Knife Tip: Don’t Ship Your Knives By USPS?

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Francisco Renteria is a Sacramento-area chef who spent more than $2,000 buying a huge set of Cutco knives. We may not agree with his taste in cutlery, but we can all sympathize with his predicament. He paid the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the 24-pound box of knives from the U.S. Virgin Islands to a UPS Store in Sacramento, but the package that arrived had been cut open, emptied, and taped shut. 

Renteria filed a reimbursement claim for the value of the stolen cutlery, and the USPS responded (twice) with a Sgt. Schultz-worthy “I KNOW NUTHEENK!” He turned his complaint over to a local TV news consumer advocate, and we hope the resulting publicity will finally get him some reimbursement.

From CBS-13 Sacramento:

He shipped the 24-pound, 10-ounce package from the U.S. Virgin Islands when he moved here — but said the package he picked up from his mailbox inside The UPS Store felt almost empty.

Snapping pictures of the box inside the store, he found the knives were not in the box — just the knife sharpener.

Renteria thought someone sliced open the package to steal the expensive knife set before resealing it, he said.

“I expected to get my money back.”

USPS rejected his claim twice — once even after he sent along a notarized letter from The UPS Store worker saying the “package was lighter than it was supposed to be” and “the seam was cut.”

“The $2,000-question here is who tampered with it?” said consumer attorney Eric Ratinoff of Sacramento law firm Kershaw Cutter & Ratinoff.

Kershaw and Cutter? In a story about knives? This is almost too good to be true.

The Postal Service and the UPS Store have opened an investigation into the theft. Either way, let’s hope Chef Renteria eventually gets compensated for his loss. And let’s hope he does a little more homework before he reinvests it in another set of Cutco knives. Even the best Zwilling Henckels sets only cost about $600.



  1. Aharon says:

    I believe that the amount he was charged at the shipping location should reflect the weight of the box plus its destination. He should also have taken out insurance on the parcel. If the shipping price for the weight was without the weight of the included knives and he also declined to pay the small insurance protection fee based on the stated value then I’d lean in the direction he trying to pull a scam. Then again, theft by postal and UPS workers occurs at least semi-regularly.

  2. Mistereveready says:

    I think the bigger issue is don’t send ANYTHING USPS unless you have to. I sent some video games to a then friend who lived in Jamaica and the package went missing for 10 months. It looked brutally beaten and had tire marks (no I’m not joking) when it was finally returned back to me. No one at the USPS office would honor the insurance I put on there, or had any clue of what happened or where the package was.

    While my items weren’t $2000 worth, it was $500 worth of games, to which I was told you’re SOL and quite rudely at that.

  3. chris says: is down

  4. jwm says:

    Between my wife and myself we do a lot of online shopping. We get packages from europe, Viet Nam, South America and damn near every where else. Food items, Clothing, ammo, knives, shoes and on and on. We get deliveries from USPS, Fed Ex and UPS on a weekly basis. Sometimes more than 1 a week. We have had surprisingly little trouble with our deliveries, considering the numbers involved.

    We do, not always, get insurance on some deliviries simply because of their value. Knock wood, we haven’t had to file a claim yet.

    Our Daughter lived in Argentina for 2 years. Shipping stuff to her was a nightmare. Nearly everything got held up in customs. It’s common there to have to bribe officials to do their jobs.

  5. Nathan says:

    I’ve never had bad experience with USPS, but I have heard plenty of bad stories

  6. PubliusII says:

    Only a hunch, but the problems likely occurred in the Virgin Islands. I was once told by several Russians never to send anything valuable in the post to Russia. It would routinely get stolen in the mail — in Russia.

    There are some locations on Earth that are simply untrustworthy for mail. As a rough approximation, I’d say that pretty much includes any place that isn’t solidly First World.

    Oh, and if it matters that much, insure the damn thing, OK?

  7. Out_Fang_Thief says:

    When it absolutely, has to get there, use anyone but the USPS.
    You don’t hear stories about how 5-10 years of mail was found
    undelivered, sitting in a UPS or FedEx delivery drivers home.

    Before you get an attitude about Cutco, may I mention 2 words?
    Lifetime Warranty. Go check the Zwilling Henckels warranty page.–warranty/Chapter–kapitel/ZWILLING-J.A.HENCKELS-Warranty-Information–3022.html

    Cutco will replace any knife…FOREVER! Misuse replaced for 1/2 price
    No receipt, no nuthin’. Oh, I forgot…free sharpening…FOREVER!!!

