should I ignore, laugh, or point out the inconsistencies?
March 2, 2013 12:03 PM   Subscribe

So for the past 1/2 year, on 4 occasions, a sort-of-friend has asked if I wanted her SUV while she was out of town. The deal was to meet at a specific corner, go to the airport w/ her to depart, and pick her up on return, dropping me off. A good deal for both of us; she avoids street parking problems, saves $$ on taxis, and (I guess) trusts that the truck is safe. I get to use it and the EZ Pass, fun and nice for errands and many short trips. I am always at the airport on time (w/ the truck washed, vacuumed, tank filled (never asked for, never acknowledged) Once for a month. The last trip, a week ago. Now, I get a bill for ALL the EZ Passes.

The other story here is her quest for a relationship, pursuing on-line dates, at one point ready to move to Paris and enroll her 16-yr daughter in school. That fell thru, but her quest continuous for a 'fuller' life and a man to worship her and take care of her. The conversation is mind-numbingly centered on her needs. Our 'relationship' was clearly as self-serving and manipulative as her other ones and I realize I fall into her narcissist concept of everyone being her servant, ok, I fume and (barely) act pleasant the short times together; seemed worth it. Once queried her on the insurance coverage, but she did not seem concerned. The agreement was never really spelled-out; so precedent and expectation served as form. First speechless, then angry, now bemused, I have not replied. Is it even worth it? Be logical and point out all the inconsistencies and her benefits? Talk of responsibility and maturity? How would a lawyer respond? I want to stay above water and remain conscious, but a person living in a bubble sees and hears only themselves. So with a simple, very pointed reply I should close this and participate no more. Any ideas?
posted by ebesan to Human Relations (61 answers total)
"I'm sorry, that won't be possible."

And then never speak to her again.
posted by HopperFan at 12:05 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

How much is the bill for?
posted by discopolo at 12:07 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

What do you mean you "got a bill for all the ez passes"? All the ones you used? All the ones that have ever been used? Got a bill from who? The person you borrowed the car from? The EZ pass company?
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:07 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

over $200-a spread out the past 1/2 year, from the 1st time
posted by ebesan at 12:09 PM on March 2, 2013

all her bills for 1/2 year, with my uses highlighted
posted by ebesan at 12:10 PM on March 2, 2013

from HER, obviously
posted by ebesan at 12:11 PM on March 2, 2013

I would refuse to pay it, citing no prior agreement to do so (and, if she presses it, the fact that the gas you put in and parking/taxi costs she avoided probably approached the total). Then, of course, end the arrangement. I'd probably also think twice before ever speaking to her again, but that's just me...

This reminds me of the time I agreed to apartment-sit for a couple for a week one summer and keep their fish alive, for a small fee. They were out of the country, so I couldn't get in touch with them, and I ultimately had to make the decision, in order to save the fish, to turn on their air-conditioning for most of the week they were gone. (They'd had the idea that my visiting the apartment every afternoon and opening the window for a while would do it, and the reality was much different.) Half the fish died anyway, and when they got back, not only did they refuse to pay me, they tried to stick me with the bill for the air-conditioning. I refused to pay it, and that was pretty much it for my sorta-friendship with them.

Long story short, there are costs associated with lending out one's property, and it's not your fault that she didn't foresee those costs.
posted by limeonaire at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2013 [12 favorites]

Is the $200 your share of the tolls or the entire amount? If it is the entire amount, cut her a check for whatever your share would be and then don't take her car in the future or set clear expectations for its use.
posted by Diskeater at 12:17 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pay it. You went through the toll regardless of whose car you were driving. As far as a clean car and a tank full of gas. I would expect that if I let someone borrow my car. The airport business is just chatter in this deal.
posted by Gungho at 12:18 PM on March 2, 2013 [37 favorites]

From your question it isn't clear if perhaps she highlighted your uses to indicate you should pay for those (and only those)? Doesn't that sort of make sense?

Regarding the part of the question below the fold: it sounds like this relationship has been mutually beneficial for both of you, in one form or another. You now no longer feel this is the case. Communicate about the bill issue, say goodbye and move on.
posted by Ms. Next at 12:19 PM on March 2, 2013

Assuming that the EZ pass expenses are for taking her to/from the airport, I'd be tempted to send her back the invoice annotated with what the cost for taxi service (using the standard rate to/from the spot you meet & the airport) and/or airport parking would have been for the times she's gone away, assuming either would exceed the EZ pass invoice, and then write at the bottom that you're pleased to see that she saved X amount of money by instead allowing you to use her vehicle.

