26 March 2013

Filofax Response To Kate's Petition

A few weeks ago Kate (The Life of the Perpetual Student) set up a public petition to campaign for action from Filofax regarding ring problems on Filofax Organisers.  You can read the full details in this blog post on Kate's blog.

Kate sent in the results of her petition along with the comments that had been left on it to the CEO of the Filofax Letts group yesterday. This afternoon a response was received from his team:
    Dear Kate,

    Thank you for taking the time to highlight your concerns to us in the form of your email and petition.

    We have for some while been working with our ring mechanism supplier to increase quality control measures on bulk production of these components that are fundamental to our products.   When we met with the representatives of the Philofaxy community in November last year we advised that, at that time, we had not seen a noticeable increase in consumer complaints/returns relating to faulty ring mechanisms, leading us to believe that any issues were internal and not in the hands of consumers.   Since that meeting we have seen a small increase in the number of consumer returns and can see evidence from the social community that there is a growing concern amongst Filofax enthusiasts.  This has all endorsed our position of challenging the supplier late last year.

    Our ring mechanism supplier is regarded as the largest and best in the world but like any supplier they experience problems of consistency from time to time, for various reasons.  There is actually still a lot of handwork involved in assembly of 'niche' (as opposed to commodity) ring mechanisms. Please be assured that we are working closely with them with a view to mitigating any quality issues.   This includes, amongst other measures, stepping up the rate of inspections we undertake at their factory and increasing our own quality control measures in our central warehouse in the UK.

    Please also be assured that our customer services staff will continue to respond to all individual consumer concerns about quality in the most efficient manner.  All issues will be addressed quickly and we always strive to resolve complaints to the customer’s satisfaction, the outcome of course being relevant to the individual circumstances.

    Once again, thank you for your communication and for taking the time to point out the specific products you have experienced problems with.  We would like to reassure you that there are no inherent problems in these ranges and that the ring mechanism issue is very much on our radar and one that we of course wish to eradicate as quickly as possible by working with our supplier

    With kind regards,

    Filofax Commercial Executive Team

    (headed up by the CEO).
I can confirm that the ring issues were discussed at the meeting with Filofax held in November in London.

Thank you to Kate and Filofax for keeping Philofaxy in the picture with regards to this on going issue.


  1. Letts Filofax very carefully don't mention the name of their ring mechanism supplier. Surely a niche, quality (supposedly), long-regarded product like Filofax would have their mechanisms supplied by a small, bespoke, UK manufacturer?

    Instead, to save costs, they shipped manufacture of binders and mechanisms to the Far East twenty years ago. The ring mechanisms have been supplied by The Worldwide Stationery Holding Company Limited based in Hong Kong and China. They produce over ONE BILLION PIECES every year and are the world's largest stationery metal parts manufacturer (source: their website. See www.wwstationery.com)

    Ok! A lot of quality stuff is now manufactured in the Far East and the collapse of UK industry was, in part, down to producing inferior, over-priced products over many years. However, I would suggest that the reason that pre-1990's Filofaxes are so highly prized for their longevity is because, traditionally, parts were made locally by bespoke manufacturers and not as a job-lot order with a massive distant corporation.

  2. Thank you Kate for your efforts! Tim, this is sad news. I would love to have a product completely built in England.

  3. I find the tone of voice in this letter quite enraging! It sounds patronizing, and I get the feeling that the ring problems are still not taken seriously enough.
    For exmaple: I really don't care that they address complaints in a fast and appropriate manner. I don't want to receive a binder with ring problems in the first place! Period!
    Would it really be so unbearably hard to actually OPEN a binder before you ship it? I think not.
    When I was in London last November, I had been to various stores and found that e.g. ALL Finsbury models in the new colors (blue and yellow) had gaps in the rings. A-L-L!!!!
    Two years ago, ring mechanism problems were quite rare. I for one, never encountered them at all. It started to get messy especially with the introduction of the 2011/2012 range. This clearly shows that something was changed in the past 2 years, not just 20 years ago, when everything was outsourced to Asia?
    I bought my first Filofax in early 2010: an A5 pink Finsbury. It's been in almost daily use ever since (holding work-related lists and addresses) and it's stuffed. Still, the rings are absolutely 100% perfect!

