08 March 2013

Free For All Friday No 225

It was sad news when a few weeks ago I opened an email from Andy Morse with the news that City Organiser would be closing at the end of March, with the shop itself closing soon afterwards. 

City Organiser have been a great supporter of Philofaxy in the last couple of years, opening their shop for a group of us to visit on pre-arranged Saturdays, a day they aren't normally open on.

So I would like to wish Andy and all his members of staff all the best for the future. I'm sure we will keep in touch.

Their final newsletter (below) gives the details of their generous 20% discount on remaining stocks.
"Save £££s on Filofax, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Cross, Waterman, Lamy Pens and all our famous brands (excluding Montblanc but including existing Special Offers) by using the coupon code 8585 to get 20% discount on all your online purchases at www.cityorganiser.co.uk

Our mail order operation will close at the end of March so we would like to say a big thank you to all our customers. We have enjoyed supplying you for the last 25 years and wish you all the best for the next… "
As always it's once again Friday... so please feel free to discuss anything Filofax related. 

55 comments:

  1. Re Manchester meet up. If anyone coming wants anything from Staples ( which is not in the city centre) I will be popping in en route. I am already collecting orders to post on to Europe so if you have a shopping list email me and I'll get it for you and you can pay me over lunch. studioconway (at) gmail.com.

    Sorry I didn't think of this earlier but as long as I have the email by say 10.30 tomorrow that's fine.

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  2. Steve, that's really bad news. Andy, if you're reading this, thank you for being such a staunch supported of us Luddites over the years.

    Pretty soon the whole world will be littered with 'phone zombies' crashing into one another (and anything fixed) as they attempt walking while giving 99% of their attention to their Ugly Little Plastic Rectangles. I'm going to start a campaign to have this made illegal - if you can't drive and phone (rightly), surely you can't walk the streets either? As for buggy-pushers......

    Sat in a restaurant with my brother yesterday and watched a woman with two beautiful daughters aged (probably) around 4-5, who she thought it OK to run riot up and down the aisles while she made an extended call on her ULPR. And they wonder why I keep suggesting child free areas in restaurants. Ridiculous. My FF stayed in my bag - if I want to be with someone enough to go to dinner, at least I'll do them the courtesy of giving them my attention while I'm there. or maybe she just didn't want the little ankle-biters in the first place.....

    FF-wise I've made one or two tweaks to my GTD layout just lately, insofar as I've discovered that things are far more likely to get done if I have a to-do list for the day rather than just a generic Next Actions list, and also that post-move-to-cottage I have numerous day-specific lists, to-do items etc. So now I have a 'day plan' of sorts. Actually it's s sheet of blank (must be blank unlined!) FF paper onto which I write all of the day's to-do items, lists for shops, items to take out before *going* to shops, etc etc etc. Even post codes for the SatNav, even though they are elsewhere in the system. Result - a much better day, and no arriving at the shops and discovering I haven't got the list or the items I needed to have with me. My wife thinks I'm a) nuts and b) obsessive (actually I am) but that's OK.

    The TMI binder and refills have all found, and will shortly be going to, their new home, so that's another 25-year plus chapter closing. TMI has served me well over the years, but with the advent of GTD the Personal does the job just as well at about half the carry-weight!

    Somewhere in the move I managed to lose half each of *both* my day-per-page *and* my week-per-view diaries. I have no idea how I did that. So I'm currently camped out in a cotton cream 'standard' week per view cotton cream diary which I absolutely cannot stand (the layout, not the cotton cream)until I'm in London again Monday week, when all will be resolved via a visit to Conduit Street and a meeting with a Philofaxy friend :)

    Sorry to have been off the radar for so long, but things should get back to normal from now on. Whatever normal is......

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    1. I have been wondering how your move was coming, checked your blog several times over the past month or so.

      I think it is a great piece of news that Quo Vadis is planning on some inserts etc. for Filofax. I am very anxious to see them, and from the Quo Vadis blog and Karen, I don't think it wil be to long before they are available.

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    2. David,
      I think that the GTD system failed me for this exact reason: My daily tasks were hidden behind some tab somewhere and I would not look at them frequently enough and consequently got not-a-lot-done. With a daily list, even if I don't get to everything, I get a whole lot more done. This runs up against David Allen's advice that the daily page include only things which absolutely MUST get done that day, but it works well for me.

      Good to see you back on this space. I've missed your comments!

      Josh

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    3. Thanks to both of you.....it would be fair to say I'm not as often on the web as I was previously, but I can certainly be here from time to time. Crofter, the move went very well, thank you for asking, and we have a tenant moving into our Wales house next Friday. If anyone's interested to see the cottage I have photos :)

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    4. I'd love to see your cottage David :-) I'm odd like that - I even like others peoples holiday snaps!

