One of the reasons that Pelikan has such an ardent following is the fact that their pens are durable and dependable. Pens that are 50+ years old can continue to write problem free if cared for properly. Despite their durability, there are pens that will experience failure in various situations. Also, even the best quality control is not infallible and products not quite up to standards will make it past the factory floor and into a consumer’s hands. Since so many of our purchases occur electronically these days due to the scarcity of brick and mortar stores, there really is not an opportunity to identify many of these flaws before purchase. Thankfully, there is a system in place for when service is required. In the United States and Canada, that service is provided by Chartpak, Inc.
If you peruse Chartpak’s website, you will learn that they were first established in 1949 as a graphic and design products company within the United States. They have been innovators with products for artists and draftsmen and have expanded their reach over the years by designing products for the engineering and visual communications fields. The Chartpak of today is described as a global leader in the creative product enterprise and reportedly has 9 brands with 38 product lines that span 17 categories of art materials, fine writing, craft & hobby and office products for home, school, and office.
Chartpak is also the North American distributor for Pelikan and, as of approximately four years ago, Porsche Design when they took over distributorship from Faber-Castell. As their distributor, they handle all product inquiries and repair needs for the North American market which includes the USA and Canada.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Abigail Weeks of Chartpak’s pen repair department via telephone one blustery morning not too long ago and she was very helpful in clarifying what even she admitted were sometimes confusing policies. Hopefully, I can relate some of that conversation clearly for you and dispel any lingering confusion. Why should there even exist any confusion? There was a time not too long ago that the policy was Chartpak would replace anything provided it was available in stock. When Pelikan refocused their policies, the rules were tightened and enforced making the 3 year warranty a firm target for covered repairs and restricting claims to only those pens purchased from authorized North American retailers. The pendulum has again swung and Chartpak now provides repairs for all Pelikan pens, even those purchased abroad.
What Chartpak does is provide after sales warranty and non-warranty support for Pelikan and Porsche Design branded fine writing instruments. There is a warranty period applicable to claims made for material defects and that would be 3 years from purchase for Pelikan and 2 years for Porsche Designs. Note that, like most other items, damage due to user neglect or abuse is not covered by Pelikan’s warranty. The service at Chartpak consist of swapping out damaged parts for new replacements rather than remedying or rehabbing a defect directly. Nibs themselves are not adjusted but simply swapped out along with parts such as caps, clips, barrels, and other pieces that are new, factory replacements. One obvious shortcoming with this model is that pens older than 15 years, vintage/antique pieces, or older special editions often times do not have parts available for servicing any longer so if that is the type of pen you’re having trouble with, you may be out of luck. Because of this, Abi recommends a phone call or email to the pen repair department first in order to discuss the situation and to ensure that a repair/replacement can be made.
In terms of cost, at the time of this post, Chartpak charges a $35 service fee for United States customers which includes return shipping to anywhere in the USA and a $50 service charge for Canadian customers. Once you have sent your pen in for evaluation, it is looked over and contact is made to obtain your authorization before proceeding with any repairs. Also at that time, an estimated quote will be provided for the prescribed service. If you decline the proposed repair, your are simply out the service charge. When shipping the pen, it is recommended that an appropriate sized box be used and shipped via a trackable and insured method. It is good practice to clean the pen of any ink prior to shipping. Average turn around times for repairs are about 6-8 weeks though there is seasonal variation and your experience may vary, especially towards the end of the year. A more accurate time can be quoted when you make contact. While your pen is being repaired, status updates are not usually provided in order to expedite service.
In the case of very limited production models such as the ‘Blue Planet’ or the ‘Temple of Artemis,’ where parts are scarce, they get sent back to Germany for evaluation in a batch mailing that occurs approximately once monthly. The service charge for this is $50 and there is no guarantee that Pelikan Germany can remedy the situation. Even when they are able to make a repair, expect a 2-3 month turn around and the fee for such a service varies depending on the work needed.
Being the US distributor for Pelikan, Chartpak is unfortunately not able to offer new parts for sale directly to the consumer but, due to a change in policy by Pelikan as of September 2013, replacement parts can now be obtained by the consumer though authorized Pelikan dealers. Of course, it is up to the individual dealer’s discretion and not all may be willing to help. Pricing may also be somewhat variable from dealer to dealer. Still, this is a useful avenue provided you wanted to do your own barrel swap or simply needed a new cap or an extra nib.
It should be noted that Pelikan offers free nib exchanges on Pelikan’s fine writing instruments where applicable for the first 30 days following purchase. For this service, there is no service charge and it will only cost you the fee of shipping the pen to the service center. This only extends to the original owner (with the exception of a gift purchase) of the pen and would not be applicable if purchased from unauthorized outlets (e.g., eBay). A dated receipt from an authorized Pelikan dealer will be needed to verify all of the pertinent details. Indeed, all warranty repairs require a dated receipt or else the repair is treated as a non-warranty claim.
Here is what is required by Chartpak if you choose to pursue a service claim with them;
- A completed service form.
- A viable form of payment including credit/debit card or check made payable to Chartpak, Inc in US funds.
- A sales receipt or other tangible proof of purchase.
The contact details for Chartpak are as follows;
One River Road
Leeds, MA 01053
Tele: (413) 584-5446 or (800) 628-1910, x240
Fax: (413) 587-0499 (ATTN: Pen Repair/Abi)
Hours: Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 4:30pm Eastern Time
In addition to the technical and procedural aspects of service that I have described above, I can also report that I have been a customer and utilized Chartpak’s services personally between December 2013 and January 2014. At that time, I was impressed with the professional nature in which my claim was handled. I had a solid dark blue M405 with the odd misfortune of having corrosion on the trim rings located at both the section and on the piston knob. I contacted Abi and was relieved to hear that despite the pen being a limited production run, a barrel was still available to swap out but, of course, I was out of the warranty period by this point and had to pay for the cost of repair in addition to the service fee. I sent the pen right away and while the turn around time was a bit lengthy (understandably so given that my request coincided with major holidays, scheduled vacations, and a week-long inventory) the pen was returned to me with a brand new barrel. I count myself as lucky having gotten one of the last available. Abi is easy to talk with and very knowledgeable. She is also aware of the other big names in the field of pen repair and so, if she is not able to help, can refer you to such knowledgeable sources as Ron Zorn of Main Street Pens and Rick Propas of the PENguin. Pelikan’s pens are hearty and don’t break often but it’s nice to know that a reliable and efficient service center is there when needed.
Please feel free to share any comments that you have below as well as any experiences with Chartpak that you may wish to relate.