GunVault Poor Quality/Customer Service - Pics/Review

Discussion in 'Anything Else' started by Syntax360, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

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    Just thought I would share my experience with GunVault so that others know what they are getting into when they purchase their products. It's kinda long, so I'll break it into sections - read what you like. :)

    [What Happened]
    Just under a year ago I purchased a GunVault Multi Deluxe online from the "lowest bidder" on Froogle. Up until this week I thought it was a pretty solid pistol safe. It has plenty of features and the instructions say it's covered under a 1 year warranty and that the manufacturer is the only authorized place to have repairs performed. After the year, "minimum fee for examination and handling is $19.95. Parts and labor may be extra, depending upon condition." Not the greatest warranty in the world, but hey - at least it seemed as though they stand behind the product. It is electronic, after all, and we all know how dependable electronics tend to be.

    I typically use it maybe once a week - my shotgun and M9A1 are my go-to guns and all my other pistols stay locked away in the GunVault. I went to put a pistol back in the safe and after I punched in my digital combination I heard the motor turn but the door didn't open. Odd, I thought. A second try yielded the same results. I used my key and sure enough, the door sprung open. I checked the A/C adapter and it was plugged in, but I changed the backup batteries just in case. I tried the digital combo for a third time, unsuccessfully. At this point, I decided my only option was to find my all my paperwork and call GunVault.


    [GunVault's Customer Service]
    Getting a hold of GunVault's service tech isn't exactly an easy thing to do. After several straight-to-voicemail calls, I managed to get a human being who forwarded my call to their "technician". I informed him of my problem and right away (as expected), he wanted to know how long I've had the safe, where my receipt is, did I mail off my registration card when I bought it (I had not), etc. I knew I was screwed on the warranty thing as I could not locate the e-mail that was my receipt, I didn't remember what website I bought it from, and I still have my registration card with all my other paperwork. I explained all of this to the "gentleman" on the phone - he informed me that the drive cable was broken (and implied it's a common occurrence) but they have absolutely no parts, everything is made in China, they only replace them if they are within the 1-year warranty period, and that I was "out of luck, Pal!". I definitely did not take kindly to his tone on the last part - I'm not his "pal" - I'm the sucker who just wasted $135 on a gun safe will all the features of a $30 Wal-Mart lockbox - and he was obviously trying to piss me off so I'd hang up. I obliged him.

    [The Fix]
    At this point, I knew there was no warranty to void and no possibility of getting factory support. I didn't want to just walk away and consider the safe a waste of money, so a friend and I peeled back the foam on the roof of the safe and removed the metal-encased electronic control box. This entails removing a few screws and unplugging the power wires and speaker wires - not that difficult. Inside, we discovered this:

    [​IMG]

    And a much better picture...

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the drive cable was indeed broken. At least the "tech" had that part right. When the proper access code is entered, the motor turns the spindle the drive cable is connected to and this tugs the spring and causes the latching mechanism the release, and thus opens the safe. With the cable broken, the motor does not pull the spring and entering the digital code is just an exercise in futility.
    The solution, obviously, is to rig something else up to the motor and spring. I assume the factory cable broke because it flexed the same way every time the safe opened - keep folding a flexible piece of metal/wire long enough and breakage is bound to occur. The only thing I had around that would perhaps work in lue of stainless braided cable was o-rings of varying durometers. I went with the hardest (though still quite flexible) o-ring on hand - we cut it to the proper length and cut off the "crimps" that were holding on the original cable. We used those existing crimps and an electrical wire connector to hold the piece of o-ring on the spring and motor spindle. The (awful) picture below sorta illustrates the results better than I could describe:

    [​IMG]

    The end result? the safe functions perfectly when the code is entered. Now I know this setup is less than perfect, but I honestly expect it to hold up better than the factory setup. And if not, I now have the materials and know-how to rig up another fix.

    [Conclusions]
    As I said previously, I do not count of the GunVault - I have other firearms readily available. However, I realize a lot of people are not able to just leave firearms handy due to children, etc. and that quite a few people do, quite literally, trust their GunVaults "with their lives" to function. I hope my experience can serve as a grave warning to those who do so. The factory lock release is a flimsy design, at best. I believe trusting the vault to open every time could be a tragic (final) mistake for someone when they need it most. And would it kill GunVault to stock replacement cables? How much could the stupid little part possibly cost? I understand that their "technician's" sole responsibility is probably to evaluate safes that are still under warranty and determine if they should be replaced, but they would do well to have the guy take 10 minutes to save some poor schmuck's $135+ investment. Their instruction manual is downright deceptive when it describes the "repair process" - that needs to be addressed by the company. I urge anyone looking to buy a pistol safe to go the mechanical route - I've seen numerous similar pistol safes at gunshows that use mechanical means for the push-button unlocking mechanism and were comparably priced.

