Rollabind order - recent

I posted in the Bazaar asking about Circa Junior sized products and was directed to the Rollabind site (since Levenger has discontinued a bunch of useful things AGAIN) and I placed an order. Since apparently they can be a bit slow on delivery, I said I'd report in when they arrived.

I got them a couple of days ago - I placed the order on Jan 9, so they arrived within about two weeks, which isn't too bad. (The website tracking information wasn't that helpful - the order was 'pending' forever, and I don't think I ever got a shipping notice.)

I'm quite willing to believe it's a relatively small mail order operation - my envelope actually had the address hand written, which I can't imagine anyone wanting to do if they're processing large numbers of orders at all. Everything arrived safely, though, so it's fine in that regard. (If I was going to order something for a gift, though, I'd probably have it delivered to myself and then repackage it, whereas with Levenger I'd be happy enough to have them send it direct, just because their packaging does look more professional. On the other hand, if I'm buying paper refills for my own use, I don't want to be paying an extra mark up for printed shipping boxes, so. Depends what your needs are.)

I ordered:

Business card pages - Junior
Junior sized 'transparent' cover w/ rings
Sketch paper refill - Junior sized

I haven't put them into heavy use, but general thoughts:

Business card pages -
First, they're not really Junior size, but more along the lines of Compact size. This is a bit annoying because it means they potentially make one section of the notebook thicker than the other. I compensated by putting them in staggered so they're not all on the same set of discs, which helps a little, but there's still a lump where they overlap. On the other hand, they are only exactly the size needed to hold 3 business cards (6 if you put two per slot) so there's no excess wasted plastic space in bumping out the size.
Second, there is a very distinct difference in quality between the Levenger one I have (Compact size) and the Rollabind ones. The Rollabind pages are basically the same sort of plastic as is used in medium-duty page protectors, divided into slots for the cards. The Levenger one is a much heavier plastic. As a result, I'd probably view the Rollabind pages as semi-disposable - I expect at some point due to wear and tear they'll be damaged, and need to be replaced. You get ten sheets in a pack, though, so for the price, that's not a huge issue.
Third, the other main difference is the layout. My Levenger Compact page is kind of oddly laid out - the cards sit vertically in little flaps that are mounted on to a hard plastic sheet. This means they overlap each other and seeing the back side of the card (or the card in back, if you put two in a section) is a little fiddly. The Rollabind pages are straight forward three-card-slots stacked on top of each other, with the cards held horizontally. No overlap. The Levenger set up means that the opening for inserting the cards faces in towards the spine of the notebook, meaning they're unlikely to fall out. The Rollabind pages are just open on the outside edge of the page, so I imagine something could wiggle out if it was determined to do so, or an odd size or texture. (Since I bought the pages in part to use to hold store cards, I will probably use tape or something to make tabs over the open end, just because I can see them slipping out more easily, particularly if they've been inserted and removed a few times and the plastic has stretched.)

Verdict: Well, Levenger doesn't make them anymore anyway, so you don't have a lot of choice, but for the money, if you want some way of keeping business cards and similarly sized objects handy, the Rollabind should work well enough. Just be prepared to need to replace pages on occasion if they get heavy use. If you wanted to use them to hold something like credit cards, I would personally also add a little tab of tape over the open end for security, but that's just precautionary. I haven't actually managed to make anything fall out yet.

'Transparent' cover and discs -
I don't really get why this was called transparent, as it's pretty opaque in my opinion. Also, it came in a package that listed the size as 6"x6" which it clearly isn't. Mystery. Otherwise, as plastic covers go, it's pretty much... A plastic cover. Feels about the same weight as the Levenger covers. I got it to use as a cover for my 'extra' forms and pages so I can stand them up on a bookshelf neatly instead of having a pile in a box or drawer, and it'll work fine for that. For that reason, I haven't closely examined the fit of the cover vs. pages - I think the Levenger plastic covers might be a touch bigger relative to the page size, which would provide more protection to the paper pages if you were carrying it around. (I love the Levenger bookcloth covers, so I don't even bother with the plastic Levenger ones anyway.)
The discs, kind of annoyingly, do not match the cover color. They're both purple, but not the same shade of purple. I'd rather have had plain black discs to mismatched purple ones. Plus (I think this is known about Rollabind discs) they aren't as nicely finished as the Levenger ones - there's a molding ridge around the edge and burrs on a couple, so you'd probably want to have a go with a file or some sand paper to get the best results. (I don't care, since I'm not going to use them - I have some spare 1" Levenger discs I'm using instead. Anyone want a few small purple Rollabind discs?)

