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Pilot VP Slate Grey with Custom Nib


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15 replies to this topic

#1 AndyHayes

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 11:53

First Impressions
I liked the look of the Slate Grey VP with rhodium trim nestled in its box as soon as I saw it. I am still lusting after black and rhodium, yellow and orange VPs, but I know that in time they will come.

Appearance
This is my 3rd VP and except for the colour looks like any other VP. You either love them or you hate them. I hear a lot of people moaning about the position of the clip, but I am fine with it.

Design/Size/Weight
There are very few retractable nib pens, but arguably the VP pulls it off the best. The way that the body tapers down towards the nib is much better that the Stiplua Da Vinci with its nib poking out the flat end. It’s a medium sized pen with a thick-ish body. It’s quite a heavy pen so those afflicted with arthritis may not enjoy this, but if you come from the age of weight = quality then this may suit you just right.

Nib
It came with medium nib that was really good, but I wanted a stub so I went the Binder route. For an investment of $60 I could get the nib. An additional $30 for shipping to the UK. The problem is that the Binders add the value of the shipping to the customs slip. Whlst this is supposed to be a legal requirement it is not something that I have ever know any other seller from overseas do before. I started to tot up the costs of the fact that this would now trigger handling charges, import duties and VAT. With the help of a thread on FPN the true totals were soon reckoned:-

$60 Nib
$30 Shipping
$26 Handling charge
$20 Duties (approx)
$25 VAT (approx)

$160 Total

Suddenly we were getting up to the price of a VP LE and it no longer seemed such a good deal.

The good thing about FPN is that it is full of people willing to help out people in a fix and within an hour of putting in a request on FPN to the US contingent asking if I could get the nib sent to them ($6) and get them to ship it onto me ($12), and thus under the threshold that triggers handling charges, customs and VAT etc., I had plenty of offers. Better still though a UK FPN’r had a spare 0.8 stub that he was happy to sell me, so I ended up getting the nib at $60 plus UK postage. What a deal!! Take a bow IANAN!


A page of scrawl


Scrawl Close-up

The pen was excellent before, but it has been transformed by the nib and even gives my awful scrawl some character. I would strongly advise everyone to try out a stub nib. A 0.8 will suit those that like broad nibs. If you are in the UK though I would strongly advise going through a 3rd party in the US if you do go the Binder route. The chance of paying well over the odds for one of these nibs is just too great. You may get a different response from other US nibmeisters

Filling System
The CON50 system is just nasty. It doesn’t hold a great deal and the “window” is just too small to be useful. Either get a CON20 or stick to cartridges.

Cost and Value
The irony was that I wanted a cheap beater and you just can’t get hold of them. VPs come up on FPN, but they never seem to hang around for long. This one had a scratched button and other signs of wear, but I was happy with it nonetheless. I paid more for it than a couple of new ones that I had bought in the UK. A rare event indeed.

Conclusion
I learnt a few lessons here, but the biggest was the helpfulness of the good people of FPN. For those of us disadvantaged by the price fixing in the UK it is wonderful to have a lifeline of sensible priced products. Nothing is more galling than to be able to buy a product made in the UK and shipped out to the US for half of the price that we can buy it in our own country.

The second lesson was how different a nib can make a pen become, but beware the cost of additional duties and tax especially in the UK.
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#2 misterh

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 12:02

Nice review Andy, glad to hear that things worked out with the stub nib. The generosity of people on FPN never fails to amaze me.

Having seen the writing sample, I think that I really do need to get an 8mm stub for my VP.

Edited by misterh, 17 May 2008 - 12:03.


#3 Richard

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 12:19

Andy, we obey the law in re the declaration of shipping charges because honesty, for us, is an imperative. If we would willingly lie for you by making a false declaration, what makes you think we would not just as easily lie to you?

(edited to fix a typo)

Edited by Richard, 17 May 2008 - 12:19.

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#4 AndyHayes

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 13:25

I am quite happy to recommend your nibs Richard, but I am sure that UK buyers would want to know how they can get one of your nibs via a citizen of the US, shipping by a different method, to their doorstep legally for a considerably better price. No-one loses!

$30 nib plus first class international shipping can come in under the duties threshold. Even if it is sent global priority in a fixed fee envelope it shouldn't trigger the threshold.
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#5 mucephei

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 18:39

Thanks for that review Andy.

Importing goods from the US to the UK poses problems for all us UK residents. Though I would never ask a reputable dealer to falsify a customs form, often it is the case that due to the vast quantity of goods being imported via the post, HMRC don't get them all. I was lucky with an eyepiece for my telescope which I ordered for $350 a while back. It made it through the system unscathed. That said, I always assume HMRC will intercept any goods I order online and it's always a nice surprise when they arrive without the dreaded bill for import duty and VAT.

