone who charges that small amount and discounts for multiple guns. It comes down to what the shop owner's time is worth. That being, receiving your gun, logging it into his books, calling in the Yellow sheet, and logging the gun out of his books. Sounds like 20 bucks worth of work to me. There is no hourly amount of money he makes. He makes what he makes and must make what he can when he can.

Dont like it, get an FFL, but I think you will find it to be cheaper to pay the 20 bucks.

As to him not receiving transfers anymore, I cannot say I blame him..especially as he constantly hears people (such as yourself) whine and complain about having to pay a transfer fee. He weighed out the pros and cons and chose his path. That is why it is always best to shop around and know what you can do where.

What is the difference in someone whining about not making money (him, as stated by you) and someone whining about spending money (you, as stated by me?)

Guns and more
September 20, 2010, 09:31 PM
I love the free market.
I had a dealer tell me transfers were $100 if I didn't buy from him.
I haven't set foot in his store since.

oneounceload
September 20, 2010, 09:40 PM
If it such an easy deal and so profitable, perhaps YOU should open up a store and make all that money..................r...i.......g............h..............t.............. uh huh

marktx
September 20, 2010, 09:48 PM
The best gun shop in my area was doing transfers for $30 which I thought was a bit on the high side but was worth it as they were fairly easy to deal with most of the time. A few of the clerks are obnoxious dorks but for the most part they were alright. Last week they decided to up the transfer to $40 each which was enough to motivate me to find a new place. It's not quite as nice as I would like but it's closer and $25 which is much more reasonable in my opinion.

I used to stop in at the gun shop a few times a month for transfers and every other month or so they would have something I would buy on top of my usual transfers. They could hardly complain that they were being undercut by online dealers since all of the guns I purchased were hard to find/collectible pieces that the never would have in stock. Oh well, they probably know more about business than I do.

oneounceload
September 20, 2010, 09:57 PM
Yep, 'cause if they did 100 transfers a month, they might be paying the light bill; if they do 500 transfers a month, they might be paying the light bill, some of the taxes and fees, and the owner might be able to but a beer once a week./

But wait - those damn pesky employees expect to be paid, as does the payroll tax man, insurance man, the rest of the utilities, the bank for the inventory carrying costs, and on and on..................

Never ceases to amaze me how little folks here know about running a business and how they think transfers should be basically free because they buy a box of ammo once in a while................

I have said it before and I'll say it again:

IF IT IS SO DAMN EASY TO MAKE MONEY, WHY AREN'T YOU DOING IT?

SO many wannabees with ZERO business knowledge - same folks with ZERO gun knowledge......get real

dogtown tom
September 20, 2010, 10:16 PM
leadcounsel: ...From my foxhole, that seems like a decent profit for, what amounts to, receiving a shipment and then processing the form/making the call to the local ATF (state bureau), and filing the form. A monkey can do it and it takes minutes worth of work. In fact, if that was your entire business and you did 20 per day, at $20 a piece, I think it would be easy money for little work.


Decent profit?:scrutiny: Where did you go to high school? Retake 8th grade math or 9th grade economics. That $20 transfer fee isn't profit, that's sales income. He has to pay for rent, utilities, insurance, taxes before he even begins to see a $ of profit.

BTW: "A monkey can do it and it takes minutes worth of work" is as silly as those who think a church pastor only works on Sunday mornings or that firefighters really only work when they are actually fighting a fire.

PT1911:...There is nothing stopping you from getting an FFL except several hundred dollars and a storefront (separate area from your home to conduct business.)
No such requirement under Federal law or ATF regulation. Home based FFL's outnumber storefront FFL's by a wide margin.

PT1911
September 20, 2010, 10:20 PM
No such requirement under Federal law or ATF regulation. Home based FFL's outnumber storefront FFL's by a wide margin

Home base, yes, but not in the living quarters... must be in a separate area from the living area... (per recent ATF inspection of a friend starting a smithing shop behind his home...)


An office, basement, or back building is required will suffice.

UpTheIrons
September 20, 2010, 10:23 PM
I don't know where y'all are finding these snotty FFLs. I looked and looked for a Savage Cub Pink for my daughter for her birthday. The only place I found (an affordable) one was in Florida. Sent my FFL the link and asked if he could get it for a comparable price, since I said I buy my next gun from him directly.

He couldn't come close to the price, but he was plenty happy to do the $25 transfer. So I told him to find me a Single Six convertible, and I'd buy it from him. It's worth the few extra bucks to keep that good business relationship/friendship going.

dogtown tom
September 20, 2010, 10:32 PM
PT1911 Quote:
No such requirement under Federal law or ATF regulation. Home based FFL's outnumber storefront FFL's by a wide margin
Home base, yes, but not in the living quarters... must be in a separate area from the living area... (per recent ATF inspection of a friend starting a smithing shop behind his home...)
An office, basement, or back building is required will suffice.

Again, NO SUCH REQUIREMENT in Federal law or ATF regulations. I use my dining room, den and one bedroom. While I was between houses I ran my FFL from a one BR apartment. Now, it is possible that your city or county has additional requirements for businesses, but there is no ATF requirement to be separate.

marktx
September 20, 2010, 10:33 PM
IF IT IS SO DAMN EASY TO MAKE MONEY, WHY AREN'T YOU DOING IT?

