WARNING: AVOID HOLLYWOOD ENGINEERING
This is the horror story of my dealings with Hollywood Engineering (aka Hollywood Gun Shop), in Sun Valley, CA. They make a turret reloading press for the .50 cal 50 BMG ammo. The press has a premium reputation and a premium price. However, my experience with them was one of the worst I have ever encountered.
If you buy something from Hollywood Engineering, be prepared for a MAJOR hassle. In my experience in dealing with them, I found them to be pathological liars. By the end of the nightmare, they also proved themselves to be crooks. And I was not at all impressed with the quality of the products. For the same money, you can get several Hornady or RCBS presses, and you'll have better quality.
Joe and Margaret Mueller are a tag team of liars. When one runs out of lies and excuses to give you, they refer you back to the other one for more lies. The price of their integrity was low; I bought theirs for about $60, as I'll explain here:
I bought a Hollywood Press from them about a year ago. At least, that's when I started the process. They don't take credit cards and their "catalog" is like what one Biggerhammer person described then as "the scribblings of a mad scientist". Their catalog also has dire warnings that if you send them even slightly less money than the full amount of your order, they will simply send your money back to you without further action. So, I called them in January, 2002. I wanted to talk to them to find out exactly what I needed to order and exactly how much money to send, so there’d be no delay in getting my press.
I talked to Joe, and he explained his convoluted catalog, telling me just what I needed to order and how much money to send. I wanted the full package; press, resizing die, micrometer bullet seater, powder measure, etc. It all cost about $1700. He told me he had it all in stock, and that he would send it to me as soon as he got the check.
I called them every couple weeks for the next several months. Every time, Joe or Margaret would give me more lies and lame excuses for why it hadn't shipped yet. Every time, it was some new BS excuse, and the renewed promise that it would go out in about a week. At first, I believed all their lies, and I didn't take detailed notes on every conversation.
Here are some details from the notes I did take:
A couple weeks after sending the money, I still hadn't received the press as promised, so I called to check the status. I talked to Margaret. She gave me a line of BS and told me the stuff would ship in a few weeks. I told her Joe had told me at the time of the order that he had everything in stock, ready for immediate shipment. She then switched her story and said it would ship in a few days.
On 3/22/02 (2 MONTHS after Joe had told me he had everything in stock), Joe said the dies were out in heat treating, everything else was ready, and they'd ship the following week for sure.
On 4/1/02 Joe told me it hadn't shipped yet, although the dies were back from heat treating. He said everything was ready, he was putting the box together as we spoke, and it would go out in a day or two.
On 4/9/02, Margaret told me they were still working on the powder measures and seaters, and it would go out the following week.
On 4/17/02, Joe said he was "building the box now", and it would "go out the next day"
On 4/23/02, Margaret told me the "box is going out today".
At the end of the first week of May, I finally got the box. It did not contain the manual I had paid for, and it contained 2 bullet seaters. Remember that their catalog is such a convoluted mess, I had to call Joe to find out what I should order. They sent, and charged me for, the "regular" bullet seater (as part of a "kit" with the resizing die), as well as the micrometer bullet seater I wanted.
I called Hollywood and explained the situation to Margaret. She was very nice about it, and said to ship the excess bullet seater back, and they would return my money for it. I sent it back the next day (end of first week of May). She also said she'd send me the manual, which I never did receive.
I called many times over the next several months about the refund for the die. Every time, I got a new line of BS from Joe or Margaret, and the promise that it would be taken care of immediately.
By the first of July, I'd had occasion to use their Full Length sizing die. It was WAY out of spec. It pushed the neck back about 1/4" from what it should be, and mangled the case. I also have RCBS and CH4D sizer dies, and they work fine. I called to ask if their die was meant to be used differently from the way all other FL sizing dies are used and adjusted on all other presses. Margaret said no, you adjust it like any other (screw it down until the top of the press contacts the bottom of the die at press TDC). She said I should send it back to them, and they'd fix it. She also said my seater refund was coming real soon. She was nice about it. I still was sucker enough to think they were sincere. On July 7, I sent the sizer die back, along with a detailed letter explaining the problem. I also included sample cases that had been through their die and through my other (correct) dies.
By August 5, I still had not received the refund Margaret had repeatedly promised me, nor had they sent me my repaired sizer die. I called Margaret, and she told me they were "looking into" the refund, made lots more BS excuses, and said she'd send the refund by the end of the week.
On 8/12, Margaret said she "didn't get to it last week" and was “going to send it out today". She also said Joe was working on the sizer die problem.