But if the EZ pass expenses she highlighted were just for your "extracurricular" trips, I have to say that does sound - if a bit mercenary and not very friendly - fair.

If they're both, I'd do a combination of the above, paying for my personal uses but not for her "taxi" service related expenses.
posted by pammeke at 12:22 PM on March 2, 2013 [16 favorites]

The agreement was never really spelled-out
You glossed over this, and I think you aren't actually asking whether you should pay this... but I think you owe her for the EZ pass usage.

You don't like this woman but you tolerate her company in exchange for using her car. I don't think it's worth debating or trying to make a lesson out of it. Either pay it or don't pay it, but let the "friendship" and the arrangement go, as it's clearly not working for you anymore.
posted by sm1tten at 12:23 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

"The airport business is just chatter in this deal."

Um, no. Like Ms. Next said, it was mutually beneficial - she gets dropped off/picked up at airport, gets clean car with a full tank on her return.

If that's just chatter to you, I'll need you to stop by tomorrow and drop me off at work in my car - you can use it to run errands, but I'l expect you back at 5 with it shined up and full of gas. Oh, and air up the tires while you're at it.
posted by HopperFan at 12:23 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

When it comes to the EZ Pass, it seems reasonable for you to pay it. For example, if she wanted you to pay for part of the car tax/registration, that would not make sense, but if you had gotten a parking ticket while driving her car, it would be reasonable for you to pay it. It's unrelated to whether you had her car washed when you returned it, or not.

As for the friendship in general, it sounds like you don't enjoy it. Put your time and effort into things you enjoy doing.
posted by Pwoink at 12:25 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

If I understand the EZ Pass concept, it pays the tolls for you when you are driving? Of course you should pay them. You get the benefit of a free car, the costs of driving during that time should be yours, you aren't paying car payments, maintenance or insurance, right? How can you possibly argue that she should pay the costs of your trips, amounting to over $200? Seems pretty entitled to me. All the other things you are doing are the bare minimum that I would do if a friend lent me her car, regardless of the benefits she is gaining by doing so. I am firmly on your friend's side here, obviously. Her worst fault was not communicating her expectations clearly and upfront.
posted by yogalemon at 12:26 PM on March 2, 2013 [21 favorites]

i used the pass for my own use, so yes, one reading is to pay for them. But I assumed it part of the deal (my mistake, should have clarified) and think that if she objected, 1/2 year of monthly bills is a long time to wait to express it. Could have said 'I think there is a misunderstanding here...' a long time ago.
posted by ebesan at 12:29 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

The stuff about her daughter and moving to Paris -- that's not relevant, but your dislike for her seems to be influencing how you think about this.

This does seem like a good deal for both of you. A car loan for a month could potentially save you a lot of money (even if you wouldn't have rented a car otherwise). However, is it worth your irritation?

I'd suggest paying for your trips (not the airport trips). And then decide if that amount of money is too much or still makes this a good deal.

But, otherwise, let it go.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:33 PM on March 2, 2013

You should be paying the tolls except to/from the airport. Even if she waited 6 months to ask about them. And, yeah, of course you refill the gas. Cleaning it is nice, but not necessary.
posted by jeather at 12:34 PM on March 2, 2013 [18 favorites]

Obviously, she isn't just lending you her car to be nice, she's letting you use it when she doesn't need it, and getting free taxi and cleaning services on top of that.

Seeing as how some here think you should pay these tolls (and I do agree that her communication sucks) you could :

1. Send her the reimbursement for the charges.
2. The next time she needs a ride to the airport and offers to let you use her car - "No thanks. Have a nice trip!"
3. Never speak to her again. Why do you need someone in your life who "is mind-numbingly centered on her needs?"

$200 would be worth it to me to get rid of an annoying person.
posted by HopperFan at 12:34 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

If you racked up $200 worth of tolls, that's a fair bit of driving. Paying for your usage seems reasonable, if a little disappointing to you since you thought you were getting free tolls out of the deal. $200 for all that driving isn't much to spend, though, right?
posted by maniactown at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

So it sounds like you need to talk to her and say "I assumed that EZ Pass usage was part of the deal, just like my filling the tank and getting it washed every time was part of the deal. If that wasn't, then my bad for not getting it all clear up front, but getting six months of bills all at once as a surprise is a bit of a hardship for me. Let's work something out that's manageable for both of us."

