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Forged In Time - Caveat Emptor
I've thought long and hard about creating a new post regarding my ongoing issues with Forged In Time, but I've contacted several forum members who have had similar issues with this business, and each one of them have recommended that I post in the forums to make my story known. I posted last back in June/July 2016, but the issues I am having (specifically, reimbursement issues) are still ongoing. Maybe your experience with Forged In Time is positive, maybe it is negative. I have discussed with enough people whose experience is negative. Anyway, here is my story (all this is from documented emails and other sources).

Prelude: I had always wanted a "real" Viking sword; one that was made to period specifications that I could add to my collection as a centerpiece. I researched online, and found a company that (at the time) seemed to have decent online reviews and prices (Forged In Time), and so I opened a dialogue. A synopsis of that dialogue is below..

- Mar 1, 2014: Contacted FiT regarding having them construct me a custom Holmganga (Viking) sword that was period correct. So, folded, hammered steel, not this cold-rolled stuff of display-only type steel. Ben Rial was the bladesmith I was in contact with, who said they were able to accommodate. They provided a quote and said with the current backlog of orders it would take about 7 months for completion (Email re:Mar 5, 2016). They would require a 50% deposit to get the project started.

- Mar 6, 2014: 50% deposit sent via Paypal. Later that evening Ben contacted me and confirmed that he had received the downpayment and that the project would commence.

- Mar 14, 2015: A year had passed, and the sword was at this point five months overdue. Contacted FiT who said they had a number of setbacks but were working on getting the sword out to me. Note that there had been no communication that the sword was going to be late, that there were setbacks of any kind. Seems to me the responsible thing to do would have been to inform the customer up front.

- Nov 11, 2015: Had contacted FiT several times requesting an update to the progress of my sword. Finally got an update saying His internet had been down (OK) and that the sword was half down (in over a year) and that they were trying to get it shipped to me by the holidays.

- Mar 21, 2016: More setbacks, sword won't be ready until May 28, 2016. At this point I'm wondering if I'm ever going to receive my sword. I'd not received any photos or any evidence to this point that any work on the sword had actually been done, not even any photos as I had suggested in previous emails.

- May 31, 2016: Apparently still working on the sword. Yet another deadline missed.

- Jun 1, 2016: I issued a cease-work order and requested a full refund since the requested sword was so far out of timeline, it looked like I would not ever get it, and quite frankly, I was more than tired of waiting and hearing excuses as to why things continually slipped.

- Jun 3, 2016: Ben agreed to a repayment plan of $100/month until the balance of the downpayment had been repaid in full, to which I agreed. First payment to happen June 13, 2016 via PayPal. This was defaulted on.

- Jul 31, 2016: Received $200 via PayPal from FiT to cover June/July payment. This has been the last payment I have received from FiT to date; every payment since having been defaulted on.

- Sep 13, 2016: After repeated emails, received response from FiT stating I was "damn lucky to be giving you a refund on the half payment that you made on your order".

Since this fiasco, I have submitted a complaint at the Deer River (MN) BBB, who have informed me that I am the 8th international customer to make such a complaint against FiT. They tried to contact FiT, but no one returned their calls. After several attempts, they closed the issue as "unresolved" and recommended I take this issue to the Minnesota Attorney-General's Office, which I have done.

The Attorney-General stated they could not intercede on my behalf, but forwarded my case to the FTC to the Manager of the Consumer Services Division, to see if there is any further action they can take on my behalf. I am still waiting to hear back. They also recommended I contact the FTC directly, which I have also done.

In addition, I have written the Alberta Consumer Investigations Division too see if there is anything they can do. I have yet to hear back from them.

At his point, FiT still owes me more than $1000 USD, for which I do not expect them to honor their word that they will reimburse me. I'm still waiting to hear back from a few organizations before I decide on a further course of action. I'd rather not take this to litigation, although it would cost FiT significantly more than the cost of simply refunding me my coin, it would do the same to me. I am currently sending them daily emails stating the amount of time lapsed since their last payment and that legal options are being considered.

If anyone has suggestions on how to proceed, I'd appreciate it.

Last edited by David Hanna on Mon 13 Feb, 2017 6:49 am; edited 1 time in total
Wow, talk about horror story. I hope everything works out for you, sounds like you waited more than long enough, his attitude toward reimbursement doesn't seem surprising considering his apparent work/customer service ethic. This kind of thing is always on my mind when ordering semi-production or custom swords. So far I've been pretty lucky, but I stick only to names which have been consistently and frequently well-reviewed. Especially those who are active in the online community (they're probably the least likely risk their reputation).
I'm no lawyer, by far, but I think the whole 'monthly installment reimbursement' thing might have been a VERY bad idea. :\ ....McM
Forged in time - caveat emptor
I appreciate the post and will not be contacting FIT. It's a shame they conduct business this way. Makes it hard for someone new to acquire a following. Sounds like they are anything but forged in time. What's more discouraging to e atleast is that nothing can be done without incurring large legal fees. I'm sorry you have to deal with this
That is painful to read.
So you've paid 50% of the price, got 200$ back, and are still due a thousand.
In short, your total commission added up to 2400$?