On 8/20, I called again. Understand that most of the time when you call Hollywood, no one is there, so each contact represents several attempts to call. They have no answering machine (and they don't return calls, anyway). If you get Joe, he says you have to talk to Margaret about business issues. Reaching Margaret on the phone can take many calls over many days. Neither of them EVER return ANY calls, as promised. I talked to Joe about the sizer die. He gave me a huge convoluted BS story about the die that made no sense at all. I've been reloading for 40 years, and I had no idea what he was talking about. I think it was something about claiming the die was made "special" that way. It was BS - the inside of the die wasn't even close. I talked to Margaret after that. I'd been real nice and patient throughout all this. But by now, my patience with their lies had ended.
Margaret, even though she'd promised many times to send me a refund for the seater die, now said she didn't know anything about a refund, and I had to tell her the whole story all over again. I also told her I wanted a refund for the sizer die. I said I'd been patient with them for many months, and I was sick of playing this game with her. I said the sizer die was defective and I wanted a refund for it. I said Joe had been giving me lame excuses on fixing the die since the first of July, and that she'd been promising me a refund for the extra seater die that JOE TOLD ME TO ORDER since the first of May.
I also read to her, from my notes, all the promises and conflicting stories she'd been giving me for months, that had not happened as she'd promised they would. Habitual liars don't like being confronted with the proof of their lies. She got rather irate and said she'd send me a refund for both, and "don't buy from us again". Like I would EVER buy from you people again??
That was the only thing she ever told me that was true. A week or so later, I got the refund check for both dies. Margaret chose, however, to extract a $60 "restocking fee" from the refund. How cheesy can they get?
I called her about it, and she kept switching lies about it. She'd say it was for restocking the non-defective seater die. I would explain that I had ordered exactly what Joe told me to order, because I couldn't figure out just what I needed from their mysterious catalog. I'd remind her that we'd been talking about the refund for months, and no restocking fee had ever been mentioned. Then she'd switch stories and say the $60 was for restocking the sizing die, and that it was my fault for requesting a refund, rather than wait (until hell froze over) for Joe to fix it. I'd explain that I gave them a couple months to fix it, and they hadn't, and I was just disgusted with trying to deal with them. Then she'd switch back to saying the $60 charge was for the seater die, because it wasn't defective.
Margaret and I went around and around through this circle of changing excuses. It got nowhere. Not only were they both bald-faced liars throughout all of this, they proved themselves to be thieves in the end, and sold me their integrity for $60. I have it hanging on my wall now. ;-)
I also am not impressed with their products. The sliding sleeve in their micrometer bullet seating die always sticks in the "up" position. Numerous other Hollywood Press owners have complained of this, too. The radius of the centerline of the threaded die holes in the die holder plate is so small that dies with normal lockrings will not fit; the lockrings bind against the rings on adjacent dies, especially lockrings that have a protruding set screw.
People seem to continue buying from them, but my advice, from having been there and done that, is that you are making a big mistake to buy Hollywood Engineering products. If you want several dies mounted and adjusted, buy 2 or 3 or more RCBS presses; the quality is better, and you will be dealing with competent and honest business people when you buy it. If you have to send something back to Hollywood Engineering, you're in for an even bigger hassle. I strongly urge people to not buy Hollywood Engineering products.
NOV, 2009 - Dillon is now making a press similar to the Hollywood, minus all the customer service problems. So, if you're looking for a Hollywood-type .50 BMG turret reloading press, I'd go Dillon. Here's a quote from Dillon's customer forum, referring to Hollywood's notorious customer service.
So, to summerize, the Dillon will not be in competetion with the single stage presses (Lee, RCBS, Hornady) and will also not be a 'full auto' unit like Dillon's other presses. It will be more like the Hollywood press.
IF the Dillon press actually happens, it just might put Joe at Hollywood out of business. I can't say this will make me sad as I have had a not pleasant business transaction with Hollywood and I have heard to many other unpleasant stories that leade me to believe that Joe is a poor businessman. He is the opposite of Dillon in that customer satisfaction is not a top priority.
See also HERE for another Hollywood Engineering customer's feedback, as well as pics & descriptions of the problem I mentioned above about "The radius of the centerline of the threaded die holes in the die holder plate is so small..."
Here are some other Biggerhammer posts about Hollywood Engineering:
Posted By: BullettBob
Date: 12/14/04 14:06
In Response To: link to Hollywood Press story (brian (NH-82A1))
Fortunately I only bought one of their micrometer seating dies. My episode was essentially a proportionally smaller version of Brian's round, but it taught me a great lesson. In a funny way, I feel lucky as hell.
