The Flip-Side: So Much For Global Selling

Stylized US mapA couple of weeks ago, Anthony, of UK Fountain Pens, wrote about his problems with international buying. The article struck a nerve with me, although from the flip-side: international selling. There is a distinct difference – I’m in the US, not the UK.

Being in the United States, I have it pretty good with buying internationally. I can purchase fountain pens without any added customs duties or fees. I’ve never paid any added taxes/duties, and delivery is usually pretty quick. (Any fountain pen under $800 is duty-free, or at least it was a couple of years ago when I checked, and I never get a surcharge from USPS.) While it can vary, shipping charges from established overseas retailers are very reasonable.

But selling is a different story, and I had to cut back, and then eliminate, the pens I’m willing to ship internationally. In my last batch of pens, I decided that if I was selling the pen for $200 or more, I would offer it internationally. Although now I don’t think even that would be worth my aggravation.

One annoyance is the drastic increase in shipping costs over the last few years. While USPS is still the lowest cost option by far, I can’t help but feel buyer’s think I’m profiting by the shipping charge that I quote, despite the charge being at cost and actually below cost once PayPal fees are added on. Most international buyers decide not to buy once they see the shipping cost. Since the pens I sell aren’t expensive, shipping is a significant piece of the total buyer cost. PayPal charges their fees on shipping, and fees are often higher for many countries. So I make less on international sales unless I add a surcharge to cover the additional fees, which means I can no longer say “international shipping is at cost.” Plus, PayPal hates calling out charges tied to their fees. I could probably still truthfully say “at cost”, but proving it would be difficult since I can’t point the buyer to the USPS website. In addition, calculating all that is a time-consuming PITA. Since the pens I sell on this site are priced low (IMO), there’s not a lot of wiggle room to absorb fees. I price them low because sales through this site are typically smooth and problem-free and I figure the buyer will use the pen.

While shipping costs are a significant annoyance, my main gripe is with the USPS international depot in New York, which processes all of my international mail. When I lived in Middletown, CT, more than one package would come to me via Middletown, NY, adding a couple of days to the transit. This, despite the correct zip code being on the package, and in one case being of significantly larger size than the city and state.

Outgoing mail enters the depot, and if it’s a basic first class package only seems to come out when it’s number is picked by a random number generator. I’ve had outgoing parcels sit there for two or three weeks. USPS will not research the package since it’s the basic rate, and there’s no tracking. They also sought to prove the stereotype that Americans are geographically challenged by sending a Germany bound pen to Canada. Canada was in no hurry to send it back, and that delivery took so long it dropped off tracking, but it did eventually arrive.

The solution to the outgoing mail problems is to ship using at least Priority Mail with insurance and tracking. This adds significantly to the cost, but at least USPS will look for a missing/delayed package within a relatively short time-frame. I had a box magically leave the international depot the day after I filed an insurance claim. While not perfect, insured/tracked packages travel problem-free.

As for the buyer accepting responsibility for lost/missing packages, I have a couple of problems with this. One, I’d have to use PayPal F&F or another service that provides no buyer protection. If I were a buyer, I wouldn’t want to do this. Two, my experience says there’s a good chance that any untracked/uninsured package will cause a lot of angst as it works its way through USPS. And, despite the warnings, the buyer would still blame me.

So I’ve decided not to sell internationally. Since I’ve never had a problem once the pen leaves the US, I can’t exclude specific “problem” countries. The problem country is my own, so international isn’t worth the aggravation.

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Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – November 10, 2019

Nock Co Seed A5 case with Pilot Custom 823I’ve been writing consistently, using my fountain pens, since October 19th, thanks to changing the way I use my Seven Seas Writer notebook. In the past, I considered it “my journal” and only used it for that purpose. I would stay put away until I was ready to “write in the journal.” I’ve now placed it in my Nock Co Seed A5 case and made it part of my everyday carry. In the past, When it came time to write in my journal, I’d have first to find it, and then take it someplace to write. That wasn’t a huge problem, but just enough of a speed-bump to trigger some procrastination.

