Am I looking at this white elephant the wrong way?
October 8, 2014 9:53 AM   Subscribe

A family friend surprised my in-laws with a free trip to Cuba this Christmas. Except they can't go, and the friend is expecting my in-laws to reimburse the cost of the trip. Does this seem strange to anyone else? Is this considered normal behaviour?

My in-laws are very much the opposite of rich. They own their small home and live simply. My father-in-law's trade didn't provide a great pension, and inevitable medical bills take most of it (and said medical concerns leave him unable to work at all). My mother-in-law is now retirement age herself, and has a little income as a supplement, which is basically enough to take care of the bills.

So a family friend (who came into a bit of money recently) thought it would be a great idea to bring them along to Cuba for a vacation at Christmas time. She bought their tickets and surprised them with the news recently. Except my father-in-law's health means he's not able to fly, and there's a great possibility this could be his last Christmas so he'd rather not spend it separated from his grandchildren.

Luckily, the friend bought cancellation insurance. But now she wants my in-laws to reimburse her for the cancellation insurance and the deposit she's paid. This will amount to between $600 and $1200. My in-laws, being a certain type of person, feel like they should pay this, but I think there's no way in hell I'd ever pay a cent of that if it was me. I sometimes have problems reading social situations, so I'm looking to see if I'm completely out to lunch here.

If someone tried to give you an expensive gift that you couldn't accept, would it be reasonable for them to demand you to pay a portion of its cost, even though you never asked for it nor would you be able to derive the least benefit from it?
posted by GhostintheMachine to Human Relations (69 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nope, not reasonable.
posted by girlpublisher at 9:55 AM on October 8, 2014 [61 favorites]


This is the batshit craziest gift I have ever heard of.

Your in-laws should not pay for this gift that they could not use.
posted by entropone at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [104 favorites]


No, this is staggeringly unreasonable. I would consider recategorizing this person from "family friend" to "malicious trickster" if I was your in-laws.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [79 favorites]


No, that's completely absurd. It miiiiiiight make sense if family friend had discussed the trip with your in-laws, and with their agreement, gone ahead and purchased the tickets for them, and it subsequently turned out your in-laws couldn't go.

Family friend is egregiously in the wrong to expect to be reimbursed by your in-laws.
posted by Aubergine at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [21 favorites]


This seems completely crazy to me. Maybe, maybe, maybe if your in-laws had asked for this gift it would be appropriate for the friends to ask for reimbursement (although it would still be a Dick Move). But a surprise gift? This is crazy.
posted by mskyle at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not in the slightest.

If it's presented as a gift, there should be no strings attached.

If they had asked ahead of time, they wouldn't have bought it. You cannot buy something for someone without their knowledge or consent and ask them to pay for it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


No, it is not reasonable on the friends's part --- she chose to buy the tickets as a surprise, she chose not to find out if they were even physically able to go on a trip that includes flying (any flying, not just this particular set of flights), therefore she is also responsible for any expenses she chose to incur.
posted by easily confused at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think there's no way in hell I'd ever pay a cent of that if it was me

I couldn't agree with you more!
posted by waving at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


That is wildly inappropriate behavior on the part of the friend; compounding the understandable if poorly planned failure of the original gift by demanding reimbursement is incredibly gauche. I would bet anything that Miss Manners would agree with me, and I recommend the ever useful "I'm afraid that's not possible" as the politest response your parents could give.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is like hucking a vase at someone in a store and saying, "You broke it, you bought it."
posted by Beardman at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [40 favorites]


What? No. WHAT?

It's not a gift if you demand money back for making a mistake. I'm sure they intended well... or maybe not, that's how crazy that is, but they're not really that good a friend if they try to make a gesture and then... do whatever weird thing this is.

Say no, be prepared to lose them as a friend, move on, that is TERRIBLE.
posted by instead of three wishes at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


Your friend's poor planning, however well-intentioned, is not your in-laws' emergency.
posted by AndrewInDC at 10:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


I would tell your folks, "I'll take care of this. I'll be the bad guy with Cynthia."

Then get ahold of this woman and give her what for. "I don't know what you've been smoking, but 'gifting' my parents a trip to Cuba without discussing it with them is pretty fucking stupid. Expecting them to pay you for any part of it is BEYOND stupid. They are old, and sick and in no shape to travel to a third world country. I don't even know why you'd think this was even appropriate. Please stop bothering them for money. They don't have a pot to piss in, and you're making them anxious and upset. Find some friends to go with you, or suck up the loss, but there's no way anyone is reimbursing you for your own stupidity."

