13 May 2013

why I lost faith in Filofax

Apologies for a more text-heavy post today!

A few years ago, I started using a Filofax to organise my time and life. Until about the summer of 2012, I was quite happy with them until I noticed that binders I hadn't used in over a year were in a condition I didn't expect them to be in. Moreover, ring problems were developing in my binders - even ones that I had in storage (or maybe I'd just not noticed them before? Blinded by love, anyone?). I had always tried not to overstuff the rings as I am aware that can contribute to the issue and so to discover gaps is disappointing. Personally, I bought into the brand as I thought it was one that I could use for life, or at least a considerable amount of time.

I am not alone in this disappointment with the Filofax brand. Others have issues with paper quality and I agree with this - we're already paying a premium for the paper and the quality doesn't meet expectations, particularly for fountain pen users. Others dislike the direction the brand has been going in whilst others have concerns about the viability of the brand with all of the binder returns that have occurred.

For me, I don't like putting money into a brand that doesn't listen to its core customer base. I understand that it is necessary to widen the target market but to neglect the pre-existing target market is kind of unfair! I do love the brand but it is not one I will be going back to in the near future. Unless the ring problems are solved (maybe look for a new supplier? I remember Josh saying that Bender's - the one that Aspinal of London use - is a good brand?) and the leather quality issues taken care of (I know that leather can easily wear off but after a few months where it has been kept in a dust bag when taken out of the house... really?!), I don't think it is a brand I have faith in. Ironically, I don't put my Smythson binder in a dust bag and it is still as good as new (almost six months later!).

I know others are becoming less and less enticed by the range Filofax has to offer and are also feeling frustrated about them not responding to feedback given to them. You might remember a while back where there were a number of open letters to Helena Bloomer of Slam PR, but I understand that Filofax have since ceased the services of this PR company.


Right now, I only have two Filofax binders (a compact Chameleon (I am selling this one!) and a Slimline Deco), a Kate Spade agenda and a Smythson Bond Street organiser that is my binder of choice at the moment.

With other brands offering Filofax personal-sized compatible inserts, I don't anticipate buying anything Filofax for a long time. Franklin Covey (though slightly wider), DayTimer, Quo Vadis, Smythson, Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton all offer diary inserts that would fit and I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of them offer inserts with higher quality paper (though this does come at an extra cost).

How do you guys feel about Filofax? I know I started off blogging about this brand but then gradually stopped mentioning their name at all and that kind of represents my waning love for the brand. If you use another planner, what do you use and why? :) It's interesting to see why others choose a brand and why they also stay loyal to one.

53 comments

  1. I definitely agree with the paper quality! It's terrible quality for the price you pay for it. You'd expect something more heavy weight and durable, but instead you get paper that feels cheap ):

    I'm probably not going to buy another Filofax since I have the Osterley. It may be some time before I even think of purchasing another one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree with you about the price and quality. They've got the balance wrong there and I've not bought any Filofax paper for about a year now because of it. The Osterley is beautiful - it sounds like you really love it which I'm glad :D xxx

      Delete
  2. I am still very much in love with my Holborn but I haven't seen ANY models since that i've liked the look of (apart from the original keychain... too cute to pass up). This is probably a good thing as it means i don't have enough filofax's to really have found any issues!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Holborn is the one model that sounds quite durable (in terms of leather though I'm not sure about the rings as I'm sure all models have rings from the same company) so I think you've chosen wisely there :) x

      Delete
    2. Forget the key rings: I absolutely fell in love with them when I saw them and ordered three. One was askew, one of them constantly lost its notepad and the last one was full of spider webs when I opened it (according to customer service, this could be glue). I am glad that I ordered them here in Germany, as I think customer service in the UK is really bad. I had several issues with filofaxes damaged as they were not packed well enough and most times I did not even get an answer when I contacted them :-( Love my Finsburys and my Aston, however.

