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Lifetime


yossiantokolitz
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Hi all

I am sure that this is not a new topic but still couldn't find the details. Probably my bad. However the question that bothers me here is why was the lifetime "arrangement" abolished. I think it was in 48, but why would law makers get involved? . I truly will not be surprised if producers actually lobbied for the law trying to get out of an well established practices. Could it be a non coincidences that the time fits more or less with the increased use of less stable thermoplastics?. As always I am asking with the knowledge that I am probably asking an idiot's question but it is what it is.

Yours

Yossi

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I am going to assume you are referring to the end of the lifetime warranty that occurred in 1947 for some Parker and Sheaffer pens.

There were other lifetime warranties which existed both prior to the ones which ended in 1947 and which occurred later, both for Parker and Sheaffer's pens. Currently the only makers I know of with a lifetime warranty are Franklin-Chistoph and Edison pens. They have honored their warranty in regard to both material difficulties and mechanical problems and are very clear they continue to only produce and sell pens with a lifetime Warranty. Most other makers have a limited warranty. I don't know if any of the pens which were purchased under a lifetime warranty still have that warranty in effect. As example, I remember when Parker had a lifetime warranty, re-established at some time after 1947 and later discontinued. I dn't know if Parker will honor a pen purchased with a lifetime Warranty, but they used to. I also know that Sheaffer's had different warranties in different years and no longer have a lifetime warranty and given its repeated ownership changes I have no idea if it's current owner, Cross honors earlier lifetime warranties. I am also uncertain as to Cross or Waterman's current Warranty situations. Both have had lifetime warranties in the past. Cross currently has a limited lifetime warranty on some Cross pens, with limitations in regard to some parts of some pens and excludes some aspects, while Waterman has discontinued its lifetime Warranty but may honor some of its older lifetime warranties.

 

So, back to History.

Parker and Sheaffer's in the U.S.A.. warranted some of the pens they sold on a lifetime basis. Parker pens used a Blue Diamond while Sheaffer's used a white dot as markings on their pens that had this warranty.

There was a decision made by the U.S Federal Trade Commision as a result of a lawsuit in regard to having a handling and mailing fee. The manufacturers had one, it was a small fee and it was disclosed in advertising, but in small print, the decision was made that this would need to be indicated in advertising copy in the same type face as the lifetime warranty, not in "small print" in advertisements as it had been. Rather than do this the companies involved decided to drop the lifetime warranty at that time. It was brought back later and has existed on and off through many years.

So, no, the U.S. government did not force Parker or Sheaffer's to stop warranting their pens, nor not charge a reasonable shipping and handling fee, but rather, just disclose the fee, or, at their discretion, not charge one.

Edited by Parker51
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It is an interesting situation in regard to Warranties,

Some of the most expensive pens made today have very limited warranties.

Another aspect is out of warranty repair.

Some makers will provide this, some will not.

Some charge very reasonable fees and some do not.

And, the time for service under warranty as well as service on pens in after warranty service varies significantly.

 

An interesting contrast in examples is MontBlanc.

 

During their initial warranty period, MonBlanc has no charge, but once past the brief 2 year warranty period they charge for repairs.

There used to be the observation that when you bought a MontBlanc pen it was not a question of will it leak, but when will it leak and it will take three times sending it in to get it fixed, but once fixed, they were known to not need repair for many years, if ever. This was because in the U.S. When you first sent it in for repair it would be repaired in a service center in the U.S. Which might not fix it properly and only after sending it in a second and sometimes third time would it be sent to Germany from where it would come back properly repaired. Fortunately in recent years this has not been as much of a problem and MontBlanc pens typically don't leak when new and the repairs are done competently and completely the first time. I am glad they solved both the quality control problems they had with production and their repair centers. Today they are known for going above and beyond what is typically expected in regard to repairs as they will adress damage done by the user.

MontBlanc now recomends however that the pens be sent in for servicing periodically and will perform service on them at a nominal cost, something they didn't require years ago.

But, if your pen actually needs work on it such that you note the need for repair and send it in, say a crack, or a bent nib they will provide service at a higher, but still reasonable cost, sometimes replacing damaged parts, after contacting you and providing a written indication of the level of service and an indication of the cost and securing approval to do the work.

My only complaint with MontBlanc is that their warranty should be longer to address things which are a result of material defects as I have two MontBlanc pens which spontaneously developed cracks. True, they are both around 50 years old, but a lifetime warranty would have addressed that 🙂 .

 

And Edison.

If you have a problem at any time you contact Brian Gray, the owner of Edison pens, talk to him and explain the problem and send it to him. He fixes it and sends it back.

His warranty does not expire, so I have no complaint in regard to Edison Pens. I hope any Edison Pens I have at fifty years old will not develop cracks, but if they do I don't doubt my daughter or grandson will be able to get warranty service from Mr.Gray if he still is around even if I am not.

