The Crack Of Doom

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.

3 thoughts on “The Crack Of Doom

  1. Your comment has encouraged me to voice my own observations and feelings about some suspicious goings-on within the ebay sellers community. I, too, have taken note of a few tricks sellers have neatly stored up their sleeves to make a sale with as little effort on their own part as possible. Some involve the cagey and crafty use of words and phrases, while others don’t even make the effort to be creative and just simply omit minor details – like the nib happens to be missing. ” Oh, is that a problem? Really? But didn’t you see it was missing in the photo I posted?” Unfortunately the only photo the seller posted was very much out of focus and taken from halfway across the room! Then there is the seller who repeatedly apologizes for taking such poor quality pictures even though he has been tendering this same apology for the last hundred pens he has posted! One might think he might have become a tad more proficient in picture taking skills after all that time and experience. Or the seller who glosses over a myriad of pen faults, any one of which could kill the sale for him by stating, “Pen has the usual dings, splats, convulsions, contusions, herniations, aberrations, swelling, warping, fissures and warts typical of its vintage. Otherwise a lovingly preserved specimen.” Or the seller who proudly proclaims himself to know absolutely nothing about fountain pens and then with an air of great self-assurance borne of many years of expert experience states his keen observation that this pen is a superb example of the penmaker’s art and not to be missed! Caveat Emptor! It’s a jungle out there!!

    1. Good points all, Stuart. eBay is not for the unwary or for those who find it too much trouble to read the rules and find out how it works. Thankfully, I find that perhaps 75% of those sellers that I use are honest and examine their items properly before listing them. The moderately good returns policy takes care of the rest. I say “moderately good” because eBay insists that return postage should be paid for by the buyer, which is sheer nonsense in those cases where the seller has been dishonest/blind to the faults of his item.

      I rather enjoy the lamentations of those in the discussion boards who feel they have been badly done by in eBay when it is clear that the source of their grievance is their own unwillingness to educate themselves before leaping joyfully into what is, yes, a jungle.

      1. I had gotten so emotionally involved in my earlier comments that I neglected to ask a specific question re: the Waterman ‘Ideal’ pen and how it so easily seems to play into the ‘greasy’ hands of such sellers. This is a very popular pen on eBay and for very good reason. Yet I cannot help but notice some things which have been ‘troubling’ me for quite a while. The question seems to boil down to whether there is anything at all ‘ideal’ about an ‘IDEAL’? In other words, what, specifically, makes an ‘IDEAL’ pen by Waterman so doggoned ideal?

        I ask this question not to be obtuse but to make a sincere observation. For the life of me, I simply do not see anything unique or ‘ideal’ about a Waterman ‘IDEAL’! It seems to be designed the same as a non-Waterman IDEAL. The barrel seems the same, the filling system is the same. The cap seems the same. What, exactly, is so doggoned ‘ideal’ about it? Is it made from a better grade of celluloid or hard rubber? Does the gold-filled or plated lever have a higher percentage of gold in its formulation? Or are we simply dealing with a marketing concept on the part of the Waterman executives?

        I have seen many IDEALS offered on eBay where the barrel has the IDEAL globe on the pen barrel BUT – lo and behold – the nib on this pen does not say IDEAL on it! Is a fraud being perpretrated upon the unwary buyer in such an instance? Is a Waterman nib engraved with IDEAL in any way made better or likely to last longer or flex better than a Waterman nib which is not marked IDEAL? If it is, then every seller marketing his pen as a Waterman IDEAL is committing a fraud (or so it may seem) unless the nib on that pen also has the IDEAL imprint on it. If there is no real difference in inherent quality or performance between an IDEAL and a Waterman 2A nib, for example, then what is the benefit or real value in having an IDEAL nib?. Again, are we dealing here with nought but advertising hype? Or is an IDEAL really and truly ‘ideal’ after all?? Inquiring minds want to know!!

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