Reviews

The Emperor’s New Pants: Addendum Deux

Man this story just keeps going.

After being offered yet another different set of pants, I just asked for a refund. I’d say I asked politely, but I did say that I had enough of their company’s incompetence, which I think now was pretty rude. I hope the customer service rep didn’t take it personally.

This refund was granted, and I was notified that I would see the refund on my credit card account in the next 10 days. They offered me a discount of some sort on my next order, which I politely declined and sent them a link to this blog, just so they know it’s out there. I don’t plan on ordering again, and furthermore I don’t want to complain for free stuff. I just like writing about these things, and I hope I can provide a service that people enjoy. I actually want to like these products. I’ve got some socks that I’m going to rave about next week.

Alright! It’s over! I can go buy pants somewhere else.

But then today, I get a message from “Grace, Head of Customer Experience at Mott&Bow”. Among the apologies and fluff pieces, they tell me that they shipped the pants last Wednesday. Note that I didn’t get a shipping notification, I didn’t get a message that this happened, I didn’t get anything. I look at my account, and all of my orders are Cancelled. However this email says they will be here on Friday, and there is a FedEx tracking link attached (SmartPost again…great job guys). I wanted a refund, I was granted a refund, and then somehow now I’m getting pants again. Pants are not money. Not in this economy.

Now, in my previous addendum, you may remember they said they were out of these pants. Somehow, they found a pair that same day without telling anyone. Which means, almost certainly, that they took someone else’s order and sent them to me instead, because I complained. So if you’ve come across this post because you’re wondering what happened to those pants you ordered, I’m truly sorry about everything you’re about to go through. If I could ship them directly to you I would. You might as well just do the charge back now.

This company is insufferable. I don’t even want to wear these pants on the off chance they fit well and look nice, because I don’t want anyone asking me where I bought them.

Uncategorized

Should I Talk About the Economy?

Economies are really interesting to me. The sheer number of moving parts, the intricate partnerships, the realpolitik, it’s all great. But the math! The math of large economies is beautiful. Economics graph human emotion.

What do I mean by that? Well, it’s no secret that the whims of market economies are heavily based on confidence: how the public at large feels about companies, industries, and the economy itself as a whole. And yet, we’re able to describe that base human emotion in numbers, on a grand, country-wide scale, and then make predictions based on those numbers in order to grow. That is incredibly cool, and a really interesting subject. I’d love to talk about it. I’d love even more to learn more about it.

However, it’s also one of the most divisive topics on the internet. I’m not sure how that happened; discussion of fiscal policy should not make this many people’s heads catch on fire. It’s just not in the normal person’s purview, and it takes a lot of time and reading in order to really understand. Red Team/Blue Team politics have made your local restaurant line cook have insanely strong opinions on the tax code implications on solar panel companies. It’s, quite frankly, weird. It shouldn’t be this way. Somehow, AM radio and cable news networks found a way to make economics interesting to the common man, and I think they did that by removing all the intricacies, and just telling us what to think.

So, I don’t really want to talk about how Trump is going to bring jobs back (He won’t, because that’s not how jobs work), and I don’t want to talk about how Bush or Obama or Clinton caused the 2008 crash (They didn’t, at least not directly). There’s not a ton of use in blaming political figures for economic distress: they all tend to do what they think is the right move, given the situation and the input from advisers they have at the time. They do not have magic 8 balls, they can only plan so far into the future. And really, the only thing they can really do to change anything is instill confidence in the system, in whatever way the public needs at the time. There’s that human emotion again, popping up where we least expect it.

But I would love to talk about how jobs are created (really interesting!), or diving into misconceptions about taxes (no, you can’t take home less money by getting a raise, in 99.999% of cases), or even discussing the basics of US economic policy and how it relates to its diplomatic and military interventions in other countries (stability is the name of the game). Talking about deficit and debt at scale is really interesting.

But what I don’t want to hear is political talking points if I write things you disagree with (or even agree with). Talking points are filler: They are tailored to shut down rational discussion of policy; to say “no, you’re wrong”, without taking the time to figure out why. If you heard it on Rush Limbaugh or MSNBC, it’s probably shortsighted, and you probably haven’t actually thought about far reaching implications. Those shows are entertainment: they are structured to be fed to the lowest common denominator. You’re not that, are you?

So I guess the question is in the title. Should I write about this? I haven’t decided.

Reviews

The Emperor’s New Pants: Addendum

An Addendum (January 18th, 2017): Mott and Bow has sent me an email that, due to an inventory miscount, they do not have the jeans that I ordered. At this point, I think it’s possible that this company only has one pair of jeans that they ship to each customer. As soon as they find someone that they fit, they will promptly shutter their doors.

