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Customer Service.... Things that make you go hummm.....

Oct 2, 1998
I just got an email from a manufacturer. The main subject was that the reason for their pricing policies was that they felt the local shop owner give better customer service than any internet dealer they could think of.

Now I am not trying to start someothing but I remeber going to a certain dealer in Las Vegas who was a shop dealer and getting some really bad service. I have also shopped the net, undercover of course, to see how I would be treated. I must say that my overall impression of going to shops, all over the country and comparing them to internet dealers is really interesting.

To me it seams most internet dealers are better educated on the subject and seem to really try harder. I need ammo here guys.

Question: Is your local dealer as good as your favorite internet dealer?

I mean in all areas like; product knowledge, selection, service, you know the works!

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

I will try to be short & sweet here:

Even the best shop owner where I live can't compare to my favorite net dealer. They're both great guys and helpful and they both try to be fair with their prices and I like and respect both, but.....

My net dealer's prices are lower, he is more knowledgable, he is more available to me(he usually answers my email between the hours of 8AM and midnight within 30 minutes!), he can network with his distributors more effectively since he just deals in knives and not other sporting goods. He can get anything I need quicker & cheaper.

I like my local guy and will support him but when I'm looking at adding a knife that is really important to me I go to the net.

Kodiak Alaska


Here it tis, plain and simple. Locally I have a very large gun dealer who is a nationally known source for gun parts of all types. If I want a Randall they have lots of them on display. Customer service on guns has been great....

Then there is a regional sporting goods chain store with a decent sized display of many manufacturers. But after chasing down someone to open the locked cases, the clerk stands there wanting to close a sale and hasn't the foggiest notion of what he/she is trying to sell. Every once and a while the guy who does the knife ordering is around and he seems somewhat knowledgeable although quite biased about what he stocks and doesn't stock. Too much to put up with so I pass.

The InterNET gang on the other hand seems to be made up of knowledgeable enthusiasts. Customer service has been uniformly great with those I patronize. Unquestionably if I want to seek advice or consult in any way about a prospective purchase, it's exclusively with the InterNET folks. BTW pricing isn't that much different from that chain store, but what I get from the gang on the web, the locals can't provide. Sure, your manufacturer is going to say that I can't get any "touchie - feelie" via the Net, but what I get instead is return rights if not totally satisfied. Haven't had any occasion to do that simply because of the great front-end treatment.

My two centavos is that the manufacturer in question hasn't a real clue as to what goes on in e-commerce. And that's what I said on the Spydie pricing thread too. No clue, no direct strategy...just reactionary rhetoric far from the mark. Unfortunately, as with El Prezidente, the old game of "first liar wins" seems to be encroaching here as well. These manufacturers' statements about shoddy InterNET dealers are just that.


Bald is beautiful! Rub a dome for luck today!

I live in a city with a population over 800,000. We have a lot of sporting goods stores, and a general "old west" attitude about weapons.
However, our BEST sporting goods store couldn't match the WORST e-dealer when it comes to knives, availability and simple service.
I am no means an expert, but I know a whole lot more about knives than our local dealers do. My education came from here. Thanks !
I can tell you about a recent experience I had in trying to find a Pinnacle. I called the local knife store in the mall, here is the just of it. Me, "Do you have a Benchmade 750s Pinnacle?". "Well, I don't know? Can you describe it?" Me, "It's handle has a cut out in it to lock the blade open like a liner lock. Like a Reeve's Sebenza." Then he finished with, "I don't know what that is, good by."
If you call hanging up on me good customer service, then I got great service.
All the internet dealers that I have done bussiness with have been very helpfull, even when I don't know what I want or if I change my mind.
The only good customer service I have had I with a local indoor shooting range. They don't anyways have what I want. But they try to do there best.