      Delete
    3. That's not good! I've always experienced pretty good customer service from Filofax UK but I've found that they can be a bit slow to reply sometimes. My heart sank when I read your experience with the key rings x

      Delete
  3. They could make some improvements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally. But then again, same can be said for most companies - I just feel that Filofax have more things wrong with them than their competitors (just my opinion!) x

      Delete
  4. I agree completely. There are only a few layouts available for weekly pages and most of the styles aren't available in the US. I am hoping that they may be coming out with new and improved products, but I have fully switched to the mon journal from invite.L and I couldn't be happier!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some diary layouts that are available on Filofax France/Germany, etc but not in the UK too so I definitely share your frustration. The cotton cream WO2P lined inserts for one, aren't available in the UK but are on various other European sites. I find this super annoying! The Mon Journal does look lovely - I too fell in love when Esme sent me her guest post but for now, I'm very happy with my Smythson :) x

      Delete
    2. I really like your Smythson planner, but it isn't available in the US. I also really like grid paper, so the mon journal is perfect. I ordered it hours after Esme's guest post on your blog, and it is one of the best impulse buys I have made.

      I like binder-style planners but I have yet to find one that really suits me or offers inserts that I like.

      Delete
    3. Ah, the inserts is also an issue for me! I love the Kate Spade paper though but not the diary layout (week to view) as I am currently looking for at least two days per page. I think I will make my own for 2014 or go for a Daycraft bound planner (still questioning if it will work for me!) x

      Delete
  5. For the amount of money we spend on them, I think they really need to up the quality of the filofax itself, the binder clips, and the paper. And if they don't, it's time to stop buying because they're just not interested in hearing us out.

    I currently have a filofax and i'm not completely happy with it but it'll do. Still searching for the one with my name on it. Your thoughts are very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sound like me last year! I thought I had found my 'one Filofax' but that changed when problems developed :( hope you can find something that you fall in love with at first sight soon :) x

      Delete
  6. I am pretty disappointed with the quality of my chameleon. I've had it for about 10 months and the card section has ripped, as well the rings showing signs of metal erosion. Not impressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should definitely email Filofax about this as that's not really great! The leather of the Chameleon that I had (for a brief few months in 2012) seemed quite good as you might have just received a defective one x

      Delete
  7. Really well expressed; it's exactly what I've been thinking! Although now I've jumped on to the bound-planner bandwagon because I love the how everything feels a more permanent.

    Would you every consider going to bound planners? x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure. I'd like to think I could make one work but from time to time, I add in bits and pieces to my planner and I like the flexibility of tearing out pages I no longer need and adding in ones that I do (a good example is that today, I added a month planner to my binder as I had no need for one til now) x

      Delete
  8. I think this ring problem you speak about has been blown out of proportion by a few people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting that you say this! I used to think that I was being a bit too picky about the rings of my Filofax organisers until I got my Smythson. With my Smythson, there is not a single gap in any of the six rings (not even a tiny one!) and I've been using it for about six months now. However, with Filofax organisers I have had, gaps would appear within a few months and sometimes even within a few weeks! I have to confess, that from Feb-April, I stuffed my Smythson and only relieved it a little a few weeks ago and still no gaps.

      It's not just the rings that are problematic though - the leather wears too fast (again, my Smythson binder is made of leather and I've been throwing it in my handbag willy nilly with keys, etc - an accident waiting to happen I know so I'm now trying to be more careful - and it still looks perfect) and the paper quality is yet another issue x

      Delete
    2. http://www.paperlovestory.com/2013/01/smythson-bond-street-organiser.html

      'Ironically, although I am unveiling this binder today, it developed ring problems yesterday! The ring's don't close properly now (there is a gap of about 0.5cm between each of the six rings!) and I have contacted customer services about this. This is an unnatural thing to happen to such a new binder so I am quite shocked and hopefully it will be sorted soon as I do love this binder.'

