I bought a beautiful Parker Big Red last week. It cost rather a lot but I thought it was money well spent. It arrived yesterday and inspection showed two hairline cracks in the cap lip. It’ll be on its way back to the seller tomorrow for a full refund. A full refund doesn’t include return postage, of course so I’ll be a few quid out on the deal.
The seller’s not a dedicated pen seller, but about every second sale in his feedback was for pens. He has a feedback count of over 400. That doesn’t make him an expert but he’s no novice either. He has sold a lot of Parkers and he should know to look for lip cracks. Admittedly, these cracks were not especially visible to the naked eye, but they were instantly perceptible to the thumbnail. Rechecking with a 20X loupe showed them clearly, gaping like the Grand Canyon. They were not new cracks. Both had accumulated enough dust and dirt to show as a dark line; one had eroded edges.
The last time I complained here about someone selling a sow’s ear as a silk purse, a reader replied in comments suggesting that I should name and shame the seller. I must confess that in that moment of incandescent anger on finding that I have been sold yet another broken pen, that’s a rather milder solution to the problem than those that initially cross my mind. However, naming and shaming here in my blog isn’t likely to be productive of much benefit to many people. Also, how can I tell which lip cracks were genuinely missed and which were passed over in the sly hope of getting away with it? Truth be told I can’t possibly tell. These are very different offences and it wouldn’t do to punish someone who just made an error with the vengeance you’d visit on a known crook. Let what happens in eBay stay in eBay (except for me whining about it here!). If I get all my money back including return postage I award no feedback. If I’m out of pocket, look out! Here comes a big black negative on your previously pristine account.
I’ve had sellers beg me to remove the negative and they’ll send me the return postage. Sorry, too late. That’s what feedback is for. Others have said that if they had been aware of the consequences they would have paid the return postage. Can’t help that. Ebay rules expressly forbid threatening with negative feedback to get your own way.
The cracked cap/cracked nib/hidden damage problem is not by any means new but it has become much more common at the same time as prices have risen steeply. I’m seeing a couple most weeks, sometimes more. Perhaps the prices have risen to the level where it’s worth digging out that cracked Duofold and putting it up for sale with never a word of the damage. There’s always a chance they’ll get away with it and if they’re caught they can just play the silly laddie and hand back the money with profuse apologies and protestations of innocence.
I’ll just keep trying to be patient and try not to dwell too much on the more condign punishments which involve lengths of steel pipe, baseball bats or force-feeding with a litre of Parker Quink Royal Blue.