Edited by Parker51
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I am having a similar debate with VW. I bought winter tyres and wheels 6 years ago and they said, in writing, that they would store the wheels during the summer and swap them over twice a year for no cost and this would be for as long as I owned the car. The VW agent is now moaning that they dont have the storage space and that they only expected that I would keep the car for the average of 3 years. It doesnt help that they torque the bolts to 120 ft lbs every time they fit the wheels and sheer the anti theft bolt.

 

I have also had problems with the Parker Lifetime warranty. A Sonnet was a gift to me and was nothing but trouble, it went back to Parker 5 times because the nib retaining ring kept on pulling off whenever the cap was removed. The cost of mailing the pen, both ways, was starting to add up and when they said at Repair #5 that this was the best they can do and they wouldnt replace the pen or even the section I saw red and sued Parker. They paid up immediately for a new Sonnet

 

You can tell I am not a big fan of Warranties and a Lifetime Warranty is only any good if the organisation giving the Warranty is still around.

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Martin Guitar used to warrant their instruments to the original owner. I believe it has been changed to a number of years. I cannot remember if shipping was charged.

"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"

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Hi All

Its gratifying to see Parker51 and Estycollector chiming in on a topic started by a sheaffer lover. A sense of revival if you will.

But in a more serous vein - one of the things I am interested in is the relationships between producers - engineering - materials - marketing - consumer and their development in time. Warranties fit well in the grand scheme of things. Its not just pens but pens are one of the paths to follow and I have come to a lot of insights on that path. I am particularly into lower-mid tier , what you can call high quality pens for the common man (mainly Sheaffers , Esterbrooks and Lamys but other besides) the biggest parts of my collection are tip dips and wire bands.

Any Insights by anyone interested in the same thread is most than welcome - on warranties or other aspects. The replies I got so far are something that feed my thinking about these things already.

Thank you all

Yossi

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Hello yossi

 

At the risk of repeating myself, I give a reply that I've given before, on similar themed threads.

 

Zippo lighters still honour their lifetime warranty and repair their lighters free of charge - even the return postage is free.

At least, this was the case two years ago, when I last sent one back in to them. It needed a new hinge, which they provided and fitted. They also give the lighter a new 'insides' - and they enclose the old/original insides in a sealed bag, with the return package. No proof of purchase is necessary, just the lighter itself and a return address.

 

It really is a first class service.

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Hi All

Its gratifying to see Parker51 and Estycollector chiming in on a topic started by a sheaffer lover. A sense of revival if you will.

But in a more serous vein - one of the things I am interested in is the relationships between producers - engineering - materials - marketing - consumer and their development in time. Warranties fit well in the grand scheme of things. Its not just pens but pens are one of the paths to follow and I have come to a lot of insights on that path. I am particularly into lower-mid tier , what you can call high quality pens for the common man (mainly Sheaffers , Esterbrooks and Lamys but other besides) the biggest parts of my collection are tip dips and wire bands.

Any Insights by anyone interested in the same thread is most than welcome - on warranties or other aspects. The replies I got so far are something that feed my thinking about these things already.

Thank you all

Yossi

 

Vintage Esterbrook pens were just about bomb proof. That they can be easily restored today with no cracking plastic in general tells me the relationship you posted, "producers - engineering - materials - marketing - consumer and their development in time" must have been seamless. Use the finest materials with simple mechanics and your pens will be sought after.

 

My speculation is not that they were produced for the "common man", but the writer./user. Proof of this is the wide variety of replaceable nibs. For less than a dollar, a bent nib could easily have been replaced. Or, if you needed a more fine or broad tip for carbons, etc, a different nib was readily available.

 

While MB plastic cracks over time and some manufacturers had complex filling mechanisms, Esterbrooks continued using the simple and highly effective sac method. All this means a life time warrantee was rarely needed or necessary.

 

It is unfortunate modern users consider vintage Esterbrooks to be below Shaeffer, Parker, and MB.

"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"

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Esterbrooks are probably as close to my definition of best value ever as possible. Right now I am mostly into transitionals but every Esterbrook is a little marvel of engineering / production in an unassuming envelope. With all my love of Sheaffers , Esterbrooks don't lag behind in any way ( and by the way I don't like Parkers much and not very enthusiastic about MB - apologies to all addicts of these brands). All I can say here is that I have a theory about why they are the way they are. The founders of Esterbrook where Quakers - the sect of the round table where rich and poor had equal say in community affairs. That is why they kept their clothes simple and uniform so nobody plays the mightier than thou and I think the attitude is reflected in the pens. Different sizes for different hands but basically all along the same lines with usability ,resilience and thrift at the foreground. Very proper and right up my ally. This being said I have to say that I think my Estys get more nods of approval from people around me than any of my other pens. Is there hope for us all yet?

