I’d like to share a story with you. It’s a tale of opportunity and exploitation. A journey that includes you, a dream of making money on your own terms… and a gleaming blade sharp enough to cut copper. It’s the legend of Cutco Knives.
Okay… so the real story of Cutco might not be so dramatic, but if you’re looking for an unbiased review, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re wondering if Cutco Knives is a scam... that’s also a topic we’ll discuss. The truth may surprise you.
Please note, I am not affiliated with Cutco Knives (or Vector Marketing) in any way. This review has been researched with information and testimonials that are available online in the public domain. Any conclusions drawn by myself are opinions.
What Is Cutco?
Cutco Knives is a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality kitchen cutlery, knives, and kitchen accessories. They also produce and sell sporting, hunting and pocket knives.
Founded in 1949, Cutco (a joint venture between Alcoa and Case Cutlery originally called Alcas Corporation) manufactures their products in Olean, New York (visitor center and factory pictured below). Today, they claim to be in the homes of 16 million satisfied customers.
Cutco knives are known for their high-quality and durability. They are also semi-famous for being able to cut through rope and leather. Their real claim to fame however, is that they make a pair of kitchen scissors (shears) that can cut though a penny. Yes... a penny. More on that in a moment.
So the question is, why is a company that’s been around since 1949, who sells an exceptional product… being called a scam?
Enter Vector Marketing
Cutco is what’s called a single-level direct sales company. Contrary to what some have said, they are not a multi-level-marketing company, or a pyramid scheme. As a Cutco Sales Rep, you cannot establish a downline and earn commissions from them.
In the early days, Cutco had hundreds of these small, independent, direct-sellers.
One of these sellers was named Vector Marketing, and from 1981-1984, Vector Marketing sold significantly more than all other independent sellers.
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So, in 1985, Cutco purchased Vector Marketing making them their premier seller, and in cookie-cutter fashion, they duplicated Vector's success all over the continent.
Today… if you see an Ad or receive a call from someone offering you a job to sell Cutco Cutlery… it's coming from Vector Marketing (not Cutco).
Vector has also had it’s fair share of controversy over the years. Along with a handful of lawsuits, including the state of Wisconsin ordering Vector to stop providing dishonest information to students, the Washington Post conducted a survey of 940 Vector recruits in 1996.
Almost half reported that they earned no money, or even lost money by working for Vector Marketing.
In 1996, The Washington Post reported that of the 940 Vector recruits surveyed, nearly half earned nothing, and some even lost money.
In fact, the dubious practices of Vector Marketing even inspired a group of student to form a group called SAVE (Students Against Vector Exploitation).
Despite the negativity surrounding Vector Marketing, they still operate today and are the premier seller of Cutco Cutlery.
Is Cutco Knives A Scam?
Now that you know a little of Cutco’s history, I can tell you… yes, of course Cutco Knives is a scam.
It’s no coincidence that a company who makes scissors so powerful that they cut through pennies, was also formed during the third year of the Cold War. Cutco is a covert defense contractor for the US, manufacturing small weapons used by what were then, Cold War spies.
They never cared about students or independent sellers. Not then, and not now!
The Cold War is over of course, but an agent's need for a knife that springs from their sleeve, or a blade that pops out from the toe of their boot, is still very real.
And if you think that sounds like a tale straight from an Ian Fleming novel… well, that’s because such a far-fetched yarn could only be a made up story... which it is. I'm sorry, just having a little fun. 😀
Reviews aren't the most gripping pieces of literature, so I like to add a little color to brighten them up every now and then… I hope you don’t mind.
The cutting through pennies though... that part is absolutely true.
So... Cutco is not a Cold War weapons manufacturer (well... that we know of). 😀
All joking aside though, when it comes to the Cutco Knives scam, there is plenty to discuss.
First, as I'm sure you can tell, Cutco Knives (the company) is not a scam. Neither is Vector Marketing. They've both been around for many years. However... some people disagree with their predatory sales and recruiting practices, which is why Cutco is often called a scam.
That leads us to a discussion about deception and intent.
The Vector Marketing Interview
Although the operational side of Cutco and their marketing division are not a scam (meaning, they produce, sell, and deliver a quality product, as well as pay their employees, vendors, and taxes), their sales and recruiting practices have been called into question.
Merriam-Webster defines a scam as a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation. Wikipedia defines a scam as a “confidence trick” or an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence.
