Let’s say you feel insecure, you don’t know how to fight, and you want a convenient, innocuous-looking self-defense weapon. Maybe just to show off to your buddies!
- First you thought of a tactical flashlight. But then you’d be carrying a flashlight around all the time, and there’s that Mae West joke.
- So then you considered a tactical laser, until you found out that they’re just gussied-up pointers.
Now here’s an even more discrete substitute for martial-arts skills; a sharp object that looks and even writes like a pen. The Facebook ad for this toy led me to a website that looked like a classic web scam. Let’s see what the Scam-O-Meter has to say about it!
Ridiculous claims: The Laissez Faire website (not a perfect seller, but I’ll give them a link) claims in text and videos that you could break a window with this pen. That you could stick somebody in the neck with this pen (without martial-arts skills?). And that the TSA is unlikely to confiscate it in an airport. The promoter is a “former CIA officer.” The site has a testimonial from a man who claims he struck an assailant with the pen, without giving details.
I think the assurance that you’ll feel much safer carrying this pen around with no CIA training is a stretch. Your assailant may take away your pen and stick you in the neck with it. I found a forum post about a 2010 airport arrest for carrying a tactical pen. I’ll give Laissez Faire a pass, but no more. 0
Post office box: I see a real building at 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21201, so +1
Trivia; the doorway bears the legend “Ordine Figli D’Italia / In America.” Apparently the building is or was a lodge of the Order of Sons of Italy, an old fraternal society for immigrants. No idea what’s inside today.
Onerous terms: The website boldly states, “Your Tactical Pen comes with a no questions asked, 100% money back guarantee.” A Terms and Conditions page turns out to be mostly PR, saying nothing of substance related to the pen. +1
Invasion of privacy: The company says they’ll send ads to your email address. But you can opt out, and they won’t share it. +1
Lying and deception: None found on Laissez Faire, tho the SmartTechTrends.com review (see below) is less credible. +1
Obfuscation: In order to find out the price ($35 plus $5 shipping), you must first give your email address. And then they put up a countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to comparison-shop. -1
- SmartTechTrends.com claims that an assault occurs every 90 seconds. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported an estimate of three million “violent victimizations” in 2014. That comes to 5.7 assaults per minute, about ten times the claimed rate. Odd that the review didn’t use the higher figure?
- The picture of a tactical pen in the review is not the pen that Laissez Faire sells.
- The review includes a button linked to Laissez Faire, so payola is flying the other way; that’s an automatic -1
Crummy product: I couldn’t find any complaints. As always, I disregarded Laissez Faire’s on-site testimonials. Most Amazon reviewers quite like a similar product. 0
Overpriced: I saw several pages of tactical pens on Amazon ranging from a few bucks to $30. I didn’t see an exact match for this pen. Laissez Faire’s pen is more expensive than most. I found one for slightly less money that has a built-in flashlight and DNA catcher! 0
Unauthorized charges: I found no complaints about this either. +1
I have reservations about the real usefulness of a tactical pen. But if you buy into the idea, the Laissez Faire offering seems as good as any. It’s just a bit on the high side.