Pen Problems: What to do when your new pen isn’t quite right

One of the longest units of time known to man or woman is the wait from the moment your pen order is placed, to when it arrives. This is true regardless of shipping method or proximity to the store. Waiting for a new pen feels like an eternity. So when your new pen finally arrives, it can be pretty heartbreaking if it isn’t working correctly.

Most new pens are perfect little gems that bring us decades of joy. But every now and then, an issue slips through the cracks and a pen with problems ends up out in the world. New pen problems can be broken down into a few categories, and how you deal with them depends on a number of variables. Communication is key with issues like this, so reach out to your retailer before making any assumptions, or posting anything on social media.

1 – Actual damage to the pen

Is there visible damage to the pen when you open the box? If so, contact the retailer first. It may have been damaged in shipping, through no fault of yours or the retailers. Most Priority Mail packages come with $50 of insurance, so chat with your retailer about that first.

Pen Problems – damaged in shipping?

If the damage looks like a manufacturing error, the retailer may replace it or refer you to the brand distributor for a replacement. Don’t be put off if the retailer sends you to the distributor for quality control issues. Some manufacturers prefer to handle problems with the pens directly. This is usually to help them stay on top of any potential long term or consistent problems.

Pen arrived damaged, contact your retailer first.

2 – Issues while writing

Is the damage to the pen only noticeable when the pen is used? This is one good argument for flushing your new pen with water or pen flush before you ink it. I know that means waiting even longer to play with your new toy – but you won’t regret taking the time if a problem arises. Most retailers can’t accept a return if the pen has been inked, so make sure you’re aware of the retailer’s return policy before you start to play.

Skipping and flow issues

Some pen brands include a manufacturer’s warranty that should cover defective merchandise, so check your pen booklet to see if your issue is covered. Unfortunately, some warranties can be voided before you even know something’s wrong. It all comes down to being informed and patient – two simple things that can be understandably difficult when you’re struck with starry-eyed wonder at the sight of your new pen!

3 – Operator Error

Some damage is caused, unfortunately, by user error. Some pens have tricky quirks that can be confusing as you get to know your new pen. If you haven’t done research on the model ahead of time, you run the risk of damaging it yourself. Or maybe you’re so excited to get started that you dance a jig and the poor pen slips from your grasp and tumbles to the floor. Tragedy! There are several pens that have caps that do not thread or snap on like most pens, or others that have unusual filling systems. Educate yourself on how these work before jumping in with both feet. Both you and your pen will thank you.

Operator error – nib meets floor = pen problems!!

Your options are more limited when user error is at play. No retailer or manufacturer generally will accept the pen back at that point. So, you can either fix it yourself, send it to the manufacturer for repair, or send it to an independent repair person.

4 – Repair Options

If you decide to try and fix your pen yourself, do your homework first and accept the consequences of failure before you start. Some fixes are simple and may only require a little time and simple tools such as Micromesh or a loupe. Some may be more involved. Read up on pen repair, watch a few videos online, and maybe ask a local pen store or online pen community for advice.

Sending the pen back to the manufacturer for repair – if the manufacturer offers this service – allows you the best chance of having your pen repaired to original standards.  Be prepared to wait a while, and it may end up costing quite a bit as well. It may not be worth it unless the pen is of a certain value or personal importance.

If the manufacturer doesn’t offer repairs, you can seek out an independent pen repair person to service your pen. Repair people often have different specialties, so ask around for the right person. Your pen retailer might be able to refer you, or if you have a local pen show, you may find someone there who can help.

We all hope our pens arrive perfect – and most of them do – but it’s best to know your options for the worst-case scenario.

Sarah Read

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  • D. G.

