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Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't do business with Simple Survival


I do not relish having to write this post, but I feel it is necessary to warn people NOT to do business with Simple Survival (, not to be confused with, which sells camping gear and nor AR-15 accessories), their front man Nicholas O'Bryan, or their employer, The Tarra Designs Group.

I was first introduced to Nick by none other than Oleg Volk (who no doubt regrets this, for reasons of his own that I hope he will list in the comments) back when I was trying to get a carry pistol. Nick said that he had an online store that supplied weapons, ammunition and firearm accessories to local police, and that if I were to buy my Glock from him, he would give me a good price for it if I mentioned his store in my blog. 

I said that sounded like a great idea, but I hadn't yet decided upon which kind of pistol to get. 

No problem, he replied, I have some blue guns here that I can send you so you can decide which of them fit your hand and your carry method. 

Great, I said, and sent him my mailing address. That was March 1, 2012, and I never heard back from him for months after that. This should have been my first indication that he was a flake. 

Fast forward to the summer. Nick had surfaced on July 2, chatting me as if everything was normal, trying to sell me things like ammo for my Glock or Mosin. I turned him down because I was able to get them in bulk for less. This "courtship," if you will, lasted the better part of two months, and towards the end of August I had bought my stripped AR lower and, flush with some writing money, was looking to buy a Lower Parts Kit. 

Again, he quoted me a very low price -- $126 for an LPK, 6-position stock, buffer tube & spring, 2 magazines, and a set of pin punches.  Again, I should have known better due to the combination of his previous flakiness and the price being too good to be true, but I decided to risk it on the off-chance that maybe he just had some bad luck during the spring. 

He wanted a check or a money order or a credit card over the phone. I didn't like that idea, due to my insecurity and desire for OPSEC.  When he later told me he had a PayPal account, I was thrilled and used that (and oh, am I glad that I did.)

On September 7, I sent him $126.00 via PayPal with the understanding that he had ordered the buffer spring and was waiting for it to arrive. The following is what happened, told in screenshots so you don't think I'm exaggerating:

Please note how, once he has my money, he is nothing but excuses: 
  • "Waiting for the spring to come in."
  • "They sent the wrong spring."
  • "Will be running to Fed Ex tomorrow."
  • "I was going to go, but had a headache, will definitely go this weekend."
Also note how I ask for a tracking number and never get it:

So that was September. By October I am starting to get bitchy, because he's had my hard-earned money for almost a month and all I have gotten is excuses. 

Note how he promises me "extra stuff" in the hope of keeping me quiet. At any rate, I have been given the semi-hard date of "Wed or Thur" for the arrival. Does my purchase arrive?

Nope. Still no tracking #, either.

This is me finally getting nasty. It is the Tuesday after I was promised the materials would arrive. I finally tell him to refund my money or provide proof that they're in the mail.

And this picture is proof that he saw my demand. 

Care to guess what happened?

Not a damn thing, that's what happened. So the next day, I filed a dispute with PayPal. The way disputes work is that I open a complaint where I say "I paid money and haven't gotten my stuff back" and PayPal sends an email to the seller asking them, "Hey, do you want to tell us your side of the story?"  I was encouraged to wait a set number of days to give Nick a chance to reply. 

Did he?  Nope. So on Monday, October 15, I escalated it to a claim, which involves PayPal doing some research and basically acting as a mediator for the dispute. 

Again, Nick never replied to this (even though his Facebook page is full of activity, so I know he hasn't been in a coma or anything like that.) 

On the 25th, PayPal ruled in my favor and refunded 100% of my money. This ruling is why I am in a generally good mood and not throwing down tons of invective -- which is what I might have had to do if I had gone with a personal check or a money order or credit card. 

Believe me, I was ready to contact the Post Office and the FBI for interstate mail fraud. I'm happy that I didn't need to, because any time you have to involve the government in your business it is never good for anyone. 

I honestly don't know if Nick is a fraud, or just lazy. You would think that even fraudsters would attempt some kind of explanation as to why they should be allowed to keep your money. I'm inclined to go with "Lazy, incompetent, and has no business running a business."

Yes, it's embarrassing for me to admit that I screwed up. But that's the way fraudsters continue to make their living: they rely on the shame of their victims to keep them quiet. 

And if there's one thing I lack, it's shame. 

So, in short:  Do not do business with Nicholas O'Bryan, his online store Simple Survival, or anyone associated with the Tarra Designs Group. They will take your money, promise you that your purchases are in the mail, and then promise you anything in order to shut you up. 

If anyone has had similar experiences, either with Nick O'Bryan/Simple Survival or another company, please leave a comment. Thank you.

EDIT:  As of 3:48 today, I got a message from Nick:  "gee thanks..."

No apology, no explanation, just trying to guilt trip me. Won't work, buddy.

Edit 2:  Oleg Volk describes a similar problem he had with Nick O'Bryan in the comments below.


  1. In other news, he doesn't know the difference between a rifle buffer and a carbine buffer, which are decidedly NOT the same thing.

  2. I ran into a similar issue when Nick was arranging for the repair of a laptop I bought from his computer business. He held onto the laptop and $500 of my money for over half a year while telling me "next week" and eventually I had to get the refund through my credit card. That caused serious inconveniences for me. The laptop was sent back to me still broken.

  3. Thanks, wasn't doing business with them before, won't be working with them in the future!

  4. Your Simple Survival link goes to simplesurvival.NET, which is Gary Benton, a field survival training outfit. Registered the domain name in 2004.

    Nick and Tarra's site is simplesurvival.INFO. Domain registered 2007. Doesn't seem to have anything whatsoever to do with Benton's site, except the name.

    BTW, the only two FB friends Nick shows are you and Oleg. Y'all might wanna fix that.

  5. Ooh, good catch. Yeah, I wouldn't want to slander Mr. Benton. Fixing that now. 

    As for FB... I considered unfriending him, but I'd rather be able to know if he's talking crap about me. 

  6. Also Erin, and this is key to PROVE he's a lying thief scumbag : had he mailed it, and somehow this was some giant USPS screw up ... you would have had your package arrive and you'd have to eat crow.

    did a package arrive?  No.  There's your answer.

  7. Much though it sucks to need to write posts like these, you did the right thing and saved the rest of us similar frustrations and irritations if we had tried to do business with this idiot as well.  I will make a point of not doing that in the future :).  


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