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Friday, December 30, 2011

Post# 232 - BIC: Your Pen Leaked on My Pants!

True story: a Bic Pen leaked in the pocket of my beige khakis.  The ink seeped through the pocket.  I sent this letter on 1/10/1996:

Dear BIC:

I am a loyal BIC Classic Stic user--I love the contour of the shaft, and the way the ink flows with such consistency. Others criticize me, saying “You need one of them fancy pens--the ones that write upside down in a rocket ship.”  I fire back “I am rarely upside down (except for a few fraternity parties...), and I do not want to go on a rocket ship.  I’ve always hated Tang.”  Whatever the comment, I can always find a way of defending BIC--until yesterday.

We recently hired this arrogant young punk who thinks he is, by all measures, perfect.  Yesterday, he entered my weekly staff meeting and interrupted “BIC means Best in Class.”  I replied “that’s right-what about it?”  He said “if your BIC pens are the best, why is there a big black spot on your shirt?”  I was foiled--dumbfounded.  Come to think of it, these spots have been occurring quite frequently.

Did you not used to put a little felt stopper in the ink shaft?  Would this not solve our little problem?  What about getting rid of that little hole--would that help?  What is it there for anyway?  I’ve always wondered.

Finally, what can you do for me?  I have gone through several pairs of pants, and two shirts.  Would you offer any kind of clothing reimbursement for such a loyal customer (a friend).  I would appreciate any extension of courtesy that you might offer.  Please provide a written response (written with a BIC pen, if you choose) to my questions and concern.  Thank you.

Still Wielding the Classic Stic,
BIC's Response, dated 1/25/1996:

Dear Jerry:

We have received your letter regarding the BIC Classic Stic Pens that leaked causing ink damage
to several pairs of pants and two of your shirts.

We care a great deal about the quality of our products and encourage our consumers to bring
any problems they may have to our attention.

Company policy requires the return of any pens  that cause ink damage for examination by our Quality Assurance Department to determine the cause of leakage.

Therefore, we would appreciate the return of these pens to my attention for their examination.  We will also need the return of your pants and shirts and receipts showing purchase price or
some other means of substantiating the value of the damaged items.  We have enclosed a
postage-paid mailing label for this purpose.

We have also enclosed a complimentary selection of writing instruments for your use.  We are
confident they will give you many hours of trouble-free writing performance.

As soon as we receive their completed analysis, we will contact you.  Thank you for your
cooperation and for taking the time to bring this to our attention.


Laura Ceballos
Consumer Affairs
Enc:     Postage Paid Mailing Label (1) PPML

My Response, sent 2/8/1996:

Dear Pen Pals:

Thank you for your prompt response to my letter.  I must say, the assortment of pens (10 in all) has decorated my credenza most elegantly.  Furthermore, the fact that you sent me a shipping label to return my ink stained clothes for full reimbursement is unheard of these days.  I really appreciate it, and have told everyone of your excellent service.

I have enclosed several of the leaky pens.  I think that they leak when placed in my pocket upside down.  The shop gets very warm, and maybe my body heat makes the ink less viscous, increasing its volumetric flow rate (vfr).

I have included a few sample pens related to a separate issue:  One of my coworkers likes to “aggressively” chew his pens (he recently quit smoking).  Often, we gauge what time it is by how much of his pen is left (by noon, it’s half gone).  I wonder if BIC has considered flavored ink.  Also, is pen ink safe to consume?  What actions should we take if his complexion turns a bluish or blackish hue? 

I will enclose some articles of clothing along with the receipts for replacements if it happens again. Unfortunately, I have given my stained clothes to local charities, or have condemned them to use for dirty chores, such as oil changing and beekeeping.   Again, I appreciate your quick, considerate response.


True to their word, BIC cut me a check to cover the cost of my clothes.  I must say, I was mighty impressed by this, and think of it whenever I see a BIC pen.

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