Wade’s Guns: A Quick Review

So Wade’s Guns in Bellevue, WA has officially jumped the shark. They appear to have stopped operating as a trustworthy gun shop and are instead using deception to get sales, while treating their customers like garbage.

I’ve bought stuff at Wade’s for years. But in my most recent attempts to purchase a handgun from them – I have walked away with a very sour taste in my mouth. Now before you go jumping to conclusions that something stupid happened like that I was denied the gun purchase and now I’m just mad at Wades, think again. I just picked the gun up today in fact. No, what I’m here today to complain about is the outright deceptive behavior on the part of Wades, as well as the complete lack of customer service – and a deeply self centered perspective that appears to be being taken by this once famous shop.

Now, if you’re from the Seattle area and have anything to do with firearms then the chances are that you’ve at least heard of Wades. They have been a staple of the Seattle gun scene as long as I’ve been around at least. And for years I’ve stopped there first if I needed anything. But I guarantee that is not going to happen in the future.

Here’s what happened. I went in to Wades looking for a specific handgun. I had already called ahead and spoken to them about this handgun so I knew that they had it. They had also mentioned to me that there was going to be a change in the laws in Washington starting on 1 Jan 2024. And that it might take longer to get the background check back from the state after then. So if I wanted to come down and buy the gun now – I would likely get it sooner! This was a big motivator for me to head down in Dec 2023, rather than waiting any longer.

The law that was changing is RCW 9.41.092 (link: https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.092). Currently as I write this, the waiting period law requires that Wades guns:

  • Wait for ten days
  • Or, wait to receive a “thumbs up” on the background check

The way the law is worded it is very clear that only one needs to be satisfied. Essentially, the government has a maximum of 10 days to complete the background check. If they can’t do it in that time then they forfeit the right to do it. This is so that the local police department can’t deny folks the rights they have to access firearms by simply refusing to do the paperwork. If Wade’s hasn’t heard back in 10 days then they are free to release the firearm to me.

Now, if you’re reading this post in 2024, then you’ll see that the law has been updated. Now it requires a *minimum* of ten days, and Wades will now be required to wait indefinitely to hear back from the government. While this is a problematic law I think, I’m not here to debate it today.

What concerns me today is how Wades lied to me in order to facilitate the sale of the firearm. Remember when I called in they told me I should come and buy the gun before the law changed, so that I would only have to wait a maximum of ten days. When I was there in person they sort of skirted “exactly how long” the wait might be. I felt weird about how they dodged the question, but since I had already been told it was up to a maximum of ten days that seemed to be no problem. What I understood from them was that it might be 2 days, or it might be 5 days, who knows? But that it would be no longer than 10 days!

What they didn’t tell me at the time was that they would not release the firearm – ever – unless they heard back from the results of the background check. I only learned this after ten days went by, and I called them to check on the status of the background check. At that point they explained to me that even though the law allowed them to release the firearm on the 11th day of waiting. They wouldn’t do that. But even in that call the lying continued.

At first the person on the other end of the line told me that the maximum wait time would be up to 30 days. After hanging up I did some research and couldn’t find anything about a 30 day limit. When I had been talking to them they made it sound like 30 days was the real limit and that I had just misunderstood the law. So I did my research, and sure enough, there’s no mention of a 30 day limit anywhere in the RCWs.

So I called them back and pressed them harder. I asked point blank where this 30 day number was coming from. After being pressed they said that the paperwork “expired” after 30 days. So I asked them to explain what that meant. What about the paperwork expiring was important? They then recanted, and said that actually, they wouldn’t release the firearm ever – unless they heard back on the results of the background check.

I asked them why that was the case, given that legally the law says they can release the firearm after 10 days. They said something about the ATF coming down on gun shops, and that it was a “liability” for them; but did not elaborate further.

Suffice it to say I was peeved. I don’t mind them defending themselves against some liability issues that the ATF might be creating. But that’s not really the point is it. They lied point blank on multiple occasions about what their wait time would actually be like. This I cannot forgive.

Now, I ended up waiting a few more days, partially because I had made one small mistake, and called after ten calendar days, not ten *business* days. But even after ten business days had passed, I still had not heard back from Wades. So I called them again, and they checked in on my file. They noted that apparently the police fax machine had been down – so they had waited to refax my background check until a few days after I initially made the purchase. They then promised me that I would hear back by the 28th.

I did not hear back from Wade’s on the 28th.

I called Wade’s on the 29th, and lo and behold my “proceed” had come back from the police department. I had initially purchased the firearm in person at Wade’s on the 9th of December. A total of 20 calendar days had passed and a total of 13 business days given the holiday.

I went into Wade’s to pickup the firearm, and was greeted by some of the most egregiously poor customer service I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t personally directed at me either. It appeared to be being shared amongst all the customers there.

The short version is, that a number of folks had come in to pick up firearms. But some news company was seemingly interviewing one of the staff members, and they had set their cameras up blocking the door to the back of the store. So we all had to sit there – while they asked this dude questions. This was just rude and self centered, and continues a pattern of selfish and even outright deceptive/antisocial behavior from the employees at Wade’s.

Obviously I have no problem with them being interviewed or something. But you can clearly see how little regard Wade’s holds for their customers. All I was told was that we’d “have to wait”. Nobody even mentioned how long the wait might be. And I having driven down to Bellevue had to decide if I wanted to leave and come back, or just wait it out.

While attempting to wait it out I tried multiple times to ask questions of the staff about what was going on, and was literally – I kid you not – straight up ignored by them. I don’t think I had done anything to invite their ire in any reasonable sense. So it’s not like I was being rude or something. For example I simply approached the counter at once point and attempted to get the attention of one of the staff behind the counter who simply refused to even look at me.

This kind of dismissive attitude was also very apparent in almost every time I got on the phone with them. They consistently acted annoyed, defensive, or even outright somewhat hostile to being asked questions about the background check thing.

I imagine that they are under some serious pressure on this point on the background check thing. And I think they think it’s the “government’s fault”. So I imagine that the staff are feeling rather annoyed that everyone keeps calling them. But I’m gonna be frank, it’s not the government’s fault that they are rude. It’s also not the government’s fault that they outright lied to me about how long it might be till they would release the gun. It’s also not the government’s fault that they decided to be rude when I was there in person.

Whatever is happening at Wade’s I hope they either turn it around, or close up shop.

About the author

Professional hacker & security engineer. Currently at Google, opinions all my own. On Twitter as @zaeyx. Skydiver, snowboarder, writer, weightlifter, runner, energetic to the point of being a bit crazy.

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