Now that it’s always nearby, I’ve been using it more often. While the Seven Seas Writer is now an “everything” notebook, it’s still mostly journal entries, which isn’t what I expected. I still have a pocket notebook always handy, so the Seven Seas doesn’t get quick notes, and electronic notebooks get almost everything else. In the past, I would use a different pen each time I journaled. Now I keep my Pilot Custom 823 with Pilot black ink permanently ensconced in the A5 case. It’s not flashy, but it’s always there, and it’s a great writer. Plus, there’s no rule that I can’t use another pen, I’ve just told my brain that it’s OK to use the same boring pen and ink each time.

Links

Early thoughts on the Cross Bailey Light fountain pen. | Fountain pen blog

2nd MANILA PEN SHOW OPENS IN NOVEMBER | Personal Geographic

Elysee En Vogue Cobra – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

So much for my global shopping? | UK fountain pens

Crónicas Estilográficas: November Shows. I

Crónicas Estilográficas: November Pen Shows. II

Introducing: The Pelikan’s Perch Patreon Page « The Pelikan’s Perch

Crónicas Estilográficas: In Praise of Whisky

The Notebook | From the Pen Cup

State of the collection: November 2019 | UK fountain pens

It’s Fountain Pen Day! | An Inkophile’s Blog

The First 900 Inks — Mountain of Ink

Where It All Started: The Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen « The Pelikan’s Perch

FPD 2019 + Scriptus 2019 // My First Pen Show! – Weirdoforest Pens

MANILA PEN SHOW 2019 OFFICIAL INK | Personal Geographic

Crónicas Estilográficas: November Pen Shows. II

Introducing: The Pelikan’s Perch Patreon Page « The Pelikan’s Perch

Crónicas Estilográficas: In Praise of Whisky

The Notebook | From the Pen Cup

Guide Sheet Updates – The Well-Appointed Desk

Scriptus Recap, Part I: Pens and Things – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – October 20, 2019

Esterbrook Dip-less pen

Still on the low-end of fountain pen usage these days. I did start journaling again but it’s been sporadic at best. Mostly the usual quick notes so my Vanishing Point has gotten the most use.

I also reworked my pen accumulation page, identifying my core pens. I have 20 core Sheaffer Pens and 10 non-Sheaffer core pens which does still seem a little high. Especially since there’s another seven hangers-on. Still, with over 100 formerly owned pens, I’m happy with the results of my fountain pen decluttering.

For the most part, I think my pen sales are over once the current listing sell. There’s still a bunch of pens under “All the Rest”, but they don’t seem worth the effort. I seem to recall having sold some of them but I’ve been too lazy to research them, eventually I’ll clean up my records. Plus I now have a “1 in, 1 out” rule. Plus, I am reconsidering my keep all Sheaffers policy. Although, if i do decide to sell it will be in person. That’s a good excuse to hit some shows next year.

Links

A lot of links this week, but then again it is three weeks worth of them.

Fountain Pen Favorites for September 2019 – Fountain Pen Follies

UKFP Uncapped: 6th October 2019 | UK fountain pens

The Best Pens for Gifting and Everyday Use | HGTV

This pen that doubles as a phone is either a brilliant idea – or completely dumb | TechRadar

For sale | UK fountain pens // I’m not the only one clearing out pens. A little old since, but still some pens left.

Crónicas Estilográficas: Cheap Tools

State of the collection: October 2019. Fit to burst | UK fountain pens

Pen Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta — The Gentleman Stationer

My Supply Room: Dallas Pen Show 2019

Was the bauhaus a hit or a miss? — Pen Economics

Recap: Dallas Pen Show – The Well-Appointed Desk

My Supply Room: Dallas Pen Show 2019 #2

Diving In | From the Pen Cup

Colours – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Travelling with ink: pen shopping in Menorca. | Fountain pen blog

True grails | UK fountain pens

Rambling About Nibs – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – September 8, 2019

It looks like there was a glitch, either in WordPress or my brain. I just noticed this posts in the drafts folder, it should have been posted September 8th.

Not much fountain pen usage this past week. But an interesting thing happened on the way to seeing if I can use vintage pens as daily writers. I found i love using them. So much so that my three Sheaffers (only two are actually vintage) where moved into my primary pen case so that they are always with me. The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe and King of Pen where put in the secondary pen case and were ignored all week.