    Quite interesting… Reach out before “posting anything on social media”? An advice which only retailer can benefit of.
    What is interesting, Andersonpens’ return policy avoids talking straight about returning defective merchandise… It suggests contacting manufacturer, which is not always practical… Also, if item is not eligible for return, its product page should clearly state that as well – and that is not the case either.
    Really sad. I’d advise people buying things from more reputable dealer… Preferably, local business. If it is not available – always read return policy of the online retailer BEFORE ordering something. Or buy on Amazon – cheaper and no hassle returns 🙂

    • Brian Anderson

      Hi D.G., Our suggestion to reach out to the retailer prior to posting anything on social media is to prevent a bigger headache for the customer. Advice from friends or online forum members, even though it is well intended, could be incorrect, such as what is wrong with a pen or what to do if there is an issue. We want to ensure our customers are given the proper information from the start.

      As stated in the post, many manufacturers prefer working directly with the customer if any issues arise. Have no fear, we make sure our customer is connected directly with a customer service rep in case of any issue! It is a more streamlined process and more beneficial for the customer in many cases to work directly with the manufacturer, since they are the ones who made the pen.

      Thank you for the suggestion of adding onto each product page if any item is not eligible for a return. Great suggestion!

      Having an issue with a brand new pen is very, very rare but we want to educate our customers on what to do to ensure they have the best experience.

      We do have a brick and mortar location, which allows customers to handle the pen before purchase. We invite you to Appleton at any time! We also attend between 12 and 14 pen shows a year across the country, and we bring a significant portion of our pen, ink and stationery to customers to experience.

  • D. G.

    I think, I should post on several FP-related boards which I am a member of that Anderson Pens deletes critical comments on their blog posts…

    • Brian Anderson

      Hey D.G. Comments are automatically set to pending before they post to prevent spam. Approvals are made throughout the day but we occasionally do not get to comments in real time. Thank you for your patience!

  • farmkiti

    Buying fountain pens online carries the risk of not being able to handle a pen before purchase. I have had a few cases in which a pen I bought did not write smoothly after I inked it up. Luckily, I didn’t ruin any expensive pens on Micro Mesh before I learned to deal with this issue more effectively. I’ve since learned about flushing before inking, checking the alignment of the tines, and the JUDICIOUS, CAUTIOUS use of Micro Mesh when necessary. I have ruined a few cheap pens; I’m glad I didn’t get too crazy with the Micro Mesh on too many pens before I learned a little bit more about it.

    I would like to suggest that Anderson put a demonstration video on their website about how to polish & smooth nibs with Micro Mesh. A sentence or two about doing a couple of figure 8s just isn’t enough for some of us who need more information. This would’ve really helped me when I was first learning to use it.

    I have had nothing but good experiences, however, when dealing with Anderson post-purchase concerning a pen that was less than satisfactory. They have always been helpful to me.

    • Brian Anderson

      There are lots of different ways to use Micro-Mesh, and a Micro-Mesh and nib tuning video is in the works!

  • William Davis

    My first fountain pen Lamy Safari, totally would not write , mad, left in drawer. Six months passed, I get another, Edison, writes ok, not satisfied, paid nib “expert” $50 !!! Was worse, replaced nib unit $20. Few others in between returned for service or exchanged, time consuming and irritating process for all involved.

    did extensive study of helpfull blog posts, like Andersons from whom bought useful and low soft cost nib tuning tools. the hard cost was time.

    Grabbed some el cheapo Chinese and Indian dollar pens and practiced.

    Fast forward 2 years, last night took a bag of crusty old beat up vintage pens of varying condition and quality I bought for $10 on eBay and turned 4 of them into fantastic writers.

    And finally I did make that Lamy work great too.

    Point being rarely do I receive a pen that writes well out of the box , or at least writes the way I like it to, new or used.

    Fountain pens have an inherient vice of being finicky, I presume in their hey days there was actually a repair shop in many towns one could swing buy and get it adjusted by a skilled repairmen.

    But time and practice can turn the worst performing pen into a fantastic performing pen in matter of minutes.

  • Eric Aycock

    This is a great article! I have purchased a few pens from you at the Baltimore and D.C. pen shows and everything has been great! I will be ordering a few replacement nibs from you in the next week or so to pick up at the Baltimore show. I was wondering if you can do checks on nibs (either replacement or on pens) at the time of ordering to make sure they are properly aligned/spaced etc.?

    • Brian Anderson

      Sure thing Eric! Just post a comment on the order notes and I’ll take a look!