For half that price you can afford the best semi production swords out there.
For that price you can get custom swords from some of the most reputable makers (as far as viking swords are concerned I've seen Patrick Barta swords sell for less, and that saying a lot). Why choose FIT? A real shame you did not ask for advice here before going ahead with your purchase.

Anyway, "what if's" are of no use to you so best of luck with resolving your problem & hopefully getting your money back.
With time/patience & public awareness, you may reach your goal. We've seen this before with a some infamous Angus Trim business ventures...seems that people managed to get either a sword or refunds....after years of frustrations. Posting on forums such as this one sometimes prompts involved makers to react so that's the way to go (especially if posted in a factual way as you've done).

Thx for posting your story here, this is most useful to others.
Only "successful" commissions I have seen from Forged in Time were basically customized Hanwei swords with maybe new or also just modified fittings. I have never seen one sword made by them completely...
Oh my. Really, Luka? This is TERRIBLE. I went to their website, and all you get is half-hearted apologies and excuses. I don't see this turning out well AT ALL. Sounds to me like more legal actions would only result in more expense. Mr. Hanna, I am truly sorry for this happening to you. This is really hacking on me. :mad: I looked them over YEARS ago, when I first got into collecting. Now I'm really glad I passed them by. :mad: .....McM
Mark Moore wrote:
Oh my. Really, Luka? This is TERRIBLE. I went to their website, and all you get is half-hearted apologies and excuses. I don't see this turning out well AT ALL. Sounds to me like more legal actions would only result in more expense. Mr. Hanna, I am truly sorry for this happening to you. This is really hacking on me. :mad: I looked them over YEARS ago, when I first got into collecting. Now I'm really glad I passed them by. :mad: .....McM

I say this based on what I've seen here on myArmoury but also looking at their website. None of their swords look like original creation to me, they all look like mixed and maybe slightly modified Hanwei Tinker parts. Some fittings might be theirs, but blades I don't think.
Exactly. There's a hell of a big difference between a MAKER, and an assembler of hodge-podge parts...especially those who do so, and charge custom-made prices, and then---never even deliver on their promises!!! Damn, I'm mad. :mad: ...McM
I remember looking at their site a few years ago, in response to some comments on the Forum, I do not remember exactly what. What I found was information which I considered somewhat less than accurate about their products. They were, as I recall, offering dirks which they claimed were "hand forged or custom made," which were definitely made from Atlanta Cutlery dirk blades. The prices, as I recollect, were quite high and the quality did not seem to justify them. Most of the rest of the merchandise on the site seemed to be the same and I am not surprised to hear Luka say they were assembling swords using parts from other manufacturers. At the time I posted my comments one of the owners responded, acknowledging what everyone who posted on the Forum seemed to think. After that I forgot about it, until now.

A quick look at their site shows that it is, essentially shut down, they say due to being "overwhelmed" with orders, which I doubt very much. I think what is overwhelming them is an inability to fill what orders they have. They also say that all items are custom made. If that is true, then their product mix has changed dramatically because very little that I saw in the past could be considered custom made. I have nothing to base this on but observation and I could be wrong and, if so, my apologies to FiT.

David, I hate to say it, but I don't think you will get your money back. This company is probably effectively out of business. The fact they wanted to refund your money at $100 per month and defaulted on even that, tells me there is no cash flow, or at least not enough to keep operating. I don't think they set out to defraud anyone, very few businesses do that, I think they probably simply cannot produce anything quickly enough to remain profitable and their sales of ready made stuff have probably plunged. Time is definitely money and the ability to turn over merchandise for cash ultimately decides whether or not a business will make it or go under.
Forged in time
I suspect there are many people out there that have similar experiences and just haven't posted Haven seen this in other businesses I also suspect the site will shut down in half a year.
The post I referred to above, was on November 26, 2014. In it I mentioned the Windlass/Atlanta Cutlery blade used to assemble a dirk which FiT was retailing for $225 and was "custom made." The blade, at that time, retailed for $16.95 and wholesaled for less. Apparently I was wrong that one of the owners responded, at least I did not see it in the referenced post, but it could have been somewhere else. I don't know how to pick up an old post and insert it in a later thread. Maybe somebody else can do it.
Thanks, all, for your replies and support. I've been in contact with a number of folks who have had similar dealings with this company, some of whom I have reached out to, and some of whom have reached out to me. Few of whom I have talked to actually had their instances resolved, and those that did, did so over a very long period of time, and had significantly lower dollar values invested than I have.

I've heard from Mr. Rial once or twice since my posting, effectively to the tune of "Stop bothering me; I'll pay back when I am able"; but based on other testimonies that I've heard, I believe he's just hoping I'll go away.

