I’d like to share a story with you. It’s a tale of opportunity and exploitation. An epic adventure about 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 a member or an affiliate for Cutco Knives (or Vector Marketing). This review has been researched with information and/or testimonials that are available online in the public domain. Any recommendations and/or conclusions are strictly opinions and may not apply to, or agree with, all persons or situations. See full disclaimer for more info
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 its 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 making a pair of kitchen scissors (shears) that can cut through 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, that sells an exceptional product… being called a scam?
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.
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 (again… not Cutco).
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 students 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.
And to be clear, according to some representatives, it is not the Vector Marketing of old. They have improved over the years, and just as importantly, your experience with them will vary depending on the branch and team you work with.
If you're reading this review for the income opportunity (rather than the Cutco products), but you're not sure selling is your thing, you can also earn money by doing simple things online like surveys with sites like surveyjunkie.com. You can also make money visiting websites, watching videos, and searching the web with Inbox Dollars.
Of course, surveys won't pay nearly as much as sales, but if you'd like to make money online they're a good first step.
If you want to make significant money but tend to be more on the introverted side or again… don't like sales, being able to leverage the web to work exclusively from home (and multiply your efforts in ways that are not possible with direct sales) is what you need in order to get what you want.
Is Cutco Knives A Scam?
Now that you know a little about Cutco’s history, I can tell you about Cutco Knives being a scam, but only you can decide.
Think about this…
It’s no coincidence that a company that makes scissors so powerful that they cut through pennies was also formed during the third year of the Cold War.
Is it obvious that Cutco is a covert US defense contractor and manufacturer of small weapons that Cold War spies once used?
Did they neve care about students or independent sellers?
The Cold War is over, of course, but a secret agent's need for a knife that springs from their sleeve or a blade that pops out of their alligator skin boot is still very real.
And if you think that sounds like a tale straight from one of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels… well, that’s because it's a far-fetched yarn that could only be a made-up story…
…. which, of course, it is.
I'm sorry, just having a little fun. I couldn't resist… 😀
To be very clear… NO, Cutco is NOT a scam.
Reviews are not the most gripping pieces of literature, so every once in a while I like to add a little color to brighten them up… 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). 😀
Joking aside, when it comes to the Cutco Knives scam, there is plenty to discuss.
First (and to be clear again), 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 (NOTE: Being called a scam is, of course, not the same thing as being 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.
But I want to repeat what I said earlier. You experience with Vector Marketing today will most likely be different than what others have experienced in previous years and decades. Times have changed and so has Vector Marketing.
And, of course, not every Vector branch and team operates the same. References to it being a scam often come from experiences and perceptions that persisted years ago.
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 in a way designed to gain your confidence and sell you an opportunity in what some might consider 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. (It should be noted here that the use of script in selling is common to most sales professions, from real estate to car sales and even retailers and fast food… “would you like fries with that?”)
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 progressed to the second and third interviews (more accurately described as presentations), the script continued.
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. In my case, selling insurance… everything was scripted and had to be performed on video before we were approved to go out in the field.
If you stick it out and become a Cutco Sales Rep, you'll learn this in your training. When recruiting and 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 in my opinion… is sincere.
The truth, though… if we call it a scam, is that we would also have to 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 its worst (or its finest, depending on your attitude towards capitalism). But how often does advertising tell the truth? Think of any fast food restaurant. The real burger never looks like the one pictured.
And… Budweiser will not get you your dream partner (If you do get your dream partner, it's YOU, not the beer.)
Sales and marketing always walk 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. I personally don't think they are, but I also can't speak for all recruiters (nor can Cutco). Some overly aggressive recruiters can easily wander into scam territory with false promises or statements.
I'm not saying it happens, but it's possible. At least you know the game they are playing.
If it's a game you don't feel like playing, as mentioned earlier, you can earn money by doing simple things online like surveys with sites like surveyjunkie.com. You can also make money visiting websites, watching videos and searching the web with Inbox Dollars.