And then either continue the deal with now-explicit rules, or not.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2013 [45 favorites]

Their are two separate stories being conflated here, which I think is obfuscating the path.

1) You have borrowed her vehicle and racked up some personal costs while doing so.
2) You don't really like her.

I think if you separate the two narratives the course becomes clear. If you used her credit card to buy gas for your own use while she was gone of course you would/should pay her back. An EZ pass is basically a credit card. You used it, pay her back for the part of your use that was not related to transporting her.

Do what you wish with your relationship with her, it is immaterial to whether you should pay her back or not. I have been around long enough to see two county fairs and a goat roping. I know when people don't want to pay money they owe others they tend to demonize them as justification.
posted by jcworth at 12:38 PM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

True, assuming that these are 6 monthly invoices she's sent to you, it does seem like something she could have clarified ages ago, but I wonder if the latest bill or two had higher expenses than previously? Perhaps she started to feel (however off-base that feeling might be) a bit taken advantage of? I also wonder if she recently received a large car-related (but not you-related) bill which made her re-examine her feelings on the subject. Regardless, although she could (and likely should) have clarified this deal previously, paying your own personal EZ pass uses while using her car seems (if unexpected and unpleasant) fair. As restless_nomad says, it would be well within your rights to express surprise over the delay in her clarification, although if you had been upping the ante on more EZ pass dependent trips over the past month or two, you may have your explanation there. It may also not be worth it to you to pursue the conversation if you prefer not to pursue the arrangement or her friendship.
posted by pammeke at 12:40 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

You have good reason to end your relationship with her, based on what you said in your second paragraph. Keep that separate from the toll issue.

Ask her about it. Tell her you're suprised to get the bill, because you understood that she would pay for the EZ pass. At least see what she has to say. Don't assume that she's intentionally going back on a promise.
posted by wryly at 12:40 PM on March 2, 2013

It is assumed when borrowing someone's car, that you pay the usage expenses: the gas and tolls you use. Seriously, tolls add up and you shouldn't expect someone else to pay for the tolls that YOU incurred. I spend about that much money on tolls every six months, and that is a LOT of pricey driving of the sort that I would not want to shoulder someone else with and would expect to pay.

However, your friend sounds like the sort of person who is constantly offering to do you "favors" that just end up burdening you over time, either because it results in personal trouble (like having to take care of someone's car) and also puts you "in the hole" in terms of favors you owe your friend.

I would only lend my car to the closest and most trustworthy of friends. At the same time, I would only BORROW a car from the closest and most trustworthy of friends. There are too many responsibilities and obligations associated with borrowing a car. She should not have lent the car to you, and you should not have accepted.
posted by deanc at 12:46 PM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

good points. and you are right, the chatter is self-serving on my part.
posted by ebesan at 12:53 PM on March 2, 2013

Yeah I think there are definitely two separate issues. One, that you don't really like this friend. That's fine. Two, that you thought using her car and her EZ Pass meant that it was free. Frankly I think that's crazy thinking. If her car came with, like, an automatic credit card that charges for gas put in, you would still (presumably) pay her back for the gas you used for your own purposes. You have the use of the car, the use of the EZ Pass (note: "use of the pass" means you can use the pass. You can drive around easier, you don't have to pay cash. Those are the "benefits" of having the pass. The benefit of the pass is NOT that you don't have to pay your own incurred tolls. WTF.) I guess she could have spelled it out more explicitly up front, but I really don't think I would have thought to explain this either... I would have thought it was obvious, and then started to be a little irritated over time as you didn't seem to be volunteering to pay me back.

So basically, pay your share of the bill, then if you don't like her, don't hang out with her anymore.
posted by celtalitha at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

Pay her and then don't talk to her anymore, since you obviously don't like her.

The way I see it, you got the benefit of using her car and not having to pay for wear and tear. She got the benefit of you taking her to and picking her up from the airport. That all roughly balances out. But why should she pay for your EZ Pass use? Why should she get stuck for your driving tolls? If you had paid cash, would you have tried to send her a bill? I doubt it -- and it amounts to the same thing.