SO many wannabees with ZERO business knowledge - same folks with ZERO gun knowledge......get real

It's really not that much different than mowing the lawn or whatever else. For $125 a month I will gladly pay the guy to roll up the truck a couple times a month and mow the lawn for me. If the guy raises it to $300 I would just go ahead and do it myself. It's not that I want to do it myself or would want to figure out how to make a living at it but I'm willing to pay a certain amount for the convenience.

I don't know where y'all are finding these snotty FFLs......

Seems to vary by area.... Some parts of Texas are great and some are just awful.

PT1911
September 20, 2010, 10:47 PM
Again, NO SUCH REQUIREMENT in Federal law or ATF regulations. I use my dining room, den and one bedroom. While I was between houses I ran my FFL from a one BR apartment. Now, it is possible that your city or county has additional requirements for businesses, but there is no ATF requirement to be separate.


Fair enough, but someone should tell the ATF that as I know of at least 2 separate individuals who were attempting to get their FFLs and when it came down to it, the ATF inspectors denied their application because they did not have an area outside of their normal living area.

My other friend, a gunsmith and custom rifle builder, was told the same thing. Fortunately, he has a building behind his home to use as a shop...

The requirement may not exist, but in the last 18 months this has been conveyed by ATF agents 3 out of 3 times.
This was VIA the ATF, not the state or county.

WardenWolf
September 20, 2010, 10:50 PM
An FFL transfer fee is basically free money for the FFL. He doesn't have to buy it, he doesn't have to pay to ship it, he doesn't have to display it. All he has to do is hand you the paperwork and call in a quick background check, which he would have to do anyway if you bought it from him. And guess what? If his prices are that high, you probably wouldn't buy from him anyway. He hasn't "lost a sale" simply because he doesn't have what you want or he wants more than it's worth. Nobody is going to pay that. Maybe he should recognize that it's free money, charge a reasonable amount, and make his prices competitive enough that, after shipping, it would cost MORE to buy it from another retailer, have it shipped there, and pay the transfer fees. If he's marking up a gun so much that, after $25+ shipping and a $20 transfer fee you can't get it for the same price there, then he's price gouging. FFL's can view transfers either as a hindrance or an opportunity. If they view it as an opportunity, they can make money at no hassle to them. If they view it as a hindrance, they're going to be seeing people take their business elsewhere and NEVER buy something in their shop.

orionengnr
September 20, 2010, 11:07 PM
Wow. Decent profit? Where did you go to high school? Retake 8th grade math or 9th grade economics. That $20 transfer fee isn't profit, that's sales income. He has to pay for rent, utilities, insurance, taxes before he even begins to see a $ of profit.

BTW: "A monkey can do it and it takes minutes worth of work" is as silly as those who think a church pastor only works on Sunday mornings or that firefighters really only work when they are actually fighting a fire.
And in the same breath:
$20 transfers ($10 for CHL, military/police, schoolteachers)

So in your post you are saying that a $20 transfer is a miserable, unsustainable business model, yet in your sig line you offer $20 transfers...that you will cut in half for CHL, military/ police/schoolteachers :rolleyes:

Cry your pardon, but you have stimulated my skepticism...

And yes, my local table-top FFL does $20 transfers all day long. Literally. Every time I stop by there is someone just leaving and someone just arriving. Nearly all of them are transferring in or out (most, in).

It appears to be the majority of their business, although they also offer reasonable prices on new firearms and accessories. In the last three years, they have added a new in-ground pool, a new wrought-iron fence, and a newly sodded lawn. If I were a betting man, I would bet that the proceeds for those projects came from the table-top FFL, $20 at a time.

PT1911
September 20, 2010, 11:17 PM
So in your post you are saying that a $20 transfer is a miserable, unsustainable business model, yet in your sig line you offer $20 transfers...that you will cut in half for CHL, military/ police/schoolteachers

Cry your pardon, but you have stimulated my skepticism...

Try reading that again orion, he was saying that the $20 transfer fee is more than justified by the costs of operating an business. Nothing is profit until the costs are covered. He was saying this in response the the OP's assertion that ANY transfer fee at all is too much.

dogtown tom
September 20, 2010, 11:18 PM
orionengnr Wow.
So in your post you are saying that a $20 transfer is a miserable, unsustainable business model, yet in your sig line you offer $20 transfers...that you will cut in half for CHL, military/ police/schoolteachers

Cry your pardon, but you have stimulated my skepticism...

Uhhhh.......reread the thread. My post was in reply to the OP who thinks the $20 is all profit. Nowhere did I say that "a $20 transfer is a miserable, unsustainable business model".....you dreamed that up all on your own:rolleyes:.

I'm a home based dealer who does transfers only. While I do have utilities, insurance and other business expenses, I don't have to pay rent on a retail storefront, invest my own $$$ in inventory or pay employees. I don't have nearly the expenses to deal with that the OP's dealer has and I think that dealers transfer fee is reasonable.

