View Full Version : Am I being out of line here?

03-11-2011, 10:20 PM
In reality there's only a handful of vendors that offer Japanese knives and supplies we use to maintain them. You would think that earning customers' business should be each vendor's top priority. Just since January I've made purchases from several, with one company receiving a sizable sum of my money(company $$).

When I was looking for advice for buying some new knives I contacted four different vendors. Three of them responded back with useful information, which included Jon @ JKI who was absolutely the most helpful of all. The fourth company, who I'd spent all the money with was the least helpful. Unlike Jon who asked a bunch of questions and we sent emails back and forth, I got a one sentence reply from "company $$". At the time I just blew it off, Jon was very helpful and I bought from him.

Now I'm looking to get a wa-gyuto for my new handle and so I email "company $$" looking for some additional information on a knife they sell. What do I get back in response? Another short reply and I'm not sure if the answer is even correct. I'm thinking, here I am about to spend $300 on a knife and this company can't take the time to fill me in on the details about it?

Am I expecting too much from the company I've already spent a lot of money with to give me more than the time of day or is Jon's level of expertise on the products he sales so superior that he spoiled me?

03-11-2011, 10:24 PM
In your place I would buy from the one who was helpful. Customer service is not something that is optional now, if it ever was.

03-11-2011, 10:36 PM
Ah, but it is. How many of us have checked out something at a local store, and then shopped the web for the best price? That local store has to pay rent, insurance, utilities, and probably more wages for employees than that internet company. Makes it real hard for that local store to compete. It's the same thing with answering questions. Their time is worth something which is hopefully paid with loyalty.

Jon is someone special, who loves what he is doing. That shows in his responses. Company$$ is probably there to just make money (which isn't a bad thing). Every time you make a purchase, you're voting for service or price. If you like the service, then buy all your knives from Jon. That way, he'll be there when you need service. While he doesn't carry every knife, I'll bet that if you explained what you wanted, he could find something similar for you.

Dave Martell
03-11-2011, 10:38 PM
Jon is a knife guy who has built a business from what he loves - knives & cooking. This makes Jon interested in what he's dealing in, meaning the knives just aren't widgets to him, which allows for him to speak about them enthusiastically & because he loves knives this makes him become well informed on the product he sells which makes fitting a customer to the right knife a breeze. I'm not saying that it's easy for him to email multiple responses to one customer, because it's not, but if he's doing this and the other guy isn't then it speaks somewhat of the other guy's level of interest in what he's selling, his potential lack of knowledge on the product, or maybe even his arrogance in feeling that if you don't buy from him then someone else will.

03-11-2011, 11:29 PM
I've bought two knives from Jon in the last year and he's given me excellent service both times. If I'm looking for a new knife, I know who email.

Chef Niloc
03-12-2011, 01:55 AM
Would $$ stand for "CK" and be missing two $$ for " TG"? Just wondering?

03-12-2011, 02:49 AM
Would $$ stand for "CK" and be missing two $$ for " TG"? Just wondering?

i've never had anything but fantastic service from Mark at CKtG.

03-12-2011, 05:31 AM
Would $$ stand for "CK" and be missing two $$ for " TG"? Just wondering?
CKTG has sold me product, at a fair price, with prompt delivery. To be fair, I've never had to e-mail Mark, so I don't know, about that side of his customer service.


03-12-2011, 05:54 AM
Customer Service means more then somebody who is willing to talk. I want to be confident that that person knows what they are talking about. When I first do a transaction with a business or a person. They need a good reputation before I'll send them my money. How they handle that transaction a lot of times, will decide if I do more business with them. My initial transaction with Dave was excellent as all the other transactions. That's why all my sharpening equipment has come from him. Unless I feel he is abusing my trust, by telling me, I need a bunch of useless product, he is my sharpening source.

I've yet to make a purchase from Jon, but his reputation is excellent. If he answered your questions and delivered a product that met your needs, then why would you look anywhere else? Expert advice in choosing a product is invaluable.


03-12-2011, 07:28 AM
Hey guys, i just read this topic and wanted to say thanks so much for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

Chef Niloc
03-12-2011, 11:10 AM
CKTG has sold me product, at a fair price, with prompt delivery. To be fair, I've never had to e-mail Mark, so I don't know, about that side of his customer service.

Same with me here I'm not bashing Mark he has always treated me well. Sorry if my comment was misunderstood I was just blindly guessing my next guess is Korin? I have never tried to email them with a question & I find there prices to be high

Chef Niloc
03-12-2011, 11:18 AM
Btw Jon's knowledge about knives would be hard to beat and the fact that he is one of us makes it easer for him to talk to us on a personnel level as he knows many of us one to one. I have had similar experiences with So from JT, sometimes it takes me 6 months to order what I want because he talks so much, but I have learned a lot and consider him a frend.

Dave Martell
03-12-2011, 12:03 PM
I like Warren's sentiment of voting with your dollars spent. You choose what's important to you and you go in that direction.

03-12-2011, 12:34 PM
I find it maddening when a company isn't able to take my money. About a year ago, I tried to buy a bunch of stuff from CKTG. For reasons pertaining to my desire to not have to sleep in the garage, I wanted to pay via a SWMBO-proof money order. I called them up and the clerk just flat out said they wouldn't take my money that way, and he wouldn't budge, even though it's legal tender guaranteed by the government. Needless to say, I had no trouble finding the same items elsewhere.

What bothers me most is that I know if I were able to speak to the proprietor, he would have figured out a way to accomodate me by taking taking my money.

There is no substitute for good service.

