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Why I Sold All My Hinderer Knives

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When Rick finished his statement I said “Rick, you can run your forum and your business any way you’d like.  That’s not really what’s at issue here.   There’s a right way to handle things and there’s a wrong way to handle things and Rob chose the wrong way.”  To this Rick replied “we can agree to disagree on this point.  I back my employees one hundred percent.”  At this point, our break in the class was over, and quite frankly, I really had no further interest in continuing the discussion.  If Rick wasn’t going to acknowledge that there was a more professional, courteous way this situation could have been resolved, then there was little else to discuss with him.  At this point, the issue was no longer with Rob Orlando, but with his employer who fully encourages and supports the unprofessional behavior.

Rick’s first two point were really  irrelevant to our discussion.  Rick pays for a discussion forum on USN as well as one on BladeForums.  As such, it’s between he and the owners of those websites to decide what can and cannot be discussed in those forums.  If Rick is too sensitive to have his product compared to others, or too sensitive to receive constructive criticism regarding his company’s policies, then it’s perfectly within his right to censor such discussions in the forums he pays for and remove such topics of discussion.  The real issue at hand was how their company rep in these forums chose to deal with me as both a journalist and as a customer.  And he made it clear that he not only supported but encouraged such rude, unprofessional treatment in this situation.

Rick’s third point was the most curious to me.  Rick went out of his way to let me know he’s not interested in customers who are “collectors” – that’s not who his knives are made for.  “The soldiers are our first priority” he said.

Really?

Let me say from the onset that I believe that Rick believes what he’s saying is true.  The problem that I have is that it’s awfully hard to believe Hinderer’s business is primarily supported by soldiers, police officers, and other “first responders.”  I understand that’s the perception which Hinderer Knives (and other companies like it in the “tactical” industry) would like to put forth.  But the reality is, there’s just not a whole bunch of soldiers who can afford a $400.00 or $500.00 knife no matter how good it is (and make no mistake, Hinderer makes a nice product), and fewer still that would bring such a valuable possession to a combat theater where valuables are easily lost or stolen.  But people buy all manner of products they don’t need for reasons of ego and prestige.  Rolex sold one heck of a lot of Submariners because men saw one on the wrist of 007 in the James Bond movies and wanted to be like James Bond.  Sig Sauer has sold countless P226 pistols to civilians simply because the P226 was (and remains) the chosen side arm of the Navy Seals.  There are countless examples of products which are sold on the basis of perception.  How many producers and vendors of “tactical gear” are primarily supported not by true military/LEO “operators” but by civilians who can’t be “operators” but do the next best thing by buying and owning the gear that is perceived to be used by operators?

If Rick Hinderer’s business was built on such perception, it then becomes easy to understand why he’d go to such great lengths to control perceptions about his product and company in his online discussion forums.  Now, I’m not condemning Rick Hinderer for how he markets his products.  But it seems to me that Rick’s livelihood comes at least as much from “collectors” and enthusiasts than it does from “operators.”  So for Rick to tell me that “he doesn’t make knives for collectors” is really quite hypocritical when you think about it.

A link to my comparative review was posted on BladeForums for discussion by one of their members, and Rick Hinderer himself weighed into the fray.  The mystery of why Rick Hinderer would allow Rob Orlando to maintain the communication style he has with Rick’s customers became easily understood – Rick seems to have the same style of communication.  Some direct quotes from Rick Hinderer (under the screen name of Rhind64 from the thread:

Theirs always two sides of the story now isn’t there John….what we don’t like is someone telling lies about our company and how we do things….why were you disappointed with my response? Because you didn’t hear what you wanted to hear? Your still spreading shit..like us only putting out so many knives to manipulate the market..really? Do you know that for sure John? Do you have proof of that charge John? I’ve spent 25 years building my brand John and building a very good reputation …I will not allow someone who just came into knives to soil that stellar reputation. I also will not get into a public shouting match with you,but since you want my attention you will get it now….privately …

Rick Hinderer

An accusation of lying without substantiation….profanity…even what could be perceived as a thinly veiled threat in that last sentence.  In short, about everything any professional business person should never say to a customer and NEVER state publicly.  Here’s another quote later in the thread:

Oh good grief John….hahaha you really are a drama queen..haha…and no, your not the inecent victim in this…there is no threat there…i dont go on public forums and stir up drama like you do,if I have a problem I keep it to emails..that is what I ment..I am an adult…as for investing in equipment to ramp up production…you got a couple million to loan me to do this? it takes real money to buy cnc, ect…you want to take the risk of signing your life away to invest?..anyway, I’m wasting my typing fingers on trying to explain to you…

