false advertising?

by B.A.Miron
(Danbury, CT 06810)

our imagination?

our imagination?

1) My original email complaint:

Order ID : 11688588

"So, ......i am disappointed......who am i disappointed with?....in order of severity, masahiro, the fella who polished my Masahiro Red Sakura Wakizashi(on sale for 40 bucks from 60 bucks), the fella who supposedly eyeballs the gear from KOA, then cult of athena(KOA in the interests of brevity), then sword buyers guide(they suggested the sale and it has never happened before we were not happy with their suggestions), but not so much with SBG because they would be disappointed as well, and they didn't recommend this particular blade although they recommended KOA, technically.(I think)
That said, who is responsible to me in this case, well, cult of athena because they advertised this wakazashi as "razor sharp & battle ready" ........any problem between masahiro & KOA is none of my concern & shouldn't be part of any excuse because KOA claims they hand check all they send out ........of course, according to KOA, there could not possibly be a drop-ship problem here either because it was already(according to their policy) in stock.
So, what was wrong with it............well, the scabbard had a hook in it, the operative word here is "had".........thank you my friend Ajax for the correction, what an amazing craftsman he is, when sober........the scabbard and the blade are badly scuffed and have more than a few scratches(odd for something in a bag & a box unless it was attached at some point to a paint-can mixer or was used as a toy by someones employees)........but the most annoying thing is the "razor-sharp" blade.........which in reality is as dull as a lecture on calculus.........except for the very tip, it is a mutant laito blade except it isn't a good laito blade..........just terrible.........the rest of the blade can hardly cut my finger!!.............so what is the result here?....this is the first, and last, masahiro product i will ever buy...........i keep thinking about that snapped tsuka i saw on SBG and i'm thinking maybe it wasn't a fluke............and probably the last time i shop at KOA because i don't care for their return policy........my grandfather called it "throwing good money after bad".........and we don't intend to eat shipping two or three ways...........but it will cost me to have a decent sharpen and polish done to this little cutter...........last but not least, it has the ugliest bo-hi we have ever seen but that has nothing to do with our complaints, it is just the way they made the blade........very heavy, too square top rib above the bo-hi, in laymen's terms..........but lovely compared to the rest of this poor little waki."

2) Their only response:

"I'm sorry to hear that you were not happy with this product. As you are aware you are welcome to return it for a refund. I'll try to address some of your concerns.

Masahiro makes the cheapest available functional katanas, no one ever said they were great. For $40 this item IS a great value, many stainless steel wall hangers cost more then this. But to expect it to be the same quality as the $200-$300 swords is simply unrealistic. Masahiro's products are very popular, but are not for the discriminating collector. We offer swords from $15 to $3500, so anyone can find an item that fits their needs / budget. Never do we claim that the quality will be the same no matter how much or little you choose to pay. My advise to you is to spend a bit more, and go with Hanwei products, as you are obviously buying below the quality level you expect to receive.

As for this sword specifically, as stated we do inspect them for any obvious defects, this one was no exception. The packers, who also inspect the products, do not know how sharp every specific sword should be, and in deed this will vary especially with a lower end manufacturer like Masahiro. Judging by the ones we have here, I would assume the one you received is sharpened, but it is only a machine edge. This item does not come with a hand sharpened blade like you would get on a higher end product. Once again it's only $40, so hand sharpening would be out of the question for a product at this level.

Should you decide not to order from us in the future, that's fine. This is your option. However, stating our return policy as a reason does not make any sense. I know for a fact that some of our competitors will not let you return products at all, some of the ones who do, charge you a 10%-15% restocking fee. We allow you to return anything you are not happy with for any reason, you are just responsible for the shipping costs. I do not know of any dealer who is willing to pay your shipping for you simply because you do not like the product. This policy is not meant to punish customers for retuning items. Shipping costs money, in fact we usually loose a bit shipping most items. This money you pay goes to UPS or FedEx to get the shipment to you. They are not going to give us that money back because you ordered something you were not happy with.

