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In Praise Of Excellent Customer Service


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I recently had two outstanding customer service interactions, and it got me to thinking about customer service in general. We in the fountain pen community often forget how lucky we are in regards to our vendors of choice. Most of the pen vendors that I have come across have customer service that is head and shoulders above anything that you might find anywhere else. They go that extra step to make sure that every interaction that you have with them is outstanding, and that you feel like a VIP no matter how little or much you may spend. It is why we are willing to fork over are hard earned currency on products that we may not have ever even seen in real life.


In between my more frequent employment in the government and working for non-profit organizations (usually as a medical professional) I have also worked in retail jobs where commission was a big part of my pay, in sales for various telecommunication companies, and as a supervisor in customer service (if you have ever called into Alltel, AT&T, or Bank of America's credit card department and asked to speak to a supervisor, then there is a slim chance that I have spoken to you). I did well in these jobs partly because I try to put myself in the customer's position and partly due to a certain amount of moral flexibility (you have to have flexible morals to survive for very long in sales). What I learned in these customer driven jobs made me recognize how little is required to provide good customer service. It's not about giving everyone what they want, it's about providing service that you yourself would be happy to receive. Sadly, this trait is becoming a rare thing. It is so rare, in fact, that it is something that needs to be spotlit when it occurs. With that in mind (and with enough exposition to kill a small rhino), I would like to tell you fine folks about two instances of outstanding customer service.


The first outstanding customer service event occurred in two pieces. A little while back I had been looking for a new italic nib for my Jinhao X450 when I decided to buy an Anderson Pens two toned 1.1 nib. This is not an expensive nib, and I did not think much of the order at the time, but when the package arrived I was shocked by what I had received. Inside was my nib, nicely presented and securely packed, along with a business card, book mark, a couple of pieces of candy, and a hand written thank you on my order slip. I had spent less than $20, including shipping, and they had thrown in all of these extra touches just because I was their customer. None of the things that they added were terribly expensive or even that big of a deal, but it was the thought that had gone into this tiny order that blew me away. They didn't care that I had only spent a small amount of money on a small item, they cared that I was their customer. It was because of this great service that when I was looking for a specific and difficult to find nib unit for another pen that I went to Anderson Pens first. The unit that I needed was not listed, but they had similar units, so i decided to contact them to see if anything could be ordered or arranged. I was sent a reply less than an hour later and the unit that I needed was specially pulled for me, in spite of the fact that it was not currently listed for sale on their site. The speed of the reply and sincere desire to help was something that I never expected. It made me feel like they were my partner and not just a store, and that is something worth talking about.


The second event took a bit more effort from both myself and the retailer to fully resolve. I recently ordered a TWSBI Eco from JetPens, but when I received the pen I saw that the fins on the feed were bent and broken. Naturally I was upset, but I had been a JetPens customer for some time and had never had any problems with their service, so they deserved some slack. I contacted them to report the problem and a series of email exchanges occurred. After sending some photos of the damage they set up a return label for me and let me know about the approximate turn around for a replacement. I sent in the pen and waited...and waited...and waited...only to discover that their email letting me know that they had received the pen and had offered me several options had been sent to my spam folder. Ugh, technology. So, I contacted them (apologizing for the response coming a little over a week after they had asked me what I would like to do). Now my pen was no longer in stock with the correct nib size, but they swapped out the nib in my damaged pen with another Eco, tested it to make certain that everything was good to go, and sent it back to me without charging me anything extra. All of this happened in between numerous emails, all of which were answered within an hour or so. They let me know what was happening, gave me options to help resolve the situation, and ate the cost of shipping, all to make me happy. If that isn't outstanding customer service, then I do not know what is.


All of us have poor customer service experiences, but when it comes to the retailers in the world of fountain pens I feel as if those amazing experiences vastly outnumber the poor ones. Sometimes we create the poor experiences ourselves ("What do you mean I have to pay a late fee? I was only late two weeks, every month for the last year and abusive every time I called in! Don't you think that I deserve a break? Can't you see how this is your fault?"). Sometimes the company creates the poor experience (Yes sir, we sent that out to you, but we forgot to put your address on the package and when it was returned we figured that you didn't want it anymore, so we resold it and charged you a restocking fee...we can send a new one out, but you'll have to pay for the shipping again."). Dealing with retailers can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience, but every now and then a retailer shines through the murk and muck of the retail industry to let us know that we are valued. Anderson Pens and JetPens are two such shining examples.


