B!tch Better Have My Money

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Dear Dharma, 

I am writing on behalf of someone else, and I hope to pass your advice on to her, as I don’t think she is a regular reader.  I know you hear that all the time, but this time it is true!

My mother had a long-time friend start acting in a way which has damaged their friendship quite severely.  I don’t know if it is even salvageable.

They owned a property together as an investment (mainly) for the friend and as both an investment and vacation getaway for my mom.  I don’t know the fine details, but they had a falling out over access to the property (which had never been an issue for 7 of the 8 years they owned it) and as they were unable to come to any kind of agreement, sold the property at the insistence of the friend.  It had been furnished at both their expense and quite nicely, with good quality furniture and fittings throughout.

As neither of them had space for a second household’s worth of stuff, they had a moving out sale and were going to split the proceeds.  The friend had a grand-daughter setting up a new apartment, and so the friend said she would take some of the furniture for her grand-daughter, and pay my mom her half of the cost.

It is 3 months later, and no money has arrived.  Many emails and voice mails have been sent and they are flat out being ignored.  So grand-daughter has a nicely furnished apartment, free and clear, and my mom is stiffed of her half of the cash.

They were friends for many years, and based on that, there was nothing in writing to say how these funds would be paid – it was taken in good faith that she would pay for the things she took.  Otherwise, it’s just called stealing, isn’t it?

What options does my mom have?  Does she talk to the grand-daughter directly?  Or to the girl’s parents, since the grandmother clearly isn’t going to do the right thing?

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Dear Two Wrongs,

Thanks, Rihanna, for using that as a title for me to use in the exact right situation!

Yikes, what an unfortunate mess.  Sad that a long-time friendship has ended and even worse that one side felt justified to leave the other in a lurch like that.

To take furniture or any tangible item and say you will pay for it and then flat out not is yes, basically akin to stealing, I would agree with that.

To ignore emails and voicemail shows a certain lack of character as well, non?  I mean, if she feels grounded in her actions, then own them, right?  Take a call, or answer a message and say piss off and stop bugging me, I’m not paying for these things.  I feel you owe me something, and this is how I’m going to handle it.

But to just go radio silent for 3 months?  Pretty weak.

I guess your mom has figured that out… and she’s probably figured out she doesn’t have a whole lot of options if there’s nothing in writing.  Yes, she could contact the person who has the furniture, or if she has a relationship with the parents she could try that too and hope someone steps up and does the right thing.  You would hope that someone in that family has the decency to look at this situation and say, you know what? Just because the friendship is over doesn’t mean you should steal, grandma.  But I don’t know, I have a feeling blood will run thicker than water in this case.

In situations like this I always think someone is going down in history as the a-hole, so maybe your mom should just write it off as a lesson learned and gracefully step aside to let her former BFF claim that title.

This also serves to illustrate the old saying that verbal agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on…

Dharma

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3 Comments

  • Dani says:

    I agree, Dharma that it is sad to see a long-term friendship end this way. And it’s really unfortunate that mom and ex-BFF didn’t have a detailed partnership agreement in place to determine how the partnership would eventually be dissolved (all partnerships must end at some point – either through selling the asset(s), incapacitation of one partner, or death).

    The current poll results say that talking to one of ex-BFF’s family members would be the way to go. I’m not so sure. Mom can certainly appeal to the ex-BFF’s family members’ sense of decency and fair play, but ex-BFF is the family matriarch, and apples don’t fall far from the tree. I’m not saying it’s not worth a shot, but I wouldn’t expect too much.

    Mom is now between a rock and a hard place with her ex-BFF. I’m gonna assume (yes, I know!) that we’re talking a few thousand dollars in furniture and not, like, $10K+. With nothing in writing it will be difficult and/or costly for mom to legally pursue this. (If we’re talking over $10K, tell mom to see a lawyer.) I’m also gonna assume that mom received a pretty good return on her investment (holding real estate for 7+ years in the current economy should generally produce a decent ROI) and that losing a few thousand dollars in furniture will not greatly impact mom’s quality of life going forward.

    Ex-BFF’s actions totally suck and if it were me I’d be totally ticked off, too. However, at the beginning of this partnership, mom did have a responsibility to herself to ensure that, in the long run, her own interests would be taken care of. And she didn’t.

    In mom’s corner, ex-BFF will always be the a-hole. In ex-BFF’s corner, mom will always be the a-hole, even more so if she pursues this matter. Nobody can win this one.

    Perhaps there’s a valuable lesson here about documenting partnership agreements, even with, especially with, friends and family, which will serve mom and Dharma’s readers well in the future.

    • Dharma says:

      Some really good points here… It must seem when you enter into a business relationship with a friend that documenting everything wouldn’t be necessary, as there such a high component of trust. But you’re right, every relationship comes to an end one way or another, and almost never under good terms.
      My guess is that it isn’t the amount of money that’s the burn, it’s the principal, and just the straight out dishonesty…
      Thanks so much for your comment – much appreciated!

  • […] first thing you need to do is read BBHMM.  This was a 30 year friendship, and at the end of the day with nothing in writing, it all went to […]

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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