Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Lamy Pen lifetime warranty would appear to be anything but

I have a Lamy Safari fountain pen that I’ve been using without incident for about seventeen years. Yesterday the Phillips-head screw-top button that holds the clip in place broke in two. I’ve seen it happen to other people’s Safaris, and it seems telling that newer Safaris have a redesigned button, without the Phillips-head design.

Here is how the Lamy USA website describes the company’s warranty:

Do Lamy Pens carry any sort of warranty?

All Lamy pens sold in the US carry the following warranty:

Lamy pen warranties its writing instruments for the life of the product**. If repair is required other than from abuse or misuse, then for a small handling and return postage charge of $9.50 per pen, Lamy products will repair, refurbish, and return any Lamy instrument. If other parts have been abused, there will be a special charge. Otherwise, there are no labor or parts charges.

**The Lamy warranty does not cover damage caused by misuse, abuse, unauthorized service and the use of other manufacturers refills or inks.
I called Lamy this morning to see if I could get a replacement cap. No. I could send the pen with $9.50 and pay $20 for a new cap. Or I could order a cap from The Pen Company, a British online retailer. I looked up the cost with shipping: $15.75. For a few dollars more, I can buy a new Safari on Amazon.

What I found more interesting than the $29.50 cap was the company attitude — or, at least, the attitude expressed by its representative, who immediately spoke of damage caused by “abuse.” As I told him, I do not abuse my pens. (This Safari still looks virtually new.) He also called attention to nineteen (I had said seventeen) years of use. I reminded him that the warranty is supposed to be for the life of the pen. But he was adamant: no replacement cap. I guess this pen’s life came to an end when the button broke. Lamy, you’ve lost a customer.

Contrast Pelikan and Sheaffer, companies that, in my experience, are happy to honor their warranties and make things right.

[A pen-discussion thread calls attention to the fragility of the Phillips-head screw-top: “The problem with the screw is that the screw head is thin and the slots are deep and fairly wide. That just doesn’t leave very much plastic actually connecting between the head and the threaded shaft. I think that’s why the newer pens just have a single slot in the head, so that the screw can be a little stronger.” My Safari fell apart on its own: no disassembly required.]

comments: 9

MK said...

You can buy a Jinhao "Lamy" for $7.55 at eBay: Jinhao and the real thing starting at $20.00 Lamy.

I am not sure how long the Jinhao will last. Don't throw away the nib!

Michael Leddy said...

I had no idea there was an imitation Safari. Parker 51s, sure. But the Safari?!

I think I’m going to go the Krazy Glue route with my pen. I’ve had no reply to an e-mail I sent to Lamy today.

MK said...

There are at least two imitations. There is not just the Jinhao, but also a newer Hero one. I have one of each (just for the heck of it). They are surprisingly good.

I have a feeling that Lamy's reluctance in honring the guarantee has to do with the shrinking profit margin (that is at last in part due to the Chinese copies). Apparently, Lamys are very popular in China (and very expensive).

Michael Leddy said...

I just did a little looking around, and it seems that there are many “Parker” models produced by Jinhao. Sonnets for $16.88!

I wonder if they’ll ever start copying the Blackwing pencil. : )

MK said...

My favorite Chinese pen is an hommage (not really a copy) to Montblanc's Thomas Mann commemorative pen.

Michael Leddy said...

Mine, a Pelikan 800, as I think you might already know.

I love the idea of a pen paying tribute to a pen paying tribute to a writer.

MK said...

Sorry for the typo. should have been "homage".

Slywy said...

I found a broken pen, maybe a Sheaffer? in my stash and sent it back under the lifetime warranty, with no real hope they could fix it. If I remember right, they either did or replaced it, can't remember which. No muss no fuss.

Michael Leddy said...

Elaine had a Sheaffer whose cap lost its white dot. They sent a new cap. I had a Sheaffer that developed a leak. They sent a new pen.

Still no reply from Lamy.