Shadow 7D
September 21, 2010, 12:25 AM
I know one close to me. $10 a page for veterans (and he cards, so just saying it gets you nothing) Sometimes he'll ask for more if it was something harder/difficult (like him having to bring a trailer to the post office to pick up your stuff) but all in all, not bad.

leadcounsel
September 21, 2010, 08:15 AM
An FFL transfer fee is basically free money for the FFL.

THANK YOU! That's my point exactly!!! On a $500 gun, he's making 5% for doing almost nothing. In fact, he has 2 employees that stand around when they could be doing that instead. He doesn't have to carry the inventory, order it, price it, or pay for shipping. All he does is receive it from UPS, and handle some admin stuff that he would do anyway.

Where did you go to high school? Retake 8th grade math or 9th grade economics. That $20 transfer fee isn't profit, that's sales income

Eh - "High School" Please... I graduated with honors from college, a couple credits shy of having a minors in Economics and Management. And then I went on to law school. Spare me the "high school econ" lecture.

Yes, that $20 is nearly pure profit. All the overhead is there whether the transfer occurs or not. Storefront is open anyway. Employees are paid hourly. Light bill doesn't change, nor does the phone bill, ink pens, etc. Any additional 'costs' are negligible.

The MORE important point is that he's driving away folks that, in addition to the transfer, might also need to pick up supplies like $100 night sights, targets, ammo, a holster, etc. That $20 transfer that his $10 an hour employee just rang up can easily turn into a few hundred dollar sale when the customer buys a $50 holster, several boxes of ammo, a pack of targets, and 4 extra magazines...

If he's not doing transfers, why do I need to step foot in his door?

Econ 101 - Don't turn away paying customers!

JohnBT
September 21, 2010, 08:50 AM
"receiving a shipment and then processing the form/making the call to the local ATF (state bureau), and filing the form."

What really happens...

Tuesday: Is my gun there yet? I ordered it on line Saturday.
Wednesday: Is my gun there yet?
Thursday: Is my gun there yet?

Three weeks later: Is my gun there yet? The tracking number said it's there, is it there yet? Will you call me when it does get there?

An hour later: I was out, did you call me? No? Dang.

Three hours later: Is it there yet? I'm coming down there and wait on it.

"IT'S HERE, look, is that a 2mm scratch? Will you take it to the Post Office for me and send it back?"

Two days later: Did the factory call to say they got it?

Four days later: Is it back yet?

Seriously, the really busy shops, some of the ones I know of anyway, would rather have the hired help trying to sell guns and overpriced accessories and ammo.

leadcounsel
September 21, 2010, 08:57 AM
those damn pesky employees expect to be paid

Yeah, and those darn pesky customers want to spend money... why not match them up? Seems like a good business model, huh?

9teenEleven
September 21, 2010, 09:01 AM
The FFL nearest to me charges $35 and they bitch about how much work it is! So, I stopped going there all together.

I found a new gunshop in town that does transfers for $15. I did a couple of smooth easy transfers and the owner seemed really happy for the business. You know what, when I was looking for a new gun last month and he had it in stock, I bought it there for a fair price instead of going the internet/transfer route. His price wasn't the cheapest it was just about $20 more. The goodwill he built on the transfers made me want to give him more business, and the non-gouging prices made it possible.

Also, I now recommend that store to all my shooting friends.

That's something that these stores that charge huge transfer fees or that have overpriced product should remember. When you are losing business to competition, you need to give your customers a reason to shop there, not a reason not to.

CTPhil
September 21, 2010, 09:01 AM
Seems to me $20. is an entirely reasonable, if not cheap fee for a transfer. I'd pay it and be grateful.

leadcounsel
September 21, 2010, 09:12 AM
The POINT is that the FFL IS NO LONGER DOING TRANSFERS -

Now I suppose he would if I offered him a lot more, but he was just griping that it was just too much of a hassle...

Bubbles
September 21, 2010, 09:25 AM
An FFL transfer fee is basically free money for the FFL. He doesn't have to buy it, he doesn't have to pay to ship it, he doesn't have to display it. All he has to do is hand you the paperwork and call in a quick background check, which he would have to do anyway if you bought it from him.

There's more to it than that. We're home-based and since firearms typically arrive signature-required, someone has to be here to meet the delivery truck. While we know something is coming in, it can arrive any time between 0900 and 1900 (and later around the holidays).

Once the firearm arrives we unpack it (hijack - I hate packing peanuts), inspect it for damage, log it in, and notify the purchaser it has arrived. While it's here it's covered by our insurance. If everything goes well the purchaser shows up in a day or so, his background check is approved instantly, we generate an invoice (because WV hits that transfer fee with sales tax), he goes home with a gun, we log it out, and we retain the documentation for 20 years.

If things don't go well - the gun isn't as described, the gun was damaged in shipping, the purchaser is delayed, the purchaser is denied, the gun isn't legal to own in your state and neither the buyer nor seller realized that - things get dicier. Then you're stuck with a gun taking up space in your safe while the buyer and seller try to work things out, or in the case of a denied purchaser, you end up consigning it.

Also, even at $25 apiece transfers don't net us nearly as much money per hour as other activities like gunsmithing, parkerizing, custom builds, etc. It certainly doesn't pay for the hassle of an ATF compliance inspector crawling through your books every year either.