She highlighted your uses and it sounds like that's all she's asking you to pay for. That's fair and something you ought to do.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

P.S. I think the fish example above is a little different; the reason limeonaire was running the ac was in the owner's interests - the lives of the fish. If limeonaire simply thought "hey, free apartment!" and stayed in the place for the whole week eating their food, running their ac and gas, and using their water, with no offer of reimbursement, I would fully expect the owners to be pissed.
posted by celtalitha at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I have a toll road pass in my car. If I loaned that car to someone, I would not want to pay for the tolls they incurred for their own convenience. It's kind of like letting someone stay in your house and them ordering on demand movies and expecting you to pay for them.
posted by cecic at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]

a person living in a bubble sees and hears only themselves

No foolin'. So, pay up for your share, with an apology for racking up charges and acting like you weren't racking up charges. I don't understand how you arrived at a place where you decided she should pay for your use of toll roads...? That seems really messed up and the whole thing reads like an entitled teen-ager having a squabble with a parent. I'm not even sure the communication was all that awful because it seems so odd that anybody would think somebody else should pay for their use of toll roads.
posted by kmennie at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

You expect her to pay all of your toll fees? That's crazy! What, do you expect her to pay for your fuel as well? You should definitely pay for what you incurred, then end the arrangement as you obviously can't stand her.
posted by Jubey at 1:08 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Highlight the ones from when you were driving the car, send her that amount of money, and end this arrangement.
posted by something something at 1:12 PM on March 2, 2013

First speechless, then angry, now bemused, I have not replied. Is it even worth it?

Yes. Being decent is always worth it.

Be logical and point out all the inconsistencies and her benefits? Talk of responsibility and maturity? How would a lawyer respond?

I have no idea what you mean by any of these things, or how one would "respond like a lawyer" to this situation.

I want to stay above water and remain conscious, but a person living in a bubble sees and hears only themselves. So with a simple, very pointed reply I should close this and participate no more. Any ideas?

Pay the tolls. I'm not being snarky or cutting here, but why wouldn't you pay for the charges you accrued?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:13 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

How would a lawyer respond?

You are in luck! I am a commercial litigation lawyer.

I think it is bizarre of you to think that she would have to pay for the tolls you incurred while you were using her automobile. The e-pass is functionally no different than a cup full of coins in the car. If there had been such a cup in the car, would you have also used it to pay for your tolls. Would she also be on the hook for any parking tickets you received? If there were tolls incurred driving her to and from the airport, I would say those are her responsibility. Your trips all over the rest of creation are your own responsibility. You are not justified in being speechless, angry, or bemused.

While I think your friend is ungracious not to acknowledge that you gas up her car and have it cleaned when you are finished with it, I think you should understand that I think what you do is SOP when you borrow someone's car. If I borrow your car, it is coming back with a full tank of gas and washed inside and out. Same idea if I borrow anything of yours.

The stuff about her relationship drama and plans for France are what we lawyers call "irrelevant". It is solely to make me not like your friend so I will take your side and has nothing to do with the merits. Do you under who here is the person who is living in a bubble?

Pay the tolls that you incurred.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:14 PM on March 2, 2013 [29 favorites]

I am chastised to a degree. I fixed a headlight, paid an auto-body shop to pull out a big dent, cause rust was starting; and i did think she had said, go ahead, use it. None of this tho, including her benefits, justifies. It was muddy, best to clear it up.
posted by ebesan at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yep, clear it up, and then stop being "friends" with someone you dislike. I've learned the hard way both that the costs always outweigh the benefits and that you'll have more respect for yourself if you stop.
posted by hazyjane at 1:20 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's really tough to understand what you're saying here. There's some vague non-sentences "I am chastised to a degree". Huh?

You never clarified if it was $200 TOTAL or $200 for your incurred tolls alone. If it's $200 over 4 car borrowing incidents, then you need to pay her back! It's not a free ride and that's a heck of a lot of money in tolls.

I'm confused as to why you went so far as to take her car to a body shop to deal with rust? Did you pay for that? Did she? Does she know that happened?
posted by kpht at 1:21 PM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

It doesn't matter if she did say go ahead and use it. Again, using it is itself a convenience. That's why people have them! Using it does not equal "use it as much as you want and don't pay me back." Did you not realize that she gets billed for each use? Did you think yay, time to take advantage of your friend and use it as much as possible?

Even if she meant "go ahead and use it for your drive home" or "go ahead and use it when you go to get groceries tomorrow," there are limits. If I say "dinner's on me!" to a friend at a restaurant, I don't expect my friend to promptly order six mixed drinks and an extra meal to take home for tomorrow. $200 is a LOT of tolls.