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    5. Hi Alison

      Do you have a Dropbox account? I'll put them in a folder and send you a share invite.

      Hope all is well.....

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    6. People obsessed with ugly plastic rectangles cause major problems here in Wellington. There have been at least ten people hit by buses in the city centre due to their complete failure to follow the basic rules we're taught as children: Look both ways BEFORE you cross the road, and only cross if it's safe. Maybe someone needs to invent a Green Cross Code app!

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  3. The City Organiser demise is really sad (not least for me as one of their customers). Yes David, smart phones and tablets have decimated the use of paper systems and will increasingly in the future. Even the Letts Filofax CEO conceded this, in his last annual report – a story of poor sales and reduced profits. I'm not really a techy, but I virtually run my Yorkshire holiday cottage business from my iPad2 these days. I would love to see everyone return to those halcyon days of Time Manager, Franklin and Filofax, but it's not going to happen.

    My view is that there is still a niche market for decent paper and quality binders and pens - but that WE are largely to blame for shops closing on the High Street. My local stationer has given up selling leather organisers. He tells me that folk still came in to examine the goods, but then went and purchased online, because it was a bit cheaper. The online traders don't have big store and staff costs, but they don't provide that tactile ability to look and feel a product either. What made it worse for my local stationer was that the much-handled binders started to look shop-soiled and thus making them even less attractive to purchase!

    Do we never stop to ask where all these new Filofaxes on eBay come from? One such source is TK Maxx. Letts Filofax regularly clears vast amounts of unsold stock to them, much then purchased by eBay sellers (often running substantial online operations). They add their mark-up and are saturating the market and further hitting the few remaining specialists on the High Street, which just can't compete.

    It’s not just organisers of course. But it’s another example of why we will end up with fewer interesting shops, less competition, less choice (I predict the Filofax range will shrink dramatically, for starters) and ultimately higher prices, as those few survivors in the marketplace seek to exploit what’s left.

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    1. I picked up some news the other day off of Twitter, about Moleskine:

      Moleskine - net profit rose 25% to 19.7 million euros; revenues rose 17.1% to 78 million euros.

      I assume the figures are in the last 12 months.

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    2. I think that in many ways the current management of filofax just doesn't really understand their customer and has failed to optimise their product line to meet current expectations and needs. Lots of people are still using paper. I work with young people all day and I see lots and lots of paper planners, mostly plain black Moleskine weekly planners, some spiral bound (such as Lilly Pulizer), At-a-Glance, etc. Filofax could probably grab lots of this market share but they don't seem to understand how. I certainly hope they figure it out soon!

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    3. Josh I would love to know more about what younger people are using for their planners! I'm such a geek. Can you tell me any more details? Please feel free to email me if you like.

      I agree, Filofax and Letts seem to be out of touch with what people want from their paper planners. I get really frustrated with their focus on covers and neglect of interiors. Letts has a bunch of different cover designs for their bound planners but the vast majority of them are horizontal weekly. Sorry but it takes more than that to catch my eye, I can get a horizontal weekly format from any brand.

      Look at Moleskine: only just this year did they come out with colored covers, yet they have a huge number of interior formats available with more new formats coming out every year! Proof that people first look for the format they want, and the cover is secondary.

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    4. And PS I think Letts relies too much on their history and doesn't do enough accurate market research. They need to come up with some innovative products. Just my opinion.

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    5. Re: Moleskine - the fact that Moleskine notebooks are aimed at both men and women, whereas filofaxes are predoninantly aimed at just women, in a dwindling market, may be part of the reason behind the differing fortunes of the two companies involved.

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  4. I think the big loss over the last ten or so years has been due to a lack of affordable, young organisers, like the Paperchase ones. I'd go for one of theirs over a standard Domino or an Apex any day, and they're so much cheaper!

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  5. I know this is not related to Filofax and Steve you can delete this post if you wish, but I wanted to see if anyone had any Midori Traveler's Notebook Refills (large/personal size) they are no longer wanting :) If so, please email me alondrasilva10 @ yahoo [dot] com.

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  6. Very sad news about City Organiser, I think this is a reminder for us all to give our business to local shops.

    On a separate note, does anyone know when Filofax is planning to release new designs this year?

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    Replies
    1. Soon... very soon... in a time frame measured in hours not weeks... Post is scheduled ;-)

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    2. Ooooh! The excitement is unbearable :)

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    3. Excitement in the air!

