The Baron Fig Apprentice and I got off on the wrong foot. I had a remote writing session planned, taking the kids with me to Starbucks on a Saturday and hoping to knock a few reviews out. I grabbed a handful of pens, some paper, and grabbed one of the new Apprentice notebooks Baron Fig was kind enough to send me fresh from the 3-pack.
We settled in at Starbucks, me with a tall coffee and the kids with awesomely overpriced cake pops and Sanpelligrino. But hey, it's an outing, and I'm glad to get out of the house for an hour or two and write and draw with the kids.
I was anxious to spend some time with the Apprentice, so I cracked it open and started testing a few different pens and inks on the back pages, as you do. I immediately noticed that the pages and covers wouldn't stay flat. Then I took this picture:
Not a happy maker. See how the stitching is crooked and almost wraps around the binding? That causes the inside pages to lay awkwardly and makes for an strange writing experience. If the stitching was straight - no issue at all.
Customer service in an always online world is a funny thing. It's hard to get right, both from a customer expectation standpoint and a business standpoint. Everything Baron Fig did to correct this was fantastic. Let me give a few tips on how both consumers and businesses can work together to come to a happy resolution:
- As a customer, don't be an asshole. Mistakes happen, problems arise. I was not happy with my notebook, and while I wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, I wasn't a jerk either.
- If you are going to call out a company on social media, have the stones to include their handle so they may see the problem you are having. If you are going to blast someone and not link to them somehow you are giving the company less of a chance to make things right.
- As a company, own the problem. Most customers are understanding and appreciate the honesty and two-way conversation.
- Have a solution, and deliver. Any company worth their salt should be able to explain how they will handle the issue clearly and directly.
To their credit, Baron Fig did an amazing job following up with my issue. I tagged them in my Instagram pic and they responded before I had even left Starbucks. And they didn't just respond, they owned the issue, made me smile, and emailed me right away stating a replacement was on the way.
That is how you do business.
I wanted to go through this entire scenario because sometimes first impressions cloud our judgement. We are all guilty of this, myself included. But first impressions can be changed, and that all depends on how you and the companies you deal with handle problems.
That huge digression aside, how is the Baron Fig Apprentice as a notebook? It's good. Not exceptional, not awful. But good, and that is ok. This is a notebook made to be used and abused and it is perfect for that. The cover feels sturdy enough to take a beating, and the paper handled most inks I threw at it, with the exception of a few of the inkiest fountain pen and marker inks.
The main difference between the Apprentice and many other similar notebooks are the dimensions. A standard memo book runs 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" while the Apprentice runs 3 1/2" x 5". They call this Smart Dimensions to make the page more breathable, but to me it feels stubby and less breathable. It is more pocketable this way though, but those who like to use specialty covers with their notebooks may have a little extra wiggle in the fit.
At $9 for a 3-pack, I think the Apprentice will do very well for Baron Fig. The Confidant has a large and loyal following and the Apprentice is a great compliment to their product line.
My thanks to Baron Fig for sending me BOTH of the 3-packs of Apprentice notebooks for review. Be sure to check out the excellent interview with the gentlemen behind Baron Fig at Tools & Toys.