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Bad Fort Henry Custom Knives - $615 Lost

Discussion in 'FEEDBACK: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!' started by Lance Leon, Dec 6, 2019.

  1. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    753
    May 3, 2017
    There was a thread recently about boxes showing up without knives, which has prompted me to share my bad experience with Fort Henry custom knives, run by Vince and Marie Roberts.

    Back in 2017, when I was still rather new to expensive/high end custom knives, I decided to make a purchase from Fort Henry. It was a Michal Zieba S4 'angry bird' edition, which ran me $585 plus $30 international shipping (I'm located in Singapore). I made the purchase on 24 June 2017, the package shows up on 6 July 2017, perfectly standard timing.

    So I got the package, but immediately could tell it was too light. I snapped photos for proof and then the box was brought to the post office and opened there, by the employees. But there's no knife, just a business card from Fort Henry and bubble wrap.

    I got in contact with them via email and them know that the box arrived empty; this was the day I received it. I inform them of the situation and send pictures of the package. Marie says that the package was clearly tampered with (though when I got it, there were no holes large enough for a Zieba hard case to be removed). She says she'll check with the post office about it, and after that I get no response. A month and a half later, I contact them again, informing them that they need to file for reimbursement from USPS (as I was instructed by my local post office). Marie tells me she'll check with USPS, but also tell me that their international shipping policy basically doesn't cover anything and that I'm up a creek without a paddle.
    Fast forward to February of 2018, I send Vince an email, asking about updates and requesting the paperwork from the report they were supposed to file with USPS. He tells me USPS never replied. My local postal service, Singpost, contacts USPS and makes an inquiry about the case. USPS responds that no one ever filed a report with them. My conclusion from that was that they lied about filing a report and trying to get reimbursement. I don't know if the package was insured - they never made any definite statements. But if it was insured, and they claimed the insurance, I didn't get that money.

    This is the relevant correspondence with them (I cut out the unnecessary parts):

    6 JULY 2017
    MARIE:

    Hi Lance,
    Vince forwarded your message to me about the missing item. Did it appear that the box had been opened in any way? Did you happen to take a picture? I need to determine if it looked like the box had been opened in any way.
    Thanks!

    ME:
    These are images of the package when it arrived.
    I have since taken it to my local mail office and filed for a report and search. The mail office workers opened the box to inspect it, and found your business card and bubble wrap inside, but the pelican case and it's supposed contents are missing.
    I suspect that the package was tampered with at some point during shipment.
    Hopefully either the post office is able to find the item, or you are able to find out what happened on your end.
    I should also add that I did not open the box upon arrival at my address. The box was sealed in the condition it arrived until I went to the mail office. I knew the item was missing due to the weight, just to clarify.
    Thank you,
    Leon

    MARIE:
    Yes, it was obviously tampered with - because I know how we tape up the boxes.
    I'm glad you've already done what is necessary there to try to find the item. I'm very sorry that this has occurred.

    12 AUGUST 2017
    ME:

    This email concerns the Zieba S4 angry bird knife which went missing in transit about a month and a half ago. I have been asked by the local postal service to tell you that you need to file a report at your end and claim insurance compensation there, which you will then send to me. Please do respond. Thank you.

    MARIE:
    I will check with the Post Office to see if we can get any type of reimbursement for this loss. However, typically we don't have much luck with international claims. Please look at our shipping policies for International Coverage which explains this. I'll let you know if I get any results.

    27 January 2018
    ME:

    Have there been any updates regarding the Zieba S4 that went missing in transit last year? I've been waiting on a reply and have also been trying to work with my local post office on it even till now.

    MARIE:

    I have not gotten any updates about the knife that went missing last year. Unfortunately, the search that I initiated from here never turned up anything.

    27 FEBRUARY 2018
    ME:

    Hi, if you recall, an item I purchased went missing in June/July of 2017. I would like to request that you forward all the correspondence letters, forms, and/or emails that you have had with USPS regarding the matter. I need these documents and information as soon as possible.
    Thank you,
    Leon

    VINCE:
    Lance,
    We filed online once to try and trace the knife but never received any response from the postal service. So unfortunately we don't have any paperwork or any other documents that pertain that this missing item. Very sorry.


