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April 29, 2013

Sharp Deal: A Free Knife?

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:50 am

One of the most powerful but misused words in marketing is “free.” And here is a perfect example. sent out an email promoting another company’s offer to give recipients a free gourmet chef’s knife, and as a bonus, a free salt and pepper mill.


It says “save 100%” and that the price is $0. Of course, one has to expect that there will be some high shipping charge that in essence will cover the real price of the knife.


The fine print at the bottom of the ad says that shipping and handling is $8.95. Not horrible, but the deal really isn’t free then.

On closer inspecton however, there is a another small tab down their explicitly labeled “fine print.” Clicking it reveals the real story.



If you do nothing, this company is going to send you an additional knife every month for between $50 and $90 plus shipping and handling.

Consumers who decide they want the free knife then click the “buy now” button and are taken to the company’s page with the offer. There is absolutely no disclosure on this page that this is in essence a “knife of the month club.”

How deceptive can you get?


• • •


  1. There actually is a disclosure at the bottom of the order page. But it’s in tiny print, and the color is black type on almost-black background! If you use ctrl-A to select the entire text, it becomes readable. The only sneakier thing they could have done would be to have it printed in black-on-black…

    Comment by Phelps — April 29, 2013 @ 6:09 am
  2. That is 558.84 to 998.84 for the first year for a set of 12 knives and a pepper grinder and salt mill.

    That is probably about 4x-8x the cost of a set of these particular kind of knifes (least found on amazon and google).

    Comment by me — April 29, 2013 @ 9:27 am
  3. “Hello shoppers…welcome to the Death of a Thousand Cuts Club.”

    Comment by Marty — April 29, 2013 @ 10:24 am
  4. What’s even more deceptive is that for some reason they sometimes also send you the entire selection in one shipment and then want to bill you in three huge installments. This is what happened to me and it took me many months to get it straightened out and to finally have them stop sending me bills for the knives, even after I sent them all back to them (including the ‘FREE’ stuff). They also kept sending me notices that they had never received the returned knives, so make sure if you do send them back you get a signature, that’s the only thing that proved I was telling the truth.

    Comment by Angel Harris — April 29, 2013 @ 11:59 am
  5. Wow. This is a classic sneaky fine print post. It even says fine print in the ad.

    On the order page the customer has to pay close attention to the terms and conditions because the automatic charge is not explicit like all the other colorful banners.

    Comment by Wayne R — April 29, 2013 @ 1:28 pm
  6. Always look for the “Terms and Conditions” in every ad. That’s where the sneakiest stuff is found. Automatic shipments are always hidden in this section.

    Comment by Pat — April 29, 2013 @ 6:11 pm
  7. The last time this scam happened I simply called my credit card company and said my card was missing and received a new one with different numbers.

    End of story.

    Comment by Joe — May 18, 2013 @ 9:46 am

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