So why do we only charge $5 for transfers? It's known in retail as a loss leader - we take a loss to lead you into buying something where we'll make money. We'll take the hit on transfers because we're not a retailer, so there's nothing "on the shelves", so to speak, to bring people in. But, we need to bring people in so we can show off our other work - and about 10% of those folks do return to us for the high-$$$ services.

There is nothing stopping you from getting an FFL except several hundred dollars and a storefront (separate area from your home to conduct business.)
Not a requirement. Our den/home office is accessible only from the living space. The IRS cares more about it (for the home-office deduction) than the ATF does.

dogsoldier0513
September 21, 2010, 09:40 AM
My dealer just uped his transfer fee from $20 per transfer to $30 per transfer.

porterdog
September 21, 2010, 10:45 AM
I've been paying $15/transfer for the past 6 years. I admit that's a good deal, and honestly, if it went to $25 I wouldn't quibble.

I won't pay more than that, and you shouldn't have to either:

Enter your zip at the bottom of this page. (http://www.gunbroker.com/FFL/DealerNetwork.aspx)

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
September 21, 2010, 11:58 AM
Thankyou for that link porterdog. I just found one that is much cheaper that is not listed in my books here. 20 bucks for normal long gun transfers!! Heck of a lot better than the average 50. Saw on that list that some actually charge up to 100!!! I get the point that some here are making that it isn't, nor should it be, a free service. But to charge someone 50 dollars or more to simply do a couple of minutes of paperwork (yes there are times when it is more of a hassle with some buys but not the norm) is just price gouging and should not be allowed. In some parts I agree with the original poster in the fact that they are kind of stupid for turning away business in ANY fashion in these economic times. Seems to my small inept mind that every 20 dollar transfer is dinner for the family. Gouging it up to 50+ is not going to get someone to buy your guns at your shop from 99.9% of people. It will more than likely cost you any return business for ANY items you may have in your shop that that upset customer would possibly have purchased in the future.

skipbadger
September 21, 2010, 12:19 PM
Not sure why so many posters are getting on the OP's case.

I cannot understand why a gunshop wouldn't do transfers. Retailers across all markets are looking for ways to offer high margin, ancillary services to their customers. Transfers are a textbook example of this.

Transfers do the following:
1. Improve cashflow - this is cash coming into a business, NEVER a bad thing when the cash coming in is greater than the cash going out, especially in retail.
2. Leverage existing infrastructure - gunshops already have everything needed to process these transactions. Makes use of that investment in infrastructure.
3. Increase foot traffic - people may not be able to get the gun they want for the price they want it from a shop, but they will have to go in to pick it up with a transfer. This may lead to purchase of accessories, future gun purchases, or word of mouth advertising. If you can't get someone into the store, you can't get them to spend their money in your store. (the internet is second semester stuff, gents).

This is a perfect example of bad business skills. I see it all the time with retailers across various markets. It is the sign of an owner that doesn't understand the basic tenants of retail and doesn't understand basic accounting principles like cash flow and return on investment.

It's either a case of stupidity, ignorance, or entitlement. Most likely a combination of all three.

But the beauty of the free market is that he can do whatever the hell he wants. If he is happier not doing transfers, more power to him. The other beauty of the free market is that his customers and prospective customers can go elsewhere if the gunshop isn't meeting their needs.

skipbadger
September 21, 2010, 12:24 PM
...But to charge someone 50 dollars or more to simply do a couple of minutes of paperwork (yes there are times when it is more of a hassle with some buys but not the norm) is just price gouging and should not be allowed.
The irony of a person with your username posting what you did about FFL fees gives me a pretty good chuckle.

Lakeshore
September 21, 2010, 12:46 PM
Actually $20 seems reasonable to me. My FFL charges $30. That's not pure profit for him because his employee has to receive the package from FedEx/UPS, log it into inventory and store it the vault, call me (usually) to let me know it's arrived, and then do the transfer paperwork that takes about 10 minutes.

I have made a number of purchases from my FFL, who's also a retail dealer, and he's been fair and reasonable. My occasional online purchase/transfer transactions are just a gentle reminder that I can and will do business elsewhere whenever I find a better deal.

waterhouse
September 21, 2010, 12:59 PM
I agree that stopping transfers will likely be bad for business. Transfers bring in a lot of new customers.

I can also understand why someone would stop doing transfers. Before I got an FFL, I thought "Why would I pay someone $35 for 5 minutes of paperwork and a phone call?"

Now that I have an FFL, I realize that the 5 minutes of paperwork and a phone call is what the customer thinks is happening. Unpacking a gun alone can take 15 minutes depending on the packing method and materials used.

All told, the work for a transfer averages closer to 20 minutes, but in some cases where something goes wrong it can be hours. If a gun arrives without paperwork it can take an hour to track down who shipped it just so I can log it in. If a gun is damaged in shipping Fedex won't talk to the customer who bought the gun, they'll only talk to the recipient. They come out, inspect the box, inspect the damage, and take pictures. They call me, ask follow up questions, and issue the insurance check to me. This entire time I'm relaying information to the actual gun owner as well as the seller.

You deal with too many cases like that over a few weeks and suddenly transfers are a huge waste of time.