Hope this helps,

P.S. I going to call the range tomarrow to see IF they can get me a Pinnacle
Local shop service?????? I live in an area that has two chain knife stores. They have a so-so selection, outragious prices, ie. the over inflated MSRP. The service, knowledge is almost non-exestant. Worse yet, if these people don't know about some point or other they are not above BSing their way around the question. I wouldn't shop there if I was paid to do it. The only people they sell to are the ignorent (not stupid) and those with so much cash that they really don't care what the price is. If these kind of places are what Spyderco is looking for, I start to wonder what Spyderco is trying to hide?
Happy Trails,
Dan K
Within a half hour drive of where I live there are 4 local gun stores that also carry a limited selection of knives. I have to give credit where credit is due here. 1 is outstanding with regard to knowledge. (Am I allowed to give names here?)is extremely knowledgeable. He has a very extensive personal collection, including some handmade pieces he helped design. Their prices are only fair, everthing is marked full retail, but the selling price is generally less. Selection is limited by the investment required. They cater to upper middle end shotgun buyers, and as a result most of their inventory dollars are invested there. Of the other 3, 2 are pretty much worthless, everthing is full retail, no discount offered. The sales help have little or no knowledge of the product. The remaining dealer of the 4 is a crap shoot. If the right guy is behind the counter, you're in luck. If not, you will do better at Wal-Mart. On the whole, I have found that the best dealer here can hold his own in knowledge, but not price or selection. The other 3 fall far short in all areas.

I forgot to ask. WTF is an End Line User(ELU)? Is that different than a Middle Line User(MLU)? And are they different than a Front Line User(FU)? How do I get promoted from an E-loo to an F--you?
A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined;
George Washington Jan 8,1790--There can be no doubt about the Second Amendment.

[This message has been edited by Hal (edited 27 December 1998).]
As nice as some of the local store clerks try to be (sometimes) you can see their eyes glazing over when you want to do look at more than one knife or take more than a couple of seconds per each example. At the prices they get for their products, we should not feel we are being rushed into a decision. Before I started buying from the net, I dealt with the two local storefronts. One has quite a large selection, the other spotty. Neither were too excited about ordering particular models and both have very top retail prices. A Sebenza is $450.00 ! BM Sentinel is $160.00 ! And so on. Now, as James Mattis says, if you go and fondle and drool in these guys stores, you should at least buy something from them. And so I do, but usually on the lower end of their $ spectrum. I have really nothing bad to say about net shopping except you don't get to fondle the prospective aquisition.
Just my.02.
First, I am not an authority on knives by any means, just a simple knife lover.I have to say that my local knife dealer is fair to poor in the knowledge area IMO. In many cases the salesperson is telling me something that I know to be wrong. It is mainly a gun store but has a large selection of knives, which is a plus. I recently called to inquire about the Benchmade Axis. The salesperson said, we have one but it's not an axis lock , it's a liner lock...huh? I went down to the store, knowing that the salesperson was mistaken, and picked up a pre-production aluminum handled one. With an AXIS lock, imagine that. The one good thing is the huge selection of makers and models, but I basically know what I want before I go , I usually research the knife on the internet and shop around for prices. I have yet to order something from an internet dealer but plan to,in the not to distant future. I have found that one of the best places to p/u knives is the local gun shows. The knife guys are usually very knowledgeable and stay up to date on new models, materials etc. In conclusion, the dealers I have run across are not as knowledgeable as they should be.
In my experience, the only storefronts where you're likely to get good customer service on knives are the specialty cutlery stores. Not every neighborhood has one. There used to be two of them in Glendale, California, and both of them closed about a decade ago. If I have to take a couple of hours out of my day to go to some other part of a large city, or even another county, impulse buying is out, and returning the product for problems would be a pain.

In pre-Internet mail order shopping days, I got good service from places where the person on the phone is a knife person - like Cutlery Shoppe, Ironstone, and A.G. Russell. U.S. Cavalry and SMKW had order takers who were clueless if I had a complex question (such as "Why is your catalog telling me you can't ship that to California, when there's no law against that thing in California?!?!).

Since getting on the Net, and before becoming a "pusher" myself, I've had good and knowledgeable service from some of the dealers who participate in knife forums or the news group, and no bad experiences. For glitches, I dealt then, as now, directly with the manufacturers.


[This message has been edited by James Mattis (edited 27 December 1998).]
In Phoenix, I have found good, knowledgeable people at both Cat Cutlery and Arizona Knife Source. Both have a good selection and not bad pricing for store front operations.

