Cold Steel = VERY BAD Customer Service

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by soonerboomer, May 3, 2010.

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  1. soonerboomer

    soonerboomer Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I recently purchased two Cold Steel knives. Both had misprinted logos that said "COLO STEEL" instead of the proper "COLD STEEL" (see attached pic). I attempted to contact Cold Steel customer service by email. Below is a cut-and-paste of my email interaction with them.

    Bottom line: I will never again purchase Cold Steel products!

    1st Email sent by me on 4/23 at 2am:
    I recently ordered and received two Cold Steel Kudu knives. When I receive the knives I opened them up to discover that the blades are marked COLO STEEL instead of COLD STEEL. In comparing it to a Cold Steel Roach Belly I can clearly tell that there is an "O" where the "D" should be. Are these knives legit? Or, have I receive a knock off copy? Knife blade says China on it directly under the words COLO STEEL. Please advise.

    [No Reply for 5 days]

    2nd Email sent by me on 4/28 at 5pm:
    Its been almost one week since I asked this question. I'm just curious if you all we're planning to answer?

    Cold Steel's Reply on 4/29 at 2pm:
    Do you have a picture of the knife you can forward to us?

    3rd Email sent by me on 4/29 at 3pm:
    Here's a close-up pic of one of my "COLO" STEEL KUDU knife. As you can see the fourth letter is an "O" instead of at "D". Both knifes I purchased are like this. [below pic was included]

    Cold Steel's Reply on 4/29 at 4pm:
    That is actually a misprint that had been found on some of the Kudu knives. That does not appear to be a knock-off.

    4th Email sent by me on 4/29 at 5pm:
    Okay?... this is good to know, I guess... but I assumed Cold Steel sold first quality products. It would be nice to own knives that are not "misprints". As a loyal customer and owner of multiple Cold Steel knives, these leaves me feeling kind of duped.

    [No Reply for 4 days]

    5th Email sent by me on 5/3 at 11am:
    If Cold Steel has no resolve to provide a quality product, nor provide quality customer service then count me as a forever lost customer.
    I'll be sure to report my experience to the BBB and to the knife enthusiast internet bulletin boards I'm affiliated with.
    Former Cold Steel customer

    Cold Steel's Reply sent on 5/3 at 1pm:
    We are sorry you feel that way.
    The misprint was unintentional and does not affect the quality of the knife. As we have a rather large number of these knives in stock, and you are to my knowledge, the only customer who has taken issue with the misprint, we are not going to scrap the entire line to get new ones to correct one letter on the logo of what is a $9 general utility knife.
    While I understand that the value of one knife may be irrelevant to you, when looking at the large quantity we have on hand, and that the problem is that one letter of the logo is misprinted (and most have not noticed), and there is no defect in the material, workmanship, or performance of the product, scrapping an entire line does not make sense. We also are not going to make just one knife with the corrected logo (that would make the $9 knife cost much, much more), or thousands more with the corrected logo, as we already have a large quantity in stock of perfectly functional knives.
    Now, if you want to now denegrate our entire product line, report us to the BBB, and badmouth us online over one misprinted letter on the small logo on a $9 knife, that is certainly your right. All we can do is apologize for your inconvenience and wish you the best of luck.

    My final email to Cold Steel on 5/3 at 2pm:
    This is not about a logo misprint on a $9 knife. It's about the principles (or lack there of) employed in dealing with a customer. Cold Steel has made absolutely NO effort to rectify this situation. There was no offer to replace the knife or refund the purchase price. This failure to attempt to rectify the situation, along with the obviously ignored emails is clearly VERY POOR customer service. The end result is a forever lost customer who will tell many other knife enthusiasts of his bad experience with Cold Steel.

    Attached Files:

  2. Texas Gun Person

    Texas Gun Person Member

    Nov 27, 2009
    Fort Worth, TX
    That sucks.

    However, really no business is worried about being reported to the BBB. They really don't do much. :(

    Some customer service people are just incompetent.
  3. 4thPointOfContact

    4thPointOfContact Member

    Oct 13, 2007
    I got this stamp in a trade the other day but it's misprinted.
    Probably worthless, what do you think?


