Consumers Flood BBB With Complaints About ILMG Flashlight Orders

  
     
December 22, 2015

ILMG flashlight promotionSt. Louis, Mo., Dec. 23, 2015Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about St. Charles-based ILMG Corporation following numerous recent complaints alleging lengthy shipping delays, problems with processing online payments and poor customer service.

Several people who said they had ordered the items as Christmas gifts say they are concerned they will not receive them in time.

Most of the more than 260 complaints to BBB involve the purchase of what ILMG is marketing as a 75-percent-off military-issue flashlight called the Tactical G700. ILMG has touted the flashlight in an extensive online advertising campaign in recent months.

Consumers from the St. Louis region and across the nation have filed complaints with BBB. They include customers from 42 states, with the largest number from California (16), Texas (12), Florida (10) and Missouri (eight).

ILMG, which also uses the names University of Guns, National Gun Owner Association and National Protection Association, has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible. All complaints have been filed since May 2015, with more than 200 filed since Dec. 1.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said the number of complaints – which has grown dramatically in recent days – is a significant cause for concern. “The sheer volume of complaints paints a picture of a company that simply is not meeting customers’ expectations,” she said. “ILMG needs to get a handle on its operations, and it needs to do it quickly.”

Records filed with the Missouri secretary of state show that company officials registered ILMG Corporation in June 2014. In July 2015, the company listed John K. Lewellen III as president and Bryclen A. Lewellen as vice president. The company lists an address of 4025 S. Old Highway 94, St. Charles.

A man who identified himself as Bryce Lewellen, a partner with ILMG, told BBB by phone that the flashlight’s popularity had resulted in unexpected shipping delays.

He said ILMG recently hired 40 additional customer service representatives and switched to a new phone system to handle an increased call volume. On the same day, a BBB investigator who phoned the business was put on hold for 20 minutes and then directed to leave a message.

Lewellen also said the company was trying to get shipments out within 10 to 14 days. “We shouldn’t have anybody over three weeks. We’re pumping them [the orders] out as fast as possible right now,” he said.

On Dec. 15, ILMG was still running ads for the flashlight, including one picturing Santa Claus dropping a flashlight into a Christmas stocking.  The ad was headed: “Brighten Their Stocking With Flashlights.”  Lewellen acknowledged that flashlights ordered at that time would not arrive in time for Christmas, but said there is no reason for the company to pull the ads.

He suggested that gift buyers simply put a receipt for their purchase into a stocking to show the product had been ordered.

The advertising offers a link to the website nationalprotectionassociation.org.

A man from Ballwin said he was frustrated after waiting nearly three weeks for his shipment. During that time, he said, he was unable to reach anyone with ILMG. “It’s like nobody’s willing to take responsibility,” he said. When he finally received his flashlight, he described the product as “worthless,” and added “I would not recommend it to anyone.”

A woman from Rio Rancho, N. M., said she paid $97 for two flashlights and rechargers on Nov. 25 and still had not received anything three weeks later. She, too, said she has phoned and emailed repeatedly, but has been unable to reach anyone with the business. She recently filed for a refund with her credit card company. “This is unfair business practices,” she said. “It’s unbelievable.”

A woman from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who has waited more than a month for her flashlight order, said, “I’ve emailed more than five times; I’ve called countless times.”

In addition to complaints over shipping delays and poor customer relations, BBB also received complaints from customers who said they were surprised to learn the company enrolled them in a monthly membership in the National Gun Owner Association. Several told BBB that once they learned of the membership, they tried repeatedly to cancel, without success.

ILMG has responded that the membership enrollment program was clear on the order page.

At least one consumer said he received only a partial order; another said she never completed her online order, but the company still charged her.

Still others have complained about ILMG’s marketing practices. “ILMG sends a ridiculous amount of spam, and I have tried on 15 different occasions to unsubscribe from their emails,” a man from Truckee, Calif., said in his BBB complaint.

BBB offers the following advice when ordering from online sites:

  • Research the business and owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
  • Ask for references and contact them.
  • Try to determine whether the business has an actual office and try to speak with someone there before ordering merchandise.
  • Read all terms and conditions carefully before completing a purchase. Make sure to read and understand all warranty information and refund policies. Know your options in case you receive an item that was not as advertised.
  • Be on the alert for inadvertently signing up for a program that enrolls you in a fee-based membership.
  • Don’t accept a professional-looking website or a presence on social media as verification that a business is trustworthy. Make sure to check other sources like BBB.
  • Know when your shipment is due. Unless an online retailer specifies a shipment date, federal law requires that it has 30 days to ship once merchandise is ordered.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.

Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org; Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), cthetford@stlouisbbb.org

Bill Smith, Investigator, (314) 584-6727, bsmith@stlouisbbb.org

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.