If you buy a pen from me and you don’t like it, I’ll take it back. You don’t even need to tell me why you don’t like it. I see no point in sticking you with a pen you don’t like. All it will cost you is the price of sending it back. If there were to be something actually wrong with the pen, I’ll pay the return postage. That’s how it works and I make that plain to my customers.
On the subject of customers, mine are great and I’m happy to say that many have become personal friends. In any walk of life, though, you do occasionally bump up against an awkward customer. Some weeks ago I sold a nice little Swan 3160. It’s a very nice pen and I believe the price was very good. A few days later I received an email acknowledging receipt of the pen. This is what the customer had to say:
I should like to return this to you for a refund please. I have not inked or written with this pen but it is obvious that it will not write correctly. There is a large easily visible gab (sic) between the nib and feed, the nib has obviously been sprung at some point. If you have replaced the sac then you must have shellacked the barrel again as there is no way it will unscrew by hand?
The customer hadn’t inked or written with the pen but he knew it wouldn’t write properly! That’s a clever trick, especially since I’d written a page with the pen as part of post-restoration testing. That’s what I do with every pen. The “gab” between the feed and the nib is an illusion. It’s perfectly set.
As you can see, the nib is perfect. It certainly has never been sprung. Then this delightful gentleman questioned whether I had replaced the sac! This was because he couldn’t unscrew the section. Ignoring the question why he wanted to remove the section, he was evidently unaware that these sections rarely unscrew by hand without the application of heat. Of course, I never shellac sections – it’s bad practice and unnecessary.
All in all, I thought it was a pretty nasty communication and it came as rather a shock. It’s a little like answering a knock at the door and getting a punch in the face. I told the customer to return the pen for a refund, and I did complain about the tone of the email and the wrong accusations. He assured me he was not trying to be nasty. Well, there you go.
I love my job. There is no aspect of pen restoration and sales that I don’t enjoy. Interaction with customers is the best of it, usually, and I try to provide a good service, happy to give advice and information to anyone who contacts me. I’ve only rarely had difficulty with customers but when such an event happens it’s a rude awakening and a reminder that – as in any other business – not everyone in the pen world is nice. I’m very glad most are.