    I fully regret my purchase and urge all others to stay away from GunVault products.
     
  2. Angel

    Angel Guest

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    I tested out a GunVault at a dealer and realized that the combination and the whole safe was far from secure, so I backed away very quicly. I mean, I am sure I could have hacked that thing when I was 12 years old.

    Thanks for posting your experience, cause I am sure there are quite a few of us out there looking at a convenient way to secure our pistols. Obviously, the GunVault is not one of them.
     

  3. Wulf

    Wulf Premium Member

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    Hiya *tax :)

    Bummer, Dude. :roll: I wonder what the liability issues are for such a negative thing to happen to an otherwise reputable security agency? If the word got out.... :idea: G'luck, Bro and hava great weekend. :p

    Wulf
     
  4. West01

    West01 New Member

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    These guys use a motor instead of a simple solenoid....whhoooaa! :p

    Stay away from these. With this kind of design philosophy what else can go wrong?

    :D

    West01
     
  5. nc_gunner

    nc_gunner Guest

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    Thanks for the review Syntax!. I'd been looking at a GunVault and wasn't very impressed with their warranty either, glad to know that even after the warranty's up you can still get top notch customer service... :roll: If they're that polite after you're not covered, I'm sure they aren't very friendly even if you were under warranty.

    I'll keep looking and I take your point on electronic vs mechanical safes. Keypad versions look cool, but you can't beat a solid and precise mechanical system. They just don't fail like electronics can.
     
  6. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

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    GunVault products are not really meant to keep out a determined thief - more to deter/prevent children, etc. from getting to your pistol. Any idiot with a hacksaw, hammer, and/or crowbar could smash their way into the vault in very little time. Or perhaps they serve to simply slow a thief down. In either case, don't expect a determined (read willing to destroy the safe) individual to require more than 5 minutes to gain acces to anything inside one of these.
     
  7. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

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    Just wanted to post an update...

    A member of another forum I frequent called GunVault on the issue and was able to get some more info out of them. Prior to February 2005 the company was owned by Security Products, and the "new" company owners acknowledge that the "cable crimping" door was a problem with older units. So, the new owners say that units purchased after February 2005 should not have the same problem, and if they do, GunVault will repair or replace the door mechanism if it breaks regardless of the warranty because that part would be deemed faulty.

    GunVault says there is no way to determine whether or not the unit you own is the old or new - they refer you to date of purchase to decide. This just is not acceptable, IMHO. Lord knows how many old/faulty GunVault safes have sat on distributor shelves until well after February 2005, but the end user would have no way to know whether or not their unit was the "OK" one...

    Also, I'm eager to see someone with an official post-Feb. 2005 model disassemble the unit and show me what has changed - I'm willing to bet we would see no design change. Also, they claim they will repair or replace the door, but their own technician has told me and several other people I've spoken with that no replacement/spare parts are kept at their facility - I'm guess that "repair or replace the door" once again means "exchange the whole unit".

    I am fairly frustrated at this point with the company's disregard for the end user - I just might have to order my credit card statements from summer/fall 2005 to get my purchase date to see if I can't put GunVault's feet to the fire on this - I want to see for myself how they supposedly rectified the problem in the newer units.
     
  8. bigtaco

    bigtaco Active Member

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    that sucks, they suck, any person or company that does crap like that sucks. thanks for the heads up.

    if you're going to try and nail them on the price of the safe, better do it quick. i don't think they'll be around long with service like you experienced.
     
  9. babj615

    babj615 Premium Member

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    Well Said!!!!!

    ..and Syn,

    Thanks for keeping us updated, so we don't have to suffer like you are!



    :D :D :D
     
  10. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

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    Just a follow-up to this thread, a few years downrange...

    My fix for this safe worked great up until mid-May, when I assume the re-worked o-ring "cable" came loose or broke. I didn't have time to disassemble or repair, so I was forced to start using my key again on the rare occasions I needed into the safe.

    Fast forward to Monday when my car was broken into at a local park. I regularly jog through a park near my home, and I had removed the "extra" keys from my keychain to reduce the jingling mass that otherwise bounces around in my pocket. Of course, my GunVault key was one of the keys left behind in my vehicle, and sure enough that set of keys was stolen.