Again, surveys won't pay as much as sales, but they're a good way to get started if you want to make money online.
For a bigger home-based paycheck, using the internet to multiply your time and effort in a way that's not possible with direct sales is what you need in order to get what you want.
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 MLMs… 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 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 your per-appointment rate.
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 weekly 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.
Making Money Selling Cutco Knives
Cutco has a high employee turnover rate. One reason is that they are aggressively recruiting people who were not looking for a sales job the in the first place. People, 85% college-aged, sign up reluctantly. And, once they realize what they've got themselves into, they feel buyer's remorse.
Another reason is that people just don’t like to sell. They especially don’t like selling to their family and friends, which Cutco has encouraged in the past.
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, 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 as a sales rep. 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.
Don’t like selling? Check out my number one recommended program to make money online.
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, which Cutco is.
- 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.
- 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 compared to a typical family’s knife set that never gets sharpened. But I'm not sure everyone needs a steak knife that cuts though leather.
That's just my opinion.
And who needs shears that cut through coins? They may last for years, but I'm not entirely certain Cutco solves a problem that a $15 knife sharpener can’t. Again, just my opinion. Cost aside, it's hard to compete with or argue with the quality.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Do you need an expensive set of kitchen knives? Do your friends or family need an expensive set of kitchen knives? Maybe you do. I'm certainly in no position to judge.
Update: in one of the comments below, Dusty mentions that Cutco Knives are great for someone who has difficulty cutting due to a medical issue such as a muscular disease. Someone with an injury or arthritis, for example, would also benefit)
In most cases though, I think the answer is that it's not a necessity, but they would be niche to have. And many of us own a lot of things we don't need.
So, I wouldn't say it's a product that sells itself (despite what some trainers or recruiters may say). There is no question about the quality or the desire to own a set of Cutco knives. It's more about whether someone needs a new set of knives and has the money to afford them.
You can make decent money selling Cutco, but it will likely require some aggressive tactics and a lot of appointments. You'll be hunting down leads, making many calls, driving (or taking an Uber) to many homes, and talking to many people.
But to be fair, none of this is unique to Cutco Knives. This is just sales in general.
One big advantage to selling Cutco Knives though is that you won't have to defend the product. It might not sell itself, but the quality definitely does speak for itself, and if you enjoy person-to-person sales… it's a product you can be proud to sell.
There's no way around it, though. Selling is all about running numbers, and for the right person, it's a great career. Some people are also very helpful and ethical when it comes to sales.
Sales is hard work though, which is why many today are automating the process online. For those who don't enjoy person-to-person sales, it's possible to sell something once online… sit back, and have it do all the work for you?
Okay, maybe “sit back” isn't exactly accurate because it takes time to get to that point in the first place. But there is no question the internet allows you to leverage and multiply your efforts in ways that in-person selling can't.
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 (and it's a great learning experience).
I will suggest, however (having spent many years in sales), that there are easier ways to earn extra money in my opinion. Again, for the right person. It's a matter of matching what you do to your own skill set or personality. You could take a part-time job, do babysitting, mow lawns, or as mentioned above, start your own online business.
Cutco Knives may be the real deal, but Vector Marketing is the one that may stab you (NOT literally of course, just my attempt at a clever play on words because, you know… they sell knives… 😀)
Okay, bad joke…
The truth is though, if you're not sure about selling… you won't know unless you try. And if you're on the fence, it doesn't hurt to give them a chance.
If you already know it's not your thing and you just want some extra spending money, you can do that with online surveys with sites like surveyjunkie.com. You can also make money watching videos, searching the web and visiting websites with Inbox Dollars.
Of course, surveys won't make you rich so what if you still want to make decent money without becoming a salesperson or recruiting others?
As mentioned above, you have options.
If you want to be your own boss and not deal with the BS, then creating a full-time income online is what you need in order to get what you want.
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 and it's not a scam.
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.