I am interested in a Capless with a broad nib...better start saving up....

#6 Richard

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 19:16

QUOTE(AndyHayes @ May 17 2008, 09:25 AM)  
$30 nib plus first class international shipping can come in under the duties threshold.

Yes, it does. And if we do that, there's no insurance and no trackability, and we had a couple of European clients get wicked (whoa there) when their packages didn't show up, insisting that we hadn't shipped. One even initiated a dispute with PayPal, and the only way we could turn it off was to refund the person's money. For everyone's protection, we decided never to ship anything that couldn't be tracked or insured.
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#7 QM2

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 21:24

QUOTE(AndyHayes @ May 17 2008, 01:25 PM)  
I am quite happy to recommend your nibs Richard, but I am sure that UK buyers would want to know how they can get one of your nibs via a citizen of the US, shipping by a different method, to their doorstep legally for a considerably better price. No-one loses!

$30 nib plus first class international shipping can come in under the duties threshold. Even if it is sent global priority in a fixed fee envelope it shouldn't trigger the threshold.


May I suggest, that if you have access to an academic mailing address, use that. I am currently living in Vienna, and Austria is notoriously brutal on goods from the US. However, when I recently bought a pen from Richard with custom nibwork where the total came to $180 USD, I was shocked that there were no taxes or customs fees charged. Some friends told me that this is because the package was sent to my university address and not a residential address. I have no idea how true this is, but all of the packages I've received from the US at my office have indeed gone through okay. So it may be worth a try, if you know somebody with an academic department or residence-hall address.


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#8 I am not a number

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 21:42

Thanks for an excellent review of a great upgrade to an excellent pen Andy. I exclusively use Richard's modified nibs in my VPs and am a great fan of the whole experience that the combination gives. However, I feel obliged to point out that I would not have had a spare nib 0.8mm stub if the original order had been correct (two stubs, one Italifine and one XXF accountant).



The UK handling charges/VAT/import duty implications of correcting the mistake from this side of the Atlantic made it financially unviable so Andy really did luck in there. I would however be interested to try the academic address theory as I work at a UK university. I'll save up some cash before I do just in case it doesn't come good...
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#9 mucephei

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 21:55

QUOTE(I am not a number @ May 17 2008, 10:42 PM)  
I exclusively use Richard's modified nibs in my VPs and am a great fan of the whole experience that the combination gives. However, I feel obliged to point out that I would not have had a spare nib 0.8mm stub if the original order had been correct (two stubs, one Italifine and one XXF accountant).


I'd be interested to see how they write there, IANAN. I'm interested in trying a medium or broad nib - I understand that the fine is XF but the M and B are closer to European line widths.

#10 QM2

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 21:56

QUOTE(I am not a number @ May 17 2008, 09:42 PM)  
The UK handling charges/VAT/import duty implications of correcting the mistake from this side of the Atlantic made it financially unviable so Andy really did luck in there. I would however be interested to try the academic address theory as I work at a UK university. I'll save up some cash before I do just in case it doesn't come good...


Hmm... Wait, I lived in England for 4 years and was never taxed/custom-charged on any packages from the US whilst there. I received them to the "porter's lodge" of my university and also to my department. I did not know about taxes and customs then, so it never occurred to me that I was not being charged. But now that I think back on it, this is more evidence in support of the Academic theory..

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#11 I am not a number

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 23:16

QUOTE(mucephei @ May 17 2008, 10:55 PM)  
QUOTE(I am not a number @ May 17 2008, 10:42 PM)  
I exclusively use Richard's modified nibs in my VPs and am a great fan of the whole experience that the combination gives. However, I feel obliged to point out that I would not have had a spare nib 0.8mm stub if the original order had been correct (two stubs, one Italifine and one XXF accountant).


I'd be interested to see how they write there, IANAN. I'm interested in trying a medium or broad nib - I understand that the fine is XF but the M and B are closer to European line widths.

As far as I am concerned a Binder nib is the ultimate upgrade for a VP. You may well find a Medium standard nib is too fine for you, to UK tastes a Japanese Broad is closer to what we would class as a Medium. The Binder Italics just take the whole experience to another place but the extra costs make it harder to justify. I will probably go to the Washington DC Pen Show in August and will take some cash along with me then...
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#12 AndyHayes

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 20:54

Richard, I am sorry to hear that the customers turned nasty. As far as I am concerned I would like to be able to have the goods that and have them shipped in the manner that I want. I would accept any losses if I chose the uninsured route, my reputation being worth more than the cost of a nib!

