Guarantee/Warranty on knives

Mar 2, 1999
Since this subject has been prevalent of late, what would you want to see as a manufacturers Guarantee/ Warranty on knives?
Also list the items you don't like to see in the FINE PRINT.

YES,it is sharp, just keep your fingers out of the way!

I have heard tell that a gentleman put his Blackjack knife in a vice, fitted a "cheater bar," and snapped the blade off at the handle. He sent the knife back to Blackjack with pictures of the process and soon thereafter received a replacement. Publicity stunt? Maybe - a company would have to be stupid to back down from a challenge like that (though perhaps one we know is...)

A close friend once dropped his Blackjack Model 5 point-down onto concrete,inflicting substantial damage. It was sent back with a letter explaining what had occurred, and a replacement arrived very quickly.

Now, Blackjack is no longer with us, and I also have my misgivings about their blatant copying of Randall patterns, but they did pretty-much define what I consider a good warranty. When you bought a Blackjack knife, you weren't buying the piece of steel, you were buying the *knife itself* - they guaranteed you would have it, maybe not the same one, for life. Yeah, since the company folded they can no longer back this up, but while they were operating I saw them repair, replace, and sharpen their knives promptly with no questions asked. That's what a warranty should be.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
All products should carry a craftsmanship and materials warranty. The design and matrials of a knife should perform to the resonable standards as set forth by the manufacturer. You should be able to be utilitarian with a utility knife, perform daily task with a pocket knife, survive with a suvival knife, and so on.
I believe that one should see a "you get what you pay for" type of response to any excesive use catagory of damage. When it comes to knives, reputation is about all there is to stake a purchase on, it is also what makes on chunk of steel more expensive than the next. If a manufacturer allows claims of design and material superiority by its authorized dealers, customers, or themself to go unchallanged, and charges "much" money based on this reputation, you should get what you payed for!

I believe manufactures should issue RMA numbers for people who have bought there products and need to return them for repair. Why should a customer have to pay even more for a product he already purchased!

As far as fine print.... there should be none!


[This message has been edited by RadarMan (edited 30 May 1999).]
This is of great interest to me because I am a manufacturer and hopefully this will not turn into a commercial for any brand or makers products.
Lets write a Guarantee as a committee to see what we as consumers expect of our purchases, one in reguard to folders and a second for fixed blades. Lets include the customer responsibilities like maintainance, return policies, etc. then address the manufacturers responsibilities as we would like to see them. This will be for knives of moderate or higher cost since the $5.00 Kameapart specials aren't worth the return postage.

RADARMAN, what's an RMA #?

I'll start with the posts already up on this thread for the GUARANTEE.

The mfg. should stand behind his product for the life of the knife or the life of the purchaser? Does the guarantee follow the knife to the son, grandson or not.
Is normal wear a consideration, locks loosen with use, blades get thin from repeated sharpening.
Input requested.

YES,it is sharp, just keep your fingers out of the way!

RMA stands for Return Merchandise Authorization. I believe it is used as a method of tracking returns and indicates you have spoken to the manufacturer and discussed the problem and they agree for you to return the defective merchandise. It does not necessarily mean that the manufacturer will pay for the return shipping.
Hello P.J.

First off, let me congratulate you for bringing out one of the most important topic with regards to knife purchases.

Warranty is one of the main concerns of a knife-buyer. We cannot all expect the knife-buying public to be "educated" with regards to guarantee or warranty. Therefore, manufacturers will be expecting some kind of return, whether it was abused or due to normal wear. The problem here is that even with the fine print stating that warranty will not cover abused items, sometimes the uneducated buyer doesn't know when to draw the line.
For them, it's not abuse, it's normal wear and tear... hehehe..

Since I'm located in another country, what I would very much like to see, is that we get covered in the warranty as well. Time and time again, authorized distributors here refuse to honor the warranty, claiming that it's only enforced if bought within the United States, or that we have to ship it back ourselves, which would cost us an arm and a leg, basically.

I hope that when manufacturers decided to go international, they should also consider the fact that it's the distributors whom the buyer goes to first, to ask for warranty. But there are a lot of abusive distributors internationally, that would *always* use that excuse (i.e. our country is not covered by the warranty, etc..etc..) that the buyer ends up hating the product, and it's bad publicity if that happens.