When a Vector Marketing “receptionist” calls to recruit you as a sales rep for Cutco, they do it a way designed to gain your confidence, and sell you an opportunity in a deceptive manner.
Vector employs telemarketers (also called recruiters) to get you in for an interview. The official job title they use is a “receptionist” and there are different levels (receptionist, VIP receptionist, Elite receptionist)
The receptionist uses a carefully crafted script to gain your confidence.
Even the process of getting you on the phone is an actual procedure they refer to as “3X’s a day is the Champion’s Way”.
The 3X means they must call you 3 times a day… morning, afternoon and before they leave the office at the end of the day.
They are also instructed to call you twice in row, and if you answer the second time, a recruiter (receptionist) will work from a script…
“Hey thanks for picking up! I know it’s a little weird that I just called you twice… we’ve just been so busy here and I wanted to make SURE that I got a hold of you right away because you (filled out an application on line for example…) or else I would have never gotten a hold of you.”
Once they have you on the phone, a strategy of building rapport is used. It begins with some friendly banter which leads to,
"Oh, I just got off the phone with someone who…
- also has a part-time job.
- also lives in your area.
-also goes to your school, etc."
The purpose is to establish commonality. To further gain your confidence, they will seek a point of connection by mentioning your friend.
“you were referred by [friend].”
And, If you have no idea who this "friend" is, they again go back to the script. This time, they even include laughter.
“(laughter), Oh, [so-called friend] may have went through their phone and recommended whoever they thought wanted to earn some extra cash. Maybe you met them at a party…”
As the conversation continues and you ask questions, they (the recruiter) will tell you that they are only receptionists, and for any questions you have, the “canned response” is “My Manager is the best person to answer that” or “I know my Manager does cover that in the interview” or “Something as sensitive as that you should really speak to a Manager about”
It’s all part of a carefully orchestrated play to keep the “engine” running. The “engine”, in this case, is a steady supply of recruits and leads, which they of course need, because most people quit (if they show up for training at all).
And… with each new lead comes the opportunity to sell more cutlery, knives, wooden blocks, kitchen scissors, and so on (to the new recruit’s family and friends).
The Script Never Ends…
Your journey began with the script, and as you progress to the second and third interviews (more accurately described as presentations), the script continues.
I sold insurance for a short while about 15 years ago, and I can tell you... even though the conversation seems natural, everything is planned to the finest detail.
If you stick it out and become a Cutco Sales Rep, you'll learn this in your training. When recruiting and when selling Cutco, they have it down to a science.
You'll be presenting from a script, hitting your marks, asking specific questions to obtain a desired response, and memorizing “canned responses” to handle objections.
Whether you consider this a deception, is up to you. One thing it is not... is sincere.
The truth though... if we call it a scam, we must also call every car dealership a scam, every insurance salesperson a scam, every real estate agency a scam, and so on… Because they all use a script. And, they all use tricks to gain your confidence.
Maybe it's capitalism at it’s worst (or it’s finest, depending on your attitude towards capitalism). But how often does advertising tell the truth? The real burger never looks like one pictured.
And... Budweiser will not get you the girl in the bikini. (If you do get her, it's YOU, not the beer.)
Sales and marketing always walks a fine line between truth and deception. Even if it's subtle, or in jest.
So, whether Cutco Knives and Vector Marketing are a scam, I’ll leave it for you to decide. At least now you know the game they are playing.
Cutco Knives Compensation
Being a single-level direct seller, the compensation structure for a Cutco Sales Rep is quite simple.
Unlike most direct sales companies, and MLM’s… Cutco offers a guaranteed wage of approximately $12.50 to $17.50 per appointment (depending on location). Notice I said per appointment. Although each appointment (or presentation) is approximately one hour… this rate does not translate into an hourly wage.
In fact, when you include the props needed to for demonstrations, fuel to drive there, parking if required, and your time to and from appointments… your hourly rate is closer to half (or less) of what your per appointment rate is.
Nonetheless… it’s more than most direct sales companies offer, which is usually a big ZERO.
In addition to your guaranteed wage, you earn commissions on your sales.
- $0 - $1,000 (sales) = 10% (commission)
- $1,001 - $4,000 = 15%
- $4,001 - $7,500 = 20%
- $7,501 - $12,000 = 25%
- $12,000 - $24,000 = 30%
- $24,000 plus = 30% + (the “+” is unspecified)
To get paid you must submit a completed qualified presentation report every week to your office manager for tracking purposes.
