Archive for March 15th, 2012

Testing Boundaries

Once again, today is another double post to make up for lost time. If you are just visiting for the first time today, scroll down to the previous story to keep up with the timeline. Enjoy!


It had been a long work trip. I didn’t have any spare time for anything fun other than work. The one hour I had free, I spent on the treadmill trying to get back in shape for the rapidly approaching warm weather.

After my meeting, I sped to the airport. I wanted to get home so I could start my weekend off right. I began texting everyone back home to see what they were up to so I could be efficient with my time when I landed. I sent out a flurry of texts and received a few responses before taking off. I knew at least a few people were up for drinks at the bar. I also decided to take care of my pre-game at 30,000 feet. I ordered two scotch on the rocks to help get me started.

When I landed, I got more responses to my texts. Some people were too lazy to go out. They received harassing phone calls from me urging them to sack up and join the able-bodied and willing. It was no use. I also texted my Grindr friend who recently moved to Hoboken from the city — Much closer to me. I asked him if he wanted to check out the Hoboken scene. I warned him it would be all straight bars, but he was down.

I picked up some food at the airport I could eat in the car on the way home. When I arrived, I quickly showered and got dressed. My friend took a little longer to get ready, so I had to wait for him a bit. I was getting messages from my sister and friend who were at the bar waiting for my arrival. I told them to keep their pants on… I was en route.

I met my friend on the corner and walked with him to my local watering hole, McSwiggans. I told him about the bar as we walked. He asked how my trip was, and we continued the small talk.

I hadn’t told anyone I was bringing a guy with me. They were a bit surprised. But, I wasn’t bringing him as a love interest. I was bringing him as a new neighbor and friend. He didn’t know Hoboken, so I thought I could show him around a bit. I also knew he was normal enough he would fit in. I introduced him to everyone, and we got beers. I spent a lot of the night chatting with him, but mixed in with my friends/sister as well. As the night progressed, my sister grew more and more intoxicated. She started rubbing her a$s on me like she does with people when she’s drunk. It took a lot to get her to stop.

After some time, I got a text from one of my teammates from college. He was in town at another bar, so I gathered everyone up, and we made our way to Black Bear. He was there with his new girlfriend and her friends. When we arrived, I needed to relieve myself immediately. He came down the stairs and joined me standing in line to hit up the bathroom. After we all finished using the facilities, we made our way upstairs. My group grabbed a table, and my friend dragged me over to meet his group. He introduced me while my Grindr friend followed me. His girlfriend was already three sheets to the wind and shouted into my ear, “Is this your boyfriend?” I explained he was just a friend, and we all continued chatting. When I realized I was neglecting my other friends, we made our way back to the other table.

By then my sister was wasted, and she needed to go home. Luckily, one of the guys in the group who is utterly chivalrous, volunteered to escort her home since they both lived uptown. I said goodbye to both and was left with P and my Grindr friend. When my Grindr friend went to the bathroom, I explained my predicament to her. Until this point, we were just friends, but I wasn’t sure if maybe we could be more. I asked her if I should make a move.

“Why not!? What do you have to lose?” she asked. I told her I liked having him as a friend, and if I crossed that line, I wouldn’t have a friend anymore. I wasn’t sure which I would rather have. A new friend or a new guy to date. She still suggested I go for it. I decided I would make a game time decision later.

I felt like it was mine for the taking. He always seemed interested but who could really tell? I was purposely putting out the friend vibe, but I think if I escalated things, he would be interested.

The night was dragging on, and I was tired. We closed our tab and made our way for the door. P lived in the opposite direction of my new neighbor and I. Furthermore, we decided to stop at Cluck U and get a late night snack before heading home. When he asked if we were eating there or somewhere else, I volunteered to go back to my place.

When we walked into my apartment, we sat at the counter eating and talking. When we finished, he needed to use the bathroom. I moved over to the couch in hopes he would as well when he came back into the room. He didn’t get the hint. He sat back down at the counter until I suggested he join me in the living room. When he did, he sat in the chair next to the couch. This was going to take some work.