      Delete
    3. I think I received a faulty one as the one it was replaced with has been perfect. I'm pretty sure that faulty products do slip through QC in all brands. The rings have been so perfect on the Smythson since that I actually forgot about the ring problem you have quoted above :) x

      Delete
  9. My problem is I can't find any nice ones that aren't leather! I object to leather as a thing even though sometimes when I see your Smythson I wish I didn't :') My domino will just have to do for now. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's fair enough re: leather. The Saffiano, as I understand, isn't leather but again, with all of the issues, I'm not sure it's worth the £££ for it. The Domino is a nice Filofax - sturdy and can withstand heavy use :-) x

      Delete
  10. I agree entirely, having used FF since the 1980s, my original (personal) is still going strong whereas I have had to return every other one that I have bought since for ring issues (I've moved up to A5). I think that they are losing out in quality of product (the leather is getting thinner and cheaper looking) paper quality is extremely poor and I'm a bit fed up with the lack of choice. I guess that my biggest gripe is that they really don't seem to listen to all those people who comment, most of whom have been extremely long and loyal users.

    I shall always use a pen / paper / leather combo, just not necessarily FF any more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard that there are changes in the pipeline with Filofax and I hope that this is true! Things such as better paper (apparently, it takes a while for this to happen) are (supposedly) around the corner so fingers crossed! x

      Delete
  11. I think a lot of the people complaining just like to complain. Yes, the paper quality is a bit sad but to not want one tiny scratch on your leather planner is crazy. I think those who deal with ring issues overstuff their rings (even though some swear they don't..but from watching their videos clearly they do). I've only had issues with rings once and that was with my Holborn. Filofax has amazing customer service and because of that I believe they do care.

    Also, I always see so many complain yet they keep buying more planners from Filofax which is also crazy to me. Why would you purchase more planners from a company who repeatedly disappoints you?? I think you investing into a company you are happy with and cutting out Filofax pretty much out of your vocabulary is what most should do.

    I'm anonymous because I'm pretty active in the philofaxy community but the whole 'oh Filofax is a horrible company.. rings.. paper quality' talk is getting very very very very old.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With regards to a scratch on the leather - I know of some people who put theirs in a dustbag before putting the Filofax in their bag to find scratches after a few months' of use. Like I said with my Smythson, there is not a single scratch, scuff or mark - it still looks perfect today. The texture on my Smythson is arguably, more delicate than some Filofax leathers too (for instance, in comparison to an Osterley - i've had both).

      That's fair enough with remaining anonymous. I'm not saying Filofax is a horrible company - it is just one that has not improved, or even tried to improve the quality of their products ever since I started using their products in 2009 and that is the point I'm trying to make. I'm hoping that, although I'm one voice of many, they might start listening if they know what is making previous customers turn away from their brand x

      Delete
  12. You have said yourself:

    That is one good thing about Filofax - their customer service has always been top-notch.

    http://www.paperlovestory.com/2013/01/aspinal-of-london-purple-croc-compact.html

    So why are you now moaning? Your post is very shallow and without substance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have said that the Filofax customer service is great but to have to use it is not so great.

      I don't want to start an argument (as it sounds like that is what you're after) but I don't see how my post is 'shallow and without substance' when the points I make are ones that others have experienced too x

      Delete
  13. That's too bad that people in the Philofaxy community complaining about rings is getting old for you. When you spend a significant amount of money on a leather planner and it arrives with broken rings- to the point where you can't use the planner- what are you supposed to do? Be happy about it? Then when you receive replacement Filofaxes that come with horrible rings, what are you supposed to do? Filofax USA does not refund you your money, they send a replacement. How many replacements does it take before you get a functioning filofax? Is a guessing game. Customers have every right to complain. Angela- I think this is a great post. Thanks for sharing. I'm sorry some people feel the need to leave rude comments and pick through your archives, just to call your post shallow. I love your blog :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make excellent points in that you're paying a lot of money for a binder that doesn't arrive in a state that you'd expect it to. Replacements and contacting customer service is time-consuming and also annoying for both the customer and company!