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  7. I was really sad to hear this when you sent the email about the meet-up. I've never actually been to the shop - I've only ever ordered online from them and have done since about March/April 2010 I think it was. Service was always brilliant and prices were too. I suppose this is a reflection of how competitive the market is right now for smaller 'boutique' stores x

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  8. Being from the US, I've never had the opportunity to buy from City Organiser, but they sound wonderful, very much in tune with excellent customer service, which is very uncommon these days. I'm actually dealing with bad customer service at the moment with pens and leather. I have bought from them several times and have never had a problem. But I ordered and received a Filofax with two rings that we misaligned. Knowing the vast amount of problems out there, I contacted them about an exchange. They replied right away, giving me instructions on returning the item, and even extending the return deadline for me due to the blizzard we had a month ago. They received my return and took the charge off of my credit card, but since I have not received a replacement. Worse, my email and phone message have gone unanswered. This is such a shame since I have always had a pleasant experience with them. But I just can't understand the lack of communication on their part. If I have to wait for the product, fine. But to know that is all I'm asking. I'm not one to be pushy or write nasty letters, but I feel this is getting to that point. Im on the verge of telling them not to send a replacement at all and that i will be taking my business elsewhere. another shame since i plan on buying another binder or two in the future. Has anyone had a similar experience with P&L?

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    1. I just recently purchased a Malden from them, the last of many orders over the last year. The snap was broken. They told me to return it... at my own cost. Ridiculous. They said they'd put in an extra refill if i exchanged it. I've return it for a refund (still pending) and that will be my last order. My disappointment has been building over the last few months. I've had a few orders that didn't ship for a month. I guess they were waiting to receive whatever I had ordered but a month is ridiculous especially with no communication. I will not be ordering from them in the future. Hopefully my refund will go smoothly and in a time manner. Sorry you've had a bad experience as well. I thought it was just me...

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    2. I've had terrible service from Pens and Leather on several occasians.

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    3. I recently ordered 2 Filofax binders from Goldspot. I'm in the US but they do ship internationally. Both of my orders came so fast (within 48 hours of ordering) and at standard (or free, when qualified) shipping. No ring or other issues. I've also ordered from Paradise Pen; also quick shipping and good product. But since I didn't have to do any returns, I can't speak about their customer service/return policies.

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    4. @Savannah - Huh. Interesting, but glad to know it's not just me. I guess I just had never heard of too many problems with them. Thanks for the input.

      @Cheryl - I have never heard of Goldpot. But upon looking, they don't carry the binder I'm after. I'll keep my eyes open though!

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    5. I use to order from P&L all the time-until I received an organizer with all three rings misaligned and gapping. You are lucky they exchanged the Filo for you, I was told to first try to fix the rings myself (and they gave instructions-LOL) and second if that didn't work, to contact Filofax itself and give them heck. I use to LOVE P&L but that experience completely ruined them for me.

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    6. Huh. I understand that they don't make the product, but since they're (one would think) making money off of the deal, they'd try and do whatever they can to make the customer happy. Leaving the customer to deal with a defective product they sent is not the way to do that.

      I actually just heard from them, after sending a nasty email -- they refunded me the money (which I knew) but did nothing with the exchange. The case has been closed and once closed, they cannot ship on the same order. So I would have to purchase from scratch. That's not necessarily a problem, but there's no guarantee I'd get a better binder. I also don't know how they refunded by mistake since (supposedly) there was a note on my account AND I sent an accompanying letter requesting an exchange. Clearly they didn't read it. Either way, I don't know why they couldn't have responded to my first email just stating that. I wouldn't be so annoyed at being ignored.

      In the end, it doesn't matter since I found the same binder elsewhere. :)

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  9. I'm glad to learn that it's not just me, though I'm frustrated for you as well. While I don't agree with paying my own money for a return, most companies are like that. The only one I know of that isn't is LLBean, though I tend to purchase from the same retailers all the time, so maybe it's just who I buy from. I get the feeling that P&L is a company run by one guy, probably out of his basement. I've been chatting with a friend about all of this and she has always spoken to the same guy I originally spoke with. And when I called (in total three times, but leaving a message only once), they never answered, and the outgoing message sounds likes its recorded on an answering machine from the '80s. This isn't necessarily bad, but maybe just speaks volumes about how the company is run. As I said, this is the first time I've had an issue with them, but even with the discount, I'm not sure it's worth the hassle and frustration. To purchase from them outright, I've always gotten my orders in a timely manner. This is the first time I've returned anything to them so I didn't know if the wait was just for the exchange. The important thing is I got my money back. Any future orders would just need to go through someone else.

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    1. I believe if an item is a defective the retailer should pay for the return costs. Why should we pay for their quality control?

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    2. In UK and possibly in the rest of Europe consumers are protected by Distance Selling Regulations.

      Details here: http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/business_leaflets/general/oft913.pdf

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    3. I agree, but many companies don't seem to hold that policy.

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    4. I agree, too. If I'm returning it because I don't like it, I can understand me paying the shipping. But if it's defection, that's on them. And if I have to pay it, I will never order from that company again.