Could I cross the Rubicon by selling off those to Sailors to focus on Sheaffers? Probably not. But if the Sheaffers keep my interest I could see not needing several of my modern pens.

The two Sheaffer Triumphs are solidly built, i have no concerns about them traveling in my briefcase/computer bag. They travel in the Nock Co Burton (from the Pen Addict 2019 Kickstarter) which is usually in the Nock Co Lanier but will sometimes be moved to another bag or used on its own. I like the design slightly better than the A5;case that came with the Lanier. For one thing, it has slots for pens. For another, it has a bit more padding.

Links

REVISITING THE WANCHER DREAM PEN URUSHI FOUNTAIN PEN | The Pencilcase Blog | Fountain pen, Pencil, Ink and Paper reviews // I have little interest in adding new pens these days so typically skip reviews. But, long-term experiences still get my attention.

Quest for Perfection: My Search for the Best Burgundy Ink — The Gentleman Stationer // Montblanc Bordeaux is my favorite, by far, and I still have 4 1/2 bottles left. That’ll carry me for awhile. I’m committed to always have at least one pen loaded with that ink. I also agree with his top three choices, although maybe swap #2 and #3, depending on my mood.

Ink – Goodwriterspens’s Blog // The only old ink bottles I have are a few bottles of Sheaffer ink. I do share the affinity for green ink. My second favorite color family, behind burgundy.

The Gimborn 150 Master: A Pelikan By Another Name « The Pelikan’s Perch // Another obscure (at least to me) bit of history from The Perch.

Stationery In Real Life: Making Do | From the Pen Cup // More real-life stationery stories.

UKFP Uncapped: 7th September 2019 | UK fountain pens // I enjoy reading posts about what people are interested in. This is the third “Uncapped” post and I’ve enjoyed all three.

Off-topic – The Photography of Margaret Bourke-White – The Atlantic // I recognize many of these iconic photos, never realized they all came from the same photographer.

For Sale: A Pair of Edisons & A Pair of Franklin-Christophs

I’m nearing the end of my fountain pen decluttering and it’s time to pass the final few onto better homes. These final four appeal to me, but my (lack of) usage history says they don’t cut it.

I purchased all the pens new and list the month I bought the pen just in case there were any changes during production that I’m unaware of. Boxes, paperwork, and converters are not included unless mentioned in the listing. These pens all have steel nibs.

Give me a firm I want it and I’ll reserve the pen for you and send a PayPal invoice. Contact me at ray[@]fpquest[dot]com or use the contact form here.

U.S shipping is $7.90 for USPS priority mail which includes insurance and signature confirmation.

International shipping has been a nightmare for me (and the recipient) thanks to the USPS east coast international mail terminal. I’ve had numerous issues with them and require insurance and tracking. There’s also a 3% surcharge on the international postage to partially cover the fees I can’t roll into the price of the pen but are significant.

Click photos for full-size images.

Four pens for sale #1

Four pens for sale #

Four pens for sale #

Four pens for sale #

Four pens for sale #

Pens are listed in the same order as the photos (L->R).

Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic (2nd Gen) (Medium Stub) – Amber-Orange & Cinnamaroon: Purchased in August 2015, this is the 2nd gen Intrinsic. I eyedropper filled this pen although there are no signs of ink stains. Excellent condition. No converter, box or paperwork. – $90 (SOLD)

Model 02 Nib Model 02 Nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 03 Iterum (Extra Fine) – Smoke w/Maroon Cap Jewel w/Rhodium clip: Purchased in May 2014. Excellent condition. Includes converter. No box or paperwork. – $90

Model 3 nib Model 3 nib

Edison Collier (Extra FIne) – Antique Marble: Purchase March 2012. A large pen that does not post. Converter Included. No box or paperwork. – $90

Edison Collier nib Edison Collier nib

Edison Pearl 2012 Limited Edition (Extra Fine) – Black/Beige Swirl Ebonite: This was an FPN Group Buy in 2012. I purchased the pen as part of the group buy in May 2012. It’s number 8 of 79. The material is ebonite, No converter$90 (SOLD)

Edison Pearl nib Edison Pearl nib