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Awkward
November 4, 2010 3:10 AM   Subscribe

Should I buy this jacket off my colleague? A work friend has a daughter my age who frequently shops at a market and has found a jacket that my friend thought would suit me. I tried it on and agreed... But now she wants to make a profit I'd rather not pay. Help me get out of it!

My older friend at work brought the jacket and enthusiastically suggested I try it. It has a big $20 price tag on it- the price she paid, second hand, at the market. I would estimate that it would cost around $120 normally... But the brand is overpriced and I wouldn't pay that! It's cute, and suits me, but is not something I need nor is it totally my style. I said I was interested because she's suggested these things before and it's sweet of her. I didn't want to keep rejecting things, and it was only $20. When she talked about it that morning she said her daughter was disappointed she'd brought It in. When I brought it up later to say I'd like the jacket I (jokingly, I thought) asked if her daughter was really okay with selling it. My friend had already said it didn't fit either of them so I thought assumed she was just being a bit theatrical. She is a bit. She talks a lot about little things. But then she
said yes but could we negotiate a price. I thought she had
misinterpreted me and thought that I'd thought she was giving it away
for free. So I said yes, sure. And she says that her daughter thinks she
couldn't 'let it go' for less than $30! she could def get that on eBay, apparently. I don't agree but nor do I care... Put it on eBay. I'm a bit
annoyed but in my embarrassment/confusion I said yes. That was today. Tonight (I had Bo cash) I want to take it back! We couln't afford it either way and I feel like it's kind of mean to spin a profit out of me. Not that it necessarily matters, but she is fairly wealthy, and I'm not. Any ideas on how to politely get out of this? I thought of saying my husband doesn't want me to spend the money, but that sounds a bit a)pathetic b)implausible, for $30! Sorry for the long story...
posted by jojobobo to Human Relations (25 answers total)
 
"Hey, sorry about coming across as flaky, but I changed my mind about the jacket. I can't give you more than $20 for it, so it's up to you whether you'd still like to sell it to me."
posted by halogen at 3:18 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but is not something I need nor is it totally my style.

Oh, sorry, I missed that part. Here's a better answer: "Hey, sorry about coming across as flaky, but I changed my mind about the jacket."
posted by halogen at 3:19 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"You'll have to let it go to someone else for $30." Grin.
posted by distorte at 3:25 AM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


How about this: "I changed my mind about the jacket, so I'm going to try your daughter's advice and put it on eBay. Or, would your daughter like to put it up for sale there?"
posted by Houstonian at 3:25 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no need to go into detail about it. Far easier to say "I've got far too many jackets already, I don't really need one more. And if she can get more on ebay, then she should definitely go that route instead of selling it to a friend and losing money!"

If you imbue this with all the drama of your question, it'll become a big deal. It's pretty simple, really - you changed your mind, no money has changed hands yet, and they haven't been anything more than mildly inconvenienced.
posted by twirlypen at 3:26 AM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's really no problem here. She's given you an 'out' - she can easily get that amount or more on eBay. Just tell her sorry, you can't afford $30 just now, so her daughter can go ahead and put it on eBay.

It would have been a bit weird had it been the friend who was trying to make a profit, but in this case it's her daughter, who you presumably aren't close friends with. I've bought and sold many things with friends-of-friends and friends-of-relatives - it's not unusual for a small profit to be involved.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:29 AM on November 4, 2010


Yep, she's given you an out. Good luck to the daughter and eBay.
posted by empyrean at 3:42 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify- I'm not under the misapprehension that this is an interaction of great psychological significance to either of us. But I was a bit taken aback-- annoyed is prob too strong, but I do think that if something is to be sold for profit it should be presented as such, which was definitely not the tone- I wasn't sure she expected me to pay for it at all though I was happy to-- and I think she felt uncomfortable/like it was a bit much as well. She's quite sweet and I'd like to avoid embarrassment, rather than being incapable of a blunt no!! Which I can totally do if no better phrasing arises... But I hadn't used my this week's mefi question, so if you have better ideas, please share!
posted by jojobobo at 3:47 AM on November 4, 2010


Echoing what the others said - I doubt there will be any hard feelings if you return the coat tomorrow.

My reading of the situation (which could be wrong) is that she brought the coat in initially with the plan of giving it to you or selling for the amount she paid (thus she didn't take the tag off). However, after she showed it to you, she called her daughter to say that she'd found someone to take the coat. Her daughter probably was upset as she had plans already to make money from the coat and told her mom she could get 'at least $50' or some such price on eBay. Your colleague maybe wanted to appease both of you - you get the coat that you said you wanted, daughter gets some profit.

I can see why you would feel a bit annoyed with the situation, but the good news is that I doubt your colleague was trying to trap you into buying something. She might even be relieved if you say you don't really want the coat afterall.
posted by brambory at 4:09 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"No thank you."
posted by fire&wings at 4:31 AM on November 4, 2010


I think returning it (or declining it if you don't physically have it) by saying "It is lovely, so she should definitely put it on Ebay and see how much she can get!" Would be the most face-saving. It's awkward, but if you at least pretend to see their side of it and don't make a scene of how much you suddenly hate it, it should be ok for everyone.

The up side: Maybe she won't offer you clothes again in the future. That in itself would bug me.
posted by parkerjackson at 4:48 AM on November 4, 2010


I said I was interested because she's suggested these things before and it's sweet of her.

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but this is just wrong.

It's not sweet to be bothered at work by a co-worker trying to sell you secondhand clothes you don't want. Sweet isn't part of the equation. The daughter is trying to make a profit off of you in her secondhand clothes business, and her mother's constant badgering about clothes wore you down until you felt guilty enough to say yes. The rest of the manuvering ("oh, I could sell that for more on eBay") is just salesmanship.

