Five years ago, I published an article titled Chartpak & Their Policies. That piece was the result of a telephone interview with Abigail “Abi” Weeks of Chartpak’s pen repair department. At the time of the interview, Chartpak was servicing the warranty claims for all Pelikan pens purchased from authorized dealers, regardless of the country of origin. By 2017, Chartpak had reversed course and began to honor only those warranty claims for pens purchased from authorized dealers in the United States. For the past several years, those of us looking for better deals from overseas did so with the knowledge that we would have to forego domestic warranty support. While the move created some hard feelings with consumers, it was hardly surprising. Other distributors in the industry have similar policies, policies put in place as a result of international competition. It’s not dissimilar to the camera industry’s long held approach to gray market or parallel import items. Many manufacturers have opted to not provide warranty support for genuine products purchased outside of a region’s distribution channels. This has hardly dissuaded customers from buying overseas as Pelikan’s pens tend to be quite robust and most foreign vendors provide excellent after sales service in my experience. Fast forward to 2020 and things have again changed. Read on to find out how a recent change in Chartpak’s repair policy will affect consumers, effective immediately.
First off those new to this blog, the Pelikan brand, or those who reside overseas may not know who or what is Chartpak, Inc. The company began as a graphics supply manufacturer in 1949. They innovated in that space throughout the 1950s and 60s, all the while expanding product lines which would come to include Pickett®, RapiDesign®, and AD Marker® amongst others. Their expansive portfolio allowed Chartpak to become one of the largest and most experienced graphic design companies in the USA. Further diversification has allowed Chartpak to offer products in the categories of fine art materials, fine writing materials, craft and hobby products, and office products giving the company a portfolio of 14 brands with 60 product lines that span 17 distinct categories in the USA or Europe. They became the exclusive North American distributor for the Pelikan brand in 2001. Owned by Steven W. Roth, the company is in Leeds, MA nestled in the five-college area of the state which boasts an active student artist population. Chartpak occupies two facilities encompassing approximately 170,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space.
Before I outline the policy change, I think that it is important to understand the driving force behind it. Randall “Randy” Spicer, Chartpak, Inc’s former Vice President of Sales has retired from the company, effective April 2020. With Randy’s departure, the full responsibility for the Pelikan brand, including its sales and marketing in Canada and the USA fall to Gary Lange. Gary is not a newcomer to the company, having worked as National Sales Director within the “Art Materials” side of the business for many years now. He is a self-described “lifelong pen guy” and has been heavily involved with Pelikan for the past year or so. Another major change that many may not be aware of is that Abigail Weeks is no longer with Chartpak, having left the company approximately 6 months ago. The pen repair department continues to operate but those who were contacting Abi directly should be aware of the change.
Chartpak’s policies have always felt like a pendulum in perpetual motion. Earlier in the past decade, Chartpak would replace anything provided it was available in stock. This changed when Pelikan refocused their policies and the rules were tightened making the 3 year warranty a firm target for covered repairs and restricting claims to only those pens purchased from authorized North American retailers. By mid-decade, Chartpak was again providing repairs for all Pelikan pens, including those purchased abroad. That practice ended in 2017 and has been the status quo since. The pendulum has once again swung, this time in the consumer’s favor. For the past several weeks, Chartpak has been in the middle of a soft roll out of a policy that now has them accepting all Pelikan warranty repairs regardless of where the pen was purchased. That means the three year warranty that normally accompanies Pelikan’s pens will now be honored for US consumers, even when a pen was purchased from authorized retailers overseas. The new policy officially kicked off on July 15th.
Of course, Pelikan’s warranty does not cover damage due to user neglect or abuse. For those who haven’t used the service previously, Chartpak charges a fixed service fee which includes the cost of return shipping. If the necessary repair would result in any additional expense, a member of the pen repair team would reach out before hand to discuss and seek authorization. Turnaround times are usually 4-6 weeks unless the pen must be returned to Germany. Chartpak’s repair department will swap out the damaged part on your pen for a new replacement spare part including nibs, caps, clips, barrels, and other pieces when available. The parts swap repair model means that older pens, vintage/antique pieces, or special editions often do not have parts available for servicing any longer and customers are encouraged to contact the pen repair department first to ascertain whether spare replacement parts are available. In the case of very limited production models where parts are scarce, the pen may get sent back to Germany for evaluation and possible repair. In that event, you can expect an 8-12 week turnaround.
The contact details for Chartpak’s pen repair department are as follows;
Tele: (800) 628-1910, option #4
Address: Chartpak, Inc., 1 River Road, Leeds, MA 01053
I find this change in company policy to be very consumer friendly and I think that it will certainly add value to the brand. History has taught us that this policy is a very fluid thing and changes are to be expected in response to the prevailing market conditions. Perhaps the best way to ensure Chartpak’s policies continue to favor the consumer is to support your preferred local vendor whenever possible. Feel free to leave your thoughts below on the current state of affairs at Chartpak.