photo of mourning doves

THE FOLLOWING IS A real conversation between a Remington Arms Co. consumer service representative and a Remington customer: Caller: “My 1100 keeps jamming.” Consumer Service Representative: “Do you clean it?” Caller: “Every time I shoot it I clean it just like my daddy taught me. I use a bronze brush and solvent and scrub out the fouling, then run cloth patches through the barrel until they come out clean.” CSR: “Do you take the forearm off and clean the gas system?” Caller: “The forearm comes off?”

If you have a problem with your Remington, want to learn the history of an older gun, need to talk about a repair or order spare parts, or just want information on new models, dial 800-243-9700. You won’t be alone. Even in July–typically a slow month–Remington Consumer Service fields 3,000 to 4,000 calls a week. That volume doubles from mid August through Thanksgiving. Consumer service also receives around 4,000 e-mails during busy months, a steady stream of faxes–mostly part orders–and a trickle of old-fashioned snail mail.

A misguided few want a cleaning brush for a Remington shaver (it’s not the same Remington). Some have called thinking WRA stamped on a gun barrel somehow meant Remington instead of Winchester Repeating Arms, but the vast majority have valid questions. Sixteen representatives answer the phones every day at Remington corporate headquarters in Madison, N.C.

**Manning the Gun Phones******

****”WE HAVE A** mix of shooters and nonshooters among our CSRs,” says consumer service manager John Locsin. “Sometimes it’s easier to train someone who hasn’t shot before, but shooting and hunting backgrounds are a definite plus. Lately I’ve been hiring shooters.”**

David Sykes, 50, of Greensboro, N.C., is one of Locsin’s relatively new hires. A hunter and shooter for 45 years, Sykes worked in customer service at the IRS and American Express before coming to Remington three years ago. He knew he had entered a different corporate culture during his initial interview: “I mentioned sometimes my own 11-87 flummoxed me, and they got one out and we took it apart and did a walk-through right there on the desk.”

Like all new reps, Sykes received extensive training. He spent four weeks in the classroom learning company history and product lines before he ever touched a telephone. He visited the call center to listen to representatives handling calls, then spent a week on the phone with a CSR next to him before he “soloed.” After a couple of weeks on the phones, Sykes went back for three weeks of technical training to learn about parts and repairs.

In three years on the job, Sykes has taken all kinds of calls. “One man who called was out crow hunting. He kept saying ‘Hang on,’ and I’d hear Bam! Bam! Then we would continue our conversation.”

In August, people ask Sykes about shot size for dove hunting. “I tell them to use 8 shot in the first week of the season, then 7½; later as the birds get wild,” he says. Every day, though, there are surprises: “People lose stuff. I get absentminded sometimes, but I get calls from people who have lost bolts from their rifles while they were out hunting. How do you lose a rifle bolt? I try not to think about how it happened. I just concentrate on getting them back into the field.”

“One man who called was out crow hunting. He kept saying ‘Hang on,’ and I’d hear Bam! Bam!”

Shotgun Rx

******DO NOT WAIT** until opening day to shoot your gun and find out you have a problem. Remember, call volume doubles from July to August.

Have your gun in hand when you call so you can go over the problem with the CSR on the phone. If you have to send a gun back for repair, use an authorized service center if possible instead of returning the gun to the factory. The turnaround will be much faster.

But you could save yourself a call to consumer service in the first place by trying these remedies to the three most common shotgun problems:

Failure to cycle. The most common cause of shells not cycling in an 1100 or 11-87 is that the shooter forgot to reinstall the barrel seal O-ring after taking the gun apart. Putting the piston ring and seal on backward runs a close second.

Failure to feed. When 1100/11-87s and 870s won’t feed a round from the magazine tube, the culprit is almost always a magazine plug that has been installed upside down (the small end should point down toward the trigger).

Sticky lock. Many guns returned for trigger service have been over-oiled, causing dirt to accumulate on the sticky surface. Remove the trigger group, degrease with Gun Scrubber, lightly oil, and wipe off excess.

And a tip for you rifle shooters out there: Don’t lose sight of that bolt.