Posted By: sheldon j. plankton
Date: 12/14/04 16:50
In Response To: Ditto. (BullettBob)
I paid a visit to Hollywood Engineering about two months ago. It's located very near to Burbank Airport but to say thats a good thing would not be true. As I pulled up alongside the property's address, the pavement ended and the dirt and dust began (dead end street, unpaved with pieces of carpet draped over some of the dirt to keep the dust down!).
About three months ago, I purchased a Bluegrass Armory reciever. Soon afterwards, I decided to investigate Hollywood Eng. and check out their 50bmg reloading press and associated tooling req. for my new endevour. I made it into their manufacturing shop area and talked to Joe for about twenty minutes as to my intentions of reloading 50bmg ammo. Joe was a nice enough guy to talk to but he had very little inventory to show me. The most shocking thing to me was the condition of his machine shop. If you can imagine numerous commercial lathes, milling, cutting, drilling, and hyd press machines all crammed together so closely that you have to walk sideways just to navigate the shop floor. It was also one of the dirtiest, dusty and just plain messy shops I've ever visited!! Needless to say it turned me off big time to see this place that produces these reloading products. To me, walking into someone's machine shop or automotive garage is very indicative of the products quality recieved from said shop. I decided not to purchase from Hollywood Eng. based on what I saw that day. And believe me I was on a buying binge that week after just getting a Winchester M1 Garand a few days earlier!! I'll just keep on looking for reloading equip. elsewhere and save my pennies.
ACTION GUN WORKS
BTW, I went through an even worse ordeal (minus the thievery and, hopefully, the poor products) with Randy Dierks at Action Gun Works. His promised delivery time of 6-8 weeks on building me a custom .50 BMG benchrest rifle turned into 9 months of continuous "just another week or two" false promises. I would never do business with him again, because of his lies. This is an email I sent to someone who asked me about my experiences with Randy and Action Gun Works:
If you're going to have Randy do work for you, you should know that, while he seems like a decent and helpful guy (and hopefully his work lives up to his reputation), you can't believe anything he says regarding the timeframe of his work. He was quite helpful and patiently answered all my questions when I was speccing the rifle out with him. He told me the gunsmithing would take 6-8 weeks after he got all the parts (6 weeks in the off season, 8 weeks during the match season). I ordered all the parts in Feb, 2002. By the middle of June, he had the last item, the barrel blank. He told me then that he'd get the rifle done by the end of July. In August, I called him to see why I hadn't gotten the rifle yet. He had a plethora of excuses, and said it would be September for sure. In September, he started giving me lines about "working on it now; just a few more weeks". In October and November, he continued giving me the same bullshit and lame excuses every time I called about it. By December, he was down to saying "just another week or two for sure" every time I called. In early February, he charged my credit card $1700 for the "completed work", even though I'd specifically told his wife not to charge the card until the rifle shipped. Over another month went by before he finally finished and shipped the damn thing in mid-March. I'm pretty unhappy about him bullshitting me about the work for so long. There's no way he could have been actually working on it for that long. I would not have him do work for me again. If he'd just told me in the first place that it would take him 9 months to do it, that would be one thing, but his never-ending series of BS left me quite displeased. Anyone can be off some on time estimates, but I think my history with him indicated out-and-out lies. In contrast, I had a reputable gunsmith (Bud Welsh, High Precision Gunsmithing, E. Amherst, NY) build me a 6PPC BR rifle last summer. It only took him a couple weeks! However, in that case, no stock painting was involved.
What is wrong with people who do this? Don't they understand how much they piss off customers when they lie like this? If they just gave an honest estimate in the first place, we customers can decide on our own to accept or not accept the honest time estimate. My McMillan stock was quoted at 12 weeks; that's about what it took. It took 4 months to get the barrel blank, but that's what they quoted me. When people tell customers "another week" when they know it isn't even remotely close, all they are doing is creating customer ill will. The point is not how long it takes to get something; it’s the repeated lies and promises that the person making them KNOWS will be broken. If someone tells me something will take a YEAR to get delivery, that's fine. If I accept that delivery promise, then that's my decision to make. But I DO expect delivery after the year is up, or within a reasonably short time thereafter. Maybe the people who do this are just nice guys who are trying to please everyone by telling them what they want to hear. But it severely backfires when the promises prove to be false.
BACK TO MY RV BUILDER'S HOME
BACK TO BRIAN'S HOME