Worth Writing About

I have a thing for fine writing utensils – I love the sensation of writing on ultra smooth paper with a  pen that actually leaves a trail of liquid ink. I love to watch the shiny wet ink as it evaporates, leaving the mark, remarkable or not, behind it.

I love drawing on slightly rough paper with 2B .5 mm lead held in a lead holder – my personal favourite being my Pentel metal mechanical pencil that was given to me in 1992 or so when I was working at the Bookstore. It had been given to one of my managers by the sales rep of a company called Imperial Parking and he gave it to me. It has "IMPERIAL" and a crown stamped on the top half of the pencil shaft. The top half of the shaft is a bit dented and crushed out of shape. My pencil has been through a lot since being mine, and it has helped me to make some wonderful drawings.

Some time this year, the pencil came apart in my bag. I thought I’d found all the pieces, and I put it back together, but it never quite worked properly again, dropping the leads rather than advancing them, the leads breaking rather than flexing. Neither of which is good for a pencil.

I figured there must be a piece missing, a small gasket or something that acted as some sort of clutch, and I did some research and didn’t find any drawings that would tell me which part I needed (if any). I did discover that my pencil is a Sharp Kerry – to serious writing instrument geeks a famously worthy mechanical pencil (retail cost about $16). I had thought I had a thing for fine writing utensils, but I hadn’t even known that my pencil was part of a famous family. I had just thought it was a wonderful pencil, I wasn’t even aware that I had underestimated my pencil and its origins.

I questioned the writing instrument geeks about my pencil problem, and no-one had any suggestions other than this: "Contact Pentel, they’re usually pretty good about repairing product." So I went to the Pentel webpage and contacted the customer service department with a vaguely pathetic e-mail explaining my problem. A few days later the Pentel VP of customer service contacted me and told me to send my pencil to the Pentel distributors in Richmond, that they would be able to help me.

So sometime in mid December I put my Sharp Kerry into a padded envelope with copies of my vaguely pathetic e-mail and the e-mail of the Pentel VP of customer service, and a note asking about repair options. I didn’t hear anything from them until today just before the end of my work day, when a well-groomed, well-dressed (black and tan), presentable young man carrying a padded envelope came into the office looking for me.

He introduced himself as Sean from Pentel, and shook my hand happily. He held up the envelope and said "Your pencil’s in here." and I said, "Were you able to fix it?" and he said that they weren’t. When I asked "What was wrong with it?" he said, "We don’t know." Then he said, "We’ve given you a new pencil." and pulled it out of the envelope. Then he pulled the original pencil from the envelope and gave me that one back too.

So to recap – my $16 (free to me) Pentel pencil broke down after 15 years of use, and the company not only gave me a new $16 pencil, but they hand delivered it too. How great is that? Pretty damn great I have to say.

~ by thiscassandra on Tuesday 22 January 2008.

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