I mean it. Use those words.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:01 AM on October 8, 2014 [172 favorites]


Friend is an unreasonable jackass and should not receive a single penny from your in-laws.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Nthing no way. The 'friend' took a risk buying those tickets and lost.
posted by pibeandres at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


What a strange situation. Who even does such a thing? And how can they possibly try to get the cancellation costs out of your parents? Please show your folks this thread and encourage them (a) not to pay and (b) cut these arseholes out of their lives completely.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


A family friend ...

Stop right there. You misspelled "contemptuous parasite".
posted by IAmBroom at 10:05 AM on October 8, 2014 [41 favorites]


The only thing you might want to check is whether or not this 'family friend' has been suggesting this trip and your in-laws - in an effort to be nice and not reject her - have responding equivocally instead of saying no, flat out.
posted by girlpublisher at 10:08 AM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


Call this "family friend" yourself and ask them to explain their reasoning, and then tell them absolutely not. I think they are preying on your family's frailty in order to scam them.

No, you absolutely do NOT buy people expensive gifts as a present and expect them to pay when the present is completely inappropriate. Never. Not on any planet.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:13 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


No thinking person would believe that your in-laws owe her any money. Or courtesy, for that matter.
posted by chrillsicka at 10:13 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is just about the most unreasonable thing I've ever heard.
posted by misseva at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


The only thing you might want to check is whether or not this 'family friend' has been suggesting this trip and your in-laws - in an effort to be nice and not reject her - have responding equivocally instead of saying no, flat out.

But like, even if this is the case, your in-laws still have absolutely no responsibility to pay any part of this.

An exchange like this:
"We should go to Cuba!"
"Oh, Cuba, how nice. Yes it would be nice to travel."
Is in absolutely no way an invitation to purchase tickets on their behalf.

This friend is either an asshat or just completely socially incapable, and either way I think Ruthless Bunny's response here is fine. This is insanity.

Like seriously my first thought when I read this question was "what? no. what?" because it's just so absolutely bonkers I can barely even parse it.

No no no no no.
posted by phunniemee at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny, you are indeed ruthless.

Don't use those words. There is no need to. I've learned over my lifetime that when there is friction between people, the best way to deal with it is with nice but firm words. Think of it this way: there's Western boxing, where force meets force. Then there are Eastern martial arts when one uses the other's force to push them away.

So, rather than fight the absurdity of this request with more absurdity (harsh retort), offer to talk to this person (now, that is a real gift to your in-laws) and be nice but firm. At work, I often use what I call the PNP sandwich: Positive - Negative -Positive. You start and end with a positive. So, in this case I might say: "Your gift was so generous. And surprises are often wonderful. That was really sweet of you to offer the trip to my in-laws. Unfortunately, you did so without talking to them first and my father-in-law can't travel, nor can my in-laws afford to pay for the cancellation insurance. They simply don't have the money to do so. That was so nice of you to think of them."

Positive - Negative -Positive
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:16 AM on October 8, 2014 [57 favorites]


That's ridiculous. It was presented as a gift. You don't give a gift and then demand to be repaid when it can't be used. I wouldn't give travel as a gift anyway... maybe money toward travel expenses, but not travel itself, because everyone's travel preferences are different.

(My first reaction was actually, "Don't they know it's illegal to travel to Cuba?" -- then I checked your profile information.)
posted by tckma at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2014


What? No. A thousand times no. Your in-laws don't owe Family Friend a red cent.

If Family Friend continues to harass your in-laws for money and they feel that they have to pay because "it's the right thing to do" or some such thing, feel free to borrow Ruthless Bunny's script and be the bad guy with her.

And tell your in-laws that they do not have to pay Family Friend anything - it's not "the right thing to do," and they don't owe her jack. Family Friend was being presumptuous and way out of line, and she should eat the costs.

Unfortunately, scam artists find it easy to prey on the elderly, among other methods by appealing to their sense of family or duty (hence the "grandpa scam" among others). I don't know if Family Friend is really a scam artist or just selfish and socially tone-deaf, but it's wrong of her to try to get elderly people on a low, fixed income to give her money to compensate for HER mistake.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Are you sure you're not misunderstanding something here? This behavior is so outrageous it seems like there might be something missing from your explanation.

