Group vacation awkwardness help!
November 14, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

How to best deal with my friend inviting someone I don't like to join us on vacation?

I have a core group of 4 friends who I often vacation with. In general, I handle the logistics, book the house, etc., and get reimbursed. It's always been expected that friends/SOs are welcome, and miraculously, we've gone through almost 20 trips without an issue. Until now.

On our last trip, Friend A invited her good friend Q, who subsequently failed to pay her share of expenses. The amount was fairly trivial, and it's possible that A didn't fully communicate that reimbursement was expected, so I just let it slide. However, we're now planning a more elaborate trip, and A just mentioned that Q would like to come. I'd prefer that this not happen, as I would be out far more money if Q again declines to pay me back. Plus the experience has soured me somewhat on Q.

As far as I can tell, I have the following options:

1. Make up an excuse for why Q can't come. (This would be considered very unusual, as we've always been a welcoming group).

2. Tell A that Q was kind of a deadbeat, and that I'm uncomfortable extending an invite to her.

3. Tell A that Q can come, but ask for a deposit beforehand.

Is there another option I'm missing? My priorities here are to preserve my relationship with A (who is sweet and kind and one of two non-family members my toddler asks for by name), and to have a good vacation.
posted by snickerdoodle to Human Relations (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
2. "The last time Q joined us, it didn't work out that well. Remember how she stiffed us for money? I just don't think she's a great fit for the way you and B and C and I do group vacations."
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2012 [14 favorites]

As a possible option, maybe not demand a deposit but say something like "Sure she can come, but she has to be 100% clear on the amount and be able to pay it." Something that makes it explicit that there is a monetary amount that is required. And also, maybe get assurances that the friend that invites her will cover it, if nothing else.
posted by Eicats at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2012 [11 favorites]

3 is a good option. Be completely upfront about why: I don't mind if Q comes, but I want her to pay me up front. I had to eat (part?) of her travel costs from our trip to awesomePlace in monthOfYear and I can't afford to do it this time.

Give Q a chance to unsour themselves with you. Things happen.
posted by royalsong at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2012 [22 favorites]

Well, you mentioned that you just let it slide and that there may have been some ambiguity. You could ask Q to pay up for the last trip.
posted by Perplexity at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you have no objections other that Q stiffed you, ask to be paid up front.

A should have no problem explaining to Q that all the money is due up front. If Q can't pony up, in full, when all the money is due in, Q can't go.

Be honest with A and explain that the small amount on the last trip was no biggie, but that you're not willing to pick up the slack this time.

Make it A and Q's problem, not yours.

You aren't being unwelcoming or difficult or a bitch. You're being smart.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2012 [10 favorites]

Is it that you don't think Q is good for the money, or that you don't like Q? Because don't blame the money thing when nobody was clear about it, if you just don't like the person.
posted by headnsouth at 2:09 PM on November 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

How about:

"A, on our last trip your good friend Q failed to pay her share of expenses. I didn't have a problem covering her share last time since the amount was fairly trivial, however I can't afford to do that for this trip. Can I count on you to cover Q's share this time if she fails to pay her share?"
posted by RichardP at 2:10 PM on November 14, 2012 [23 favorites]

Do you dislike Q, apart from her failing to pay? If so, tell your friend that you'd rather just go on vacations with the usual suspects.

Otherwise, tell your friend that Q didn't pay last time, and that you didn't bring it up because it wasn't a lot of money. "I want to pay just my own expenses. What can we do so that I don't need to pay her way ahead of time?"

If you tell A how you want it handled, she's more likely to object.
posted by wryly at 2:12 PM on November 14, 2012

Start with option 2 using the verbiage others have suggested, then move on to 3 if Friend A insists that Q come along.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2012

It's not really clear from your question that Q even knew that she was supposed to pay. I think it's unfair to make this kind of judgement about someone when you admit that you don't know if they were aware that they were supposed to pay, and you didn't follow up with them to make sure they were aware of this.

Just send out a message to everyone up front that this trip is likely to be more expensive than the last one, and that you will be sending everyone a list of what they will owe you after the trip, but you estimate it will be X amount. This way, Q will be fully aware that she is expected to pay back her share of expenses.