    On a serious note, was there something materially wrong with the knife such that it wouldn't do what it was designed to do?
  4. hmphargh

    hmphargh Member

    Jul 10, 2009
    Agreed, it stinks, but you did not ever request an exchange or refund. I know you were hinting at it, but I would have been a lot more direct with a request for a refund if that is what you were going for. The people on the other end are just like you and me, and they are not mind readers. That said, it is a $9 knife, and it will perform just as well either way. I personally, would not worry about it, and I don't see anything wrong with their customer service to be honest.
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  5. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    Happy Valley, UT
    I got the Kudu free with a couple other cheapo knives I bought from them... I'd never pay money for it. Worst/most dangerous locking system I've ever seen. :uhoh:

    However, freaking out because of a typo is a bit much, IMO. You buy crappy knives made in china, you probably shouldn't expect Emerson quality.
  6. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006
    In your email trail, just when did you every ask them to replace the knife? Looks like you finally got around to it after you told Cold Steel that you were a former customer, and made threats. Escalating is a sure way of ending a conversation. We won’t know this, but if you had asked earlier, before you lost patience, maybe you would have had the option of returning them for exchange.


    I looked on the web, I saw one store that would sell the Kudu for $4.99, and others for $7.99 and $9.99.

    They gave you a straight up answer that it was a real Cold Steel knife. They also gave you a straight up answer that the poor print job did not affect the function of the thing. If this was a $300.00 knife they might have thought about discounting the things without losing money, but for a cheap knife like this, where the profit is not much, I can understand where they do not want to scrap the lot due to a misprint.

    Keep the thing, it may be a collectable someday. Like that upside down JN-4 in the stamp.

    (I’ll bet the Chinese guy who set up the scribing template is wondering why everyone is mad at him. "Hey, I no read American!, it all look same to me!" )
  7. onibaba

    onibaba Member

    Apr 6, 2006
    The principle of the matter is customer service. Everything else is off the point.

    The OP has a defective product and Cold Steel told him they don't care. Good customer service goes a long way. Poor customer service goes even further.

    Mind readers or not, a customer complaint should've been handled in a more professional fashion. Even an simple apology along with a $10 gift certificate would have been better than accusing the OP of wanting them to retool there whole facility.

    Some people might choose to overlook the flaw in the knife (I wouldn't), but there is no excuse for how they handled the situation.
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  8. RyanM

    RyanM Member

    Jan 4, 2005
    I've already had Cold Steel on my "do not buy" list, because their products tend to be vastly overhyped, overrated, and overpriced. I also think that their ads tend to be really condescending ("you see, Cold Steel knives are simply superior to all other products. You see, our showmanship is second to none. You see, rebranding simple AISI 1095 tool steel as 'Carbon V' makes all the difference. You see, anyone who disagrees is an idiot.").

    Looks like their CS reps are the same people writing the ads that I hate.

    Some people may like to write it off because you didn't make a big dollar purchase, but their attitude says a lot about how much they value you as a customer. My best experiences with customer services in the gun and knife industries have been with small dollar purchases. Volquartsen custom replaced a faulty $8 extractor for no cost, and shipped the replacement out at light speed (I think Mr. Volquartsen never sleeps, since I E-mailed him at about 2 in the morning on a Sunday). Lone Wolf Distributing replaced a part for me that they were under no obligation to do so, since I hadn't even bought it from them, and I had only spent about $20 with them on springs that had caused me to lose a small part all the way across the room, due to my own butterfingers (and the guys that did sell me the $0.05 washer, Glockmeister, wouldn't even give me the time of day). Mac's Shootin' Iron has given me great advice on how to clean and maintain guns, even when I wasn't spending a dime. I'm pretty poor right now, but in the future when I have a higher paying job, can you guess what 3 companies will be seeing a lot more of my business?

    It's the companies that treat you like a person that you remember, and the ones that treat you like an entry in their quarterly profits ledger, that you don't. One of these days, companies will figure that out.
  9. Bennyb747

    Bennyb747 Member

    Apr 3, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I've actually had the absolute opposite experience with Cold Steel. I have a few of there "Ti-Lite" models (the 6" and the the 4") which are absolutely spectacular knives. I keep beating the hell out of them until the thumb screw works it's was loose and I've lost the stud a few times, they always just send me another one free of charge and I get it within a day or so. I even use the big 6 incher to cut meat in the kitchen on a regular basis! Maybe you just got someone that was in a bad mood that day?

  10. Humakavula

    Humakavula Member

    Aug 15, 2009
    directly under the
    thanks for the heads up,OP. ill not do buisness with colo steel any more.
  11. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    in no way am I saying that they handled it well but certainly neither did you

    if you would have asked for a replacement for your cheapie knife that had a minor cosmetic problem they might have offered you something.

    as it was you were making a mountain out of a pimple on a molehill
  12. CWL

    CWL Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Big deal. Printing error on a $9 knife. Polish it off with some steel wool.

    They explained themselves that it makes economic sense to not deal with you.