The dollar amounts also seem high for trip insurance, and if there's trip insurance why is there also a cancellation fee? Isn't that what trip insurance is for?
posted by alms at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


This is so outrageous that I'm wondering if it's a scam. If you're sure it isn't, I'd go with Ruthless Bunny's advice.
posted by Specklet at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


This seems outrageous to the extent that it sounds like some sort of scam is going on. I would dig for more information, and regardless would tell your parents not to pay this person a penny.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


What. In. The. Hell?
"Family Friend" should have known about your parents situation, especially with regards to their health and possible travel limitations.

Family friends usually KNOW THIS because they are friends.
With the family.

Do not, under any circumstances, allow your parents to pay this.
Crazy talk, I tell ya.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I come from a background where money is often used to smooth over social awkwardness and unpleasant feelings, and I have never heard of someone making a demand like this.

Nope nope nope.

I agree with those suggesting you volunteer to politely but firmly explain to the family friend that this isn't going to happen. I would also insist that they not talk to your family about it any more -- if they have a problem, they can argue it out with you.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2014


Not normal. I would not give them a cent.
posted by Flood at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2014


This is so outrageous that I'm wondering if it's a scam.

I don't think it's a scam. Unfortunately, I think an increasing number of people simply have no clue about common etiquette or normal behavior. Who knows what kind of upbringing they had.

An acquaintance of my family once invited us all to dinner, decided on her own to have the food catered, and then hung a price list inside the closet door where our coats were hung. Apparently she expected us to all make cash contributions towards her reimbursement for the catering as we were leaving (and mind you, none of us came empty-handed -- we brought wine, pastries, etc. as is customary for dinner guests to do). One elderly family member actually did give her some cash. The rest of us smiled chilly smiles, took our coats, and walked out.

The scenario you describe is ten times more bizarre and outrageous.

Your in-laws should be urged to ignore the demand for reimbursement. If necessary, you should say something to this person, either using Ruthless Bunny's example or something milder, to let them know that their demand is unreasonable.
posted by RRgal at 11:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


This seems settled, but an interesting thought experiment.

I, as a stranger, bought your parents a very nice gift. How kind of me! Oh, what's that you say? They don't need *obscure, expensive object*? OK, I'll return it. I hope, of course, they will be kind enough to cover the 10% restocking fee.

Absurd, right? My nice gift isn't a gift at all! Why would that be any different if it was a friend?
posted by JMOZ at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Are you sure this friend actually bought these tickets? Have you actually seen them? Because this sounds like a shakedown to me.

Rip this woman a new arsehole. Use Ruthless Bunny's script. Yes, this will cause a rift but that is the goal, because who knows what she'll want money for next?
posted by tinkletown at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Ordinarily I wouldn't bother piling on when the thread is so unanimous, but this behavior is so outrageous I can't help it. No, they shouldn't pay a dime, and please let us know when you've convinced them not to, because otherwise this is going to keep me up at night. Jesus.
posted by languagehat at 11:42 AM on October 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


Your in-laws obviously should pay nothing and there's no question about that.

I wanted to ask about another possibility, though: Christmas may not be the best time, but if there's any chance your father-in-laws no condition to travel state is temporary, can they reschedule instead of cancelling? Neither the resort nor the airline will have any trouble filling that spot, so they hopefully wouldn't have crazy fees on this, and if they did, the cancellation insurance should cover it anyway.

I'm not sure what Ruthless Bunny is imagining in saying "no condition to be travelling to a third world country," but if a person is in a condition to be traveling at all, Cuba is not an especially difficult destination, assuming the resort is nice (and if the cancellation insurance is $1700, I"m guessing the trip cost enough that the result is nice). My family was thrilled with the healthcare my mom (with chronic health problems and multiple medications) got (for free) for an unexpected complication while we were there last Christmas. Super-attentive, knowledgeable, helpful those doctors were.

NONE OF THIS IS TO SAY YOUR IN-LAWS SHOULD PAY OR THAT SOMEONE SHOULD BUY A TRIP FOR AN ELDERLY COUPLE WITHOUT ASKING FIRST. My point isn't that any of that is ok, just that I"m wondering if there's lemonade to be made here.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ordinarily I wouldn't bother piling on when the thread is so unanimous, but this behavior is so outrageous I can't help it.

I buy a watch for a friend, as a gift, I give it to him, he says he already has the same watch but thanks anyway. I return the watch, there is a 15% restocking free.... soooo now I ask this friend to pay that 15%???????

Insane.
posted by Cosine at 11:54 AM on October 8, 2014


They either wanted the miles, needed to buy the tickets to get a deal, or the expense was somehow convenient to them.