An FFL transfer fee is basically free money for the FFL. He doesn't have to buy it, he doesn't have to pay to ship it, he doesn't have to display it.

No, it isn't basically free money. It is money paid for a service. If the dealer isn't transferring your gun, he can be doing something else. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the money coming in from transfers, but if I wasn't doing a transfer at the moment I could be typing code or watching TV or reloading ammo or boresighting a customer's rifle or making my daughter's lunch. How much professional work do you do every week without expecting compensation?

The OP went to law school. I don't know if he is currently practicing law, but let's say that he is.

Would anyone say "I just spoke with my lawyer for 30 minutes while he was eating lunch. That's basically free money. I mean, he was going to eat his lunch anyway, why should me getting legal advice while he was eating cost me money?"

Providing a service for money isn't anything new, but for some reason gun buyers often seem to think that FFLs are getting something for nothing. They provide a service, and you can choose to pay for it or not.


Maybe he should recognize that it's free money, charge a reasonable amount, and make his prices competitive enough that, after shipping, it would cost MORE to buy it from another retailer, have it shipped there, and pay the transfer fees. If he's marking up a gun so much that, after $25+ shipping and a $20 transfer fee you can't get it for the same price there, then he's price gouging.

Once again, it isn't free money. It is money collected for performing a service.

As for price gouging, you forgot about state sales tax.

I can beat Bud's on just about any price, and I charge $10 for my transfer fees. So if Bud's sells a gun for $600 shipped, the customer's cost out the door is $610. I can sell the same gun for $580, which should save them $30 right, and net me a profit? Wrong, because after tax that comes out to $628. The state gets that extra money, not me, but most people will buy from Bud's to save the $18. One way I could combat this is to . . . jack up my transfer fees. If my fees were $35, it would be cheaper for people to buy through me even with the sales tax. I won't do it, because I'm happy with my life as it is, and I dream of a day when anyone can order a gun directly to their door without using a dealer so I try and make it as cheap and painless as possible, but there is a lot more that goes into this than "free money" and "price gouging."

FFL's can view transfers either as a hindrance or an opportunity. If they view it as an opportunity, they can make money at no hassle to them.
I agree with your first sentence. I disagree that providing a service is no hassle.

If they view it as a hindrance, they're going to be seeing people take their business elsewhere and NEVER buy something in their shop.
You say this, but I don't see it in reality. A gunshop in Austin last year was charging $75 for transfers. I know the owners, and they still do a lot of business, although they do very few transfers.


Gouging it up to 50+ is not going to get someone to buy your guns at your shop from 99.9% of people.

It will if you can't find a lower price for the transfer. If every single dealer in your area happens to charge $50, people will know that they need to add that number into their cost. They see a gun online for $650 shipped, they know their out the door cost is $700. Now they call their dealer, and he can get the gun for $685 after tax. If $50 is the only option, 99.9% of people will take the cheaper $685. If $50 isn't the only option for transfers, people will shop around until they find a cheaper option, and the free market will dictate where business flows to. No price gouging, just the free market at work.

Frankl03
September 21, 2010, 01:24 PM
I do agree that a transfer fee is a fee for service. The free market system works.

The FFL I deal with charges $20 for long guns and $25 on handguns. They are great people to do business with. They are not a standard gun shop. I order off the net and they call me when its in. They are just outside of KCMO.
http://www.simmonsle.com/

leadcounsel
September 21, 2010, 01:33 PM
So that there's NO ambiguity, I'm not complaining about paying a reasonable fee. And to me, $20-$30 is reasonable. Heck, I might even pay $40... but not as often. Seems that they would be better off doing it as a volume business, even as a loss leader.

I'm on the side of "opportunity" to make money. If it's a hinderance they are in the wrong business.

All of the 'hassels' you've mentioned are just part of the profession and why an FFL gets paid. Some are easy, not so much for others. It's averages.

Yep, as a civilian lawyer I would charge folks... however, I wouldn't gouge them for routine stuff... in fact, for routine easy stuff I delegate that to a clerk or secretary and charge a very modest fee. Most FFLs I've seen have hourly employees who are not so busy they cannot handle the transfers. Nearly every time I walk into an FFL, there's some hourly employee standing there with his hands in his pockets or basically not being productive. There is PLENTY of time for an hourly employee to 'earn his wage' and conduct the FFL transfers.

That being said, comparing an FFL (which requires zero education, a storefront, and an FFL; and obviously no head for business) to a licensed attorney (high marks in highschool, high marks in a 4 year college, 3 years of law school, and a state bar exam and probably $50,000 -$200,000 in educational expenses, not including the OFFset from not working for 7-8 years of college/law school [not working for 8 years means that these are years of wages lost], meaning the value of a law degree is probably around a quarter of a million dollars to a half million dollars) is apples and oranges. So, yes, as an attorney I could justify charging $5 per minute for my time, but for something easy it would be delegated to my clerk/secretary.

It will if you can't find a lower price for the transfer. If every single dealer in your area happens to charge $50, people will know that they need to add that number into their cost. They see a gun online for $650 shipped, they know their out the door cost is $700. Now they call their dealer, and he can get the gun for $685 after tax. If $50 is the only option, 99.9% of people will take the cheaper $685. If $50 isn't the only option for transfers, people will shop around until they find a cheaper option, and the free market will dictate where business flows to. No price gouging, just the free market at work.