    It dawned on me last night that I am now unable to access my GunVault via the keypad, and my primary safe key has been stolen. I spent some time last night searching for the backup key that GunVault gives you, but it seems I placed it in such a secure location that even I may likely never find it. I had never planned on needing both keys, as I always counted on the keypad in the event I lost my keys.

    Now I'm left with two choices - contact GunVault to try to obtain a new key at unknown cost, or break into the safe, probably by irreversibly damaging it. I'm going to think on it for a few days, but I may very well be posting new pictures of a destroyed GunVault Multi Deluxe here in a few days... That, or tips on how to successfully compromise the locking mechanism on this style safe in a very James Bond manner... [​IMG]

    Anyway, I only post this as an anecdote about how these kinds of things snowball over time and lead to more trouble downrange. The moral of this story is the same as before - invest in a quality mechanical product that is far less susceptible to failure, especially if your life depends on it. Fortunately, mine does not, so I can afford the hassle.
     
  11. Narsil

    Narsil Premium Member

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    I missed this thread when it came around the first time (if I was even a member back then, IDR) but, dang, that sucks.

    If you decide to go the break in route, I was quite disturbed to find out how easy it is to break into most keyed locks. Even the case-hardened ones usually have soft brass cylinders where the key is inserted. I watched a guy utterly defeat a large Masterlock in approximately 20 seconds with nothing more than a crappy battery-powered drill and a 3/8" drill bit. He held the lock in one hand and drilled the brass cylinder out with the other. It took about 20 seconds and when he was done, he turned it over, shook it, out fell a handfull of brass shavings, pins, and springs and the loop popped open.

    With the gun vault, I'd try a drill press. Is it a normal key or the round ones like on a freezer or soda machine? If you can drill out the cylinder, you should be able to actuate the latching mechanism with some small tools; possibly an allen key.

    If you don't want to try breaking into it, call a locksmith. I'm not sure how you convince him you didnt steal the vault but I'm sure there's a way. My dad bought a large safe from a very reputable manufacturer. When he asked the guy how long it took him to break into these rather expensive safes when people forgot their combos, he shrugged and replied, "I did one last week in about 45 seconds but I got lucky. It usually takes me two to three minutes."
     
  12. ThaiBoxer

    ThaiBoxer Active Member

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    I'd call again, tell them the safe is broken with your guns in it and ask them.

    You can break it open with a sturdy screw driver or small pry bar with no trouble, if you have half a set of cojones, which you probably do, but I have not checked that and have no intention of doing so, so quit sending me those disgusting pics you filthy preevert.

    I have 2 of these, a deluxe and a mini standard. The Deluxe has a .45, J-frame and a Kahr in it, with daily access as my carry guns go in and out of here. The other is the small one and my M40 is in there.

    The deluxe broke after a year (wouldn't stay latched) and I sent it back and they replaced it. That was about 3 years ago.
     
  13. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

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    Good news guys - I found the master key:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We've peeled a few other barrel locks off stuff at work before - I've yet to see a barrel lock that can last more than one minute in a match with a 9x rivet hammer... I'm pretty tempted to send the whole mess back to GunVault with a nice love letter. What do ya think? :D
     
  14. Narsil

    Narsil Premium Member

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    Any chance you can send it COD??
     
  15. xthexheadx

    xthexheadx New Member

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    that sounds exactly like something i would do.... when i moved in my new house there was an existing subscription for some shopping themed newspaper from the previous owner, i called to cancel it, but almost a year into living here they kept throwing them in my driveway, it would rain and id have a mess to scrape off the driveway with a shovel.
    several phone calls assured me it would stop, when it didnt i shoveled a few days old watery mess io a box and sent it back to them. never heard from them again.


    let us know if you decide to return it and what their reaction is....
     
  16. GROUPER TROOPER 32

    GROUPER TROOPER 32 New Member

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    You could have tried a tubular lock pick. They work very often.

    A friend of mine has a covert entry course I attended that is all about defeating locking systems. I thought I was safe at home until I broke in with a piece of milk jug........a crappy plastic milk jug.
     

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  17. Syntax360

    Syntax360 Premium Member

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    I did consider a pick, but they are something like $80-90 - I would have been better off paying for a factory key. No, I've invested more than enough in this shoddy safe.
     
  18. GROUPER TROOPER 32

    GROUPER TROOPER 32 New Member

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    Sometimes beating the hell out of a troublesome object is sooooooooo satisfiying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!