The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
I just wanted to stress to everyone to do your homework on your purchases before you buy them. Knock offs are everywhere, and everyone stands at risk of this diabolical practice. My son and I were both victims this spring, and while the responsibility was ours, I thought others could benefit from our loss.
So, if you have suggestions on how to prevent our newer collectors from having this unpleasant experience, post here with your advice. Below is the email I sent to the organisers of the show we attended. Let's all do our part to prevent this from happening to others!
My son and I attended your show this year, and while only there for the knives, we were initially impressed with the show. However, afterwards, we realized that we were both taken in by a vendor selling knock off knives as the real deal. Now, as a collector, I realize that the responsibility for verifying the product is ultimately my responsibility, and I accept that, but I shudder to think how many other folks purchased items in good faith only to be taken in by a counterfeiter. My purchase was a Benchmade AT-1, with box...a well done knock off to be sure, but a counterfeit nonetheless. My son was similarly ripped off with a Boker knife from the same nefarious vendor. A truly disappointing experience and one that ruined the show for me and my son in a serious way.
Please don’t get the impression that I blame the organizers, or hold them responsible for my own lack of verifying my purchase. That is not the case. I would, however, like to ask/suggest a few things for the next show.
1) A person or people to randomly inspect dealer booths to look for knock offs. Random spot checks could help a lot to protect the folks that come to your event in good faith.
2) Free internet access in the venue so folks have some way to research their purchases. I know we had no access to the existing wi-fi.
3) A disclaimer in the vendor sign-up forms that mentions that counterfeiters will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with in an appropriate manner if discovered.
4) A booth/table where folks who think a vendor is selling counterfeit items can come to report knock offs.
If vendors know that counterfeiting is not supported, encouraged or permitted in your show, and that consequences shall arise from such actions, then that will go far in helping your patrons and supporters make their purchases with a degree of confidence and security. As I am sure you will agree, counterfeiting is a problem we all need to address and discourage, dealers and collectors alike.
I certainly hope you take this message as it is intended...some suggestions to protect your vendors, collectors and patrons, and not a condemnation toward you, your organisation or your members. I strongly believe this is an issue worth addressing, and sincerely hope you will consider this with the seriousness it deserves. If these suggestions are addressed in some way, I would be happy to attend next year and endorse your event on the many knife groups I am associated with. However, I cannot, in good conscience, support or endorse any event or organisation that supports or ignores counterfeiting, the proliferation of knock offs, or rip off artists posing as serious vendors.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this, and would be happy to do what I might to help.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Thanks for the heads-up! Being a newbie, I figure I'm going to get suckered at least once before I figure out what's going on, so advice is more than welcome. I know I qualify as "ignorant", but I hope not "stupid" .....
Well Rick...now you have a place to get some help in avoiding getting taken. We will always try to answer anyone's questions. Rip offs and scammers hurt our great hobby...and we will do what we can always to prevent others from being suckered. Glad to have you with us!
There are a few knives that I have in my collection that I had questions about when I bought them, but was willing to roll the dice. Sometimes it's just worth taking the chance, & I've made some pretty nice (verifiable) purchases this way.
Buying a "fake" (whether counterfeit or simple knock-off) is something that's just too easy to do sometimes. It's the cost of doing business, to some extent, since so many authentic knives just can't provide the provenance to prove that they're authentic. As you get more experience, you get a better eye for authenticity (at least in your areas of interest & experience), but even then it's often a gamble. Sticking with reputable sellers/dealers, as well as purchasing directly from the manufacturer/maker, can really help with that level of certainty -- but sometimes it's just worth taking the chance with someone you don't know (at a show or on eBay, for example).
Honestly I feel more "taken" by sellers that target the inexperienced knife enthusiast. Among the biggest offenders are BudK & associated companies (Kennesaw Cutlery, Timber Rattler Knives, & United Cutlery, for example). These companies don't sell counterfeits, but they cater to the "mall ninja" class. These companies take liberties with the gray areas of advertising law that allow for "puffing," ("this is the only knife you'll need," for example).
I just went to the BudK website to get a specific example, & found this on the main page: "Best Website to Buy Swords" -- while I'm not a sword collector, I have pretty strong doubts about this. Worse, I also saw this statement on their webpage: "BudK.com -- Featuring the World's Best Knife Prices" -- I'm not sure what the loophole is here, but I can definitely say BudK does not typically have the lowest prices on non-exclusive/non-in-house name brand knives. Even their tagline on the website tab is "BUDK.com -- Knives & Swords at the lowest prices!" -- this implies to me that I couldn't find a lower price on anything they sell anywhere else. I'm not an expert on advertising law, but I'd assume this also slips through a loophole somewhere.
Regardless, even if it's legal, that doesn't mean you should do it, & that doesn't mean it's (morally) right -- which gives me the sense that they are just trying to exploit their customers' vulnerabilities. My first job was in retail sales, & multiple managers told me that the customers wouldn't be at the store if they didn't want to buy something, & it was the salesman's job to figure out what that was & sell it to them. Yeah, right. Anyway, that was about the same thing, exploiting the vulnerability of the people that walked through that door.