    Learn from this and move on.
  13. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    Happy Valley, UT
    Read the email string again. They responded in a pretty civil manner to some pretty uncivil stuff, IMO. They apologized and wished him the best of luck.

    Makes me want to buy more crappy knives from them, actually.
  14. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

    Oct 10, 2006
    North Idaho

    I would observe that their customer service seems to be about average, maybe a bit above average. They were responsive, answered the question, and were courteous. They did not respond with anger or rudeness to the angry tone of the message promising to do no further business with them and essentially tell the world of that dissatisfaction.

    I would also observe that their decision is sound from a business standpoint. They have assessed risk associated with selling an inexpensive product with a flawed logo and found it to be minimal, the exceptions being persons whose views are more or less congruent with the OP.

    I might not choose to buy that product, but I find no compelling reason to avoid all Cold Steel products.

    By way of little perspective . . .

    I have a number of Buck knives that I picked up at greatly reduced prices here at the Buck Knives factory in North Idaho. They're "factory blems," knives that are defective in some minor way that doesn't affect function -- a ding in the finish, a nail nick ground a couple of degrees out of true, a rivet that's not perfectly straight, a slight divot in the back of a blade caused in polishing, scales with a slight color mismatch, and so on.

    Originally, I figured they would be good as beaters, knives I could abuse without giving it a second thought. Hey, they're cheap, they're blemished, who cares?

    Recently, I took one of them back to the factory to have the liner lock adjusted, as it was jamming under certain circumstances. No big deal. It was one of my FBs (factory blems). When I got it back from them, I realized they had replaced the whole knife and had the company president and the chairman or the board sign the blade (since the other was also signed). Same model, same finish. Same signature. And yet . . . as I looked at this outstanding example of customer service, I realized that I had lost something special. The blemish itself was a tiny spot at one end of the handle near the pivot where the finish had been over-polished, producing a shiny spot against the muted gray. Absolutely unremarkable. But . . .

    You can't buy a "factory blem" anywhere but at the factory. The letters "FB" etched into the the blade tell you something: this knife didn't come from a retail outlet, but from the factory itself.

    So, now I have a really nice Buck Sirus, in gray, ATS-34 steel, Bos H/T, with twice the retail value of the FB I sent in for repair. Didn't cost me an extra nickel. But -- aside from the signed blade -- there's nothing really special about it. It could have been picked up anywhere. The other one, with its discreet "FB" etching, was unique, and could only have been purchased in one place.

    It hadn't occurred to me when I bought it that I would ever miss that imperfection.

    I have others. Each of them is a little more special today.

    I understand a little better now why coin and stamp collectors seek out those examples that were printed or struck imperfectly. It's an unlikely thing to share.

  15. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

    Jul 9, 2006
    If a client tells me there is a problem with a product or service I provided I don't tell them "sorry, live with it" even if it may not have been a high dollar transaction. Just because the OP didn't come right out and ask for a replacement or a refund doesn't mean Cold Steel CS shouldn't have offered him one. They don't need to be "mind readers"...the mere fact that he contacted them with a problem meant he was unhappy and looking for a solution. They should have offered him one. Makes no difference they were cheap knives. All the more reason to exchange them or refund his money and be done with the problem quickly and painlessly. Word-of-mouth can be the best advertising or the worst PR. The choice is up to the company or vendor.
  16. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    There is a point in all customer service where a line of reasonable accomidation has to be drawn.

    A company will go belly up if they give the customer anything they want with a measly threat of internet flaming.

    In this instance I think they were right to not accomidate you. I am indifferent to Cold Steel now, tomorrow, and yesterday even in light of this new and unsurprising information.

    I rank this right up there with wanting a replacement for a gun because a grip screw is loose.

    This is the summary of how I read your OP:

    You inquired about a defective product you had. True it took them a little too long to get back to you. They did not take your inquiry seriously. They were polite but in the end said tough luck. I can see where this would make you a little put off. I was thinking the same thing until Cold Steel responded on 5/3.

    There is where I was thinking your time would have been better served by:

    a. Not writing a complaint to customer service in the first place.
    b. Buying a more expensive knife so a complaint to customer service would have been taken more seriously.
    c. Understanding that you probably did not even pay $9 for said knife and got it below MSRP somewhere.
    d. Understanding that "the principle" of something has been hashed out by many a foolish men through the years and sometimes it is better to suck it up and put your principles aside and do what is prudent.