      Thanks for your kind comments too - I really appreciate it :) x

      Delete
  14. I use an Arc notebook from Staples, it's disc bound so there are no mechanisms to worry about. The discs are sturdy plastic and if they ever needed replacing, they could be easily and affordably. What put me off investing in Filofax is the ring problems, I read so many blogs about the rings going wrong and people getting annoyed - especially as Filofax don't come cheap. I wonder if they know that potential Filofax users are being put off by these problems...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also use the Arc notebook from Staples! I really love it... but I still love reading people's posts about filofax/inserts/layout etc because it gives me ideas about what to do with mine ;) I dont think the Arc notebook style is right for everyone- I just know it works for me because of the work I do and the ease in which you can move things around. Totally agree with you about filofax loosing potential customers... i always think I want one and then read bad reviews about the quality etc.

      Delete
    2. For some reason, the Arc system has never really appealed to me. However, I love reading about them when they work for other people :) The rings are better in the older Filofax binders (or so I'm told).

      Having seen some of the new binders that have just been released, I keep thinking 'oh I like the Original' or 'I like the look of the Saffiano' but with all of my problems with the brand and quality, etc, I know that I will probably never get either one of those models. Bit gutted really as they were the first brand of binders I had ever used x

      Delete
  15. Oh no I am panicking over here. I just purchased my first Filofax, the original personal sized in purple. I love the color, the leather, and from what I can tell the Symthson are very very pricey? Maybe I am looking at the wrong place. I also could not find the Kate Spade or Louis Vitton items (perhaps because I am stateside?) I already plan on purchasing some papers on etsy, for more variety and color. But I do hope that this splurge was not a wasted one. What are your thoughts? I considered the Domino but it was only available in the pocket sized and the personal sized seems to be the size that will work best for me (I am use to the A5 but want to downsize).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Virginia, I wouldn't panic - from the sounds of it, I don't think ALL Filofax organisers have the problems that I have had with some of mine. However, ring issues are seemingly quite common - possibly more due to the handling of the package by couriers than the production of these binders.

      See how you get on with your Original before panicking :) x

      Delete
  16. And I just ordered my first Holborn... then I read something like this. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be fair, you're not guaranteed to have a bad experience with a Filofax - this post is just my personal experience and opinion and I know of others who feel differently towards the brand.

      Hope you get along well with your Holborn :) x

      Delete
  17. I've just gotten my first filofax. The A5 Classic. It has some kind of coating on the leather that is peeling. I've had it 2 weeks. I haven't had issues with the rings as of yet of course, but I agree that apparently the company isn't in tune with it's buyers. The biggest complaint is that the ring size choices aren't good. Why can't they continue making larger rings. If people are searching for Balmorals, and Cavendishes because they crave large rings, or something that is missing in current planners, what is the problem with filofax helping us out. There are a lot of people jumping ship to Van Der Spek because you can get a custom planner, top notch leather, and ring choices, somewhat affordably. And many hang onto their Franklin Covey binder for the same reasons. Just my thoughts, and I"m a newbie. I tend to trust the observation of someone who has used them a long time. The vintage ones seem to be wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi, I am browsing your blog for the first time :) I love paper, organizers and everything stationary. I am obsessed :) So, this evening I was shopping online for a Kate Spade organizer because I just have to have a new one. I ordered The Wellesley Personal Size one in black from the outlet 3 hours away for a decent price complete with 2014 inserts. $99 U.S. I discovered that this would be the same size as my personal size navy Filofax Finsbury that I absolutely love, yet have hardly used in the 4 years I have had it. I pondered getting the Kate Spade insert only and use my Filofax. I had it in a box in my office - completely dry. Can you believe that there is rust alone the spine of the metal binder?? OMG!! I am sick over this. This binder looks like it was just opened from its box until you open it up and look closer! Is there any way that you or anyone knows of to restore it? Excited to get my new Kate Spade, mourning my Filofax that I never fully loved, but now wish I had.

