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I Bought the Seven Year Pen and Here’s How Long it Actually Lasted

A hand of woman writing the word
Writer Jamie Cattanach tested Seltzer Goods' Seven Year Pen to see just how long it would last. Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder


If you’ve walked into a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the past few years (which is a big “if,” given the ubiquity of ebooks and the convenience of Amazon), you may have seen one of those Seven Year Pens.

They’re individually wrapped, slightly chubby, and — for nerds like me, anyway — an enticing way to blow a spare $10.

A ten-note might seem a high price for a single, oversized pen you absently pluck from the impulse shelf while waiting for checkout.

That is, until you hear the gimmick: Each Seven Year Pen holds a “jumbo ink cartridge” in its hefty barrel, granting its wielder seven whole years’ worth of smooth, stylish, uninterrupted writing.

Produced by a company called Seltzer Goods in “the eco-friendly country of Switzerland,” each Seven Year Pen is an effort to stop the scourge of wasted writing implements — an avalanche of discarded plastic plumes which, by Seltzer’s estimate, totals 100 million daily. (Source: unclear.)

Aside from being obviously greener than going through quickly-evaporating Bics like candy, the Seven Year Pen is also an ostensible money saver. It liberates a writer from constantly purchasing cheap pens that run out of ink before you know it, saving your writing supply budget in the long run. (…. what? “Pens and notebooks” isn’t a transaction category in your Mint account?)

But a blanket statement that these pens last seven years is… ambitious, especially for someone like me whose writing habits might best be characterized as “aggressive.” Although most of my real work is composed online, I still hand-write in my planner, journal and book du jour every single day.

So, with all the skeptical curiosity and ardor you’d expect of a serious-business journalist, I purchased one of these Seven Year Pens and proceeded to use it to the exclusion of all my others, hoping to see how long it would actually last.

You know. For science.

“Seven Year Pen” Review: Does It Really Last That Long?

 

A woman is writing in a notebook.
The Seven Year Pen comes in various designs and colors, priced at $10. Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

Short answer: No.

At least, not if you actually use it.

I purchased my pen during a weekend trip to Vancouver in May of 2017. As of late January 2018, it has already begun to sputter.

That makes it more of a seven month pen than a Seven Year Pen, in my experience.

And as it turns out, I am not the first to raise my eyebrow at this lofty “seven year” claim.

In fact, one writer — known only as theultimatepen — wrote a full retrospective of his (?) experience with the device at a blog called Penthusiast, deeming the pen a “Seven Year Swindle.”

As theultimatepen aptly points out, Seltzer’s “seven year” claim, by its own admission, allows for the use of 1.7 meters’ worth of ink a day — “which sounds like a lot… but actually is about half a postcard worth of writing, or 1/3 of a page of standard paper.”

For added effect, the post goes on to provide length estimates, in millimeters, for a variety of common writing tasks, like penning a signature (145mm) or completing a sudoku puzzle (1387mm).

If those lengths are accurate, 1.7 meters of ink gets you about 11 signatures per day, or one and a quarter rounds of sudoku.

These lengths, by the way, were pulled from a University of Reading study on the longevity of different types of ballpoint pens, which apparently is something people study.

What’s more, this 1.7-meter schtick is a dubious claim at best, appearing to be repurposed from the pen’s original manufacturer’s statement… which gives a different ink longevity estimate altogether. (Seriously, read the post — this nameless writer went to some serious effort to get to the bottom of this.)

In any case, one thing seems clear: The Seven Year Pen isn’t actually that savvy of an investment, especially for the avid writers most likely to be tempted. And even if its enthusiastic endurance contention were true, it’s really easy to lose a pen, even if it did cost $10.

I will say, though, it was nice to have one go-to writing implement for a while as opposed to a constant rotation of many. It writes smoothly, its little clip is convenient, and it feels nice in your hand.

And these pens are quite attractive, coming in all sorts of fun designs and colors. Your not-quite-seven-year pen might sport whimsical pink elephants or french fries or austerely declare its holder a feminist.

I opted for one festooned with the little dipper, hoping the north star would guide my writing hand true. Unfortunately, I habitually stick my pen in my mouth like an idiot, so Polaris is now half-eroded on one side and totally gone on the other.

Oh, well. What can you do? Not everything was built to last.

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a writer based in St. Augustine, Florida. She’s written for Yahoo, SELF, Ms. Magazine, Roads & Kingdoms and other outlets.

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