Verdict: You can see that you get what you pay for to some extent, but, well. It's a plastic cover. Other than size, not a lot to go right or wrong with it. Likewise, the discs are adequate, but need a bit of touch up to be up to Levenger-finishing quality. I remain annoyed at the color difference between the cover and the discs - why package them as if they're matching when they aren't?

Sketch paper refill - Junior sized -
This was a bit of an impulse buy, since obviously if you just want blank pages in your disc-bound notebook and you have a punch, you can make your own blank pages with any paper you have on hand. But I was curious what they meant by 'sketch' paper. It doesn't have a rough finish like some sketch pads do, but it is heavier weight than standard printer paper - it feels to the hand to be about equivalent to the pre-printed Circa stuff I have. I haven't tested it with a fountain pen yet, but I think I will like the slightly heavier weight for sketching on with a pencil for sure. Size-wise, it seems to fit in fine with the Circa pages I have. If it's off-size a bit, it's not horrendously so.

Verdict: I'll quite possibly buy this again, rather than punching my own from printer paper, due to the feel of the page and the tediousness of punching and cutting blank paper. I haven't tested it, but I do wonder how well it would feed into a printer - if the smurfed edge didn't cause feed issues, it could be a very quick way of producing custom pages without having to fuss with a punch.

So, in short:

Not a lot of communication about the order or shipping, but it did get here in a reasonably timely manner. Shipping packaging was adequate but nothing outstanding, kind of unprofessional looking.

Items are basically what you'd expect for the cost - functional, but not as luxurious or well finished as the Levenger equivalents. Business card page size is a little weird, given that it was listed as Junior sized and it really isn't, but the layout is more sensible than the Levenger one if you want to be able to flip through your collected business cards. Just keep in mind that they're not as robust plastic as the Levenger version, so plan on occasional replacement of pages that get heavy use. (Same as you'd expect with page protectors - they're reusable up to a point.)

I'll probably order from them again, but nothing I need urgently. I'll probably need a few more low dollar value orders before I felt comfortable placing a large order, just due to the lack of communication. (If an order is $20 or so, I don't sweat it too much. If I've spent $100, I get nervous when it doesn't turn up fairly quickly and there's no information about where it is or what it's doing.)

I can take photos if anyone wants any.

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Hand-written!!!

Im still amazing over that!!! It certainly seems to explain a lot. Doesn't illicit trust, but it does seem they are still trying...

-Jon

I didn't even realize what it was at first.

I trade yarn and knitting items with people online sometimes, so initially when it arrived I thought it was something like that (maybe a book) and was quite perplexed because I couldn't think of anything I was waiting for.

(I did also recently get a package from a used book seller with a handwritten address, so perhaps some people just like to do things the hard way? I don't even mail out cards with hand written addresses - I prefer to print labels because I figure it makes life easier for the postal service. :) )

Congratulations

At least you received your order.
Many folks never do.
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

I would definitely try more small orders first.

I.e. don't spend more than you're willing to lose as a 'learning experience' - just in case.

Like I said, the online tracking information on the website was pretty unhelpful. (To be totally fair, however, it is possible I got a shipping notification email and it got directed to junk mail and I just didn't notice, but I don't think I did, because I try to check every now and then for that sort of thing.)

It's kind of sad that the business end of things seems to be handled so poorly, because the actual products are fairly reasonable for the cost.

Of course, now the the Staples stuff out, they may shortly have even more competition, if Staples produces more accessories to go with the Arc system.

If ...

Staples ever offers discs, covers, and a good punch, Rollabind will be skroood.
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"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

totally.

totally.

I agree.

Able to run out and pick up refills when you need them, no waiting for delivery or worrying when they'll turn up? No contest.

(Levenger might need to reconsider their pricing on some Circa elements, too. Not the fancy covers so much as some of the accessories - why would you pay $16 for 2 Circa Annotators when you can get functionally exactly the same thing from Staples for $2? It's not like plastic or design quality matters so much with something like that, because you pull the flags off, eventually you have no flags and it's used up. It's not supposed to last forever.)

(Of course, being Levenger, they'll probably just stop making even more accessories and come out with Yet Another color of leather cover or something. Why don't they at least make one leather cover design that's similar to the book cloth design, with the elastic strap? I would actually consider buying one of those. I love the elastic strap.)