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Rural King

Rural King in Mattoon is shown in a 2017 file photo. 

MATTOON — An executive for Rural King said the Mattoon-based company will be working on customer service after getting a poor score from the Better Business Bureau.

The nonprofit organization on Monday reported that customers have complained about false advertising, prices not honored at checkout, products ordered but not delivered, and overall poor customer service. 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 the retailer has an "F" rating, the lowest on the group's scale, due to the number of unanswered consumer complaints and an underlying pattern of complaints.

John Leonauskas, vice president of marketing for Rural King, said in an email that customer service is the first priority and that the company sent a May 8 letter to the BBB about efforts to resolve customer issues. The company, which was founded in Mattoon in 1960, has more than 100 stores in 12 states.

"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.

The BBB said one of the complaints involved a North Lewisburg, Ohio, customer unable to get Rural King to honor the “new everyday price” advertised for items at his local store and a Knoxville, Tennessee, man who tried online to buy a pistol advertised 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 group also said a O’Fallon, Missouri, man indicated he spent hours on the phone while trying to get a $52 firearm rebate and a Gainesville, Florida, woman who had trouble canceling an order for rocking chairs that she never received even though she was billed.

Michelle Corey, president and CEO of BBB St. Louis, in a statement said the organization uses that information to issues scores.

"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," he said.

The May 8 letter says 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.

"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.

​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 will continue to partner with the BBB to ask for customer feedback and make sure customer service is continuously improved, he said. The chain welcomes customer feedback at stores and at 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.

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @RobStroud

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