    Elise

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi. I just received my first Filofax, a Metropol in red. It arrived yesterday. I was so excited until I opened it. Then my heart sank. There was a big gap in one of the rings. I have contacted the company but still no answer. I have browsed the net and come across many comments about faulty ring binders. I really don't know what to do. I need an organizer I can personalize that is not overly expensive and Filofax offers that. But I am really disappointed with their product. I still can't believe they sent it to me in such a state.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I purchase my original nude Personal on Filofaxusa.com, and I have the same ring issues as you do, they even look worse than yours, and everytime I flip pages they got stuck. It's just SO Disappointing. I only started to use it right now but I had purchased it for around 27 days. But I don't have any original packaging anymore. I am contacting their customer service and waiting for a reply. If this happens again, I will never use Filofax. $100 for ring gaps..... gotta be kidding me.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I just made my first purchase from Filofax not too long ago. I ordered an A5 Filofax and an extra set of to do inserts. I received my shipping notification today, but all the invoice has on it is the extra inserts. Are they still gonna ship my planner? Has this happened to anyone else before? I Really hope it was just a mistake and that my planner will be with the inserts in one shipment. Thoughts/opinions?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ok I'm sorry if this shows up more than once! I've tried to post and it keeps taking me to the goggle sign in page. I just made my first Filofax order a few days ago, an A5 planner and some extra to do inserts. I just received my shipping notification today and the invoice shows that only the inserts were shipped, and not the planner itself. Does this happen often? Or is the invoice just printed incorrectly? I'm new to the Filofax world and have never dealt with their customer service. Any thoughts/opinions??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Meagan, sorry for a late reply. I've not ordered from Filofax for a good few years now so maybe phone/email their customer services? Sorry I can't be of more help x

      Delete
  23. I have the A5 Finsbury (30mm rings), the actual Filofax is beautiful quality - no complaints there, but I wish they would listen (and reply) to customers as I know many including myself who have asked for a bigger ring size binder (my Finsbury is stuffed to bursting and I recently removed some items too!). Additionally I am totally up there with the overpriced poor quality paper (any type of fountain or gel ink pen goes straight through). Their insert designs have also not changed in years - despite the mass evolution/growth in the planner market. I have used Filofax for years as I like a paper organiser system but they need to listen more to their customers, and make some updates and changes. More affordable items would also be an improvement!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi! I have two binders from Filofax and one clipbook. I am from India and we do not filofax here easily apart from the few options available on amazon. So I generally order it from amazon US whenever i have to gift someone. I stopped buying Filofax after I bought the clipbook directly from their website. It was a damaged product. I wrote an email with images complaining about. However, even after writing several times to them I never received any response!! The customer service team is really not up to the mark. If they are selling high value products and they should do at least a quality check before shipping out a product.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi! I have two binders from Filofax and one clipbook. I am from India and we do not filofax here easily apart from the few options available on amazon. So I generally order it from amazon US whenever i have to gift someone. I stopped buying Filofax after I bought the clipbook directly from their website. It was a damaged product. I wrote an email with images complaining about. However, even after writing several times to them I never received any response!! The customer service team is really not up to the mark. If they are selling high value products and they should do at least a quality check before shipping out a product.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just bought my first Filofax, a Saffino as I'm vegan. So far so good but thanks for the warning about the rings. I will make sure not to overstuff them. As for the paper I love it. Its slightly off white and thin like antique paper. Filofax is the traditional organizer of yuppies so it makes sense it wouldn't have just any ordinary thick paper lol. I guess its personal choice. So happy with mine so far. Nice blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed Una Rose, Filofax have greatly improved the quality of their paper about two or three years ago. Before that they went through a phase when their paper could not stand any wet ink. They seem to be back to what they originaly did: quality binders and paper!

      Delete
  27. Hi Angela! I think Filofax must have heard your (and the other users) complaints as their new range of planner is almost equal in quality to what they used to make about twenty years ago.
    I am talking about the Classic Croc line which comes in three colours -brown, fawn and indigo- and in three sizes -pocket, personal and compact.
    The leather is top quality and the rings have got a new mechanism. They are also changeable in case you'd want bigger or smaller rings rhan the standard size.

    I started using Filofax planners in the 8ps and l had to stop about ten years ago as the quality of the paper and of the binders had become very poor. The Classic Croc has reconciled me with the brand and l can't see myself going back to Gillio, Vuitton or Mulberry for a while!

    ReplyDelete