As per your update, if you fixed things on her car that were already wrong with her car, and NOT caused by you (i.e.e did the headlight break when you were borrowing the car, or was it already broken?) then that was kind of you, but ... they still have absolutely nothing to do with the question. I can't justify stealing someone else's money because I did them favors a few months ago. Unless there's an agreement "I will fix your car if you pay my tolls," the natural assumption of most people in society is that they pay for their own stuff.
posted by celtalitha at 1:26 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

Fixing a headlight is usually a pretty minor fix and one of those nice things you do as a thank you. Unless you put in the dent, I don't understand why you fixed it.
posted by jeather at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

1/2 year of monthly bills is a long time to wait to express it.

It might be that she just realized what was happening. It's possible to set up an EZ Pass account to pay from a card attached to the account. She may have noticed money mysteriously missing from her bank account, or a much higher credit card bill than usual, followed the paper trail, and only then discovered that someone had run up $200 worth of tolls.

She may have needed to print out six months worth of statements and go through line by line, with a calendar, as it gradually dawned on her that she wasn't the one who racked up any of these charges.

I don't know if you guys are millionaires or what, but $200 is a lot of money. If this were to happen to me I wouldn't at all see it as a cost of doing business or a little chump change between friends or whatever you're treating this as.
posted by Sara C. at 1:36 PM on March 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

Because several things were broken, I fixed them. Free. Told her so she would know the problems and the fix. My sense of responsibility should have covered the Pass tho, irregardless of what I thought we had agreed to, it was on my watch, so it belongs to me. That is why I come to META.
posted by ebesan at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It looks like the question has been resolved at this point, but I just wanted to add something that might help you with this issue en possible future issues: your communication style in your question and the follow ups seems to be rather indirect and oblique. If the way you talk with your friend is anything like this, that might explain how different expectations about a situation can last for so long (you might both have thought you were taken advantage of by the other party). Be clear and honest about what's going on, what bothers you, etc.
posted by Ms. Next at 1:53 PM on March 2, 2013 [14 favorites]

But did you tell her about the headlight and the dent before or after you had already taken the car to have them fixed? The headlight, fine - you need functioning headlights to drive and it's a cheap, easy fix. But the dent?! What's up with that? If I lent my car to someone and they took it to get cosmetic repairs, then expected me to repay that "favor" by letting them off the hook for toll charges, I'd be really annoyed.

Agrees with the above, your style of communication is confusing and seems to rely on a lot of inference (aka mind reading) and connections to irrelevant considerations like what a bad person she is. Don't make deals like this in the future without talking out the terms explicitly, and for God's sake - if you're not sure if charging expenses to someone else's account is okay or not, ask them first. Don't simply do it and then expect it's free for you just because they haven't noticed.
posted by keep it under cover at 2:06 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Although this may be resolved(?) or your question answered, there's something I didn't really see answered in this entire thread.

You phrased it as if the car and pass were a package deal. Was there any discussion or agreement beforehand on how this would work? Was it not covered at all?

I would default to saying the pass was not included unless it was specifically mentioned as such. Anything else would be unrealistic IMO.

However, if it was presented as "you can use my car, and it has the pass! It'll cover you wherever you want to go" Then I'd be pissed if I got a bill, even if it was specific to my individual usage, since I think any reasonable person would assume the pass was a bonus to sweeten the deal.

Basically, I think all the answers here are on point if the pass wasn't mentioned as an enticing bonus. If it was specifically brought up as such, then yes, it's shitty to be suddenly hit with a bill for it in a mildly misleading way.

Regardless though, I think at this point you would be best served by just paying your share of it and walking away from this person. You may be somewhat in the right with assuming it was included if it was presented as essentially a bonus of having the car from her, but I feel like starting a battle over it will create a drama cloud, with a person you've already said you don't like, that could go back and forth for quite a while and possible escalate to irritating harassment.

This is also something that could very easily be presented, even in the case that it was advertised as a bonus you get by using the car, as you being the one who expects something unreasonable to mutual friends/others/etc since it is kind of a ridiculous bonus to expect. Id definitely think about whether or not I wanted to look like an entitled brat before I went to bat over this, even if I had been specifically using that car to make my commute cheaper entirely because she said the pass was a throw in.