We talked some more before I finally moved to the chair and said, “I hope this isn’t out of line, but…” and I laid a big kiss on him. He totally kissed me back. It was great. Taking the risk paid off. When I pulled back, I asked him, “Did I surprise you?” “Well… YEAH! Of course I was surprised. I just thought we were going to be friends,” he replied. “I know. I was putting out that vibe on purpose. I wasn’t sure what would come between us,” I told him. He just smiled, and we kissed again…

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Ozzy Bonobos

Today, I am bringing you a tag team post created for you by myself and another one of my faithful Australian readers, J. Argenta. I hope you enjoy.

Recently, I posted about Bonobos. As a result, one of my readers, J. visited the site and did a little shopping.

“I’m one of his avid readers and couldn’t help but check out the Bonobos site after he spoke so highly of it! I found some great stuff on there, but when I got to the checkout and it was $91 to get stuff shipped to Australia! — More than the pair of pants I was going to get. I was basically a stranger and hoped what I was about to ask wasn’t too strange, but I asked if he wouldn’t mind placing the order for me and sending it over for me? I offered to transfer you the money to cover it all and do so before he placed the order. I just don’t happen to know anyone in America and figured the shipping would be cheaper this way. I knew it was a long shot, but I hoped he would be comfortable with this.” – J. Argenta

This posed many challenges. I wanted to help him out. I was totally game to do whatever I needed to do, but this would certainly force me to give up anonymity. He would need to know my name and address to mail me payment. I didn’t feel comfortable breaking down the fourth wall.

I thought about how else I could help. I knew as a blogger, I had a certain level of power. I could reach out to the Bonobos PR team and see if there was anything they could do. I sent them an email:

Hey there Bonobos PR team. 
I am one of your biggest fans (I bought the Shortboards – Lapis Lazuli and ABSOLUTELY love them! and have since bought some pants and hats because I love how everything fits me well. I digress) I have an odd request to make. I am a blogger. My blog mainly (but not limited to) attracts a specific audience, but one that fits well with the Bonobos brand — the gay community. You can check out my daily blog at onegayatatime.com. That being said, I love Bonobos products and am not shy about telling my readers about this. In one of my posts, I mentioned your brand and how much I enjoy it. Afterwards, I received an odd email from one of my readers in regards to your products. 
[I attached his original email]. 
I’m not 100% comfortable making this transaction for him, but I was hoping maybe by reaching out to him I could help him solve his high-priced shipping problem. I told him I would reach out to you and see what you could do for him. I work in media, so I know the value of word-of-mouth. You can expect me to continue to speak positively about your products in my blog and can be assured I will make special note if you find a viable solution for my reader. Thanks for your assistance with this issue.
I look forward to hearing from you!   
— O.G.A.A.T.

I was CC’d on an email to the Ninjas who take care of this, and they replied back, “Done. Thanks.” I was surprised how brief the response was, but I decided to wait and see what they sent to J. Argenta. I also asked them to keep me up-to-date with what they were doing so I could share the positive story. I got an email in response:

Sure no problem. Sorry about the curt email. Your message was forwarded to us from the PR team so I though I was giving her a direct reply. My apologies if that came off as short. I can definitely keep you updated. I didn’t know your friend/fan’s name but I shot him an email outlining our international shipment options (we actually pay for outgoing shipments but have to do it manually due to shipping negotiations and site shortcomings). 
Thanks for reaching out on this.
Cheers.  