I hope distributors, being in direct contact with the dealers, who in turn has direct contact with the manufacturers (maybe) should consider this as an option. It's a huge turn-off to have to ship the items back half-way around the world, just to claim the warranty. If it could be covered locally, then that would be all the more convenient for international buyers, and subsequently, amount to more sales, because the fear of buying something "imported" and the risk of losing out if it broke, would be close to non-existent.

I would like to hear more from other international buyers here in the forums, as these are only my 2-cents worth.

Thanks for taking time out to read this.


I'm looking at a copy of the Benchmade warranty. I won't quote the entire document here, but I will simply point out some details that bother me, or at least make me wonder.

1. "Benchmade Knife company, Inc. warrants to the original owner that this knife will be free from defects in materials and workmanship."

Question: Why should they limit the warranty to the "original owner"?

It seems to me that it should make no difference who owns the knife, or how many people owned it previously. If the knife proves to be defective, the company should fix it, provided that the knife has not been modified in any significant way.

2. "The knife . . . must be accompanied by the original bill of sale, . . . or any satisfactory proof of the original date of purchase form a retail dealer".

Question: Why?

The mere existence of the knife itself constitutes irrefutable evidence that it was purchased by SOMEbody. What more matters? If the knife is defective, it should be covered by the warranty. What if I can't find my receipt? Am I out of luck?

In reality, I doubt Benchmade insists on these points. Point #1 is ultimately unverifiable anyway.

To the company's credit (so I hear) they reputedly fix things that technically they are not obligated to fix, such as worn liner locks. This would fall under "normal wear", I presume.

Here is something else I have thought about:

Suppose a user breaks a knife performing a legitmate task in an emergency situation--a task for which the knife was not designed, such as cutting through metal to extricate myself from a fire: if I were the manufacturer I would be proud to replace the knife free of charge.

I would not feel compelled to replace a knife broken simply as a result of testing its limits for curiosity's sake.

David Rock

[This message has been edited by David Rock (edited 30 May 1999).]
Guys: As a custom knifemaker, my guarantee is simple: Unconditional lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials. Natural handle materials not covered due to their unpredictable nature. I do have a statement that refers to "obvious abuse", but, in the end, if there were a problem, good business would clearly dictate replacing the knife, or refunding the money if the customer turned out to be someone I really didn't want to continue to deal with.

I also provide FREE resharpening and clean-up type work to the original owner indefinitely. The only charge is return postage/insurance. If someone acquires one of my knives used, I perform the above for a small fee, depending on the knife and condition.

If a tip is broken off, for example, I would generally regrind, unless that wasn't possible. I have had almost no returns for any reason in the last 12 years, so, something must be going right!

RJ Martin
P.J. - Great thread topic. One that we all can learn from. In the construction of this Warrantee, please try to be as realistic as possible. It would be a good opportunity for Manufacturer, distributor, dealer and ELU to educate each other in the "world of
Mine is almost word for word with RJ's. If my name is on it, it's covered. But, I'm smart enough to tell if it has been really abused, as is RJ and most other custom makers. We may make you feel bad for abusing it, but we will probably still repair/replace it.
That is why I have ordered an RJ Martin ( Handiman. Thanks RJ, especially for being so patient with my bonehead questions. Also the No BS warranty, just like Spyderco does make my choice easier.
Guys: Kit, thanks for finding the words to say what I was trying to say. Yes, I would probably want to make someone who destroyed one of my knives feel a little bad. HA! You had me laughing!

Here again, we find this forum actively instructing and inviting the buying public to ask the tough questions before they buy. I love it!
Fish, PLEASE don't ever apologize for asking me a question. It's in my best interest to make sure you get the knife you really want, isn't it? That's the principle behind sound business, in my book! And, more often than not, it leads to repeat orders.

RJ Martin
Lets put this warranty together, is this how you want the first item to read?

1. ---------- mfg. warrants your purchase against defects in materials and workmanship for life.

Or should this include an abuse clause? Or not! Original purchaser only or should the knife, not the buyer, be guaranteed?

Please submit specific items you want in a guarantee.

YES,it is sharp, just keep your fingers out of the way!

Excuse my ignorance but why is it that I haven't noticed any manufacturers of production knives doing any product recall? I see a lot of gun and car manufacturers doing so.