Now, if you know for a fact that Q was aware of owing you money, and just refuses to do it, that is a whole different story, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
posted by markblasco at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Do you not like Q or do you not like Q for going with you on your trip?

If it is the money thing, be upfront with your friend and make certain that friend will be responsible for getting money from Q to you.

If you don't like Q then be honest about that. Say, she rubs me the wrong way. I don't want her to go. You don't have to welcome everybody. If this creates drama then so be it. All the other trips were successful and drama free, they can't hold just this one against you.
posted by myselfasme at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would be HORRIFIED if somehow I neglected to pay my entire portion of a trip. Does she even know she's in arrears with you? It sounds like no. If you don't like her, that's a whole other ball of wax, but you can't hold a debt against someone who doesn't know she owes it.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:44 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify, Q definitely got a bill, and responded with a "thanks for the great trip!" but never paid or responded to the follow-up. Then I had a baby and got really distracted, so I never told A what happened.

So I don't know what A told Q in terms of how we do things, but I never told Q beforehand that she'd have to pay for her share of lodging and expenses.

It's true that I didn't enjoy hanging out with her, but it wasn't bad enough that I wouldn't vacation with her again if she'd paid up.

Thanks for all your input, folks!
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:02 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

#3, except I would not ask for a deposit, I would ask for the full cost of Q's trip beforehand. Anything less than the full price would not be accepted.
posted by elizardbits at 3:18 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

She got a bill and didn't pay? Hell no. You are being generous about her intentions, but as someone without a lot of cash, you ask BEFORE you go on the trip. Assuming other people are treating is beyond rude. Getting a bill would embarrass anyone for whom this was an honest mistake and they wouldn't try to accompany you without at least apologizing. Getting a bill, ignoring it, then asking to go again? Hell. No. Tell your mutual friend that her friend is coming across like a huge mooch freeloader and she needs to pay for the last trip before you'll even consider her for this one.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:18 PM on November 14, 2012 [15 favorites]

What Q knew was A's responsibility, as A extended the invitation. Q was informed of her obligation to pay, and ignored it.

I organize a lot of group activities that involve cash outlay, but I'm also a very straightforward person. Thinking about similar situations in my own group, I would handle this with the following script:

"A, can we talk? I appreciate that you enjoy Q's company and want to invite her to join our vacation again, but I have to admit that I'm uncomfortable with that. Last time, she ignored the bill I sent her, and in the wildness of Baby Snickerdoodle's arrival, I wound up just eating the cost. I didn't have the energy to beat her down for the cash, and frankly, I don't think that should be necessary. So given that Q didn't pay her share, I'd prefer not to include her again. What do you think we should do?"

And then give A the conversational space to think about this and respond. With this knowledge, A may very well decide she doesn't want to invite Q after all. If A does still want to include Q, make it a requirement that Q pre-pay, or that A pre-pay on Q's behalf, because you're not willing to be stiffed again. As the organizer, it is perfectly fair for you to say that you are willing to do x, y, and z, but not to deal with a, b, or c.
posted by amelioration at 3:19 PM on November 14, 2012 [25 favorites]

It would help to know how much of a "trivial" amount we're talking about, and what kind of bill you sent her. I think the very first step is you tell A that Q never paid for the last trip, and see where it goes from there. You never know-- maybe A promised to cover Q's trip, and A is the one who forgot to pay up.
posted by acidic at 3:25 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know what good it does not being straightforward about everything. I would say to A "Q never paid me for the last trip, so she's not welcome" or "Q never paid for the last trip, but if she pays for that plus this trip in advance, she can come"- depending, of course, on whether you want Q to be there or not.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:57 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Gosh, I wouldn't even debate this one, I would tell A: "Sorry dude, Q never paid me last time for any of her share, I don't want her coming again."
posted by smoke at 4:11 PM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would go with option 2.

The same thing happened to me a year ago where I was planning a trip and someone invited their friend that I really did not trust or like at all. I just told them that I planned the trip, I was on the hook for everything and that I am uncomfortable with the idea of being on the hook for this particular girl.