For everyone else in this thread……Really people…as for customer service and our overall reputation on how we treat our customers…our business model of putting our military, law enforcement, and firefighters first…have you heard widespread critisizm of my business before this thread?..the amount of times we go the extra mile for our civilian customers…you would take one post that I write in this thread and automaticaly say Rick Hinderer doest care about his customers? automatically saying that we cant take critisizm just because I defend my company and employees from falsehoods that is being spread. Someone comes on a forum and says things that are not my policy I will of course chime in and set the record straight..you would consider that not being able to take critisizm?..wow….have you all ever wondered why knifemakers will not come on to public forums anymore? why companies will not maintain public forums where you all can interact with your favorite maker…well, this is why…I am having to take the time to defend my company from something that is very silly, instead of making knives that my customers want…

Rick Hinderer

More unsubstantiated claims of my having lied about…something…but no specific indication as to what, along with more grade school insults, another other unbecoming behavior.

Would you choose to do business with a company run in such a way?  I certainly chose not to do so.  Again, there’s no denying that Rick Hinderer makes some great knives and other related products.  But there’s a lot of great knives out there being made today.  If I’m going to pay the sort of prices which have to be paid for a Hinderer knife, then I’m going to have to have a great deal of belief in and respect for the company that makes that knife.  And that’s simply no longer the case.  Regretfully, based on what I’ve seen from the company and its owner, I can no longer recommend their products to anyone.  Perhaps in time Hinderer will reconsider how he does business.

About John B. Holbrook, II

John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com.

*All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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  1. Jim Schuman says:

    @Adam, I just want to make a comment here. I am far from a fanboy of Hinderer knives, and I certainly don’t like asshats when they act like these guys do, so for the most part, I am aligned with the tone and opinions of this thread. I have owned several Hinderers though, and every one was perfect — I just got rid of them because they were not the right configuration for me. I now own one (with the configuration I prefer) which is my EDC, rotating with a Curtiss F3 and a Chris Reeve Sebenza. The Hinderer that I have is an excellent knife — solid as a rock, great steel that holds an edge, and good-looking. With only one exception, I bought all of my Hinderers second-hand from reputable sellers on the forums. If any of these knives had blade-play when I got them, I was sure they could go back to the sellers because they were individuals who cared about their own reputations. (The one knife I bought from the dealer was through Triple Aught Design which probably performs an extra level of quality control on pieces they distribute anyway.) The reason I am writing is that, while it is a massive fail for a $500 knife to have blade play, it is quite possible, with a minimum of due diligence, to find one of these that is perfect — I am sure most of them are perfect or there wouldn’t be so many fans anyway. @Adam, don’t write off the brand for this reason — they really are very nice knives.

  2. This is why i will not buy a hinderer knife. It is also why i love my CRK’s. Screw these idiots, their knives are not worth the 500-750$ street price regardless of their attitude to their customers. Add in their foolish business philosophies and yea, well im not going to be a buyer, along with many others.
    I will keep buying my CRK’s, using and enjoying them, and will maoe sure to tell as many people as possible to stay away from hinderer knives. Thats the great thing about a free economy, we as consumers, have many many great choices.

  3. Glad I read this thread as I was just looking to purchase a Hinderer or another Strider but now having second thoughts. I feel totally insulted with Mr. Hinderers comment about not caring about collectors, with that said, no way can I support a company with that attitude. I hope collectors who attend Blade 2015 know how you feel Mr Hinderer. As for striders,I have two, a custom Duane Dwyer, which is a beauty, wicked sharp,fit and finish is perfect and an old AR which was customized by Warren Thomas; this knife has been a hard user knife for more than 12 years. I have split logs with it, sent it to war and back and other than reprofiling the blade, it keeps on going, rock solid! I guess Im fortunate that I’ve never needed to call customer service, but if I did, I’d call Warren to fix it or Duane.
    I guess I’ll be purchasing another Duane Dwyer knife and instead a Hinderer,maybe I’ll grab a few Emerson’s as well.

  4. Lots of better places to spend your hard earned buck Chad. Thanks!

  5. Chad, don’t think Rick is a bad guy. He’s not. I’ve talked to him, and we really got along well. We chatted on Facebook for over an hour about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and I can tell you, he’s a good, guy who’s fun to talk to. But, (always a but…) the people I’ve talked to at his company, and they treated me like I wasn’t important. I don’t have a problem with Rick, he’s never given me a reason to dislike him, but the people who communicate with customers at RHK make me absolutely Hate the company. Haha, I just find it funny that the founder/owner of the company is a down to earth guy, who just wants to make sure you’re happy. But the people below him, who work for him have a huge friggin’ God complex, and think they can do whatever they want.

