Fountain pen: What's the scam here?

Pretty pen. With a ‘value’ of $35, it’s a cheap pen. But they’re giving it away free. So what’s the scam?

Well, I clicked through and shipping is almost $13. Plus I assume they can sell you ink?

“Golden” is a color, “premium materials” could be a better plastic, and chances are it costs them 3 bucks to make it…if that.

The ink cartridges are $1 each. I see 100 generic ink cartridges on Amazon for $11.99.

I suspect the pen itself, while pretty, is not all that expensive to make.

Ooooh… I just got a “nice pen, shame if anything happened to it” email…

We noticed you have still not claimed your free Nebula Pharaoh Fountain Pen (Limited Edition) Black / 0.5mm , but your cart is still saved for you.

If the shipping price seems too much, please understand that it includes shipping, handling, packing and making sure we deliver your product to you safely.

Shipping for one free item starts at just $12.95, where as shipping for 2 free items costs $25.90 and so on

Best Regards,
Luke, CEO at Too Shiny For Ya

In addition to what else might be going on, having bought fountain pens from an unknown source before—they probably don’t work at all. That’s why they can produce them so cheaply.

Who uses ink cartridges?

Wait… It doesn’t show a refillable reservoir.

And the mystery is solved!

I don’t know how long an ink cartridge is supposed to last. I suppose if it lasted as long as a $1 cheap stick pen, it would be worth it to get the prettier, more comfortable pen.

At those prices, you can’t afford not to buy at least ten or twenty of 'em.

Yeah, the “safely” part is crucial.

You don’t want a drone dropping the package on your head like a turkey in that episode of WKRP In Cincinnati.

The difference between “handling” and “packing” is a bit obscure.

Well, you can’t pack it without handling it.

On the topic of fountain pens…

If you want one for real pen usage that works, a solid daily driver that is inexpensive but well made, look at the Lamy Safari brand. They are made in Germany and work quite well at a reasonable price.

I usually use my Levenger Mediterranean. In fact, I’ve just bought another one because the round end-piece on mine is missing. (I may start a thread to see if anyone can digitally print a replacement.) Or I have a couple of Waterman Phileas pens (plus a bunch of vintage Esterbrooks).

I have not had good experiences with either Lamy or Levenger pens.

I would stick with the tried-and-true classics: Parker, Cross, Sailor, Aurora, Waterman, Pilot.

I’ve never been able to afford a Montblanc, but if you can get your hands on one for a decent price, definitely try it out.

Anything vintage is worth trying too: especially Parker and Esterbrook. Pens from the 1940s were made tough.

I expect that’s all cheap gold plating that will start to scratch off the substrate just from normal handling.

It looks like it is using standard international cartridges, which would mean that you can buy regularly-priced cartridges in lots of places; and the chances are that a standard international Schmidt converter would also work, so you could load ink directly from a bottle.

I agree with someone above that the weakest point is probably the nib and feed. I wouldn’t touch this with a bargepole.

Oh, you are an optimist! The ad uses the word “golden”, not “gold”. I’m sure that even if it was just plating, they would have used the latter and not the former.

I have a Lamy, and so far it has been great. Perhaps what has endeared it to me is that they provide long term useful support and it just seems to work.

I bought myself a present many years ago. I was sure I wanted a Mont Blanc, but when I tried all the fountain pens out in the shop, the one that worked for me was a Caran d’Ache. Just like a Mont Blanc it was silly expensive, but really really nice. Until decades later the clip broke. “No parts, it is an obsolete model. Can’t help you.” Something that leaves a bad taste. So any pen needs to have proper backing from the manufacturer. One that assumes that this is a lifetime product. So my lovely Caran D’Ache sits in a drawer, and I use the Lamy. I also won’t get terribly upset if I lose the Lamy. Less than a 20th the price, so it isn’t a huge stretch to just buy another one.

I have been though Parker and Staedtler fountain pens in my younger days. You do get what you pay for.

I suppose that if you bought the “free” pen and it did not even work, that would be a scam. If you buy, e.g., a Zippo there is a guarantee that “it works or we fix it for free”.

I do not collect pens, but I have a drawer full of accumulated cheap pens, expensive pens, fountain pens, dip pens, gel pens, pencils, you name it. Price may or may not be a factor, but you do have to actually try for yourself. The expensive Mont Blanc was really beautiful to look at and worked fine, but when it came time to do lots and lots of writing it was not my favourite and I eventually sold it. The Lamy Safari worked fine, and so did a really cheap Waterman made for schoolkids that I picked up at a random stationer’s somewhere. But the best fountain pen—never skipped, ultra-flexible nib for comfortable writing—I ever used was a standard 1920s vintage Waterman, not an expensive pen by any means (I mean, I had to pay $35 or $50 for it but the thing already lasted 100 years). I have no idea about the lifetime guarantee, now that you mention it, but at one point I needed the ink sac replaced and I just took it to the pen repair guy for $10.

So, this is like those “get a second one free, just pay an additional fee” TV ads?

My father had some nice Cross pens that needed service so he sent them into the company location (in Rhode Island as I remember). They sent them back after a month or so, properly serviced and only for about eight bucks. This wasn’t that long ago, either. (These are the really thin, nice Cross pens. He gave me a couple but I find it uncomfortable to use pens like that.)