In Tucson, Sharp Stuff has a good selection and Sam is a great guy!

When I need a good laugh, I like to visit the mall knife stores!

What we all fail to recognize is that a storefront owner has a much higher cost of business than an Internet dealer and needs to maintain a higher margin to survive. The key issue would seem to be whether the storefront owner provides a higher level of personallized service. After reading the other posts, it doesn't seem to be the case. However, I recommend both Cat Cutlery and AZ Knife Source in Phoenix for selection and service.

I have had nothing but excellent experiences from Internet dealers. Service, selection, and product knowledge have all exceeded my expectations. I feel that the manufacturers are shortchanging the Internet dealers and customers by limiting the distribution of their products.

Both lines of distribution should be used by the manufacturers, storefront and Internet. Many people will not buy off the Internet. That is the storefront customer. Many others only buy off the Internet. Why close off either avenue?


[This message has been edited by Daniel (edited 27 December 1998).]

[This message has been edited by Daniel (edited 27 December 1998).]
I guess it depends how you define "local dealer". Where I live, "local dealer" means the large warehouse type sporting goods retail store, the local Wal-Mart Supercenter, and a local farm equipment dealer. All have good selections of the basic stuff - Case, Schrade, Buck, some Spyderco, and Gerber. For the exception of the farm equipment guys, all these others know just enough to sell you the product. Don't expect them to be answering the type of technical questions that I see posted here often (blade steel composition, advantages of a liner lock over lockback, etc.) In a way, I view the internet based retailers to be a "cut above" the rest. All are very knowledgeable about the products they carry and are able to answer technical questions. So to answer the question - internet dealers are MUCH better than the local ones here. It's a wonderful thing, this internet is!

Dexter Ewing
Knife Reviews Moderator

"The keystroke is mightier than the sword"

This is a rhetorical question, right? I live in Reno, Nevada. It is by far the biggest town in Northern Nevada. Las Vegas is bigger, but almost 500 miles away. The closest bigger town is Sacremento, California. Currently there are no knife stores in Reno. There are sporting goods, gun stores, etc. that sell knives. When you call around to ask about current knives made by Buck, Gerber, Benchmade, Spyderco, etc. no one knows what you are talking about. They have some of these lines but only models that have been out for several years. The best source to actually see these knives is the Internet. I have seen far more knives on the internet than in stores. The best service by far is from the Internet and a few catalog outfits such as The Cutlery Shoppe. I would be happy to meet a rep from one of these manufacturers at the airport and drive them around. The second best source, and actually a good one, are the large gun shows at the Reno Hilton 3 or 4 times a year. Let me know if any of these reps want a tour of Reno. I bet Patrick Seeber (another forum member from Reno) would be happy to come along and would echo my sentiments. I grew up on Long Island and there were very few knife stores. I did find a knife store in LA where they seemed more knowledgeable than average but not as knowledgeable as Internet Dealers. Unfortunately, there is no comparison.


Here is Southern Oregon, we have3 a number of different places that sell knives. From the monster Wal-mart to the local surplus store. The mall storejust plain sucks. I have gone in there and asked them about new knives that were coming out and they had NO clue! I was even able to tell them where Benchmade got the name for their new fixed-blade.
I have gone to the guy that has a storefront attached to his home and was very disappointed in the way I was treated. He has an extensive inventory, but very poor "people skills". I felt like I was interrupting him. The most knowledgeable place in town was the surplus store. Good people, willing to sit and talk knives for a while. They knew what they were talking about too. But the prices are sky-high! Thats where I paid 29.95 for a STIFF KISS! Every internet dealer I have dealt with has been great and the prices were more than reasonable. I would hate to see the storefront guys disappear, but I will continue to purchase from the internet.
Benchmade decided to market their new products, the first being the AFCK in M2, primarily through storefront dealers, with only two internet dealers able to buy them at dealer prices.

As most of you know, it was a fiasco, the knives ended up languishing on the warehouse shelves at BM, and gathering dust in the storefront displays (except for the few storefront dealers who were located by forum members, and then something resembling a feeding frenzy would erupt).