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  • Bill Wood


  • jordanjay29


  • latetotheparty


  • Humanities


Glad you had positive outcomes in both situations; I agree that both Jetpens and Anderson are wonderful suppliers; in fact I just opened up a box today from Jetpens. Free shipping, tough to find notebooks and ink. Perfect packing!

Best regards,
Steve Surfaro
Fountain Pen Fun
Cities of the world (please visit my Facebook page for more albums)
Paris | Venezia

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Congratulations on getting such fabulous service from these business people they

deserve the positive feedback that you have given them, I hope they continue to

please their customers.Sadly I am of the other side of service namely the kind of none caring,rude responses that one is given when complaining about E-Bay whom I

have been dealing with for a long long time, the service responses are so bad that because I have complained about the way that items are described so many times

their complaints dept have stopped replying to me altogether which for them has

solved the problem,it is my understanding that in order to be allowed to trade on the internet one must be able to write and speak English to a standard that is acceptable to the public,not so it seems with E-Bay who in the last 12 months seem to have been bought out by unscrupulous traders who have no idea of service or what is required of them as an E-Bay dealer.An item I was interested in purchasing was described as Genuine Leather at the top of the page but further down when asked

what the article was made of it stated it was Synthetic,when I wrote to them

asking the question they replied that of course the article was Genuine and then

changed the original listing to suit.As a retired Magistrate I am not prepared to accept that kind of response and have notified the relevant authorities.

Edited by oneill
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The two companies you highlight are two companies I do business with....for the very reasons you note!!!:)

And.....when someone goes the extra mile to deliver outstanding service (and products...!!) -- they deserve a SHOUT-OUT!! :thumbup:


Always try to get the dibs....on fountain pens with EF nibs!!

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In my experience, you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere the high levels of customer-care you will experience from an American small buisiness. Also (in my experience) the exact opposite is true when dealing with any level of the U.S. Government.


What really bothers me is that the Government puts it's hand in my pocket and takes the money to pay for the poor service it renders. But the American small business person earns my patronage by providing excellent customer service.


Again, this is only my personal experience (and opinion). Also, I have no doubt that the vast majority of people working with the U.S. Government are very fine people - it's the employer that's the problem, not the employees.

Edited by Drone
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@Drone, I fail to see how the US Government is in any way relevant here. Pens and politics probably don't mix very well.


Back on topic, I've had numerous good experiences with small pen retailers all over the States. I have yet to order from outside the US borders, but I definitely enjoy the dedication to service and attention to detail that these pen boutiques provide, to a somewhat shocking level for a rather niche hobby. It just goes to show that when you treat your customers well, you are rewarded with long-lasting and loyal customers (there are even spitting matches over on the reddit FP community over just how loyal one should be to a retailer, which I find to be a hilarious argument to be having).


The little estate sales and fly-by-night eBay sellers I have less faith in. Some of them, a few posted here in Market Watch by loyal followers, are decent shops. But I would trust most of the others only as far as I can throw them, which is pretty difficult considering I can't even physically touch them. EBay is that smorgasborg of quality and pretty much a grab bag for the level of service you're going to get, I recently discovered, however, that the split from Paypal was a good thing for PP and customers. Paypal was much more willing than eBay to refund me when I had a disputed transaction.

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I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your positive experiences, shared above. The world of 2015, not just in customer service---but in so much more, can leave the heart quite downtrodden. "La condition humane" shows its ugly side quite prominently these days, especially in the United States. Thank you for balancing the scales where credit is due! I will gladly add the two establishments to my list of pen stores to check out online!


Happy Holidays!

Mary Eliz.

Green Bay, WI.

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Thank you for reminding us of the great job that small companies in the US do. I've had good service from jetpens, and of course from my favorite, favorite, Franklin-Christoph. Not tried Ebay, doubt I will. Scott, the owner of FC, has responded personally to my emails, don't think I'll get the same level of service on Ebay and not much inclined to test the theory :)

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