One thing that turns me off in buying lesser known brands is the iffy factor when it comes to warranties. Like Dannyc, I live here in the Philippines and I am wary of buying knives that I know little of as shipping it to the US for repairs or replacement would cost me a lot of dinero.

This is why I appreciate net forums like this for exchange of ideas and experiences.

Other manufacturers and custom makers should emulate those with online presence (Spyderco, Benchmade, REKAT, etc.) as this provides us ELUs with a two-way process in dealing with our purchases.

Spyderco, in particular, should be a role model in the knife manufacturing industry as they know what customer satisfaction is really all about.

The presence of Kit Carson, RJ Martin, et. al., and the net dealers heres is very much well appreciated.

Okay RJ! Thanks for being so patient. I know which Spyderco I am getting next (Viele plain edge) now to choose which RJ Martin... no need to worry about the warranty... hmmm...
Dan brings up a very good point about foreign knife sales and shipments. While U.S. law may not be in force in a foreign country, I would expect the manufacturer to have a legally binding agreement with the local distributor to honor their warranty locally. Perhaps a forum'ite from a foreign country could email Les @ Benchmade and get their stated policy? Perhaps Sal could address this for Spyderco?

The second thought, do we need to distinguish between production companies and custom shops?

Personally, I see this very differently in regards to custom vs. production. We have two well respected makers here and their words and actions seem pretty clear - written warranty or not. This is the subject of at least one very nasty thread with another maker and, yet another maker I work with speaks very highly of what their knives can do but, so far no written and publicly stated policy has been issued I am aware of. Some of this is due in no small part to the numbers involved - a small maker could potentially be financially broken with users abusing and breaking their knives which are then sent back to the maker over whelming them.

Is this concern due to hype (I do not mean this as an attack on anyone in particular - okay)? Sometimes, the claims continue to grow until you get to a point where END USERS are doing non-knife things with them and, sometimes using them to a point of failure. Who's fault is this and who is responsible? On the flip side, a knife constructed of superior materials should be capable of much more then a common run of the mill wal-mart, flea market, import....knife. When you spend three times the price of a comparable production piece and, get that superior custom it seems that the maker should be more flexible and forgiving when something goes wrong.

From my limited experiences, related back to me from customers, that vast majority of people who buy a premium knife never approach the knife's mechanical limits in anything close to "normal" use. If I am hacking my way out of a burning airplane, I will not be concerned with whether the maker will honor their warranty - I know I will have a blade which will the job because of the makers skill and talents combined with the selection of superior materials. If I feel the need to prove the knife to a point of destruction - it seems only fair that I pay for the knife used up to its limit. If it falls far short of what is expected, then perhaps the maker should bear some of the burden to replace or refund the knife. If the knife proves it self but, is no longer serviceable, then how can I fault the maker and why would I expect them to replace it, hype or not?

All that being said, as a minimum standard - I expect the maker to cover any failures due to mechanical defects in the source materials (steel or man-made materials such as Kydex or Micarta - not animal skins and fragile materials such scale inlays of sea creatures and such). Any construction failures should be covered (this would mean things such as ill fitting liner locks, blade wobble, lost pocket clip screws, stress risers from nicks in the steel causing a crack and/or blade failure). I do not expect a maker to cover abuse. The problem here is how you define abuse. What I consider abusive, you consider abusive, and the maker all have different opinions. Know how to you spell out abuse in a written warranty. Suggestions here are most welcome.

Stay sharp,
Thanks Sid. I would just like the locals here to discover what I have discovered, with regards to knives and the difference between buying quality ones vs. cheap imitations. People tend to buy knockoffs simply because they are cheap, and if they break, they don't expect any warranty coverage for it. You get what you pay for, so to speak.

On the other hand, a knife like, say, Spyderco (I believe we have a distributor here) which carries a brand name, and is priced 5X or more than the el cheapos, sometimes locals don't even give it a second look because it has already been instilled in their minds that spending so much for a quality knife, and not being covered by the warranty, equals instant loss to the buyer.

And that, my friends, is what I would like to erase from their way of thinking. If the warranty coverage includes foreign countries via their local distributors, then the chances of people buying branded knives would double or even triple, as they already have the faith that they are protected in their investments when the time comes.

I believe my country's locals have the purchasing power, but lack of knowledge is hampering that. This is something to think about, for those manufacturers who would want to distribute their products as far and as wide as possible.