    If you ask me (you don't, but I'll just vent my opinion anyway ... ;-)): this letter is just a "Yeah yeah, we're on it, now keep the F... up" kinda note.


    1. I also agree

    2. I find your judgement of this message hard to accept. But then I do have the advantage of having met the actual author of the text.

      Let me explain. Communication between two parties to make one person fully understand the other relies on various elements in that communication.

      It's been found in studies that the written word only forms 7% of our understanding of any form of communication. The persons tone of voice gives you 38% of your understanding of the communication and a massive 55% is on the body language of the person delivering the message.

      So it's not surprising in many ways that we misinterpret what has been said or communicated.

      In a face to face situation you have all three elements to assist your interpretation of the message. If you then transfer that communication to a phone call, you have lost 55% of your ability to understand the message because you can no longer see the other persons body language.

      Go to written only communication and you are now down to just 7% therefore there is a high chance of error in understanding the intention of the sender by just the written word.

      The figures come from studies carried out by Albert Mehrabian

  4. I'm glad it's not just me that thought this letter was patronising. Almost a standard letter that they would send out, and I'm getting the feeling even if you sent a thousand signatures the letter would be the same... sadly

    1. Deborah
      You have to trust me in that I know the person who wrote the letter. It isn't a 'standard letter' and all the points in the letter are factual and accurate.

      You have to realise that whilst there might be a percentage of Philofaxy users that might have experienced ring issues. The number of signatures was 104, even if each person had 5 organisers with problems on average. That's still only just over 500 organisers.

      Compare that to the number they must sell in UK, Europe, USA, the world, it still only represents a very small percentage of ones with problems. It's most probably no different to the number of people that have iPhones that develop issues in percentage terms.

      Additionally have you ever heard anyone say that Filofax turned them down when they asked for a refund/replacement on their faulty product that was x years old.... I haven't...


    2. They're getting to you, Steve! You must have been treated to some great chocolate biscuits on your recent visit to Burgess Hill!

    3. Steve, of course I trust you..that goes without saying...you could say Put it down to cynicism and I truly believe in prevention than cure. Personally I haven't had ring problems with my non leather filo's.(Hence why I probably will never buy a real leather one for that reason) With one exception my Daughters A5 Domino, but she did insist on opening it incorrectly, so I can't really complain. To answer your question regarding refunds there are companies out there that do offer lifetime guarantees, granted not many but they aren't as unusual as you think..You also must appreciate I haven't met these people, so therefore their letter has no accent, no voice with sincerity just cold words that some may say cold and empty. I gueess I do feel sympathy for everyone who gets therir hopes up and yet another has faulty rings thats all. But Steve Morton if you say they are working on it, I will believe you

    4. I really should check my spelling before publishing

  5. I hope I am not jinxing myself but I have to say that none of the binders I have purchased here in the US have had ring mechanism problems (i.e. gaps). I have over 20 of them. The only time I have had to return a binder was for a color issue on a Chameleon and FF in Connecticut were quite courteous and accommodating. That said, I realize there are many who have encountered this issue and it must be very aggravating. I also understand, from a manufacturing standpoint, all that the letter writer stated as being a part of doing business today. Still ... we do spend an awful lot of money on FF's and should expect them to be perfect - the rings anyway!

  6. I've not mentioned this before but, given the comments that there is, "still a lot of handwork involved in assembly of 'niche' (as opposed to commodity) ring mechanisms" and there are "no inherent problems", I beg to differ.

    Right now, I'm looking at two ring mechanisms; one from the 80's and one from 2011.

    And I can see that, with the 80's rings, the teeth have a much deeper machined "cut", and are carefully chamferred through careful grinding, to prevent "page snagging". Alas, the 2011 sample has not received this care and attention.

    Given the fact that the majority of comparisons about ring quality are referenced through comparisons between English made and Asian made binders, I think it's pretty disingenuous to make such statements, when anyone with a magnifying glass will be able to verify.

    And while I'm commenting on this sorry saga, and given anecdotal evidence of repeated ring damage to replacement binders shipped to customers by post, it might be a good time for Letts Filofax to use non deformable packing, inside each binder, to avoid crush damage to the rings when in transit.

  7. Steve, I note you have removed my previous post - presumably because it was less than complimentary about Filofax. I've received no indication from you of why this has been done. Are our comments now being censored?

    I have posted again today. I'd appreciate some clarification.