    I emailed them 3 times over February and March 2018 but got no response. I was busy at the time with other obligations and life in general, and eventually just gave up. I believed had done all I could, and I had contacted all the relevant postal services. Vince and Marie obviously didn't care about my $615 loss - not enough to do anything about it. I've finally found the time and motivation to write this post - I know it's late. But I was new to buying things online, overseas, etc and didn't know about these things. Hopefully this experience will potentially help others avoid the same woes from dealing with Fort Henry Custom Knives.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  2. fishface5

    fishface5

    Feb 3, 2001
    Bummer!!!
     
  3. knifeswapper

    knifeswapper Knife Peddler Dealer / Materials Provider

    Sep 3, 2004
    It is quite obvious from your pictures that the end was opened on the priority box as the tab was ripped on both sides then re-taped.
    The label shows no insurance purchased and a total shipping cost of $39.98 - how much did you pay for shipping and was that suppose to include insurance?
    Was their "Policies" page the same then as it is today?

    It is a shame that there are people that will look at a label stating clearly a $600 knife is inside and their only thought is to steal it. Especially if they work for the very company responsible for its delivery.
     
    PirateSeulb likes this.
  4. PirateSeulb

    PirateSeulb Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 6, 2017
    They do seem polite but the reply of only having filed online and it basically ending there seems to indicate a bit of a lack of care or concern for their customer.
     
  5. tyyreaun

    tyyreaun Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 26, 2017
    Given Fort Henry didn't purchase insurance, there wasn't much they could do other than file a lost package report. All that means is, if the package (or missing item) were to turn up somewhere within the USPS system, they would (theoretically) return it. Since the package was delivered, I have to assume someone took the knife out intentionally somewhere along the way, so the lost package report wouldn't help at all. Beyond that, it's not like you can initiate a investigation into who stole it. In other words, they did all they could do under the circumstances.

    As far as who needs to eat the cost, their website says they're not responsible for any lost international packages - which is probably why they didn't offer to reimburse you. However, that contradicts PayPal's policies, and I'm fairly sure that sellers cannot violate PayPal policy just by issuing a disclaimer. In other words, your only option would have been to file a claim. Fort Henry would have probably complained about it as it's against their policies, but PayPal may have ruled in your favor. Fort Henry would probably ban you from placing any more orders, but given what happened, I doubt you'd want to order from them again.

    In short, all this really means is that international buyers need to beware when purchasing from smaller "mom and pop" shops. I checked, and even BladeHQ disclaims responsibility for lost international packages.
     
    sliceofaloha, OilMan, Triton and 5 others like this.
  6. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    ^^ @tyyreaun Savvy post.

    Uggh. It's a crummy method to have to have the FULL VALUE in view on the Customs/shipping form. USPS is doing us no favors either.

    There it is: $585.

    The tag is blocking the description of contents, but if it says 'pocket knife', then it may as well SCREAM:

    "Inside this small very-lightly-protected box is a $585 folding knife. Steal me."

    No one wins. I am sorry to see this thread.
     
  7. knifeswapper

    knifeswapper Knife Peddler Dealer / Materials Provider

    Sep 3, 2004
    Had the package not been "delivered", paypal would issue a refund on dispute regardless. But since the package shows delivered it does complicate the situation. The OP seems to be a stand-up guy; but let me be devil's advocate for a second. What if the OP were a crook? He receives a $600 knife, opens the end of the box and takes it out; tapes it back up and goes to the post office to lend some legitimacy to his actions. How does this scenario look any different whatsoever than someone stealing the knife in transit? Do not accept a package that seems tampered with. Require signature delivery and refuse it if you feel something is not right. The buyer shouldn't have to pay for something he doesn't receive - but the seller shouldn't have to pay for something that he shipped responsibly and the transport delivered; especially after two paragraphs of disclaimers for this exact scenario.

    Customers express aggravation all the time because I do not ship internationally. This is a major reason; with the other being USFWS regulations. There are re-shippers such that the buyer can combine shipments; fill out their own customs forms; and own the entire process. Not only can the buyer save a lot of money; but they can remove the sellers processes and packaging inadequacies from the equation.
     
    mrknife, Quiet, JJHollowman and 3 others like this.
  8. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    753
    May 3, 2017
    If I had known about Paypal's policies at the time, I might've considered that route. The other thing that still bothers me is how much they simply don't seem to care. In the follow up emails, which I did not quote since they never responded, I asked multiple times for any sort of paperwork they might have. Even an automated response email notification from USPS about their supposedly filed online report would've helped - at that point I was in contact with my local postal service and USPS trying to initiate an investigation. But no, it seems they were happy to just move on because they had a disclaimer up that absolved them of any responsibility or care for the customer after the item leaves them.