I just bought my Military thru a local sporting goods store here, and asked about the warranty (after paying close to the equivalent of around $160) and, as expected, they told me to ship it back to the manufacturer for warranty claims, IF we are covered that is. sheesh... If I were a prospective buyer and I was told that, I wouldn't even think twice about not buying the knife anymore, right?

I'm just wondering how many possible sales were lost just because of this warranty thing.

P.J. - ...for life. Is that the life of the owner, the life of the manufacturer, or the life of the knife?

Dan - Michelle, (Our Sales Manager) is very aware of this particular problem and has paid special attention to Spyderco's foreign distributors in this area. They have the power to replace product as they see fit. The dealer may not know (or care) and getting this inforfmation to the dealer is more difficult. That is why warrantee information and communication inforfmation is included with the product. It is the manufacturers way of trying to keep touch with the ELU.

The Sales dept works closely with Customer service. Emailing, Faxing or writing to Spyderco with a problem overseas is usually handled to the customers satisfaction.

What would be ideal? and how would you put that into the Warrantee?
Hey Sal! you're back! how's the trip?

Anyway, regarding the problem of some distributors here, I guess you're right in that most of them simply don't care at all, as their main concern is getting rid of their inventory as fast as they can.

Although as you said, they have the power to replace as they see fit, these individuals are not really what we can call the "educated ones". What I mean is that they would care less if a buyer comes to them looking for a warranty and they can just shove them off and tell them what they told me when I got my Spydie Military. Of course, since I have direct contact with your customer service (Hi, Danelle!
) that should be a problem for me. What I'm worried about is that this isn't good business for Spyderco, or for any branded knife for that matter.

I'm not sure about the other countries, but here in mine, that's how it goes. People won't get something if they know that they will be on the losing end if it broke down due to normal use or manufacturing defects.

You did mention that comm. info is included with the product. But remember that not everyone would want to write all the way to the US to ask for warranty, then be encountering stuffs like RMA, etc.. which they know nothing of, also it would end up for them to spend more on long distance or time, that it makes everything not worth it anymore. Convenience is the key here. Without it, ELUs here simply would just shrug off a quality product, and just get something that can be used, abused, then thrown away at half the price.
It's such a waste, don't you think?
So if the dealer here can act on behalf of the manufacturers, then I personally believe that sales would be coming in at a much higher rate. Educating them is the best way to achieve that. The buying public wants to be educated as well, regarding the myth of the warranty coverage for branded items.

You wrote:
The Sales dept works closely with Customer service. Emailing, Faxing or writing to
Spyderco with a problem overseas is usually handled to the customers satisfaction.


How is this done, if you don't mind? I for one would really love to know, and would do my share in "educating" those dealers as well. I believe it's high time we do our share in helping out to promote good products as we see fit. But I'm just one individual (Titan is another) and we can't do these on our own, though we can try. I would really hate to see Spyderco knives gathering dust here (the guy at the counter told me they have only 2 Military knives in stock, simply because they don't "move" as well as those el cheapos, and that they're expensive). I wanted to tell this guy that that's not the real reason behind the slow sales of these quality knives, but more on the fact that people don't want to invest on something they know they're not protected from when the time comes. I should know, coz I overheard one guy behind my back remarking about how beautiful the knife was (I was toying with it, hehe) and then later overheard him saying "too bad it's an expensive toy that's risky because if it gets damaged, that's it! Kiss your money goodbye". I did gather a small crowd though, due to my toying with the Military while waiting for my receipt.

What would be ideal? and how would you put that into the Warrantee?

Frankly, Sal, I have no idea for now. But I'm brainstorming on it as we speak. I would very much like to spread the good WORD on the quality knives, and though I know how well Spyderco handles their ELUs problems, I'm just one person, and there's a lot out there who doesn't know, who might never get the chance to own these quality knives, simply because they were put off by the warranty coverage (limited within the U.S. according to the dealers). And that's all I'm worried about, unfortunately.

Sorry for the VERY LONG post, guys.....

That's the question, do the ELU's want or expect a warranty for the life of the buyer or the life of the knife? What I'm trying to find out is what the buyers expect.
Input requested.
As a way to deal with foreign sales, would it work to publish the distributor information so the ELU would have a contact in country? ------------------
YES,it is sharp, just keep your fingers out of the way!

[This message has been edited by P.J. (edited 31 May 1999).]