Kali Bank Vs. Class 3 Dealer...


February 4, 2003, 01:52 AM

Discrimination against Illinois business?

Saybrook, Illinois (GSL) - Pro-tech Engineering in Saybrook, Illinois sounds like just any other company. However, what goes on inside those doors of that small-town company earned that company the wrath of big-city California gun bigots in the banking industry.

Jim Gravitt owns Pro-Tech and is a federally licensed manufacturer of firearms, including machine guns. He formerly worked for F.J. Vollmer's in Bloomington, Illinois in the late 1980's as the primary gunsmith doing full-auto conversions for law enforcement agencies and licensed class III "machine gun" owners and dealers.

Gravitt had been running his credit card transactions through EFS out of Memphis, Tennessee. However, that company's slow processing of transactions and growing fee structure led him to look elsewhere for card processing.

Enter the Cornerstone Company, of Bloomington, IL (1242 E. Empire, Tel. 309 820-0076). That company sets up businesses with card processing. As per standard procedure, Gravitt filled out the application, submitted a voided check and paid the $75 sign-up fee. Gravitt liked Cornerstone's low fees (compared to EFS) and 48-hour transfers on transactions. A Cornerstone representative soon came out to the Pro-Tech shop and verified that the company did indeed exist. The application process was moving along very smoothly.

Things went smoothly, that is, until a couple of weeks later. Sandy Milliken (direct tel. 707 569-9784 / Main bank tel. 707 573-4800) from the National Bank of the Redwoods from Santa Rosa, California called him. She is an account representative for the bank's credit card processing division that was to handle the card transactions for Pro-Tech.

She asked for clarification on what kind of business Pro-Tech did. After Gravitt explained the services his company provided, Sandy was skeptical. She demanded a copy of his Federal Firearms License (FFL) to prove that his business was legal. She made it clear that she didn't approve of people owning, manufacturing or using firearms, saying that she hated guns and that people shouldn't have guns. "Guns are evil!" she said.

Gravitt informed her that per BATF instructions, he could not mail her a copy of his license. BATF sent out a memo last year warning dealers about people taking copies of FFL's, changing pertinent information then using those altered licenses to secure firearms illegally, directly from the manufacturers and wholesalers.

Gravitt's explanation was not acceptable to Sandy Milliken. Further exasperating the prejudiced Milliken, Gravitt asked why she was harassing him about his lawful and legitimate business. The conversation grew heated and Gravitt admits telling the Californian that her state's gun laws were the worst in the nation and that it would be the best thing that happened for the entire nation if Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and a few other infamous Californian anti-rights politicians were to drown off the California coast.

Following the unpleasant call from the National Bank of the Redwoods, Gravitt called Cornerstone back for clarification on what the problem was. Robert, the manager of the Cornerstone office, was quite apologetic for the Milliken's call. He assured Gravitt that he would take care of the problem.

A couple of days go by and Gravitt decided, after consulting with his personal banker, to call the Redwoods bank back and speak with Sandy Milliken's supervisor. Sandy's supervisor was also named Sandy (Gravitt didn't get her last name).

Supervisor Sandy apologized to Gravitt for Milliken's earlier derogatory and prejudiced comments about Gravitt and the work he does. She said that she personally didn't hold an opinion about guns other than people who do bad things shouldn't have guns. She didn't have a problem with Pro-tech's business and said that a copy of the FFL wouldn't be necessary. She did say that Pro-tech transactions would be subject to a 72-hour hold.

When Gravitt reminded her that Cornerstone touted transaction completion within 48-hours, she said that because of the nature of his business, the bank would be imposing the 3-day hold, despite his blemish-free card transaction history.

Banks handling credit card transactions consider some businesses at a "higher risk" of fraud and chargebacks and as such, impose higher fees and longer hold periods before they complete the transfer of funds to the merchant's bank following credit card transactions. Two classic examples of high-risk merchants are Internet porn sites and escort services.

Gravitt told Supervisor Sandy that he believed that her bank was discriminating against him because of the nature of his lawful business. He went on to say that he would be sharing the story of his experience with the Redwoods Bank via the Internet. Supervisor Sandy angrily responded that if he did that, her bank would sue him and his company into the dirt.

After that charming call, Gravitt contacted the people at Cornerstone and explained what had happened. He told them that he wouldn't be needing their services and that he wouldn't give the Redwoods bank a cent of his business given their apparent anti-rights prejudices.

Gravitt then contacted a nearby Normal, Illinois competitor of Cornerstone, Capital Merchant Solutions (Tel. 309 452-5990 website: www.cmsprocessing.com) and explained briefly what he was looking for and what he found at Redwoods Bank. Marcus Provost, the competitor's national sales director and former Marine told Gravitt, "Sure, we'll take care of you without any three-day holds."

Provost told Gravitt that he personally was a proud gun owner and he eagerly volunteered to come out and help "test fire" any of those full-auto firearms any time Gravitt needed some help with that.

"This guy knows how to do business," Gravitt said.

You can contact Jim Gravitt at Pro-tech Engineering by calling 309 475-2502. His website is www.protech-engineering.com.

National Bank of the Redwoods from Santa Rosa, California


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February 4, 2003, 02:18 AM
Interesting & somewhat similar dilema with a local (Longmont, CO) gun shop owner & a local bank about 5 years back.

Gunowner was somewhat more fiesty & had access to a local pro-freedom radio station.

Some "publicity" & a "protest or two" .... think the gun shop owner AND station walked out of that fiasco with a few pretty pennies .....

All well 'n good Gravitt's got himself a decent enough card processor. He could've walked away with a few cool scoots to sweeten the deal from those who'd steal our most precious resource.

Sauce for the goose.

& still? .... a dish best served cold.

Don Gwinn
February 4, 2003, 08:58 AM
Kinda weird that he berates her on California's gun laws, though. Illinois' laws on full-auto are about as strict as they get--not allowed for civilians, no way, no how. In terms of his business, California and Illinois are about the same.

February 4, 2003, 10:12 AM
While Cook County (ie Chicago) sucks, you cannot even begin to compare the rest of the state to Kali. True it sucks for NFA stuff, but for semi autos they ain't even close.

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