Hobonichi

We talk a lot about great customer service in this community and I wanted to share a recent experience with Hobonichi where they really went above and beyond.

I moved to Manila in December, 2015, with the idea that I’d be going on an extended holiday, with some research work to keep me busy. Before long, I’d landed a role with one of the country’s top schools (De La Salle University) and taken on a few other projects to keep me busy, and needed a 2016 diary. I’d used the Hobonichi for the last two years and decided to order another one, direct from Japan to the Philippines. 

What I didn’t know was that the Philippine Bureau of Customs is widely regarded as one of the most corrupt agencies in a country that struggles with corruption. My parcel was held at Pasay City and several locals warned me that I’d probably have to pay an import tax, a release fee, and a bribe. Given I was Australian, that bribe might be substantial. I’d also have to get to Pasay, which would entail an hour or two in the unyielding Manila traffic, followed by several hours of waiting around. As you can imagine, this wasn’t an appealing option. 

Around the same time, I heard that Scribe – the fantastic Philippine retailer of pens, inks, and other delights – had Hobonichis in stock. On the one hand, I could pay for a second diary. On the other, I could waste half a day and pay a bribe. It was an easy choice, on both practical and moral grounds, and I figured that was the end of the matter.

Early this year, I had an email from Hobonichi saying my package had been returned by Philippine customs and asked if I’d like them to resend it. I explained the situation and said that a second diary (particularly an expired one) wasn’t of any use to me, and said they could dispose of it. They replied with an apology and an offer to send me a 2018 version as soon as they were available, free of charge (including shipping). I was thrilled and, needless to say, accepted the offer. 

My 2018 Hobonichi Techo Cousin arrived this morning and I’m thrilled to have it in hand. There don’t appear to be any major changes from the 2017 design: it’s basically the same format, with the same layout and the same Tomoe River paper.

I’ve been using the Hobonichis for years now and know what a wonderful product they are. It’s really heartening that the company’s service is just as wonderful as the product and, after this experience, I’ll be a Hobonichi customer for many years to come!