I am probably more sensitive to this as I live on a "remote" island where we get royally screwed for carriage, despite it being possible to ship goods for exactly the same price as it is on our (UK) mainland. I have recently been told by one company that I buy from that they are increasing the shipping charges to me from £2.95 to £17.50 (double for US$). This is "due to their new website"! Looks like I am the one paying for it! One company recently wanted £45 to ship something to me. It was cheaper for me to get then to ship it 500 miles in the opposite direction to my son and then have him re-ship it 800 miles back to me. I would have saved £15 on the situation. The world would have been a less green place. Anyway, this is getting away from import duties.

If I buy a modified nib by a third party route (in the US) and it is lost in the post I lose $78. There is still enough left over to do the process again and still save on what the price would be ($160) with customs involvement. It's worth the risk from my point of view.
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#13 fatehbajwa

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 07:40

Makes a lot of sense to me.

QUOTE (AndyHayes @ May 19 2008, 02:24 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Richard, I am sorry to hear that the customers turned nasty. As far as I am concerned I would like to be able to have the goods that and have them shipped in the manner that I want. I would accept any losses if I chose the uninsured route, my reputation being worth more than the cost of a nib!

I am probably more sensitive to this as I live on a "remote" island where we get royally screwed for carriage, despite it being possible to ship goods for exactly the same price as it is on our (UK) mainland. I have recently been told by one company that I buy from that they are increasing the shipping charges to me from £2.95 to £17.50 (double for US$). This is "due to their new website"! Looks like I am the one paying for it! One company recently wanted £45 to ship something to me. It was cheaper for me to get then to ship it 500 miles in the opposite direction to my son and then have him re-ship it 800 miles back to me. I would have saved £15 on the situation. The world would have been a less green place. Anyway, this is getting away from import duties.

If I buy a modified nib by a third party route (in the US) and it is lost in the post I lose $78. There is still enough left over to do the process again and still save on what the price would be ($160) with customs involvement. It's worth the risk from my point of view.

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#14 MYU

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 23:32

$26 Handling charge
$20 Duties (approx)
$25 VAT (approx)

I'd really like to know how they come up with these charges. They look suspiciously inflated for the labeled purpose. I have no problem paying for fees that appear reasonable, but when they border on corrupt then I've got no problem with finding ways around it. They also appear to be "randomly" applied, as I've seen other UK folks post testimony of not getting charged and then in other cases getting severely overcharged for simple common items. What's the deal with that?

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#15 piembi

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 09:52

QUOTE (fatehbajwa @ Aug 7 2008, 09:40 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Makes a lot of sense to me.

QUOTE (AndyHayes @ May 19 2008, 02:24 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Richard, I am sorry to hear that the customers turned nasty. As far as I am concerned I would like to be able to have the goods that and have them shipped in the manner that I want. I would accept any losses if I chose the uninsured route, my reputation being worth more than the cost of a nib!

I am probably more sensitive to this as I live on a "remote" island where we get royally screwed for carriage, despite it being possible to ship goods for exactly the same price as it is on our (UK) mainland. I have recently been told by one company that I buy from that they are increasing the shipping charges to me from £2.95 to £17.50 (double for US$). This is "due to their new website"! Looks like I am the one paying for it! One company recently wanted £45 to ship something to me. It was cheaper for me to get then to ship it 500 miles in the opposite direction to my son and then have him re-ship it 800 miles back to me. I would have saved £15 on the situation. The world would have been a less green place. Anyway, this is getting away from import duties.

If I buy a modified nib by a third party route (in the US) and it is lost in the post I lose $78. There is still enough left over to do the process again and still save on what the price would be ($160) with customs involvement. It's worth the risk from my point of view.



Me, too.
I would like to have the choice between uninsured shipping that will not attract customs attention but may get lost in the mail (never did so far) and insured shipping that can be tracked but will make me pay customs, too.

Edited by piembi, 08 August 2008 - 09:56.


#16 andyk

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 19:10

Hi,

Missed this the first time round, I have always had an issue with potential additional costs so don;t usually buy anything too expensive from outside the EEC meaning that I lose out on a lot of bargains. I have bought a couple of pens/nibs from US/Canadian FPNers (usually only a little over the customs limits) and they have been happy to put a slighty lower value to avoid taxes (talking $10 or so, not tens of dollars) and have so far been OK.

I also get a bit annoyed with not being given the choice of postage method and often don't buy items of relatively low value say $30, when shipping costs will be the same or more.

To date everything sent ordinary mail has arrived and if I want to take the chance surely that is up to me, like AndyHayes, if something goes wrong I will take the hit and live with it, but guess not everyone is that pragmatic. Obviously if I were buying high value items it would be different, but charging the same shipping for an item whther it costs $5 or $200 just doesn't make sense to me.

By the way great review, slowly getting used to the VP I bought recently (thanks misterh) the clip is a pain but I am learning to live with it, I am looking at an additional nib but will buy in the UK where a couple of dealers have them for about £30 post paid, nothing exotic but I don't want to get clobbered ordering anything more exotic.

Andy






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