Reviews

The Emperor’s New Pants: Mott & Bow

I’m not what you’d call high fashion.

I wouldn’t mind being more fashionable; I have nothing against the concept. But, I lived in a beach town for many years, and wearing a blazer would get you questioned about whose funeral you attended. I knew one guy that bucked tradition and wore suits out, and he pulled it off, but he was definitely the odd man out. I’d rather blend in, just in case I need to make a quick exit. You never know when you need to not be noticed. So, jeans and t-shirts. It always works.

People dress a bit better here in Austin. Sure, it’s nowhere near New York or Western Europe, but there is some sense of hipness and style among the hipsters that does not go unnoticed among the aforementioned jeans and t-shirt guy. I sometimes yearn for that stylistic eye. I want to layer. Hats are a mystery that I’d like to solve.

Not so much that I would actually go to stores and buy clothes, however. There’s way too much that goes into that, and I’m a busy man. I’ve spent many hours walking through malls and finding small shops, just to find a pair of jeans that fit nicely and won’t fall apart. I can’t do it. How do they do it???

I found Mott and Bow (pronounced like the applesauce and the front of a boat, respectively) on one of my daily treks through posts about politics and Thanksgiving. I had been needing new jeans for a while; my fiancé has a simmering hatred for one of my three pairs of jeans that I currently wear, which she mentions every time she notices they’re on. I needed new pants, if only to replace these baggy old ones, and Mott and Bow looked ready to provide.

I felt like searching through their website was easy from a product standpoint. However, for a person that is maybe not as stylistically inclined, differentiating between the products was something of a catch. I can see that the things are slightly different colors, but I can’t really tell why those things have different names. The cuts, I get. I know what a skinny jean is, and I know that as a large man I’d better stay away. I went with the strait leg, which is a style I’ve worn before. I ordered the “Rivington”, because I liked the color. I paid 88 dollars after tax, which is a little expensive, but not the most I’ve ever paid for jeans. I feel like jeans are a thing you should spend more on, because they end up lasting a very long time.

Buying jeans online is a risky venture. You have no idea how the jeans will fit. Luckily enough, though, Mott and Bow offers a “try-on” option, where they will actually ship you 2 pairs of jeans, you try on both, and then return one for free with the sticker provided. That is a superbly cool idea. However, these pants had no sizes close to mine, so the try-on option was a no-go for me. I wanted “Rivington”! I wanted it now!

Shipping took forever. I chose the base shipping, which I found out afterwards is SurePost, meaning UPS ships to USPS and USPS delivers to your door. This ended up taking 16 days to get to me from Order to Received. That is an absurdly long time to wait to try on pants. If I would have known, I would have sprung for the 2 day shipping option, but even so…you’re sending 90-100 dollar products through the mail, Mott and/or Bow, how about we get traditional ground shipping, at least?

And then the worst news. They didn’t fit. They weren’t even close. They made me question my reality: I went and checked the sizes on other pairs of jeans I owned. Yes, I ordered the right size. For those who don’t know, men’s pant sizes are actually measurements, so I’d expect it to at least be close. It was not close. After 16 days of waiting, I had to return them.

The product seemed really solid. I would have liked those jeans. One more thing I noticed on the washing label is that these were something called “Raw Denim”. I had heard that term before, but to me it was shrouded in mystery. I read that I was supposed to hand wash these jeans. And that, my friends, is where I said “Nah”. I’m not hand washing anything, this is what machines are for.

The return process was seemingly easy. I went online, marked that I wanted to return them, and then put the sticker back on the box and dropped it off at UPS. Pretty straight forward. Mott and Bow then sent me an email a few days later, asking for a review, and I gave them the honest truth: They didn’t fit, and I wasn’t going to hand wash jeans, so I’d rather just return them. To my surprise, they replied. The nice people at Mott and Bow said they had another pair of jeans, something called a “Mosco”, that was similar to the “Rivington”, but stretchier so it should fit better, and didn’t need hand washing. I still needed jeans, and this customer service rep had just gone above and beyond. This all happened on December 13, 2016.

So I waited. And waited. Through Christmas, through New Years, I waited for these jeans to be delivered. I checked my account, still pending. I finally followed up with an email 3 weeks later. “We are very sorry, we had an issue with our processing. Your returned jeans have been received, and we should be sending out your new jeans shortly. Please take a 10 dollar credit for your next pair as our apology“. Awesome. I waited. And waited. I emailed again, a week later. No response. Wait a few more days. Today, January 16, 2017, I called. “We don’t see any problem with your account, I’m not sure why they haven’t been sent”. After threatening to do a charge back on my credit card, today they have set my jeans “Ready to ship”. If the timeline sticks, I’ll be trying on a new pair of jeans that I wanted in November sometime in February.