    Of course I would've been very pleased if they offered a refund, but that wasn't what I asked for - I just wanted cooperation. They couldn't even be bothered to reply after a few emails.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  9. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    753
    May 3, 2017
    These days I go through a reliable forwarding service that does exactly that. They haven't let me down and it seems to put sellers/traders in the US at ease, as compared to sending international packages.
     
  10. LastRodeo

    LastRodeo Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Nov 2, 2013
    @Lance Leon Do you know why there is FedEx tape on a USPS box?
     
  11. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    753
    May 3, 2017
    I had asked them the same thing. This was Marie's response: "OK, that actually is a USPS box, but has a FedEx plastic pouch on it just to contain the documentation.". So it wasn't a surprise to her; she probably put the Fedex plastic slip on when sending out the package. I don't know why she'd use it on a USPS box though.
     

    Attached Files:

    LastRodeo likes this.
  12. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    Please elaborate on the name/website of this service? Thank you.
     
  13. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    Ft Henry says they will ship international but if it's screwed up, they won't accept resposibility. You gambled with an international shipment of luxury goods and lost. Ft. Henry's pretty up front about the fact it's not their problem. If you didn't like the terms, you shouldn't have bought the knife.

    I've passed on knives from a very popular Blade forum's purveyor that has terms I just cannot stomach. They charge restocking fees, won't inspect a knife before shipment and if the knife is defective, they won't take care of you, they want you to send it to the maker.
     
    mrknife and Triton like this.
  14. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    753
    May 3, 2017
    Comgateway. They accept the packages at their Portland facility, snap a photo of the item, then repackage (as necessary) with a new shipping label and send it off to the customer's international address via Fedex or DHL, insured for a value declared by the customer.
     
    JJHollowman and KELAMA like this.
  15. Lance Leon

    Lance Leon Gold Member Gold Member

    753
    May 3, 2017
    I've done the same since this experience; avoiding sellers and stores that have policies I deem unsavory.

    At the time I was new to online shopping and not well acquainted with how to deal with such things. I also want to note that I didn't ask them to 'take responsibility' in the sense of giving me a refund; I just wanted cooperation with filing the report and initiating an investigation from their end. They couldn't be bothered to do that or even respond to my follow up emails. I think that speaks volumes about what Vince and Marie (and Fort Henry Custom Knives as a business) think of their customers once they've made their money.
     
    Tazz-ab and annr like this.
  16. annr

    annr

    Nov 15, 2006
    Thinking about your predicament:

    I, as a seller, only sell to countries where I’m willing to back up my sale. I only sell items that I have insured for full replacement cost or am willing to part with the same in cash. (I wonder how they would handle this with a USA-destined package; stuff goes missing here.) I guess I’m surprised people sell expensive items and then “dump” them into the mail system here or abroad—it doesn’t matter that they disclose this IMO. Why do it in the first place?

    My foreign buyers— from countries I do not sell to— use middlemen, and that eliminates this discouraging situation.

    Sorry they weren’t at least helpful in some minor way and may have lied to you.:thumbsdown:
     
    Tazz-ab, woodysone and Lance Leon like this.
  17. madcap_magician

    madcap_magician Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    I'm very sympathetic to the OP, but it does sounds like Fort Henry had been pretty up front about not covering lost international shipments. When I sell privately, I hate selling internationally because of the increased risk of loss and the question of customs import.
     
  18. 90grains

    90grains Basic Member Basic Member

    26
    Sep 20, 2011
    I live overseas and will not accept a direct shipment from the States for anything regardless if via FedEx, DHL, UPS or USPS. It is much easier to use an airfreight forwarder who handles customs clearance on my end and provides peace of mind at a reasonable cost!

    I don't blame the OP and feel the seller failed the customer completely. Someone asked how they would handle a US Domestic shipment under the same circumstances. To not even make an effort to communicate with the buyer in a professional manner or take the time to try and file with the USPS tells me I will never consider purchasing anything from Fort Henry! There "Disclaimer" not withstanding! They appear to have handled this like an unscrupulous business!
     
    Tazz-ab and annr like this.
  19. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    Great! People need to be aware that it's not just about the knife & price but the policies of the on-line seller are just as important. High dollar item + no insurance or guarentee = no sale.
     
    JJHollowman likes this.
  20. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    As a seller, I don't sell internationally because of these sorts of situations. I'd rather just not sell internationally than have an unfair policy that offers the buyer no protection against lost or stolen items.
     

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