In addition to that I should also mention, you are required to sign a standard Sales Representative Agreement, and put down a security deposit ($200) for your demonstration knives.
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Making Money Selling Cutco Knives
Cutco has a high employee turnover rate. One reason is because they are aggressively recruiting people who were not looking for a sales job in the in the first place. People, 85% college aged, sign up reluctantly. And, once they realize what they've got themselves into, feel buyers remorse.
Another reason is because people just don’t like to sell. They especially don’t like selling to their family and friends, which Cutco encourages.
The opportunity is made to sound great, so of course... they get excited, and fantasize about the freedom and earning potential. But they lose interest quickly when they realize it's a lot tougher than it sounds.
Sales, particularly in-home sales, is not an easy game. It requires a unique personality, an uncommon energy and the ability to handle regular doses of rejection.
While some people are suited to it, and will certainly make money selling Cutco Cutlery, the majority are not.
It's true, hard work can be a game-changer, but as someone who spent 10 years in B2B (business to business) sales, and a few more doing both Amway and insurance sales… I feel compelled to say, “DO NOT beat yourself up if sales is not for you”.
Seriously… I spent many years, feeling guilty and miserable because I refused to accept that I hated my career. I made selling my life, but it was actually a distraction that made me intensely unhappy, steered me away from the career I actually wanted, and it even ruined some relationships.
I'm not saying that will be your experience, but if you think selling is not for you... it’s not a big deal. Take from it what you can learn, and move on.
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What I Like About Cutco Cutlery
- The Cutco brand is known for being high-quality. As both a consumer, and a seller, this is extremely important. Half the sales battle is won simply by having a solid product to sell.
- If sales is your thing, the guaranteed wage (per appointment) is more than you will get from most (if not all) other direct sales companies. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s something… and it will cover some of your expenses.
- Whether you enjoy sales or not, whether you make money selling Cutco or not… everyone can benefit from the sales training they provide. You may never have a career selling products, but throughout life, you are always selling yourself. It might be a job interview, an important client, or your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents. Possessing a decent set of people skills will make your life a lot easier.
What I Don’t Like
- Aggressive and deceptive recruiting tactics. Of course, each manager is responsible for the culture within their own branch, and some will be more honest than others. A few may even be more sincere and helpful. But, Vector Marketing has a reputation, and if you’ve been recruited by them, make sure to go in with your “eyes wide open.”
- It’s a limited opportunity because it’s not suited to most people. And, because Cutco and Vector Marketing know that, the recruitment process and lead generation strategy has become a revolving scheme. It’s a numbers game, and you, your friends and your family are only numbers.
- Although you qualify for some tax deductions, unlike a real sales job, there are no reimbursements for your vehicle, your insurance, your meals, your cell phone, etc.
- Cutco knives are expensive. They’re impressive, particularly when compared to a typical family’s knife set that never gets sharpened. But to be honest, who needs a steak knife that cuts though leather? Who needs shears that cut through coins? They may last for years, but really… for most people, Cutco doesn't solve any problem that a $15 knife sharpener can’t.
Do you need an expensive set of kitchen knives? Do your friends or family need an expensive set of kitchen knives? In most cases, the answer is no.
Most people don't.
Therefore, it's not a product that sells itself (despite what they tell you). Making decent money selling Cutco requires some aggressive tactics and a lot of appointments. You'll be hunting down leads, making a lot of calls, driving (or taking an Uber) to a lot of different homes, and talking to a ton of people.
There's no way around it. Selling is all about running numbers, which is why so many people today are automating the process online. Why present something over and over in person, when you can create something once online… sit back, and have it do all the work for you?
I certainly don’t want to discourage you from selling Cutco. If you think it’s a job for you, it's worth giving them a shot.
I will suggest however, that there are easier (and some might say more legitimate) ways to earn money. From a part-time job or babysitting, to mowing lawns and as mentioned above, starting an online business.
Cutco Knives may be the real deal, but Vector Marketing is the one that may stab you.
My Top Recommendation For Making Money Online
Getting a job, even if it's selling Cutco Knives, is a step in the right direction. There's a lot they can teach you. However, they can't provide financial freedom. To truly build multiple streams of passive income, online marketing is the undisputed king.
Finding a legit system with all the scams out there, though, can be a pain. I spent many months testing different training programs and my number one recommendation is Wealthy Affiliate.
I hope my Cutco Knives Review was helpful. If you have any comments, questions, or a personal experience with Cutco that leads you to believe they are (or are not) a scam, please share in the comments section below.