    They probably won’t impress your gourmet, epicurean friends but,
    who among your friends knows jack about their Zwilling Henckels,
    much less, how to properly sharpen them? Show of hands? Uh-huh.
    Ya, I sold Cutco when I was 16, and I made damn good money too.
    Those who bought them still tell me how happy they are with Cutco,
    and still have them from 30 years ago, and still use them every day.
    The gourmet knives are tucked safely in the hardly ever used, drawer.
    I use my Cutco carver every week, and steak knives almost every day.
    One of my steak knifes fell in the disposal. Was replaced at no charge.
    Their handles are the only real downside. They’re good, but not great.
    Especially not the french chef knife or the cleaver kitchen knife, which
    are too small for big knives or big hands. Women love them though.
    But then, I think that’s who they were originally designed for.
    American made with 440A high-carbon stainless steel, and worry-free.
    My two pricey professional chefs knives I use for chopping and slicing
    veggies because their larger handles better fit my disable knife hand.
    Everything else gets the Cutco. Do just one pineapple with a Cutco.
    You’ll never use another knife again.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      I’ve used Cutco knives fairly extensively; we’ve got a hand-me-down ourselves, my parents have a few, and our best friends wasted a frightful chunk of change on the biggest set of them they could find. They’re not terrible knives, but they’re not great and they’re no bargain. My problems with Cutco are these:

      1. Vector marketing is designed to sell junk to idiots. High pressure carnival-barker sales methods are an insult to my intelligence, when they sing the praises of ‘high-carbon surgical stainless steel’ and don’t even know what steel that is.
      2. Cutcos are outrageously expensive for what they deliver. Their internet prices are terrible, and their high-pressure, low-information door-to-door sales methods are even worse.
      3. 440A stainless is very low-grade steel, just like you’d find in the nameless Pakistani knives at the gas station.
      4. Most Cutco blades are aggressively serrated, to make up for the poor edge-holding qualities of 440A. These serrations are nearly impossible to sharpen yourself, and you have to pay Cutco’s handling fees (on top of postage) to get them sharpened. Look it up on their website; I won’t link to it here.
      5. Cutco blades are all stamped instead of forged. They claim this makes no difference, and I disagree strongly because forged steel has a finer grain and much higher strength than rolled/stamped steel.

      If Cutcos were sold in stores next to their competition, I believe they would disappear in months unless they dropped their prices dramatically. They’re not terrible knives, they’re just terribly overpriced and offensively marketed.

      1. Out_Fang_Thief says:

        I never sold them the way they taught me to, which is why I was selling more than anyone. At 16, nobody was making what I did, not even close. I wouldn’t do it today. I’ve grown, and learned what’s what. But that’s not most people who use knives. A sad statement, but it’s true.

        I agree with what you’re saying, for the same reasons. It’s the same sales method with the Kirby vacuum cleaners. My sales pitch wasn’t a pitch. I showed them my mother’s Cutco which was at least 20 years old. It cuts like they say it will, day in, day out, and no fiddling with sharpening. This was my selling point. And I sold them to women who could afford the higher end knives at $120 a piece.

        These knives became popular when a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Not having to pester hubby to zip-zap the edge back to sharp was the clincher. Pull the Cutco out and get down to business being the model housewife. Everything about work in the kitchen was about making things easier on the little woman, and Cutco was there to help her. I didn’t mean to tout the 440 SS as an end all, but back in the 1970’s, it was a big deal. In our more refined eyes, Cutco is not top shelf, but its place is not on the bottom either, that’s all I was trying to say. Cutco is stuck in a time loop. Maybe it’s the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” paradigm that keeps them from changing. Ya, their sales method is totally whack, but their knives deliver what they say they will. No muss, no fuss, and that’s what most women want out of a good, useful kitchen knife, and for most of them, they ARE the last set of knives they will ever buy.

  8. Paul B says:

    UPS. The only way to ship. I too have not had any issues as yet with USPS, but if it has to get there, only UPS will do.

  9. scubamatt says:

    Hmmm…two grand worth of easily pilfered product? Do it exactly like we do in the commercial business.

    1. Ship it insured, always. Common sense, if you can’t afford to waste the money you spent on the item itself, then don’t skimp on insurance.
    2. Have the shipper take a picture of the product in the packaging before sealing it up, and include a copy of the picture with the invoice/receipt. We usually get/give an email copy of the “packaged properly and shipped securely” to the customer (and we get them from our vendors). This eliminates nearly every possible excuse from the carrier, if the items arrive damaged or ‘a few pieces short’.

    I have purchased guns (and ammo) off, and that process is exactly how we handle high value/easily pilfered stuff.

  10. Evan says:

    Chriss what problems do you have with Cutco that makes you dislike them so much? I’m not irritated with that comment, I just sell them right now and want as much info as possible. I come onto TTAK to learn about knives no matter what the brand. I’m just looking for unbiased info and I usually look to TTAK and TTAG for that. I don’t know everything about knives, probably just a bit more than the average person does.
    As for the high pressure sales part though, I can see how you can say that. The people I visit are usually really glad I came over and some have stayed friends with me, whether they buy anything or not, a bad sales representative can make a terrible impression and it can be high pressure.

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Knife Tip: Don’t Ship Your Knives By USPS?

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