If you would like to return this item please let me know and I will explain the process for you."

Ryan Whittlinger

3) our response to their response:

"Everything you are saying sounds very nice, but is only partially true except for the fact that "razor sharp and battle-ready" means it should be pretty sharp, which is our main complaint, which you are so deftly side-stepping...........yes, we do have a few cheap blades and they are incredibly sharp compared to the sword you sent us.............as a matter of fact some of our expensive musashi, ryumon, various longquan, etc are not that much sharper than some of the cheaper blades, at first, of course............our cheness blades are the only blades we have that are beyond comparison................so i don't think we are mistaking what the meaning of "sharp" might be......................apparently either you or masahiro have a problem with what "razor-sharp" means, clearly................based on your attitude, we don't think we need any advice or lessons on blade quality, sharpness, etc from you...........as to our arrangements with our usual sword providers.......we certainly do not and would not pay for shipping when the product is so wildly mis-represented.............and they are fully aware of that.............by the way, you keep saying it is only a 40 dollar blade, well it was originally 60 bucks...........are you saying it should never have been listed as a 60 dollar sword..............that it always was a 40 dollar blade?.................................we have some 50 dollar tokusen that truly are razor sharp and that is what we would use as a comparison, something in the same price range.........................not an overpriced carpetbagger like hanwei who for some reason won't use anyones real names............what's up with that?........................and so, i hope you realize that insulting our expectations achieves nothing and we will be more careful when dealing with strangers from now on.......................as it is, it is only a 50 dollar lesson.....................the tsuka and tsuba were nice though."

So we just wondered what anyone thought about all this........are we the victims of false advertising? or are we being petty even though we could use our "razor-sharp" to hammer a nail?.......on a personal level, was this guy being just a little condescending or outright insulting, or are we too thin skinned?......if we pay shipping back and forth, it will kind of negate the whole sale price idea, which is the main reason we bought it in the first place and we needed a maroon waki.........has anyone else received a dull "razor-sharp" from these guys or from masahiro in general? ........if you can see the picture, blow it up a bit.....don't know if our photo can show what we mean or not......hard to translate in this manner.

QUESTION:Hey guys,

I'm in two minds about this situation. On the one hand, Masahiro have a spotty QC reputation at best - especially for their cheap swords, which is aptly described here at Sword Manufacturers Guide.com. Ryumon (the higher end of Masahiro) have made some decent blades, though they vary quite a bit within models.

So on the one hand, there is plenty of info to suggest that they aren't the best choice available at this price range (personally, I think that the best $40-60 swords are made by Musashi Swords) and I believe that the sharpness varies wildly as production costs of these swords is, as you might expect, likely to be around $5-$10 dollars...

The problem is further compounded by the fact that, as you note, some low end swords are indeed very sharp - and the original sword KoA received may have been a good one, hence the description.

I am only saying that because if you go to the various forums, Kult of Athena is the most recommended company out there and they are very high regarded by the sword community at large, and they don't intentionally mislead customers and give very honest replies to enquiries before purchase trying to steer them a direction that will actually suit their needs rather than to make a quick buck.

Granted, their focus and specialization is for the medieval sword enthusiast generally, however they aren't scammers or a fly by nite operation, that is for sure.

At the end of the day, when it comes to $40-60 swords, it is something of a crap shoot. Sometimes you get lucky, but more often than not you end up with a lemon, especially with Masahiro...

Hope this helps.

- Paul

Comments for false advertising?

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A primer on e-mail communication
by: Caleb

"so, i hope you realize that insulting our expectations achieves nothing and we will be more careful when dealing with strangers from now on"

I earnestly do not think that you achieved anything here either. You said you wanted to hear what people thought about this; here it is:

If for whatever reasons you were deprived the opportunity which the average person receives in being informed of the ways of effective communication as accepted by the general public, then you should be given due understanding. But as for actually expecting to "achieve (something)" while clearly demonstrating significant non-conformity to those accepted ways, I think you're quite mistaken. I think you need to ask yourself the question of whether you in turn would want to help someone else achieve anything at all if all he/she has to offer YOU is criticism, antagonism, and...a lot of hot air...