So yea, pay it and never talk to this person again. Don't split hairs over whether you should really be paying it, you used it, it's easy to have this misrepresented as you being an ass if you don't. Maybe you expected something that wasn't explicitly guaranteed, maybe this person is being manipulative. It's so much of a grey area and a relatively small amount of money(especially if $200 is total, and not just your share. Just pay the highlighted $50 of trips or whatever) to end a situation like this. I would be thankful if similar crappy conflicts I've seen and experienced were over something so small. They're usually over a thousand or more.

On preview, I also agree with the two recent posts saying direct communication is key with these kinds of things. In advance.
posted by emptythought at 2:22 PM on March 2, 2013

[Folks, seriously, we don't do the eye-rolling answers here, be cool or don't answer.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2013

I paid for the fix (the dent was existing, and pointed it out to her earlier. She said she'd have it repaired. But it was getting snagged by the door, getting worse, now beginning to get rust, so I thought it best to address immediately. I told her later, she thanked me, and asked what she owed me. I replied nothing was owed. I did not ask for repay) All the grey areas are, as you say, besides the point. I will pay and move on. Thank you all.
posted by ebesan at 2:30 PM on March 2, 2013

1/2 year of monthly bills is a long time to wait to express it.

She might not even have realized how much you racked up until now. I have an EZ pass and it's usage is not something that I check monthly. Hell, I think I might check it once a year? The money automatically comes out of my banking account when it needs to be recharged so it's never on the forefront on my mind. Maybe she didn't check her account after your car use because she assumed you would be upfront about the cost, which you weren't.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2013

Because several things were broken, I fixed them. Free

See, now I'm starting to think that YOU are the friend who does all these unnecessary, unasked-for little favors for people that come back to bite them later in the form of obligations they didn't know they had.

Borrow and lending a car requires a very strict understanding of boundaries. That's why we all hardly ever lend our cars out or borrow other people's cars.

The nature of doing a person a favor is that you don't ask anything in return. If you paid to fix my car and then refused to take payment for those repairs and THEN justified not paying the 100s of dollars you racked up in tolls with, "but what about that time I fixed your car?!", I would be irritated because I didn't ASK you to fix it for free.

When borrowing a car, which costs thousands and thousands of dollars, you need to maintain STRICT boundaries.

Sure, feel free to have a beer out of my fridge when you're housesitting, but if you raid my entire beer supply and drink all my wine, I'm going to wonder why you didn't just buy your own. Even if you did fix the hit water heater for "free."
posted by deanc at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

I think I get it. You were being generous with the arrangement and she's not. But just because you were kind and generous doesn't mean that she has to be.

You're conflating the other car-related expenses that you paid for and thinking they should cover the EZ Pass.

They don't. And next time, if you're going to be generous, remember that generosity and gifts should never be expected to be repaid. It'll save you the grudges/resentment.
posted by too bad you're not me at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I told her later, she thanked me, and asked what she owed me. I replied nothing was owed. I did not ask for repay)

She was giving you an opportunity for her to pay her share - even if it made you uncomfortable, you should have taken it.

I am always at the airport on time (w/ the truck washed, vacuumed, tank filled (never asked for, never acknowledged)

Unless she's related to you or in a relationship with you, you only need to fill the tank.

The conversation is mind-numbingly centered on her needs.

She probably perceives that because you do all these things for her that it's okay for her to make it all about her.

Now, I get a bill for ALL the EZ Passes.

Boundaries. If you set yourself as available for everything, you'll be used for everything.

I still don't get if the $200 is for everything (including hers) or just yours. You should only pay for yours.
posted by heyjude at 3:24 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, I think you are on the hook for your uses of the EZ Pass when you were driving the car for your own personal use. Just as you would be on the hook for any gas that you used and any dirtiness or damage that you sustained to the car. So it's good that you cleaned the car and filled it up with gas.

However if your cleaning of the car and filling of the tank went beyond your actual use of the car, then your supererogatory actions were kind, but unnecessary. Similarly, her paying your EZ pass fees would be kind, but unnecessary.

