Most helpful critical review
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Marketers always ruin good products - This Bic pen now sucks
on September 21, 2012
Between yearly orders of boxed dozens of the excellent Bic Soft Feel Retractable Ballpoint Pen, some idiot -- probably in marketing, not industrial design -- at Bic changed its perfect design to an unusable, worthless one. The pens now suck and won't be used by me again. Why? The long, thin, flexible barrel -- elegant, pocket-fitting, unitary design -- was ruined. The barrel length was divided into two pieces, with the lower section being of larger diameter -- presumably because someone thought people would want a bulkier grip. That I could have lived with. However, the way the ink cartridge is held inside the barrel is that a tapered tip retains the cartridge with a spring against a bulge on the cartridge, so that the cartridge stays in and its tip is extended when the button is pressed. However, now that there is a two-part barrel, writing puts downward pressure on lower, bulkier barrel section, while upward pressure on the cartridge put opposing pressure on the upper section of the barrel. The upper and lower barrel sections are not glued together, and their press-fit is not tight, so the lower barrel section separates from the upper barrel section. This causes the exposed length of cartridge tip to be reduced, the pen to become sloppy to keep steady in its writing path -- and eventually the lower section separates from the upper and has to be forced back, either by squeezing upper and lower sections in the fingers of two hands and twisting and pressing them together, or retracting the cartridge and tapping the tapered tip on a hard surface, forcing the two sloppy barrel sections together. Unfortunately, as the barrel sections are so sloppy, this has to be done about once a minute. (Astute readers will notice that the same problem must have existed with just one long barrel section and a retaining tip, because the basic design is the same, but with only two sections. This is true. But the earlier design's parts fitted much more tightly, and the tapered tip did not become separated until many hours of writing, and the tapping it back infrequently was bearable, especially given the general superiority of the product.) The product superiority also previously extended to the high quality of the ball point itself, which was among the cleanest, best-flowing, long-lasting, and legible of all inexpensive pens. Alas, the ball point quality has also suffered (or I just have a bad batch). Yes, there are workarounds: glue the sections together, or put the new cartridges in old pens with the single, narrow barrel. If the ball point quality was still high, and an exchange of a bad batch solved it, that would keep me using the pens, with the workarounds. However, Bic has succumbed to the modern design disease of listening to the marketers, and changing a product without thought, testing, user surveys, or engineering precision. C 'est le pen, c 'est la vie.