I tried my level best to point out to BM what a mistake they were making by fixating on the figure that only 10% of sales were through the internet. I tried to tell them that this was a figure that could go up, dramatically, with proper marketing. I tried to explain that new, specialty items, with technological advances, were avidly sought by posters, who do mostly internet buying; and that the public really didn't know the difference.

I was branded a troublemaker and banned from the forum. Read the above posts to see how much BM has learned. It is really sad, as Les de Asis is a nice guy, and I asked him questions via e-mail, and he gave me a polite, responsive and informative reply, which I posted on the forum here.

I sure hope that they learn. This economy has little tolerance for mistakes. Walt
Ther are two knife dealers near me. One in the mall, and if you get the assistant manager, great service, but I know more about the popular stuff than he does. All the other associates are pretty much clueless.

The other shop is in the next state, luckily he is in with BM, so I am getting an M2 from him. It is a one man operation, and he is good, with super excellent service, but that is what James K Mattis offers, as well as a number of other dealers.

Marion David Poff fka Eye, one can msg me at mdpoff@hotmail.com

Patiently waiting for the Spyderco SpydeRench, Lum Chinese Chopper Folder, Rolling Lock, Benchmade M2 Axis, M2 Axis AFCK, M2 Pinnacle and the REKAT Escalator and Pat Crawford Design.

"The victorious Warrior wins first and then goes to war, while the defeated Warrior goes to war and then seeks to win" Sun-Tzu

Hey Mike, is that Manu. _kidding_?!?

Most of us live no-where-near a _good_ knife dealer, never mind some "Mall Cutlery Shoppe" with list prices (or higher!) and a clueless (even if enthusiastic) salesperson behind the counter.

And they want to compare that to sending an E-Mail (or dialing an 800 number) and talking to Howard at The Knife Center, or Earl at Central Florida Knife and Tool, or James Mattis, Mike Turber, Chris Reeve, Kevin "Mad Dog", etc.???


I'll echo everyone else's comments here, Mike. I'm 60 miles from the nearest mall stores in Dallas. The service is spotty and the the knowledge base is embarrasing. They have no idea of the new models and aren't conversant about existing models. The manager/owner of one store told me that BM was discontinuing the Elishewitz line. Of course, he was talking about Emerson. I could go on, but I can hardly even drag myself in there anymore. If that was my only shopping choice I doubt that I'd buy very many knives.


P.S. I love it when you say "could I see that (knife name)?" No, it's to the left, bottom shelf, the black one. Geeeez.
You can't just break it down to all local dealers vs. all Internet dealers. The way I see it, it all comes down to people. I had a good thing going a while back with one local dealer, but when ownership and management changed, so did everything else. I started dealing with the KnifeCenter because I figured, what the heck. One and a half years later, I'm still dealing exclusively with them (except for blades which they can't obtain, like Mad Dogs, REKATs, and certain customs). The H-man has never done me wrong. People make all the difference in the world.


Knife lover, Philosopher, Humanitarian, and All-around nice guy
(all right, so I'm just a knife lover)
My son got me a gift certificate for $50.00 good at a mall by his home. On a vist that way this afternoon, I stopped in the knife shop inside the mall. The premier brand they carried was Benchmade. So far so good. I asked about any other brands, or if they could special order. The guy behind the counter told me they could get anything from Frost, Sog, Benchmade, or Case. I asked about Spyderco. "Nah, I quit carrying them, too many problems" was his reply. He didn't elaborate, I didn't ask him too. I really doubt he meant quality problems, as Spyderco does build a very high quality product. As far as knowledgeable, when I showed him my new Christmas present, a Microtech SOCOMM, he asked about the handel. " Is that Zytel?". Need I say more? His prices were pretty good, excellent in fact for a Mall operation. About 10% higher than Net prices. His stock was pretty thin though. If I wanted a knife, and was there, and he had it in stock, I would probobly buy it. As it was, I really didn't want anything he had at the moment, knife wise. I ended up with a Duster, with a pile lining. He was about $50.00 cheaper than anywhere else on that.

A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined;
George Washington Jan 8,1790--There can be no doubt about the Second Amendment.