It went down pretty well - everyone agreed that it was my prerogative to deny her a place on the trip because I did plan and handle everything. Nobody got into a fight over it and we had a great time.
posted by cyml at 5:09 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it would be incredibly awkward to ask Q for a deposit. It's basically saying "you're not my friend and I don't trust you." I would avoid doing that for a group trip. Can A afford to cover Q's share and would you take the money from her? If so, I think the scripts above telling her what happened last time and asking her to guarantee the money are good.

But if you wouldn't feel comfortable accepting the money from A or don't think she'd be able to cover it, then you need to decide if any sort of explanation would make you willing to trust Q again. If there is you can tel A, "Listen, she didn't pay up last time and I'm not really sure what happened. I'm not really willing to front the money for her again without knowing what happened last time."

If the explanation is that she's a flake, then I think you need to ask for a deposit/say she can't go. But it would be my last resort.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 5:11 PM on November 14, 2012

I would tell A that Q can come if and when she pays for the previous trip. And when that debt's been paid, she'll need to pay a deposit for this one. You don't have to bad mouth her or say anything at all negative. You can even be very positive and excited, telling A "It would be really fun to have Q along! But she has to pay up for the last trip first. And pay upfront this time so I don't get stuck again, haha."
posted by raisingsand at 5:25 PM on November 14, 2012

You have no obligation to include Q. Tell A she stiffed you last time and you aren't interested in getting into drama or debt collection, and that you're going to only invite people you trust.

You've achieved something unusual in getting a group of people together who can regularly travel and vacation together and rely on each other and enjoy each other. Don't let it become a stressor because of Q.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:07 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tell your friend that Q can come if your friend pays you for the two of them and Q reimburses your friend. That way, any stiffing that happens does not involve you.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:13 PM on November 14, 2012

Just tell A since Q didn't pay her portion last time, she will not be invited again.

Since you and A are good friends, here's what I hope will happen after you level with A:
1. A will apologize profusely and say that she had an arrangement to take care of Q's bill and simply forgot and offer to pay you now, or
2. A will realize that Q was an inconsiderate mooch and drop the subject forever.

Either way, you're placing the ball back in A's court where it belongs. You have enough to deal with from organizing everything. There's no reason whatsoever you should have to stress over chasing down people for money. Even if Q says that she'll pay in advance, I wouldn't like it. It could still cast a weird pall over the trip with one or both of them feeling resentful. Yech. Too much drama. Who needs it? Stick to your original trusted group and let A and Q do something together on their own time (and dime).

(Besides even if A did intend to pay for Q's portion last time, Q should have had the good manners to tell you so after she received the bill. Thanks for the great trip? Ugh. No.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:24 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow. I can't imagine going on a vacation and NOT expecting to pay my share (only exception would be with a parent or grandparent). Then not paying up when specifically asked about it on two occasions? Completely unacceptable. You actually sound way more calm about this situation than I would be. :)

But, being nice extends only so far. I think you should just tell A about the situation and be honest about everything you've written above. No question that you are in the right to not want to front someone significant money when they've stiffed you in the past, and A should absolutely understand that.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:01 PM on November 14, 2012

"Sure - that'll be (trivial amount from last trip plus share from this trip), pre-paid by the end of the week."

(Also, since curiosity killed the cat, feel free to post an update on how it went)
posted by tatiana131 at 7:59 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think it would be incredibly awkward to ask Q for a deposit. It's basically saying "you're not my friend and I don't trust you."

Q has not exactly proven herself trustworthy.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:48 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks again, everyone -- you all helped me think this through in a more rational way. I marked the best answer since I wound up using pretty much that exact script, and A was both apologetic and understanding, and agreed that Q wasn't a good candidate for this next trip. FWIW, the total amount owed from last time was less than $200.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:45 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm glad you were able to handle this assertively and satisfactorily. For posterity/future Asks, in college I had a friend who was notoriously bad about paying people back-- a great and loving friend, but just terrible with money. In the future we refused to loan her money and only covered her share when she paid us a deposit in advance, and she understood, and all went swimmingly for the next few years. The major difference being that this person was a core member of our group, so the dynamic was more forgiving than dealing with a semi-stranger who just inexplicably didn't pay.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:22 AM on November 16, 2012

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