Dave Martell
03-12-2011, 12:59 PM
I'm pretty sure that in the case of CKTG you're not actually talking to them when you call.


03-12-2011, 01:19 PM
Haha. Whoa!

03-12-2011, 02:02 PM
Probably no one single vendor is going to have everything you want. Sometimes you'll have a great experience, sometimes terrible, sometimes neutral. I think what sets guys like Dave & Jon apart from the pack is that they both encourage active participation while you're trying to decide what to buy. They'll ask you the questions: what are you looking for? What's your skill level? Why do you want this particular thing? They both put a huge amount of effort into making sure that you're gonna be happy with what you get. The other vendors by and large are pretty cool, and they'll answer whatever questions you might have. But in my experience so far, Dave and Jon are the only ones that will ask questions right back.

I should point out that custom knife makers are a totally different ballgame. Active participation is not just expected, but necessary to the process.

03-12-2011, 03:41 PM
I certainly understand the efficiency and volume rationale for an outsourced call center service. It makes a lot of sense for a lot of industries and for many customers.

On the other hand, I think a lot of times when we - those of us who take our knives and sharpening to a degree way beyond the general norm - ask questions, we expect some serious knowledge and hands-on understanding from the responder. We might ask questions about the suitability of obscure equipment (kiritsuke? mukimono? funayuki?), or how one knife handles over another, or how one stone feels over another. Those are not questions that someone working off a script can answer. It is my opinion that only someone who is neck-deep in the topic, who has gotten his hands on the products (and many others besides), and who chose the products for reasons beyond just sellability and margin that can really provide expert service.

Dave and Jon certainly provide this kind of expertise and more. The asking questions back part arises from the fact that they have extensive knowledge and are trying to make sure the customer ends up with the right product(s).

I've been bouncing questions off Jon for the last little while now, as I await a few new JKI items to become available. The plus side of answering my sequence of questions, though, is that my order when I finally place it online will be a little bigger than what I had originally intended when I asked that first question ;)

We vote with our dollars based on what we need, what we want, and what we appreciate.

03-13-2011, 03:38 AM
Just my two cents but I have had outstanding service from Jon, Mark, and even Koki, although the end decision from me was not always an immediate purchase; it is darn certain I will buy from them in the future.

03-13-2011, 09:52 AM
Speaking from the vendor side, customer service is a double edged sword. Personally, I make some customers happy and some I can't. I can't please everyone and when I try to settle a dispute, I try to do so with an eye to the customers needs and the needs of my business and try to find the happy medium in between. As I said, it is a double edged sword that cuts both ways, and can cut deeply.

As for an outsourced call center, that may work for some but not for me. The most important thing I do on any given day is speak with a customer or a potential customer to answer questions or to solve a dilemma. After being on the road as an outside salesman for 30 years or so, I know a one-on-one discussion will go a long ways to avoid future problems. Not to disrespect anyone, but if I ever get such a big head that I can't speak to someone about a board, depending on someone in a call center who isn't intimately knowledgeable of my products, I hope you guys will kick the throne out from under me and bring me back to earth. In fact, I enjoy talking to customers. It gives me a break during the day where I can sit down and change gears and relax a little.

Eamon Burke
03-14-2011, 02:17 AM
I've never had the opportunity to vote with my dollars. For some reason, when I have money to buy things, everyone is out of stock, except for one or two places. One is from a seller I know of, and the other is some backwoods website that focuses on bonsai trees or something. Everyone's been pretty good to me, nobody seems to be making enough money to get really rude with everyone. When I do have a level choice of vendors(with anything I buy in my life) I always pick the smaller one, regardless of service or convenience, out of consideration.

As far as outsourcing calls, the one time I called CKTG was in like '09 and the call was answered "Chef knives to go, this is Mark". But I can assure you a call center rep would have majorly turned me off. Why not just hire another employee? It might be a cost effectiveness issue, and that speaks to the heart of a call center. It takes advantage of the inhumanity of a role a person(re:secretary) has by synthesizing it for something cheaper.

I say support the littlest guy, enough people are supporting the big ones.

03-14-2011, 09:01 AM
Never owned my own business, so I've never had to worry about phone support, but I have had to worry about my employer's web presence. Where most retailers get slammed during the holidays, we used to get slammed during the spring and early summer. We just had three months where our average web traffic would quadruple with spikes that could be up to 23 x our average traffic. It got even worse if we ran a promotion during that time. While we could have gotten more hardware (the equivalent of getting another employee), that hardware STILL wouldn't be enough to handle our crazy peak season without shelling out MAJOR MAJOR moolah. So we partnered with a company that took our full traffic, and passed us what we could handle. And pricing being what it was, it was actually cheaper to just bring them on for the full year, rather than just three months. Only difference is that we knew that having them "on" all the time wasn't the best customer experience, so we made sure to only switch them on when we knew we needed it.

03-14-2011, 09:17 AM
Personally, I make some customers happy and some I can't.

If Dave deals with all customers like he's dealt with me, that should read "I make MOST customers happy but there are a rare few I can't." I commissioned an 18x36 in mahogany and maple and made arrangements to pick it up Saturday. Saturday morning I get an email from him saying the colors aren't quite what he was anticipating, and that if I want, he'll make me a new board no questions asked, and doesn't want me to make the hour long trip for nothing. I head over anyway, and while he's right, the colors are a little different (the mahogany looked more like cherry and the maple was nearly as dark as oak) it was still a great looking board. I told him that I liked it and would be taking it home, at which point Dave says that if I get it home and change my mind just let him know and he'll do a new one. Now THAT is a customer-focused mentality. Thanks Dave, and I LOVE the board.