  6. Evan – I used to think the same way as you. Rick can be a great guy to talk to. But he’s responsible for his employees, and I’m well convinced they take their lead from Rick in terms of how they treat people. At the end of the day, it’s his company – Rick is responsible for the actions of his employees.

  7. plamen2110 says:

    I’ve had a handful of hinderers including the new Eklipse. No complaints besides imperfect centering. I’ve hard used almost all of them (prying glued together wooden boards). Never had to send a knife in, and I hope I never have to.
    That being said even if I were to baton with it I don’t think replacing the knife should be an issue. I batoned with my Spyderco Brad Southard flipper nearly breaking the blade (it cracked above the spyder hole). Emailed them explaining that I realize I was a dumbass for doing that and if they would let me buy a new blade to replace the broken one. They asked me to send the knife in and they would let me know what they could do for me. A week or so later a brand new Spyderco Southard flipper arrives with a typed note saying that they examined it and decided to replace the knife free of charge and in hand writing “the knife is not meant for batoning”. That was a $250 knife.
    Just thought I’d put that out there.

  8. This is quite funny…I was recently looking at buying a used Hinderer, a used Strider, or a used Sebenza….my money is now on a Sebenza…I can’t stand people like Rick Hinderer who act like they are god’s gift to the knife world and seem to think they don’t need to be respectful to the public, respectful to the people who spend outrageous sums of money on what are essentially overpriced knives…I am voting with my money, and my money is going to Chris Reevesn(well, indirectly at least)…..

  9. Can’t go wrong with a Sebenza. CRK started the whole titanium frame lock craze…

  10. You read one guy’s complaint and decided that Rick is an asshole?

    You should really consider checking out the Hinderer section on BladeForum, or the Herd Facebook page, and see how he interacts with people and how people talk about RHK’s customer service.

  11. ??Yeah. If you want to see how nice of a guy Rick is, visit one of HIS pages, where he has rules about what you can and can’t say., essentially, a place where you can only compliment him, otherwise he pm’s you, and will b*tch you out, and possibly kick you off the forum.

  12. That doesn’t match what you said about Rick from a few comments upstream.

  13. I was referring to the article.

  14. I have to concur with the notion that Rick and company sure seem like swell guys when read/post in venues where they control every last key stroke. China seems like a wonderful place if you read the government controlled media too….

  15. Thank you. I considered buying ZT 0562, but now I know I’ll never buy anything connected with Hinderer. USN is full of nice people but also some maker/manufacture forums are filled with fanatic, rich douchebags.

  16. This is all very interesting. I can say out of personal experience, Duane Dwyer was one of the biggest assholes I have ever met. He also has a very checked past and is full of shit.

  17. I was looking to purchase my first Hinderer knife but after came across this, I don’t want to have problem if I need service from them. Do you have other comparable knives to suggest?

  18. Look to Zero Tolerance. I have several of their knives.

  19. Uriah armijo says:

    I won’t be buying anymore hinderer knives again either. Thank Gof I only bought one. I found out after I had a mishap with my xm18 that they do not and will not replace your blade no matter what. It’s meant to be a hard use knife and it doesn’t make sense why they wouldn’t replace blades. So if someone breaks it which that will happen now you have a 400 dollar boat anchor. I will stick with crk. They treated me better and offer all the services I like and would ever need. Also when your knife gets old and warm out from sharpenings you also will have a 400 dollar or more paper weight. I expect more from a hard use knife company. Just glad I know now to take my buisiness elsewhere. Btw I was polite to them and just said okay thank you. Goodbye.

  20. Jason Rogers says:

    I believe that since RHK opened the doors on it’s much larger production facility a few years ago, none of the customer service issues from the past are even relevant anymore. The RHK – Users and Collectors Facebook page is filled with hundreds of comments regarding Hinderers excellent customer service. Breaking a blade, unless there was some odd manufacturing defect(which they will cover), is abuse. I wouldn’t expect anyone to fix something I broke using improperly. Rob Orlando is no longer with RHK, if he was an individual who bothered you. I believe this post is misleading, as it is now 5 years old and the company has made many drastic changes since then. If you are reading this, give Rick Hinderer Knives a chance, they are great products and people. Thank you.

  21. Jason – thanks for this information I hadn’t heard that Rob was no longer with RHK. Where did he go? IMHO, neither the expanded production facility nor Rob Orlando’s departure changes anything. Rob was with RHK for YEARS. During that time he was less than professional with more folks than just me, as the comments here will attest. Rick did nothing to discourage this from Rob, and in fact supported him. That’s just not good business IMHO.

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