But hey, they gave me a 10 dollar credit on my next pair of jeans. If I order now I might have them in time for shorts weather. Maybe they sell cutoffs.

Mott and Bow has the illusion of great customer service in an online company. They have responsive CSR’s and a great save the sale technique, which should really be admired. But it seems like they have forgotten the biggest thing you can do in customer service is get your product in front of the customer in a timely manner. Without that, none of the other stuff matters. I won’t be ordering again. I wouldn’t suggest anyone else order either.

 

Reviews

Ink+Volt Planner: For the New You?

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life wasting time.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t regret any of the time I’ve spent doing nothing. I’ve loved most of my nights sitting at bars coming up with grandiose ideas of how I’m going to spend tomorrow. But most of the time, I can’t even get my car washed, let alone get a new web app off the ground. I have big dreams, but I’m too scattered to follow through with a lot of them. My car remains dirty.

So I recently decided to make a few life changes. It being the new year, you might think of this as a resolution. And, yeah, sort of. I always thought resolutions were a way to get naive people to buy gym memberships, but I’ve come to understand why they exist: it’s damn near impossible to get into any sort of routine between October and January. I’ve made it a point to try to become more productive, especially outside of my day job. I made this decision back around Thanksgiving, but getting into a real routine has proved difficult until now.

I started by downloading the Audible.com android app and listening to David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I took the book recommendation from CGP Grey on YouTube. No, I’m not sponsored (Update: I got an Amazon Affiliate link later). Audible’s a nice system, though, and yes you should check it out if you haven’t. And CGP Grey seems smart. In this book, Allen talks about leading a productive and stress-free lifestyle by getting your thoughts organized. He has a specific system that I’ll be customizing for myself over the next few weeks. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but you’ve got to read these plot twists in chapter 10.

I’m kidding, I haven’t finished listening yet. Routine is hard in the Fall, remember?

So, an ad came up on my social media feed for a company called Ink + Volt, selling a planner notebook for the new year. I’m not a guy that normally writes things down. I usually just try to remember everything I’ve ever thought of, which seems feasible because all those thoughts came out of the same brain I’m trying to remember them from. Or I store them in some sort of electronic message to myself to halfheartedly search for later when I’m sitting around binge watching Supernatural on Netflix for the 4th time.

However, David Allen says this is a really dumb way to live your life, and causes stress where there doesn’t need to be. I’m inclined to agree, because he’s got a helpful, but authoritative reading voice.

Anyway, back to this planner. New year, new me, lets start writing stuff down. So I go to their site, and it’s a pretty standard “startup-ish” website, with the B-roll video background, and then products. They have a newsletter, which I understand is a way to get email addresses for direct advertising, but I’m trying to imagine the person that says “yes, keep me up to date on all the advances in the notebook world”. I’m trying, because I can’t imagine that person. Are you that person? Let me know in the comments.

So the planner is $40.00 plus $6.75 Ground shipping. That is a lot to ask for what amounts to an empty book. A book this size full of stories can be bought for $10. I did it anyway, for you, dear reader. It was always for you.

Their checkout page has some things that annoy me. I’m nitpicky, because I’m a developer by trade that has made literally a million different checkout pages, and by “literally a million”, I mean nowhere near that many but still a lot. All the text boxes have CSS that turns the mouse cursor into the pointer hand. This is off-putting. I know that hand is sweet, but keep it in your buttons, boys. Also the error messages are badly aligned.

shiterrors

When I went to check out what the issue was, though, I found this sweet pigeon.

pidgeonwisdom

So, you know, all is well in the world.

It looks like they took some time off shipping for the holidays, so even though I ordered the week before Christmas, I was informed that I wouldn’t be getting it until after January 1st. I was okay with that, it was on the sales page before I checked out. However, someone came back early, and I got my $40 blank book sometime between Christmas and New Year’s. I have no idea how fast, because I was out of town, but that’s some damn good service.