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  10. Folks, I think this sends a strong message; if you've got a local retailer buy stuff from them and don't quibble over paying a bit more for the item. I make a point of buying all my ink, filofax inserts, pens, paper, cards, etc. from my local shop. They sell the filofax inserts for the exact same price as the filofax website but I need not pay shipping. They sell binders for the retailer suggested price, so there is no major markup. The fact that filofax is willing to sell large volume to cut price outlets and offer substantial discounts on their own websites must create massive downward pressure on pricing for all retailers. I'd rather have a bricks & mortar store for the ability to compare products and have easy access to after-sales assistance. I understand that many of us do not live within easy travelling distance of a filofax retailer, but if you have one PLEASE buy your stuff from them.

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    1. I completely agree, Josh. However, here on Long Island, there are very few local stationers. Many places around here are big box stores which have moved in at an enormous rate, putting all of those mom and pop places out of business. It's very sad. And the very few places that do carry the items have a VERY small selection. I can wait to purchase an item if I'm heading into New York City, as there's plenty to choose from there, but those trips are few and far between sometimes. If only I had enough money to open my own store. *Sigh*

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  11. Manchester Meet Up. So looking forward to this tomorrow. Seen great reviews of the restaurant.
    I'm going to part with my Raspberry Finsbury, Pocket size with inserts, so if anyone is interested I'll bring it along.
    Click on name link and leave a message on my blog.
    Delete is it's not okay to post this.

    Susan

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    1. My bag is virtually packed... got my train tickets yesterday, I have to be up quite early tomorrow morning to catch the early train to London and then the train to Manchester.

      Steve

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    2. I'm packed already, then it's an early breakfast and then I'm off to Manchester. We have quite a gathering this time See you there.

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    3. I'm finally packed after some debate over what to bring, resolved eventually. Super excited, better get off to bed now!!

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    4. Cat photographs in Filofax, check. Filofax and ink pens in handbag, check.
      Woollies out as it's cold out there, check.

      Susan

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    5. Sounds like it'll be a great day. Even though I'm in The Yorkshire Dales I would have been on the train to Manchester if I wasn't working today. Have a great time!

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  12. I'm really sorry to hear about City Organiser. I wish everyone connected with the shop success in the future.

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  13. Sorry to hear about City Organiser. You folks were just great in your support of Philofaxy. Heart wrenching when a business closes... end of an era and sometimes end of a dream. I wish you all from CO the very, very best in the future.... sending warm thoughts your way.

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  14. I addition to my rant above...

    I purchased a Compact Holborn in brown from Pens & Leather. And with their lack of communication about a replacement, I am thinking of canceling the order altogether. However, it doesn't seem I can get this binder anywhere else in the US, not even from FFUSA. Has anyone been able to get this binder from anywhere else in the US? I don't want to have to pay and arm and a leg for shipping for it.

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    Replies
    1. kanalt, email me about this if you are interested. I have a one I am not using. mstraat@neb.rr.com

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  15. Hi all,
    I am considering to buy a Malden ipad cover, but would like often to just use the planner separately (out of the binder). Is that possible? Did I read it correctly that the back of the planner is not leather?

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    Replies
    1. If you haven't seen it already, read Steve's review (6th February) of the similar Pennybridge iPad cover. You'll see that the back of the organiser is just card, presumably to keep weight and thickness down. I'm not really convinced of the combo design.

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    2. I indeed had seen that review, Tim
      But I was wondering whether it was the same for the Malden.
      thanks for the reply!

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    3. The Pennybridge and Malden iPad cases are identical except for being leather look and leather. The Malden inside the iPad case is not the same as a standard A5 one. See the video (where the card issue is carefully disguised!). It was this video that put me of buying one. It looks so heavy to open!
      http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=cHzLEkVF68Y&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DcHzLEkVF68Y&gl=GB

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    4. Yes, Tim, I had seen this video, thanks for the info!
      What makes the Malden iPad so appealing to me is the combination of paper and digital! This is in fact how I work today (lists in Omnifocus and Agenda in G-cal but daily actions, notes and time-tracking on paper). Well, that and the planner insert that looks very slim and gorgeous (from the front)...
      But so I have never seen the back of the planner insert (they also do not show it in this video), what now seems to be card instead of leather. What makes it not really suitable to go on the road with just the planner insert without the bulky zipped case...

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  16. Aqua Malden, anyone? A fresh new peek from Pens&Leather http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg8jOZJxvAE

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  17. What a shame about City Organiser! Fantastic customer service & lovely people. I'll never forget being let loose in the stock room at the meet up, & finding my own inserts to buy when they weren't on the shelf.
    Thank you so much, Andy & others there :)

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