If it's true that you incurred costs above and beyond your use (extra gas, cleaning, and repairs), then, if it means that much to you, you could mention that to her, saying that you did those things on her assumed generosity of letting you use the car (including the pass). See if you can work something out.
posted by ageispolis at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

If I lent you my car, I would expect that it would be returned with about as much gas in it as it had when I lent it to you, that you would pay the tolls (or offer to do so) if you had spent more than about $10, and that you wouldn't take the car for repairs (unless we had discussed it and I'd explicitly agreed to it, in which case I would pay for the repairs). If you happened to clean it, I'd be grateful, but wouldn't expect it. I would be somewhat annoyed about the repairs if we hadn't agreed you would have them done, as in my case, my car is getting pretty beaten up and I wouldn't spend any money on cosmetic repairs for it. I know a few people who have lent out cars and only realised quite some time later how much in toll fees was used - they have automatic top-up or they don't usually look at the statements, so the delay doesn't seem unusual to me.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:58 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

One notable thing in this is that you both seem to have a different sense of a 'fair' arrangement - let's call it, 'in kind/all evens out in the end' style vs. 'itemized' style. I think you're getting a lot of grief here for feeling frustrated that it's the latter, and not the former, arrangement. But both types of arrangements exist.

Contrary to what a lot of people are saying here, I don't think it's obvious that the EZ pass was or wasn't included. What I see in arrangements like this is that people don't cover all the key points, and then afterwards try the 'mythical masses/every reasonable person would agree with this' eye roll when it's clear there is some sort of disagreement. No, you didn't mention the EZ pass at the beginning of the arrangement. But she didn't either.

A detailed conversation would have included all of the costs you were incurring, plus decisions on less likely but possibly problematic things as well. For example, take gas. Seems obvious, right? But it isn't. Did she drop off the car with a full tank to you, or was it your responsibility to fill it first when you got it and then again after you used it, or did you just have to fill it to where it was when she gave it to you? Were you allowed to use the cheapest gas, or did she want the quality stuff? Accidents: What happens if the car broke down when you used it? You don't have a car - do you have insurance? Who was going to cover the cost of an accident? Does her insurance cover the car or the driver? What happens if you drove the car so much that she needed to get an oil change soon after she got the car back from you - who would be responsible for that cost? Enterprise rental cars spells out all these questions before I borrow their cars, which suggests it is clear that you guys probably would have benefitted from such a discussion as well. I think in the absence of such clear cut conversations, the 'evens out' vs. the 'itemized' styles often cause conflict.

'In kind/all evens out in the end' style is where each person considers what they are gaining when they note an additional cost. For example, yep, she sees the $200 in tolls, but remembers that you took both time (which costs) and money, to do both the light and the dent, so she figures that the payment came 'in kind' and 'it all evens out in the end'. So you might have considered that your graciousness during that exchange where she asked you what she owed you and you said, 'nothing', as an 'in kind' goodwill sort of an offer. Also you might have considered that she considered the cost and effort you were putting into the car as an in kind gesture as well, where it might not be exact, but it all washes out in the end.

But she is 'itemized' - which is that there are no 'in kind', but each person really is 'responsible for looking out for their own best interest', and individually negotiable. So there is no applying your kind efforts to the value of the trade. Which means that for her, asking how much the light and dent cost was her way of being fair. Of course, if you'd known this, you could have responded this way as well, and told her the cost, and wouldn't now feel so steamed. Perhaps it's not just the $200, but also the fact that you note that you're now sticking to an itemized relationship where everything is an add on? Not the car with the EZ pass, but the car, period, and everything else is an additional cost.

I think at the worst, each preference type looks on the other with scorn: the 'evens out in the end' person is considered a 'user' and 'thoughtless', while the 'itemized' person is considered 'narcissistic' and 'selfish'. These are both pretty ungenerous interpretations, but viewed through a particular lens, understandable. But maybe a reframe, one where you aren't ridiculous for thinking that the EZ pass was included, and she isn't a narcissist for asking you for payment, is in order. She's just an 'itemized' sort, and if you operate under that principle, I imagine you would both still be able to keep your arrangement.

Just something to consider.
posted by anitanita at 4:25 PM on March 2, 2013 [16 favorites]

You went through the tolls, you pay the EZ pass bill. What if she didn't have an EZ pass? You would have to pay as you went through the tolls. You were aware of incurring such costs, you should have given her the money before she asked.

If you believe you were not thanked enough for washing the car and filling the tank, it is a matter of conception. I think you will expect her to do the same if the car was yours and she borrowed the car. Perhaps she doesn't think you thanked her enough for using the car while she was away.