Now, as for the planner itself. It’s very nicely put together.

inkvolt-outer.png

It’s got 2 of those tails for holding your place! It’s wrapped in whatever they used to make encyclopedias out of, and the paper inside is top notch for writing. The screenshots on the website really don’t do this thing justice: It’s a really nice planner. But what you really paid for was Ink+Volt’s planning style, which comes highly recommended from the CEO of Ink+Volt. The pictures on the website don’t really show what you’re getting, so I’ll give a sneak peek.

inkvolt-year

First Page: Calendar. Always useful. Not much to say. The days are right, I checked.

inkvolt-yeargoals

The first section gives you a chance to write down what you’re trying to achieve this year. As you can see, my theme is productivity. I have blurred out my goals so you don’t have to look at my terrible handwriting. The achievements on the left are meant for looking back: You’ll fill this out when you’ve done a thing. This has made me motivated to do things, which I think means it serves its purpose. Each month, and each week, has a similar section to this that you fill out and revisit, to try to keep the user on track with their goals.So far so good.

inkvolt-weekly

Here you’ll see the weekly planning part, where it splits the week days so you can write your daily schedules. There are also note sections for each week. Also, there’s an inspiring quote for every week, which I guess is nice. It doesn’t get in the way or anything, and I imagine inspiring quotes just do it for some people. Somebody buys those office posters.

So, in the end, I’m really enjoying the few days I’ve had with this planner. I really am trying to give it a shot and see if I can organize my life a little bit better and be more efficient, and this really is an effective tool. However…$46.75 is a lot of money for something that can be replaced by loose leaf paper and a plan. I can’t say I’d recommend you buy one. If you have 50 dollars and nothing to do with it, this isn’t the worst investment you could make, and if you’re a person who really digs planners, this is a good planner.

Reviews

Trying Something New: The Grip6 Belt

I’m thinking of starting a blog trying out smaller companies’ products that I find on social media. This is me trying the style to see how I like it.

I found myself in need of a new belt recently. Usually this is because I’ve gained too much weight, but this time I was just getting tired of my old brown leather belts: I had 2, and both had aged and hardened to the point of cracking. They had those weird multi-colored bends on the notch you use all the time. It was time for a change.

At the same time, I was trolling Facebook and saw an advertisement for Grip6. If you haven’t seen these ads (not everyone gets the same ones), check out their website, you’ll get the vibe. They’re advertised as minimalist belts, and come in a variety of colors. I’m a guy that’s willing to take a chance, so I clicked the link.

The site gets right to the point. They know you’re there to look at belts to buy, so they show you the belts you can buy. That’s a great design. You’re given a mix and match option, pick a strap, pick a buckle color, pay, and you’re on your way. For an online store of this type, I can’t think of a better way to shop. They also have a few different ways to pick specific belt combos, and (new since I bought mine), you can buy the straps and buckles separately. The belt itself is modular, you can mix and match buckles and straps, so the ability to buy them separately is fantastic.

A full belt runs around 35 dollars. Considering its a minimalist belt, I originally scoffed at this price: it seemed high to me. But then I thought about all the belts I’ve bought throughout my life, and they all hover around that price. 35 dollars is how much a belt costs, and we need to come to terms with that fact. It’s not changing.

Shipping is through USPS. I received my belt (shipped out of their Utah factory) to Austin, TX in about 3 days, which is pretty good.

A small rant: For clothing, I think it’s preferred that companies ship directly rather than using something like FedEx SmartPost. SmartPost takes forever, and if I’m buying clothes, I want to know if I like the thing ASAP. If you consider your product high end, don’t use SmartPost.

So the belt itself. It’s design is very simple, just a hunk of metal:

orange-buckle

and a strap:

grey-strap

Slide them together, and the belt holds together with friction, and the extra strap length hides behind the the buckle/strap for a clean look.

orange-grey-full-belt

So, that’s simple and easy to manage.

I’ve been wearing this for a couple months now, and I actually liked it so much that I bought a second belt with different colors. The mixing and matching works perfectly. I can say that the black strap that I bought second feels slightly less stiff than the grey you see above. It’s not really a problem, the belt works exactly the same, just seems like the materials are *slightly* different. Your Mileage May Vary.

Another issue with this belt is coming out of the bathroom. It is just slightly more awkward to tighten, because of the way it works. You need to reach under the belt and hold the buckle perpendicular to your waist, then pull the strap through. I don’t know how to describe this, other than to say it’s less “fluid” than a normal belt tightening. Getting dressed in the morning is no big deal, but with a line behind you at the urinal you’re going to find yourself taking slightly longer than normal to adjust your pants, feeling awkward, and then possibly running away crying with loose pants.

…Not that that happened to me. But I have found it awkward sometimes to tighten the belt as tight as I would like. It takes some getting used to.

I’m not going to do a rating system on these posts. The next post is going to be on a pair of jeans I bought, and if I give this belt a 7 and those pants a 5, how do I quantify that difference? How much better is 2 when comparing a belt to pants? So I’ll just say that I absolutely recommend this belt if you’re looking for one.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think by replying to wherever you found this link!