You should take the jacket back and tell your work friend that you don't want or need another jacket. Next time she suggests some other clothes, say no and keep saying no until she stops bothering you.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:16 AM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


If it had a $30 tag on it originally, would you have bought it for $30? If it had a $35 tag would you have bought it for $30? Is it about the jacket or the relationship? What if you put it on ebay and got $40 for it? Would you "enjoy" telling your colleague you made a profit?

Work relationships are weird because you can end up being sort of friends with people you normally wouldn't associate with, but they're weird from both sides, so the daughter doesn't see you as someone not to profit from. If it was a store, you'd have no reason to not reject (or accept) the jacket because there's no relationship in question.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:26 AM on November 4, 2010


I have a hard time parsing your story. I don't think it's strange that she would try to sell the jacket for a profit, nor do I consider a $10 markup on a $20 purchase to be too much. As you said, the jacket is worth substantially more when new, and some people make money this way.

However, if you don't want it, you should just say you've changed your mind. I would leave out any discussion of what you seem to consider a bait and switch, and just be wary of the situation in the future.
posted by OmieWise at 5:43 AM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you don't want it, tell her. She'll be making even more profit than that on ebay (apparently....), so there shouldn't be an issue. She'll be better off in the long term.
posted by Solomon at 6:09 AM on November 4, 2010


I do think that if something is to be sold for profit it should be presented as such, which was definitely not the tone

Well, there's two ways to look at it:

1) They are selling it at a profit, because the price they are asking is more than the price they paid for it, or

2) They are selling it at a loss, because the price they are asking is much less than they could make on eBay

I think that the only time an item is expected to be sold to someone else at the exact same price as it was purchased for would be if the person said "Hey, can you buy me [thing] and I'll pay you back?" All other times, there's really no reason to disclose how much money they paid for the thing.

I think the fact that you have a problem with telling people "no" is the real cause of all of this, frankly. What she did is kind of annoying, but it's not really all that bad. If you want her to stop trying to get you to buy clothes, though, you really do need to come out and actually tell her that.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:13 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I brought it up later to say I'd like the jacket I (jokingly, I thought) asked if her daughter was really okay with selling it.

Yeah, you are, in your embarrassment I assume, sending mixed signals. If you brought the subject up of your own volition (and I'm not sure how this could have been "jokingly"?), then of course she thought you really wanted it.

Just say (now and in the future) something like, your budget is tight and you're not in need of more clothes right now. If you think she's sweet, TELL her, "You're so sweet to think of me, but I really don't need it." There doesn't need to be anything awkward about this at all.
posted by torticat at 6:51 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually sort of feel like it was in bad taste on your co-workers part. I mean, even just bringing something to sell you at all, let alone for a profit, is sort of awkward in general in the work place.

It's not even for fund-raising, which can also be awkward (like, if you're the one in the office with no money to spare and you're turning down your co-worker's daughter's fundraising efforts when everybody else has bought two scented candles each.)

And on top of that, this woman, who happens to have some money, should have realized that she should be the one eating her mistake and give her daughter the $10 herself that she would have made in profit, if her daughter is so anxious to make the $10.
posted by smirkyfodder at 6:53 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you don't want it, don't buy it. If you want it, offer $25.
posted by electroboy at 7:19 AM on November 4, 2010


1- It isn't wrong to try and profit from the transaction. As long as everyone knows this is a buying and selling transaction and not a giving it to you one.

2- It's a little tasteless to leave the pricetag on, however.

2.5- On the other hand, it might just be cultural. Their family/culture might be all about this kind of thing, and leaving the tag on is showing that they aren't ripping you off. And doing it at work is just fine for them. Where it is a little off for some other people.

3- $30 isn't out of line.

4- If you haven't bought it yet, just beg off the deal. "You know, I slept on it and I just can't use it right now. Sorry for the inconvenience."

5- If you already have the jacket and gave her the money, I would try to see if she'd be willing to un-do the deal. But don't be surprised if they get weird on you. *IF* they really are the wheeling and dealing, profit over everything kind of people, offer to sell it back for $25. They will have made $5 for nothing, and will be thrilled. And you will have paid $5 to make an uncomfortable situation go away gracefully.
posted by gjc at 7:52 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you should just suck it up and keep the jacket and consider it a valuable life lesson. This way you don't damage a work relationship and don't seem flaky and indecisive. In the future don't get caught up in things like this, it really isn't worth it.
posted by meepmeow at 9:28 AM on November 4, 2010


"You know, I looked in my closet last night and saw I need to do a thorough de-cluttering before adding to my wardrobe / realized I don't need that jacket / was surprised by the number of jackets I have and don't wear / realized I'm out of closet space / was attacked by jackals and no longer have arms. I hope your daughter makes a mint on eBay!"
posted by thatone at 10:05 AM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do not have to buy the jacket. You can still get out of this AND nicely preserve the work relationship.
Just say you thought about it and that you frankly don't need it. Say you are sorry but that spending money on things you don't need makes you feel guilty, especially if it's on something that you won't get much wear out of. Plus, the daughter can probably sell it for more on eBay anyway.

(and everyone wins)
posted by Neekee at 12:37 PM on November 4, 2010


This seems pretty straightforward to me, too. Tell her, "hey, I'm only up for paying $20 so if your daughter wants to see if she can get more on ebay, she should go ahead and do that!"

Marking it up WAS tacky but eh... no biggie.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2010


If I want to give someone I work with something, I wouldn't ask for money. I;d find that awkward and inappropriate. But that's just me.

I might be misunderstanding this, but have you not already bought the jacket? If so, put it on eBay yourself.
posted by mippy at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2010


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