All other things are irrelevant in the case of the payment of the EZ pass bill. However, if you are asking what to do with the friendship, I don't see how her hunting for a man to worship her makes her a bad friend to you. If you think she not a good friend to you, then don't engage her any longer.
posted by Yellow at 4:45 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

anitanita just wrote what I came to say... You are partially upset because she's showing that she views your relationship as one of the "itemizing" type, which can feel like a snub when you thought that you had a relationship where you trust everything will work itself out in the end. That's why your kind previous actions with the car feel relevant to you -- not because of the money you spent, but because by not letting her pay you back you were implicitly saying "hey, we're friends, I trust that you'll help me out sometime", and you felt that talking of money would cheapen that intimacy. So I can see where this bill feels like a slap in the face. In your shoes, I'd feel pretty defensive, mostly to cover up feeling ashamed that I'd misread our friendship.

None of this touches on whether it's fair or not for you to pay tolls -- and I think it is! -- but I empathize totally with your emotional response.

I was once in a similar situation, road tripping with a friend who made much of the fact that his wealthy dad payed the EZ pass. I was stunned and remain slightly pissed to this day that he asked us, his very poor student friends, to pay up the tolls at the end of the trip...
posted by wyzewoman at 4:59 PM on March 2, 2013

I guess I'm one of those "itemizing" types, but I really disagree with the notion that you taking her car to be repaired without her asking should cancel out your EZ pass charges. As AnnaRat pointed out, just because her car had a dent in it doesn't mean she meant to fix it anytime soon. Consider that your friend had put some thought into prioritizing her expenses, and possibly the dent in the car fell very far down that list of priorities. You taking it to get fixed and then expecting to be excused of the toll charges is akin to forcing her to move the dent up to the very top of her priorities list, because she'll be eating that cost right now. Accordingly, other things she had prioritized would now have to wait, because you thought you were being considerate. That's not how a favor should ever work.

This reminds me of a situation where one of my friends owed another friend some money. The circumstance in which the money was lent was very stressful and put a great deal of strain on the friendship. The friend owing thought it would be nicer and more personal if she bought a nice gift instead of paying the debt in cash. The friend who was owed was upset with the gift, because she really needed the cash more than she needed the gift, and the friend owing had basically taken the money that was owed and decided for her friend how her friend's money would be spent.

I feel very strongly that when have someone else's money and it's more than the cost of a couple drinks, just pay them back in cash. I don't care how close your friendship is, you don't know everything about your friend's financial situation and what they need to spend their money on, so don't take the liberty to spend it for them on stuff they might not need or want. Otherwise you're not paying back a debt, you're just buying your friend a gift with their own money while patting yourself on the back for being so thoughtful.
posted by keep it under cover at 6:07 PM on March 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

Pay the tolls you are responsible for and direct her to FlightCar (the airbnb of parking your car at the airport).
posted by notyou at 6:14 PM on March 2, 2013

thanks. goodnight
posted by ebesan at 6:33 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

To build on anitaanita's answer, I think it's reasonable that you feel the way you do about the EZ Pass. A lot of human interactions work on a "tit for tat" basis, and you had been treating her with the "all works out in the end/generous" way, so it was reasonable that you'd think she was doing the same thing. Further, it is totally reasonable to expect that if she was going to send you an EZ Pass bill, that she would have done so after the first episode.

Of course, as covered above, it's also within the bounds of normal to think that the EZ Pass bills were yours. (I don't think there's ever any excuse for sending them to you six months later as a pack; maybe if they came with an explanatory note of some kind, but to send them in a bundle with no explanation or fore-conversation seems unequivocally rude to me.)

Anyway, this seems like a fairly reasonable misunderstanding between friends, and if you liked her I'd say tell her ("Gosh, I had been thinking of our arrangement in a different way, sort of the way I didn't ask you to repay me for gas or car-washes or fixing the headlight. But I should have clarified -- I apologize for not discussing this with you more explicitly. I'll pay the EZ Pass bill, [only it's bit of a hardship for me to pay the six months' worth all in one chunk, so I wanted to ask you if it'd be OK to pay it over X installments -- is that OK with you?]") But you don't like her, so pay the $200 and sever the relationship. It is unkind to act as a friend to someone you despise, and as a bonus, you don't have to deal with her company any more.
posted by feets at 8:46 AM on March 3, 2013

Were any of those EZ-pass charges due to driving her to or from the airport? That seems relevant. If so, don't pay those, but pay for the times you used it for your own personal errands.

I think the other posters covered everything else here.
posted by k8lin at 2:54 PM on March 3, 2013

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