Staying in the sword business is tough. We get our swords because of these vendors who sweat more than wallhanger salespeople and make less than them, who, in this unstable market, has more-or-less only their reputation to depend on...which, in turn, is so easily threatened by just ANYONE who can flaunt loose references to such vague but popular notions as "false advertising". Gee, i'm sooo impressed. You used a popular phrase. You managed to get my attention. What's next? I'd like to see you actually try to sue them for "false advertising" (LOL to the diction) and see everyone laugh at the notion that it's for a $40 product.

What's the point of you saying their fittings are nice? You just completely trashed their product and implied you wouldn't buy from them. A pattern of using (many) words in a way that has no point can be observed on your part, on the other hand.

about missing the point.
by: B.A.Miron

i realize that i may have put forth too much information and i probably should have stayed on point a bit more..........while i didn't expect much support from Paul because he and KOA are friends and that's the way it should be, i am surprised by Caleb.......sure ,we felt insulted and instead of taking the high road, we shot back, which was unnecessary and pointless........however, i am amazed that you are both missing the point by so wide a margin........they did say "razor-sharp and battle ready" it certainly wasn't our idea..........our mistake, apparently, was believing them.......so, i guess it's alright for sellers to mis-represent, or even lie(a word i was trying to avoid) about a product and because the poor babies don't have a big enough profit margin or they didn't manufacture it, or it's a lousy brand, it's okay?.........i don't know Caleb, i just don't understand for some reason..........while it is true that we can probably sharpen it ourselves rather than lose money by sending it back......we sure aren't going to spend 20 bucks for the privilege of deciding the sword is NOT razor sharp.......the point is i can never believe KOA again concerning their descriptions of what they want to sell me, why? because they don't care and that's all......whether it's their fault or not is irrelavent to the fact that THEY SAID IT WAS RAZOR SHARP AND IT IT WAS DULL AS A BUTTER KNIFE and they are the seller......no, we probably won't sue over 50 bucks but neither will we buy from them again ...........and my final remarks concerning the sword was simple sarcasm, by the way.........an attempt at humor...............you remember humor, don't you Caleb..........that's when someone says or writes something funny or sarcastic and other people laugh...........the truly sad part of this entire episode is that, as far as i can tell, KOA doesn't really care that the sword wasn't sharp like they said it was and their solution was to send it back and spend more money on a more expensive sword............that apparently would guarantee a sharp edge (now, THAT is sarcastic humor at its best or at least, MY best)

60 dollars....
by: mike

man...it's a sixty dollar sword what did you expect........ swords generally are NOT razor sharp and i feel that KOA's response to you was fair and accurate...... and yeah I GET IT they said razor sharp... it barely cut your finger? now why on earth is that a smart test?? i doubt and hope you did not intend to cut humans.....get that 40 dollar sword thats dull as a butter knife and swing it at a water melon.... i GUARANTEE yoiu it will slice right through! i thhink your out of line to tell them you think a 40 dollar sword you bought from them is a piece of crap...cause guess what... it is.....and as for the thing you said about paul... that's just not right... he wouldn't say that just cause... "he's their friend" or whatever... he told it how it is..... your going to be very miserable if you think your gonna get a great deal buying a 60 dollar sword on sale for 40. please don't take this whole thing negatively... you learned a valuable lesson....if you want razor sharp buy a utility knife.... if you want a good sharp sword DO NOT spend 40 dollars.

by: B.A.Miron

"it barely cut your finger".......never said that or anything like that, read more carefully please and try not to put words in other people's mouths.