So, as for the agencies I've contacted (and this is a summarized list for anyone who finds themselves in the same boat, and I'll be reaching out to others who have been similarly affected by this company and pointing them to this page), here's what I've done so far:

(1) Deer River, MN, Better Business Bureau (BBB):

Not a lot these folks can do, as FiT is not a member, but they made several calls on my behalf (none of which were answered or returned by FiT), and finally ended up logging this as "Closed but Unresolved". FiT has a rating of "F" with them, btw. They recommended I contact the Minnesota Attorney-General's office, as they have more pull. They also said I was the 8th international person to issue a formal complaint with them.

(2) Minnesota Attorney-General, Lori Swanson:

These guys did some investigation, and forwarded my issue to the Consumer Affairs division of the FTC citing fraudulent business practices. They suggested that I do the same (which I have also done). Apart from that, they also gave me the contact information for my province's Consumer Services division. I haven't heard from them since.

(3) FTC, Consumer Affairs Division:

I really don't know what these guys did, either on behalf of the Minnesota Attorney-General's behalf or mine, because all I have received from them was a pamphlet on how to avoid fraud in the future. I do not know if an investigation is ongoing, or what.

(4) Alberta Services, Consumer Affairs Division:

Finally seem to be getting somewhere. These guys replied back to me saying there was grounds to do a full investigation into fraudulent business practices based on the entire email history between FiT and myself that I sent them. I may be called upon to give more information, may be called to testify in a court setting, and they are going to see what they can do about the situation. It just might take a bit of time. Hopefully they can do something. My only concern is it's Alberta vs. Minnesota, so it's an international situation.

(5) USA.gov:

Sent these guys an email request, seeing if there was anything they could do, or if they could point me in the correct direction south of the border. Haven't heard anything yet, but still too early to tell.

Other than that, been sending regular emails, which I'm likely going to stop soon, as they are clearly having zero effect, and simply tiring me out. I've been posting to their FB page (and noticing that every couple of days, it gets removed, so I just re-post the same message - nothing threatening or mean, just that they still owe me a refund for work that was never completed). There used to be some news agencies that would investigate consumer issues, but I've not had any luck finding any of these thus far.

Anyway, just wanted to post an update to let folks know that I've not been idle in this. Yes, I expect that I've lost my deposit and that I've been scammed (first time, but it's taught me a very valuable - and expensive - lesson). Yes, I expect that the owner and proprietor of FiT is dishonest, as he has promised partial repayment by a specific date quite a few times only to fail to follow through on those promises. And as always, if anyone has any ideas of how to proceed that I have not tried yet, I'm open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance.
Latest development, I've finally been blocked from posting or leaving messages on FiT's FB page (was wondering how long it would take for that to happen)... although I have contacted everyone who HAVE left posts complaining of delinquent deliveries, etc. and pointed them to this forum.

FYI, the post I left on FiT's FB page was this:
"I am still awaiting reimbursement, as promised in writing, for a custom sword that did not materialize after over two years. Last payment was received July 31, 2016. A balance of $1150 is still owing."
I have only contacted this guy a few times, and I had a bad feeling after just a few minutes talking with him. as I ALWAYS do, I asked for some references from other customers, but of course, no such list ever arrived.
I also looked around for reviews, or conversations about his work, and stories like this were quite common.
Have you tried to contact his local TV station or Newspaper? I had trouble with a local "Artisan" who pulled pretty much the same thing, with me. I contacted my local ABC affiliate and they tried to contact him for "his side of the story" I got a full refund within a week.
Might be worth a shot!
Richard has a pretty good idea. All the network stations in Charlotte have a consumer reporter who works on situations like this and there are probably some in FiT's area too. However, if the company is teetering on the brink of going out of business, it is probable that there is no money to reimburse you and therefore they may not care anything about their reputation.
Lin, if you ask me, I think anything they had of a reputation--a good one, that is--was pretty well shot a good long while ago. Looks like the NEW reputation will be here for the long haul---unless something very dramatic happens, which I don't see occurring in the near future. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Mr. Rial just disappear altogether. Reminds me a bit of another similar occurrence with a certain Viking Metal Worker ;) a few years ago......McM
Not to say that HE had a bunch of unfilled orders, or owed anyone money. I don't know. But, talk about fall off the face of the earth...here one day, gone the next. :confused: .....McM
The suggestion to try the local news channels' consumer affairs/protection reporter is a good one. It may not go anywhere, or it may yield great results and is worth a phone call or email. Most stations have a 'Don't waste your money' watchdog kind of reporter and this may be right up their alley.
Chad Arnow wrote:
The suggestion to try the local news channels' consumer affairs/protection reporter is a good one. It may not go anywhere, or it may yield great results and is worth a phone call or email. Most stations have a 'Don't waste your money' watchdog kind of reporter and this may be right up their alley.

Yep. They would especially like it because of the sword "angle". They could spin this out in any number of directions.
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