Today I paid a visit to the place that many pen enthusiasts consider a religious experience; the local Montblanc boutique. Of course, if you consider the Sydney CBD ‘local’ then you are either very well to do or rather lucky. Nonetheless I made the 10 minute journey to the store via rail and strolled in for the purposes of sending my Meisterstuck 146 Bordeaux fountain pen for a service. Here follows a few reflections of my visit.
My gorgeous MB Meisterstuck 146 Bordeaux
I had acquired the 146 some months ago from someone who had owned it since new. During that time it was clear the pen had not ever been serviced which isn’t in itself a crime, but with a piston filling fountain pen, a little maintenance goes a long way. Anyway, I was after both the piston to be serviced as it was quite ‘sticky’ and not at all smooth to fill the pen, and also for the nib to be adjusted as it was skipping like crazy.
Knowing a thing or two about pens I entered the store via the big glass doors.
The Sydney MB Boutique
As a purveyor of luxury goods and writing instruments, the store was immaculately merchandised, pleasant and well lit. Unfortunately, a feeling of sterility also quickly set in.
“Can I help you Sir?” called one of the two store clerks as I met them at the counter.
I explained what I was after from as service perspective and the clerk offered to test my pen for me. ‘Sure’ I thought, they must get heaps of people in here that don’t know a ballpoint from a rollerball and want to diagnose the faults. After playing with the piston and then studying the pen carefully I was told the piston was operating correctly. ‘Really?’I exclaimed, ‘I’m not sure the piston works like that on my other pens, could you please ask the technician to inspect it at least?’. The clerk agreed and then moved onto the next issue, the nib.
After dipping the pen and lightly wiping off the ink with a tissue, the clerk proceeded to draw some figure 8’s on the test page and after the initial collected ink was cleared, the nib begun to skip as normal. ‘It’s not too bad, it may need the ink flow increased’ the clerk said, to which I replied ‘Maybe, but perhaps you could also have the technician look at the alignment of the nib and feed, along with the tipping too?’.
By this point she began to look at me like I was from another planet. ‘Sure’ she said, ‘let me write out some notes to send it off’. I thanked the clerk of course for her help, and she then proceeded to put the pen into a designated MB plastic mailing tube. It began to bang around inside as she was handling it. My OCD then started to go off and I couldn’t help but ask if she could wrap the pen in a tissue as it will likely scratch as it is. She agreed and it was sent off for an initial $50 AUD. I was told that the technician would call me to discuss any repairs and quote me in around 4 weeks.
And just like that, my drop in for service was completed. The whole experience felt like a bit of a chore for the clerk and there was a general lack of understanding about how the pen worked which I thought was absurd for a Company that has 50% of its shelf space dedicated to pens. I was left wondering what condition the pen will return in and how whether the pen will survive unscathed. Let’s see what happens and I will report back when it is returned.
Servicing aside I asked the clerk to have a look at their 1912 Heritage Regular Edition fountain pen that was on display fora whopping $1300ish AUD. The clerk was very obliging and begun to show me the pen; it’s amazing by the way (more on that later). Of course as any good shopkeeper would the sales pitch then started about the heritage of the pen and the idea that the pen is exactly the same as the one produced in 1912.
At that point I had heard enough and looked up at the clerk, reminding them that the original was not piston filled but that it actually used an eye dropper system. As expected, the clerk looked dumbfounded that a customer might actually know a little bit about the pen. And with that I left.
On reflection I think it is a shame that the pen category in the store is clearly less important than the walls of leather wallets, belts and watches on display. I was expecting to be met by a well trained and knowledgeable shopkeeper who had a passion for the product. Instead I left wondering what the point of going into a store is rather than buying online. Let’s hope my return visit is a little more fruitful!
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It’s the same right – 1912 & 1912? Not quite :p