Nope - in the free market a new dealer moves in and does the transfers for $10 and score big. Ironically, that was one of the REASONS this dealer told me when he opened shop. He wanted to capture the FFL transfer market.

Oh well, his loss. I'll spend my money elsewhere... and that's the bottom line is that he's missing out on his bottom line. The thousands I spent there in the last couple years will go elsewhere.

Broken Anvil
September 21, 2010, 01:41 PM
There's an old saying that goes somethng like this, "You can shear a sheep many times but you can only skin it once". Those guys are upset because they don't get to skin you over and over.........cry me a river. My FFL-Pawn Shop only charges $15......that's it. I asked him how he makes a living with that and he says $15 is better than $0 and every time it gets someone in his store at least twice. Now THATS a smart businessman.

rbernie
September 21, 2010, 01:49 PM
in fact, for routine easy stuff I delegate that to a clerk or secretary and charge a very modest fee.In this case, the 'routine easy stuff' can get an FFL license pulled by the .gov if the bound book records are not kept 'just so', and should not be so readily trivialized.

Each log book entry is audited by the ATFE. The greater the number of bound book entries that exist, the greater the risk for an error to exist in the recordkeeping. While every dealer that I know works very very hard to minimize paperwork issues, we human being are fallible and mistakes are occasionally made. Sadly, the .gov does not trivialize those mistakes, and each bound book row (transfer) represents a potential risk to the FFL. The simple fact is that the reward/risk calculation heavily favors gun sales versus transfers.

My experience has been that most larger storefronts (with lots of inventory, and a fair bit to lose if their FFL is pulled) tend to be very conservative and either charge high fees for transfers or they do not do them at all. Most 'reasonable' transfer fees tend to be charged by the smaller home-based FFLs or the newer stores, who have less to lose if the .gov pulls their license.

LubeckTech
September 21, 2010, 02:08 PM
No one is forcing you to business with this guy - him SELLING your ladyfriend an overpriced CZ is your fault not his. It is up to the buyer to shop around not the seller to give it to you for what you want to pay! If you check around you will probably find an FFL holder within a reasonable distance and you might just find someone who is a whole lot better to deal with!! Check GunBroker's list of FFL holders who will receive for you - those dealers can also order for you too. There are many dealers hidden in the nooks and crannies of our rural communities who are great to deal with but you've got to find them.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
September 21, 2010, 02:24 PM
The irony of a person with your username posting what you did about FFL fees gives me a pretty good chuckle.

Chuckle away sir, Price gouging is in fact a crime. Look at all the companies that got nailed back in the 70's during the gas "crisis". While I do believe firmly in freedoms in the market, this is clearly a case of taking advantage of a faulty legislative process of gun control. As I said earlier in my first post, gun control through our wallets instead of a legal process and voting. Taxing and feeing the less wealthy out of the ability to afford a rifle.

oneounceload
September 21, 2010, 04:25 PM
.But to charge someone 50 dollars or more to simply do a couple of minutes of paperwork (yes there are times when it is more of a hassle with some buys but not the norm) is just price gouging and should not be allowed.

There is NO such thing as price gouging when it comes to paying for a gun transfer - GET REAL.

Someone WILLINGLY pays the price - it is NOT gouging

Just because YOU think it is too much - does NOT mean it is gouging.

If ONE person is willing to pay the price, then the market has set the price

Never ceases to amaze me how many folks who do not own a business think how this is all free money or the owner is gouging - just like the gun shows - whether the price is too low or too high depends on which side of the table you're on. I see it here time and time again about how folks get something for nothing and claim how they scored, but if the price was more than THEY wanted top pay, then they were getting screwed - just like transfer fees.

Don't like them? Go elsewhere, or better yet - get your FFL and do them for $5.00.

According to your thought process, that should be a no-brainer and reap untold riches


Taxing and feeing the less wealthy out of the ability to afford a rifle.

Then save up more money, get a second job, or buy something you can afford- owning a rifle is NOT essential to staying alive like food and water during a hurricane - there is NO gouging if folks WILLINGLY pay the price

MrOldLude
September 21, 2010, 05:42 PM
Here's how it would go down with me.

"We're not doing transfers anymore."
"Okay, thanks."

Then I'd find someone else to do it.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
September 21, 2010, 06:23 PM
Then save up more money, get a second job, or buy something you can afford- owning a rifle is NOT essential to staying alive like food and water during a hurricane - there is NO gouging if folks WILLINGLY pay the price

And "silver spoon" statements such as that is partly what is wrong with our economy. If businesses do not take into account the people of lesser means then they are not thinking clearly or ahead. Not everyone can afford excessive prices. Having owned and operated my own business for nearly 30 years has taught me that. I see companies around me charging anywhere from 30% to 60% above what I charge yet have less than half the business I have and they wonder how I get by on what "little" I charge. Well the fact is I make a pretty darn good living and I give my customers a quality service at a REASONABLE rate that they can afford so I get their business as well as their advertisement for more business. Just because one "rich" guy can afford it and is "willing" to pay a stupid price should not be the basis for the price set. Partly what is wrong with our country's economy is thinking just that way. Just my opinion but it seems that it is not just mine alone.

nalioth
September 21, 2010, 06:27 PM
I know one close to me. $10 a page for veterans (and he cards, so just saying it gets you nothing)"Cards" what, exactly? I'm a combat veteran and have no "card" from the government saying so.

