Pen Views

Pen Views


July 2010

Have Patience with Pen Repairs

Owning a fine fountain pen is quite the experience. It makes writing very personal and the pen seen to get better and better with age. When I pick up a pen, not only does the experience of writing with the pen mean something, but also the experience I had in acquiring the pen.

But the not so great experience of owning a pen is when it requires repairs.

There is a lot that can wrong with a fountain pen. There are numerous parts and hopefully they all stay in the position they are supposed to be, and no break or become lose. The ink filling mechanism ranges from converters to piston fill. Usually they work flawless year after year, but every once in a while things do go wrong and the pen needs to be send back to the factory for repairs.

Many of my pens are from the major Italian companies such as Aurora, OMAS, Stipula, Visconti or Montegrappa. My Waterman pens are from France and the only US-made pen I have is by Bexley. So for me, getting a repair means having it send to first the North American Service Representative if the company does not take the repair directly, and then waiting while the Service Representative sends the pen back to the factory for repair.

I guess the time it takes to get a pen repaired is part of the justification of why one needs more than a single pen. You need something to use while the pen is being fixed.

Montegrappa Extra Marble GreenThe time involved is considerable. When I have visited with the leaders of the many of the companies I have specifically asked about the repairs. Typically I hear about the goal to have a turn around time of two to three weeks.

If that was only so! My recent Montegrappa Extra 1930 in Marble Green is probably one of the most outstanding examples of having a pen almost vanish in the time warp of repair.

For this pen, it has spent more time in Montegrappa's factory than in my hand.

(Of course if I had not let it slip out of my hand and drop it on a granite tile floor I might be writing with it right now!)

The reparis are expensive in terms of repair itself as well as the shipping costs involved. I always ship my repairs to the service point by courier. No need adding on weeks of time as the pen goes through the post. From Canada, getting pens across the boarder by post can be a significant time delay. But not for the Extra, it was Fedex Courier all the way.

To be fair, the various "trips" back to Montegrappa have all been for different things. The first due to a malfunction with the pen itself. It was fixed at no cost. It was sent from the store in Rome directly to Montegrappa and was returned to Canada in what now seems to be an very short time, a month and a half. (46 days).

September 30 to November 15
The first repair fixed the piston mechanism which was not working correctly - that was 46 days after having the pen for one day.

November 19 to February 17
The pen was returned, and Montegrappa graciously replaced the pen. I would have been very pleased with this, except the nib on the replaced pen was a medium that wrote "narrower" rather than "wider". I know they were both medium nibs, but all the nibs write just a bit differently. Montegrappa agreed to exchange the medium nib with a Broad. So, off to Fedex, and the pen is returned. That repair took three months (90 days). A nib exchange, three months. I did get a note back from Montegrappa explaining and it was unfortunately that with the timing etc. the pen was in the factory service centre over the holiday season shut down.

March 4 to July 12

I had a dinner party, I proudly showed my pen. The pen and its impressive display case was out for view. One could not help look at this pen and admire the beauty of its workmanship and style. But, life would be boring without some excitement. So on the second week of enjoying the pen, I am at the bank, I use the pen to record the transaction, and in slow motion I see the pen drop out of my hand and fall to the hard granite tile floor of the bank. I can still hear the ping as the pen hit the floor and the celluloid body cracked in half.

I could not even finish my meetings that day. At the end of one of the meetings I left for the day, arrived home, contacted Kenrow in New York, the service representative for Montegrappa in North America, and confirmed the shipping of the pen back for repairs.

March 4th the pen left Vancouver by Fedex. Kenow confirmed they sent it to Italy on March 12th so the pen is moving through the system. Finally, on July 12th the doorbell rings. It is UPS with my pen being delivered back to me.

So of the 296 days that I have owned this pen, it has been in repairs or transit for 260+ days.

So enjoy your pens. Always have more than one as you never know when one could be on a trip for repairs.

Your pen, an expression of you.