Yossi

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Sorry for all the chatter but I did forget one comment relating to the Zippos. Victorinox pen knifes have much the same attitude but even better - when any of their pen knifes are in need of any TLC even if only oiling, you can leave it in any shop that sells them and get it back in a week's time fixed sharpened and oiled .No proof of purchase or any paperwork involved. I once put in an old one and when I came back to the shop I got a new one for free saying that they did not think its worth repairing and just commented that the repair people asked if I could please oil it once in a while - and all without charge , there isn't even shipping charges because you don't have to ship.

Some people do have pried in what they do (no cellphone people in that department).

Yossi

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Beechwood, I don't know which VW you have but that sounds high. I have just moved the wheels around on my Skoda and torqued them at 120 Nm (90 ft lb) Sounds like their man got his units wrong.

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Krone have a great warranty too. It took quite a while, but they repaired a pen I bought secondhand at a show and which wouldn’t fill.

 

I’m hoping they’ll have another go at it now it’s leaking from the button end ... I won’t bother them about it just yet though.

 

Cross are also supposed to repair their pens for life. I’ll be testing that one, too!

I chose my user name years ago - I have no links to BBS pens (other than owning one!)

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  • 2 months later...

I mentioned Martin Guitars, they factor in the cost of future warrantee work into the price of the instrument. I am sure this is not unique to Martin. I don't know about Esterbrook pen warrantees if one did exist.

"Respect science, respect nature, respect all people (s),"

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Some people here refer to Esterbrook (I mean the original company, not the now Yafa owned "reboot") as a third tier company, because it doesn't have the "cachet" as the top tier brands like Parker and Waterman. I disagree, and consider them a second tier company like Morrison (and put brands like Wearever and Rexall and Arnold into the "third tier" category; fourth tier companies would be the ones that don't have any sort of brand name on them, IMO).

Those old prices sound good, but you have to account for inflation over the decades. (There's a really cool inflation calculator website I found online a few years ago, but I don't remember the URL offhand).

A top tier pen like a Parker 51 Aerometric would be $12.50 US -- which would be the equivalent of about $150. So, expensive but not HORRIBLY expensive. An Esterbrook J pen would be $3.75, IIRC, with spare nibs at maybe a buck or buck and a quarter apiece (roughly a quarter of the price of a 51). An Arnold? 89¢....

But remember -- this was also a time when a cheap restaurant dinner would be 35¢ (50¢ if you went to a restaurant with a bar; which my mother ran into on a college trip to Florida run by her biology professor, Christmas of 1939). You can't even get a burger for 50¢ nowadays. And back then, even a third tier junker fountain pen meant that you weren't going out to dinner two or three times, just to be able to afford it (this would also be the time of coming out of not only the Great Depression, but WWII).

For curiosity, and as a comparison, I looked up the price of BIC ballpoints on the Staples website just now. A 60 pack of standard medium BICs are listed for $5 (not counting tax, or, if you're ordering directly rather than going into a Staples B&M store), shipping. That's ten cents apiece -- but when ballpoints first came on the market I believe that they were WAY more expensive than that, even with factoring inflation.... And that $5 price is for a bulk pack. BIC Crystals? A 12 pack is $5.16 (or 43¢ each) -- and that's in 2020 dollars. I don't know about now, but when I was in college in the late 19702-early 1980s, one of my professors really liked BICs over other BP brands because they had a warranty -- if they died before they ran out of ink, he'd save them up and then ship a bunch up the road to BIC's headquarters, a couple of towns over from Bridgeport. Because they'd send him replacements.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I think I have read -- somewhere -- that Parker lawyers told the company to stop putting blue diamonds on the clips of P-51's and to stop offering something as ambiguous as a "lifetime" warranty. The lawyers worried about (1) "lifetime of the user" and whether Parker would be obliged to store parts and tools so they could repair a Vacumatic 51 if the owner lived another 50 years; or (2) "lifetime of the pen", which might be construed as forever.

 

Neither made business sense, so the lawyers insisted on caution.

 

Sheaffer must have modified their white-dot policy, like Parker, into something the business could survive.

Washington Nationals 2019: the fight for .500; "stay in the fight"; WON the fight

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But it is more complicated. Both Parker and Sheaffer stopped offering lifetime guarantees at the time of the FTC ruling, and because of the FTC ruling. Parker did not resume. But Sheaffer did resume offering lifetime guarantees, not on all models, but on some models. Cross never stopped, and there will have been others like that. I just happen to be aware of Cross because I like Cross pens and have taken advantage of their warranty.

 

The most important idea to take away is that the United States government never forbade lifetime guarantees. This is a misunderstanding and a canard.

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Beechwood, I don't know which VW you have but that sounds high. I have just moved the wheels around on my Skoda and torqued them at 120 Nm (90 ft lb) Sounds like their man got his units wrong.

Depends on the model he's driving. The bigger the higher Newtonmeters. The range for Volkswagen is usualy between 110 and 180 Nm.

Edited by Astron
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