Have not done this before, but also haven't had such a massive failure and apparent outright rip-off from a company, either. A cautionary tale follows.
The Full Story:
Back on November 1st of 2013, we placed an order for a jacket from Domari Nolo Defense Consulting for testing and use. Seemed like an interesting product available in the Pencott patterns and was being promoted by a couple different gun blogosphere outlets.
The order was placed as an anonymous, general consumer. We used an alias e-mail to place the order. We didn't approach the company as a blog looking for product samples to review, and expected no preferential treatment over any other customer.
The product was purchased out of pocket and cost $99 and change.
At the time of purchase, Domari Nolo advised of a 3 week wait due to the handmade nature of the product. No big deal, right?
6 weeks passed - twice the wait time - and so we thought we'd reach out for an update.
Chris Bianchi, one of the guys at Domari Nolo and apparently the one responsible for sewing the jackets, responded on December 19th:
Your XL is scheduled for production this weekend. It will take about two days to round out the lot size I do batches in, and will mail likely the 26th. I'm busting my butt, and appreciate your support. I hope you really enjoy your CLFP- one of the first 8 in our XL size. Any feedback and other input you have is much appreciated!
You will get an email with a tracking number when we set up your shipping.
A month passed with no tracking number or jacket, so we sent another follow-up e-mail on Jan 21st.
Chris responded on Jan 25th:
It is finished. I could come up with some big flowery reason you don't have it, but it's simply because I didn't thread the shock-cord and put it in a box. I'll print up your label and have it in the mail Monday. I really appreciate your patience... We have some really big developments as a result of SHOT show, and my lead time is coming down significantly now that I was able to get some help sewing.
Again, weeks passed without a shipping notice or jacket that was supposedly only waiting on shock cord.
On Feb 10th, we sent a 3rd follow-up e-mail and received no response. On Feb 14th, we sent a 4th follow-up e-mail, checking to see if the jacket had been sent or was still with them.
Chris responded on Feb 17th:
Yes, it's still here- will be mailed this week- we are getting caught up, finally. You'll get a shipping notice email.
Three more weeks passed. Fed up with getting the run around and our desire to own a product from Domari Nolo long since passed, we requested a refund on March 7th and received no response.
On March 16th, we again requested a refund and voiced our frustration.
Chris responded on March 17th:
I completely understand, it is entirely out of my hands the amount of delays that have occurred. We've had all types of difficulties with restructuring and shipping.
I had read your email but did not reply do to being away from my home office on personal matters, I will not only issue a refund as soon as possible (this week), I will also compensate you for your patience.
I appreciate your candor and patience in this matter, I am sorry we could not service your account expediently.
Again, nothing happened. No refund.
On March 28th, we followed up again with the request for a refund.
Chris' partner, Mark Thompson, replied to the e-mail on March 29th. Here is an excerpt:
As you can see Chris is not able to keep pace with demand. I thank you for your patience and support. I regret that we as a company have failed you on this purchase. We are restructuring to avoid this mistake ever happening again.
He promised to issue a refund if we provided the original invoice and a PayPal address. We did.
A few days later, Mark replied that he'd had a problem sending the refund through PayPal and needed us to confirm the PayPal address provided.
Since then, there has been no refund issued and Chris, Mark and Domari Nolo aren't responding to e-mails. We've sent multiple follow-up e-mails but have received no response.
In the meantime, Domari Nolo Defense Consulting has pulled their website (http://domari-nolo.com/) and apparently deleted their Facebook account.
They aren't responding to e-mails and they've apparently dropped off the map.
Now, these guys don't seem like bad guys, and they've at least provided samples to others in the gun/survival blogosphere. They were professional in their communications, and I don't think this was any kind of planned rip off. It seems like they could not handle the production of orders coming in and got caught in a cycle of making excuses for falling behind and things continued to crash and burn from there.
But...not once did they proactively reach out and provide an update on their production issues. We clearly received multiple rounds of excuses and kicking the can down the road. And now, Domari Nolo seems to have vacated the premises, disappearing without note or announcement.
And this from a company whose motto is apparently:
"To live in the most moral and ethical way possible, and accept personal
responsibility for our own actions and outcomes. Staying always at the
At this point, we're out $99, a dozen or so e-mails and a bunch of wasted time following up with this company and these guys. It sure does not seem like we'll get that jacket or a refund at this point, does it?
So, we wanted to share our ordeal and bring it to the attention of the tribe and the survival/preparedness/gun community in general. Maybe some of you have been similarly ripped off.
Maybe someone reading this is great buddies with the Domari Nolo guys and can help resolve what very much looks like a couple guys running off with $100 of our hard earned cash.
Or, maybe it will help prevent others from getting similarly screwed over in the future.
Outright rip offs like this give a bad name to small gear makers in general and leave a bad taste in the mouth. We've had great experiences and all have been worthy of confidence. That's something that we've come to expect from the community, but, unfortunately, that's not always going to be the case.
From a consumer/shopper point of view
I'd recommend steering away from makers and small companies without a strong established record or a willingness to only take partial payment up front, remainder upon deliver. We will be more cautious with who we deal with in the
future, and will be hesitant to deal with any kind of unproven custom
gear maker going forward.
Gear makers and small businesses reading this
In this day and age, each and every seemingly random customer has a voice. They may (and likely do!) have a blog, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, are active on forums, etc. Don't make promises you can't keep. Don't accept payment for products you cannot deliver. If you screw someone over, expect them to use their voice and share the crappy experience you put them through with other potential customers.
We'll still be happy to get our money back and will post an update to this blog post if one is provided. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to work out the details.
What's your take? Anyone have similar experiences with Domari Nolo? Anyone have a jacket (CLFP) delivered? More background info or details?