Does he expect folks to carry their DD214 around with them?

snubbies
September 21, 2010, 06:38 PM
I have been an FFL for over 4 years operating out of my home (living quarters). $20.00 is cheap for a transfer.

justashooter in pa
September 21, 2010, 06:57 PM
as an FFL i think 20 + 5 is damned cheap. no wonder he quit doing it. then there is the NICS call charge...

nalioth
September 21, 2010, 07:35 PM
then there is the NICS call charge...
Lots of states don't have "NICS call charges".

jdowney
September 21, 2010, 09:15 PM
In my neck of the woods, $20 is about average, maybe a bit low.

FFL holders are not required to do transfers for you, and as earlier posters pointed out, there is some liability and expense involved. If they are willing to provide the service I'm grateful for the convenience of being able to shop online, get the best price on exactly what I'm looking for rather than what the local dealer just happens to have. The handful of transfers I've had done realistically take 30 minutes or so by the time all is said and done - including waiting around for the tardy client (me) to show up for the appointment at the home based FFL's office. Its easy to find the home based guys, just check gunbroker's list and start emailing them.

Now all that said, the OP is not out in left field being a bit torqued at this dealer. The guy basically took a good professional relationship and trashed it, and its not unreasonable to expect his business to suffer. If he's doing transfers at the cost of other, more profitable business, then the move makes sense, but that would be a rare case in my experience. I think the guy's shooting himself in the foot, transfers are good money and can easily be worked into an efficient business model.... for example, you already know what a whole bunch of regular customers have bought - start stocking ammo and accessories for their guns specifically... like having inside marketing info on guys who are going to come back in to the store.

leadcounsel
September 21, 2010, 09:32 PM
I've also asked him to stock certain guns more but he refuses. He stocks very vanilla guns - Glocks, XDs, SW revolvers and 1911s.

I've repeatedly suggested stocking CZs but he just won't do it. I've ordered several CZs now through him and also via online with him doing the transfer...

Dunno.

In a year I'll see if he misses the business

Hanzo581
September 21, 2010, 09:48 PM
My FFL here charges $30 per transfer and proclaim on their website they happily accept transfers. It is a simple fact that as consumers we want the best deal.

Would they rather I spend $200 more on something in store than buying online cheaper and getting them to transfer it for $30?....sure, but they aren't stupid, they know they cannot compete with online and they are content with making their money on those that don't know any better and pay close to MSRP.

52grain
September 21, 2010, 09:54 PM
Never ceases to amaze me how little folks here know about running a business and how they think transfers should be basically free because they buy a box of ammo once in a while................

I wish more Americans understood how businesses work and that profits are not normally nearly as high as they may appear.

You could argue that FFL transfers should be treated as loss bringing items. (Kind of like oil changes, get them in the door with cheap oil changes and then find other things that need fixing) But, if someone bought a gun on the internet, they'll probably buy their accessories and ammo that way to, so I have no problem with an FFL making money from these "customers" as well.

Even though transfers may have very little incremental costs, the fees for FFL transfers are not pure profit. The shop still has operating costs that have to be paid. If you say that an FFL transfer is pure profit to the dealer, then the markup on any sale is pure profit as well (after all one sale has very little impact on the overall operating costs of any medium sized store) and I do not know anyone with any business sense that would make that argument.

oneounceload
September 21, 2010, 10:02 PM
And "silver spoon" statements such as that is partly what is wrong with our economy

SILVER SPOON?? Sounds more like class envy on your part. If you think $20 is excessive, then perhaps you need to rethink shooting as a hobby as it appears to be above your means. Maybe you think everything should be priced based on the lowest economic indicator as opposed to what the market will bear. The prices are what they are because most folks are willing to pay them. If you cannot afford what the rest of the folks are paying, then my statements about saving your money, getting another job, or even a better education are still germane.

52grain
September 21, 2010, 10:06 PM
I've repeatedly suggested stocking CZs but he just won't do it. I've ordered several CZs now through him and also via online with him doing the transfer...

That's a perfectly logical reason to switch dealers. If they don't have what you want and can only get it a prices significantly above market, by all means, find some one who does have what you want.

22-rimfire
September 21, 2010, 10:07 PM
If I were an FFL dealer with a shop, I would do the transfers for the market rate charged in the area. It would bug me that things that I do transfers on could have been sold in my shop. BUT, I would have to gauge the amount of traffic for transfers with how much other business they provide me. I would however, do the only transfers when there are no other regular paying customers which could cause a wait at times.

I don't have a very good feel for just how many transfers are going on at a typical gunshop. Are we talking one per day or ten per day? I personally have only had a few guns transfered years ago (pre-internet) and they were all collector's items. There was little chance that dealer would have such a gun. Since the internet sales started, I have not purchased a single firearm that required a FFL dealer transfer. I still like the thrill of the chase, but I know if you have unlimited resources, you can buy almost anything and have it shipped to you. Communications are really fast and efficient these days. There are a couple firearms that I would purchase online and have shipped, but again they are collector type firearms.