    My point is that even though you are right and CS put the screws to you this is just another learning experience in that anybody can not make everybody happy all the time. I once got a bad round in a box of 50 9mm Winchester White Box. I saw it was bad and I chucked it. I shot the rest and went out and bought some more and have never had a problem with them but that one.
  17. m.p.driver

    m.p.driver Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    cincinnati oh
    Wow i don't know what to make of this post.I own several cold steel products and have enjoyed every one of them.Frankly i wouldn't have had the patience to continually draft complaints to the company over a misprint.Its not like you ordered a custom handmade blade and they got your initials wrong on it.If it broke after one use alright,then i wouldn't buy another one.But to badger them over the flaw and declare that their product and quality control is garbage,well you should have expected the outcome.
  18. jdub3

    jdub3 Member

    Jun 21, 2009
    I will keep buying Cold Steel products if I am interested. They handled the interaction decently IMO.

    The knife works like it should doesn't it? I don't know you, and certainly don't mean to offend, but to complain about a small misprint on a $9 knife seems a bit silly. Once I knew the knife was legit, I would have ended the exchange.
  19. shockwave

    shockwave Member

    Jan 8, 2010
    I love my Ti-Lite 6 and look forward to adding to my Cold Steel collection. For some reason, Spyderco just doesn't speak to me. Emerson knives are very good and I'm looking forward to getting at least one of theirs.

    But a sub-$10 knife? I'm not sure what you want the company to do. Take a major financial hit over what may very well become a collector's item? As a general rule, when a person says, "It's not the money, it's the principle of the thing!" it's usually about the money.
  20. jhallrv4

    jhallrv4 Member

    Dec 6, 2006
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    I'm trying to imagine how embarrassed I'd be to actually go on the internet and pi$$ and moan about a 9 dollar knife. Mostly, because I'd be admitting that I only spent 9 bucks on a knife. For that price, if it has one edge sharper than the other, you're good to go.
    Then, my time is worth more than that for the amount of time to call about a spelling error. Now if my Smith & Wesson was spelled with only one s in Wesson, that would be a problem as it would affect the value of the gun. It would be worth a fortune!

  21. ChaoSS

    ChaoSS Member

    May 23, 2009
    Sorry, while I agree that the OP could have been a bit more polite, I don't think that CS had very good customer service there. Customer Service reps should be more polite about how they handle things, even if they think a customer is being unreasonable.

    I recently had an incident with a company that makes baby products (name withheld because it is irrelevant on a gun forum but if anyone has a new baby and is looking for a good company feel free to pm me) where I bought something and it was missing some parts. We didn't open the thing until months after we had bought it, so I no longer had a receipt or the info on when I had bought it or any of that. I contacted the company to ask them how I could purchase the new parts, since their site didn't list the parts I needed, and I got an email back a few days later (they are closed on weekends) saying don't worry about it, and a box in the mail a few days after that with the replacement parts, and a few extras of some other things.

    Sure, I could have been ripping them off, and they would have lost a few dollars. However, I'm not happy enough with that company that I've bought hundreds of dollars of other stuff from them instead of their competitors. Even if only a quarter of similar complaints are legit, they are still probably doing well for themselves to keep customers happy.

    It's not always feasible to simply replace things like that, but maintaining a very polite attitude is important for customer service, and they kind of failed on this one.
  22. atomd

    atomd Member

    Jul 7, 2006
    I don't think it matters that it's a cheapo $9 knife...or even that the defect is only cosmetic. If my company had products that had our logo misspelled on them, I would make sure they never hit the market in the first place. If they accidentally got out to the public I would offer that customer a new knife, a refund, or a different knife of equal or greater value. This is what happens when you have a company that doesn't give a crap to begin with...and then they outsource to some pure junk factory in China. Input = Output.

    I've never bought a pack of $2 hot dogs that had the company's logo misspelled. I've never bought a 5 cent piece of bazooka joe gum that had the logo misspelled on it..I've never had Dunkin Donuts coffee in a cup that said "Doughnuts" on it. Why the heck would you send out $9 knives like that? True, it doesn't deter from the quality of the product itself but it shows the lack of pride that company has in it's products. I would prefer to deal with a stand up company that takes every product it makes seriously and then stands behind them....even if it's the bottom of the line model.
  23. LoneCoon

    LoneCoon Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Or it might be a Chinese knock off
  24. eight433

    eight433 Member

    May 26, 2009
    Birch Run, MI
    hmm... I wonder if mine has that imperfection? I've had it for 6 months. Seems to be quite terrible in materials. Was given to me free with a purchase of 3 factory blem bushman knives. I threw it in the door pocket of my pickup just in case I need a knife (or a screwdriver or a pry bar)
    The lock release truly is atrocious.
  25. Pistola

    Pistola Member

    Dec 6, 2007
    One reason I never buy china made knives.
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