How do they <i>do</i> that?

Technically, this does not seem possible.

You attend a two day course -- and they give you a pen to use.

The pen is a beauty. It looks nice. It works well.

Everyone's happy. No one gets hurt.

The course finishes and you pocket the pen. Naturally.

Next day, the pen stops working.

I can't find any kind of microchip inside it. And it doesn't seem to be out of ink.

Yet they do this trick every time I get a free pen!

Explain that, ye wise blog-reading public.

 

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