The OP's gun shop made a choice. No more transfers. I can understand. It is their business and their choice. It is also your right and choice to do business elsewhere.

Zak Smith
September 21, 2010, 10:23 PM
rbernie's post is spot on
A monkey can do it and it takes minutes worth of work.
Having the paperwork 100% correct is very, very important.

conw
September 21, 2010, 10:25 PM
reading comprehension 101:
so i found a good deal on a pistol on the internet from a big box store. I called my ffl and he tells me that they've changed their policy and will no longer be taking any ffl transfers!!!
this was the topic of the post, please reply accordingly if you did not finish reading for some reason.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
September 21, 2010, 10:32 PM
SILVER SPOON?? Sounds more like class envy on your part. If you think $20 is excessive

Slightly off topic here but just in defense of myself, for one sir, I envy noone nor any "class" as you seem to suggest since I probably pay more in income taxes yearly than you make. Furthermore I have not ANYWHERE stated that I thought $20 dollars was high nor do I feel it is, I stated that in my neck of the socialist state of Illinois that the average was $50.00 to $100 for transfers and I find that a ridiculous rate and the OP should be glad his is only $20.00. Before you cast insults sir maybe you should attempt to read what one says.

murdoc rose
September 21, 2010, 10:33 PM
There's a shop in town that does it for free and tbh Id probably use them even if they didn't.

52grain
September 21, 2010, 10:46 PM
There's a shop in town that does it for free

That's a really good deal. None of the traditional gun shops around here (big box or ma and pa) do transfers. Claim that they are too much trouble. There are several people that do them out of their home. I have never had a reason to do a transfer so can't comment on the going rate around here but there was a sign at the range for someone asking in the $20-$25 range.

I don't have exotic tastes and the big box stores have reasonable prices on the normal stuff. I check Bud's price and on average, I pay something in line with that.

Hanzo581
September 21, 2010, 10:49 PM
They should run deals like spend X amount of dollars in store and get a free transfer.

Shadow 7D
September 22, 2010, 12:57 AM
Actually if you get to know some kitchen table type guys, you might learn some things, like one I was talking to, seems the ATF went after the license of some who do it for free...

A Class I is for business and them failing to make money was seen as suspicious, not bad or good business practice. That being said, I know of one shop in town that will do the transfer, but you will end up paying 25 more that just ordering it though them, I went to the other store...

dogtown tom
September 22, 2010, 01:40 AM
nalioth Quote:
Originally Posted by justashooter in pa
then there is the NICS call charge...

Lots of states don't have "NICS call charges".

The FBI does not charge licensed dealers to call NICS for a background (or Brady Law check). If you are being charged for a "NICS check" it is most likely because you live in a state where the point of contact is a state agency and not the FBI. Blame your money grubbing state government for making you pay for something the Feds provide for free.

***BTW The FBI NICS Call Center has to be the most efficient federal agency ever. In the last two years I've had less than five calls where I listened to "wait music" before a live operator answered. They are ALWAYS polite to a fault. I wish the USPS was as efficient and friendly.

Here is the "NICS map", note that it is out of date as some states permits no longer meet the FBI NICS exemption.

http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/nics/participation_map.jpg

jhco50
September 22, 2010, 02:50 AM
WardenWolf is the only one that is really on with this thread. I know several FFLs and it is basically free money in Colorado as the background checks are free. I have no problem with a reasonable fee for services rendered, but many of these shops are gouging to make up for a lack of customers. The gouging then drives away more customers until they go out of business. All the time whining about the lack of business. This is capitalism and it is working.

One thing I have noticed. Some people have no choice but to get the best deal they can or not buy anything. Others have a lot of disposable income and will pay just about any price asked to buy what they want. This is fine, but remember that many don't make big money and still have to support their families and keep a roof over their heads.:scrutiny:

medalguy
September 22, 2010, 03:15 AM
I have no problem with a FFL charging a fair price for transfers. I buy a lot of guns and use two FFLs to handle mine, and both charge $20 per transfer.

For that money, as stated earlier, they receive the gun, open the package, check the gun for damage, check to see that it's WHAT I ORDERED (one wan't), log it in, store it in their safe, call me, do the paperwork when I get there, make the call, generate an invoice for the charges, log the gun out to me, and thank me. All of this takes time, effort, liability on their part, and then they get to store the paperwork for years. That takes space and that costs money too.

The problem I have is with the sellers who are dealers yet still charge $75 or more to ship a handgun, claiming it has to go Fedex overnight. Horsehockey. Why can one dealer ship it for $15 and the other guy claims it costs $75 to ship it?

Jorg Nysgerrig
September 22, 2010, 03:22 AM
I think this has gone on long enough. Remember that this is a "discussion" forum, not a "let me tell you how it is and argue with you when you don't agree" forum. Discussion and debate, even somewhat heated ones, are fine. But belittling everyone who disagrees with you isn't going to fly.

Those of you who got into who makes more money and who is better educated might want to take a step back and reconsider your posts.

If you enjoyed reading about "Perspective on gun dealers and FFL transfer fees" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!