— Nick

“I told O.G.A.A.T. they offer free international shipping, but because of ‘how the young program is and various logistic negotiations/planning/tweaking,’ Bonobos covers the cost of shipping manually in the form of store credit. Nick also said I would have to cover customs charges, but I’ve never had to do this with other international orders from other sites. I’m not sure if other sites maybe cover this cost or just include it in their selling price.” — J. Argenta

I emailed the Ninjas again and told them the issue:
Because of this, I think you may be losing a sale and a customer, and I am disappointed in how this problem is being handled. I was hoping to report a viable solution on my blog with a happy story of great customer service to match a great product, but as of now I can’t do that. A store credit of $91 doesn’t sound like a viable solution to me. The problem would just represent itself when he attempts to apply said store credit. I would hope you would further investigate this issue or possibly escalate it to a higher level. I look forward to hearing a happy ending to this story.
Thanks for your help!

This is when Nick really went above and beyond to clarify the situation and make sure he had a satisfied customer. He quickly sent me a reply:

Hey again,
Let me start off by saying that I don’t think your friend will have to pay duties. Sorry about the confusion here. I think maybe there was a miscommunication on our part. Basically the deal with customs is that we (or any company/site/vendor) have no control over duties and customs charges. These are determined solely by the host countries and reimbursing recipients for customs/duties is a legal ‘iffy’ area.
[He then went into detail on international shipping and customs policies, as well as breaking out costs and examples].
So basically our feeling was since we lack the ability to predict or control customs costs in other countries we would make it up to the customer by not charging them for international shipping a la the store credit option. I think the confusion here might have been due to when and how the store credit is applied.
The idea was that the most viable way of compensating for our systems/logistics shortfall was to offer a free shipping service until we could finalize a partnership with an international shipper.
Sorry for the long-winded email, I just wanted to make sure I was specifically answering your concerns in regards to, “The problem would just represent itself when he attempts to apply said store credit,” since the store credit actually resolves the problem of shipping costs, not make it worse.
I know it’s a bit of hassle if you’re an international customer which is why we really do try to do as much as we can at the moment given the resources available to us. It’s a big headache on our end as well as we would love to develop an international customer base (pants = the universal language). It’s just proven to be a much bigger bag of worms than anticipated and therefore has been much slower going in terms of negotiating with a shipping agent.
The short answer for your friend is that he will only pay for his clothes, we will cover shipping, and as far as I can tell he won’t have to pay for duties (though again, my knowledge of Australian customs law is cursory at best). The only catch is that he has to shoot us a quick email or give us a call so that we can drop the credit to cover shipping into his account. 
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot us another email or give us any feedback. I always love talking shop. 
All the best.
— Nick

I was duly impressed, and I let him know:
Hey dude. Thanks for the explanation. I indeed appreciate the long-winded email. You know your sh*t. I also appreciate the time it took to write and explain. I’ve passed along the info to my reader. I will continue to give nothing but rave reviews going forward of Bonobos and will not the extra effort you made to make a customer (and myself) happy.
THANKS!

He replied once more:
No problem dude. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We’re definitely a little behind the eight ball when it comes to international shipping so your (and your friend’s concerns) were well founded and we appreciate you keeping us honest. We’ll be in touch and feel free to give us a holler any time you have a question.
Best.
— Nick

I relayed this information to J. Argenta to make sure he knew how this would go down.

“I finally understood what they were talking about. It all sounded good! All this for a pair of pants! But, I thanked O.G.A.A.T. for being so persistent and placed my order. It’s nice to know there are people out there willing to help out a stranger in need (of some new pants).” — J. Argenta

I was happy to hear the transaction come to a positive outcome. I am happy to bring the story to you and highlight Bonobos customer service on this issue. They once again proved they are a company with not only top notch products but also top notch service. They really went above and beyond to help an Ozzy out who needed a pair of pants…

I’m Jason by the way. I live in Australia, obviously! Hello! I’ve got a blog as well — Not one that I advertise much at all, but I’ve sort of been branching out a bit with it lately. Not sure if it would be your type of thing — It’s a bit random really, just about everyday goings-on, and things that I find interesting like racism and gay-related things. I wrote my own little gay life story a few posts ago after coming across so many gay-related blogs. Anywho, check it out if you like — jaargenta.blogspot.com – and I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

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