Razor Sharp Sword
by: Anonymous

I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, but here's my honest thought on the matter. First off, I had the same problem with the statement, "razor-sharp" and have been dissapointed many times when I recieved a blade duller than a butter knife (not from Kult of Athena though). So instead of complaining, I simply came to face the fact that no matter where I bought from, there was always the possibility that a sword will not meet my expectations if it is in the lower price ranges. I honestly feel your expectations were too high. I understand that what you're really mad about is the sharpness, but like I said, your expectations seems to have made you more upset when the blade came to you dull. You're obviously an experienced sword collector like me, so you should realize that the description put by websites will not always be entirely true because there aren't many sites that are gonna say, "this sword sucks and can't cut crap." Automatically as an experienced sword collector you should know to be a little cautious about your expectations verses quality, sharpness, or whatever, especially if the price is low. Even if respectable opinions such as Paul or popular sword-providers say something, remember, an opinion is an opinion and in the end you will have your own opinion. So if I told you I think a sword is sharp and I was the president of the US, that's my opinion and I'll be free to state that when I sell the sword, even if you think my statement is crap. Also, the original sword tested might have been very sharp, thus the "razor-sharp" description, but yet again, you have to consider what their opinion of razor sharp is and if the other swords they have beside the original they tested will be the exact same, because even if they are all supposed to be the same, no sword will ever be exactly the same....Okay, I'm done now.

at last, a sane opinion on topic
by: B.A.Miron

thank God for you and everyone like you......i was starting to wonder how many nutballs we would have to wade through before we got a valid opinion about what we thought was a valid complaint.............as well, you did make elusions to some of the reasons we are pissed as well as to some of the points that comprise our complaint.........i mean.....a)they ARE on the buyers guide list, b)if, in experience, we had nothing else, we have been coming here for at least a year, c)they claim to EXAMINE everything they send, we got a big kick out of the packers not knowing how sharp the blade was supposed to be......man, what an excuse!) of course we know its a 60 dollar masahiro but we have 10 dollar tantos that ARE as sharp as razors and were advertised as such. e) these guys are supposed to be industry darlings............what happened?...............normally all the other crap(bent, scratches, rubs, etc) is expected and dealt with, that's why we have tools, but now we have to file and stone, our accusharp was laughable the blade is so dull...............but the worst part about it was they could not have cared less...........they chose to insult us instead...........i mean the first few guys that responded.........we know they are probably big KOA fans, but we thought it wouldn't matter if they looked at the ad themselves and were honest about the error.....thanks again for being a mentally well balanced, real person.

by: BAMiron

Masahiro Red Sakura Wakizashi - MA003RS

"The Masahiro Red Sakura Wakizashi Features a razor sharp handmade 1065 high carbon steel blade with deep bo-hi groove. The full tang design gives this sword the strength required for a true weapon. Features a cast zinc alloy tsuba with 2 tone Cherry Blossom (Sakura) design, brass habaki, and imitation ray skin grip with dark brown cord wrap. Includes a marron lacquered saya (scabbard) and cloth sword bag. Can be disassembled for care and maintenance.
Overall Length: 30 3/4'' Blade: 20 7/8''
Weight: 2 lb .6 oz"

...............so, i guess even when an error is brought to their attention, they just don't care.

KultofAthena is fine, dude!
by: SlayerofDarkness

YOU are being ridiculous! listen to these other people and see what a fool you are being! I've had multiple experiences with KOA and they are accurate and helpful. Even if I had never heard of them it is obvious that you are being obsurdly overzealous with your 'complaint' about a perfectly decent item! and you want sharp? get an AccuSharp for goodness' sake! 10 minutes and it's paper-cutting sharp! Seriously, dude, my final verdict is: GET A LIFE!

there we go.
by: B.A,Miron

"SlayerofDarkness" ?? .............why not use a real name, dude?.......or is it safer to spout off your opinion, with all your ulterior motives and vested interests, anonymously? ..........my comment didn't actually ask for or require a response but you just couldn't help yourself, could you?

Wrong person
by: SlayerofDarkness

Sry B A Miron, I meant him (the poster), i have read many of your responses and posts and respect you're knowledge greatly. I just felt that he was acting unreasonably. Sorry for the miscommunication, and no offense intended

P.S. check out my later posts they all have my real name (Brogdon M. Combs)

Sry wrong again
by: SlayerofDarkness

Oh you are the poster... well sorry to say, you were being very childish (and I should know, it's recent history for me 'cause I'm 14, lol) It all comes down to communication. E-mail them politely and they will respond likewise. Just a tip but sorry, they are the most popular seller on the web, they can't possibly be how you describe. I apoligize about the disagreement, and hopefully we can be great friends in the coming years of posting. Let's just, as they say, "Agree to disagree." Friends?

accusharp won't do
by: BAMiron

first things first, the edge on this blade is so flat its going to need two different files, all three stones, not just the two........i mean, meat must be removed!.......an accusharp won't even catch the surface........that's how dull it is!.........generally, we are informed as to the actual state of the HA(hope that's correct) not completely mis-informed..........my core complaint.....razor sharp means very, very sharp, not dull as a stick.........that's all.........and with the general poor state of the rest of it, cult of athena should have stepped up.........it has nothing to do with whether we liked the sword or not as they eluded to.......i doubt now whether they even READ our email originally what with all the irrelevant remarks they made in their response........machine sharpened my ass!......and it is exactly BECAUSE cult of athena is so popular and well thought of that they should be held to a higher standard than others from which we would expect this kind of mis-leading sales copy.

now to you i say........stick to the technical aspect of any post you respond to, avoid being personally insulting at all costs..........you don't know me well enough to tell me to "get a life" over my complaint which is certainly not "ridiculous"........i realize you are your age and although you seem like a good kid you might tend to be over-zealous in defense of your favorite places, people and things simply because of your age...........even if you don't agree with me, look at the difference between Pauls response and some of the other responses we received, including your original.........i can almost classify them by age group because of their inability to seperate personality from topic.....if you disagree with my complaint, then defend cult of athena's position and leave it at that........as a matter of fact, too few defended cult of athenas right to advertise a sharp sword and then ship a dull sword..........most of the responses seemed directed at me personally for being a jerk for even raising the issue.........i give up, i apologize and will never mention it again.

and sure, if you want to be friends with a crippled old man who believes in truth in advertising..........i'm good with it.

You're right...
by: SlayerofDarkness

I apoligize, I was wrong to insult you and, well, if you love swords you already have a life so, um, maybe I was saying you should stock up on lives? lol, that's stupid if anything is... (I guess that I was actually the one being a jerk). Well Masahiro is CRAP as far as I've heard (there are exceptions, though rare), and most of the time, a product's description is written by the manufacturer and then sent to the dealer once the dealer agrees to stock the manufacturer's product. (Did you follow that? I'm not sure that evn I can follow what I just said...oh well) Go to Google and search for a particular sword, and 9 out of 10 so called 'blurbs' will be EXACTLY the same. So, overall, think that KoA DID have false advertising, but it was completely unintended and a mistake. And, really, it is possible that the inspector might not know about the sword as they carry upwards of 2000. I would suggest to KoA that they implement a system where every inspector must go over the online product description to insure that they match. They are a good group of people, who knows? The guy may have been having a really bad day...give them another chance, please. Seriously, I think you were just unlucky in more ways than one: you got a fluke from Masahiro, you had a VERY rare unpleasent encounter w/KoA, AND then it all just escalated. I respect your opinion, just wanted to put this out there...Oh btw, check out my most recent post under the question 'No this is not a question about shinwa...or whether the tenchi or kaze is better ;-)' it's pretty funny (not to mention that I need an answer lol) Thanks, and if you try them again, KoA will NOT disapoint you.
-SlayerofDarkness (Brogdon Combs)

Avoid Kultofathena.
by: Will Stebs

Do not buy from them, one of their staff Ryan Whittlinger, is a little punk ass bitch. Yes they are cheaper than other sites, but their staff lacks decorum. I would be happy to show anyone who wants to know how this Ryan punk responded when I asked for a simple request.

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