I would be weirded out if someone not closely related to me gave me a random present of tickets for a family holiday. It is ten times more bizarre that the friend wants reimbursement of the cancellation fee.

This is fishy.
posted by Tarumba at 12:17 PM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


Plus, your in laws will benefit from making it obvious someone is watching out for them. I would not be kind to this "friend" because they need to see how ridiculously unreasonable and suspicious their behavior is.

I fully endorse ruthless bunny's response. Let them think you are over protective, who gives a shit. Better for this friend to beware of your temper than send a mixed message of thank you but sorry. They deserve no thanks. They have given your in laws grieve with a weird and cumbersome present. No evidence of good intentions as far as I can see.
posted by Tarumba at 12:24 PM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


None of this makes sense UNLESS it is a scam. The scam makes perfect sense, since it was obvious that your parents wouldn't use the gift. So ... yeah, I'm going with Occam's Razor here.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:18 PM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I can't recall the last time I've seen an answer thread here where everyone agreed. But this is it.

I mention this in the unlikely event that the original poster is still left wondering.

PS: NFW
posted by doctor tough love at 1:28 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I got an idea. How about you or your in-laws "buy" these friends a trip to Siberia? When then don't want to go, say there's going to be a cancellation fee that happens to be equivalent to the fee they incurred. Then you can all call it even, and they can get an inkling of how ridiculous they are.
posted by Leontine at 1:32 PM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


This is ridiculous and absolutely the opposite of "thoughtful" behavior from the so-called family "friend".
posted by stormyteal at 1:50 PM on October 8, 2014


Leontime: Make it a trip where cancellation is 2x as much, now they owe the in-laws the cash.
posted by Cosine at 1:52 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


If someone tried to give you an expensive gift that you couldn't accept, would it be reasonable for them to demand you to pay a portion of its cost, even though you never asked for it nor would you be able to derive the least benefit from it?

No it wouldn't be reasonable whether you could derive a benefit from it or not.
posted by Julnyes at 2:12 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't know where your inlaws live, but if they are near you this is almost certainly a scam (or charitably, a gross misunderstanding somewhere along the line). Or I suppose your family friend could be completely incompetent at buying plane tickets and an unreasonable asshole, but that seems less likely.

Why? No "cancellation insurance" is that high. Look up how much it costs for round-trip tickets from your inlaws' city. For example, I just looked and a roundtrip ticket from Air Canada for Toronto-Cuba mid-December is under 600$. From say, Moncton, it's a bit higher, at 765$. You could almost certainly find a cheaper flight than that if you looked even a little bit. Your "friend" supposedly paid the same as a round-trip ticket, for "cancellation insurance and a deposit"? I really don't think that's likely.
posted by randomnity at 2:23 PM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


A thought: if your parents' do lean towards paying this so-called "friend", make sure you and they see a written receipt proving how much cancellation fee really truly is --- don't let them just hand over whatever the "friend" verbally tells them the amount is, make the "friend" prove it..... although I'm still on the side of everyone else here: no, your parents don't owe this person one cent.
posted by easily confused at 2:27 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


On second thought, I think I misread and the tickets you're talking about are for all-inclusive vacations or something similar, not just flight tickets. If that's the case, it's slightly less ridiculous for that kind of deposit, but still completely unreasonable to ask your inlaws to pay a dime given that it was a surprise trip. Sucks for the friend to eat the cost, but that's what happens when you buy a vacation for someone without checking if they can actually go first (?!).
posted by randomnity at 2:29 PM on October 8, 2014


If the family friend just came into money, enough to gift friends with a trip, why in hell can't she eat the cost of the insurance? Really?
posted by notsnot at 2:32 PM on October 8, 2014


I don't think it's a pre-planned scam as such. It reads to me like the "friend" got carried away with the potential glory of being such a generous person - "Poor Ghost's-in-laws, they are in poor health and don't have much money. I have money, I can take them on an amazing holiday, they will love it and everyone will know I am an amazing, fantastic selfless person to give such an incredible gift".

Only now the fact that it's not practical thrown cold water on the plan, they've realised they are not going to get any glory out of it but will still be out of pocket. If they really had your in-laws best interest at heart and wanted to do a nice thing for them they hey would swallow their own disappointment and the cost without complaining.

I certainly agree your in laws should not be paying unless they indicated that they could/would go on the holiday.
posted by *becca* at 3:04 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: OK, so it's not just me that thinks this is ridiculous. Thanks for all the responses. Picking a "best answer" could be difficult considering every answer is virtually the same. I was hoping someone might be able to look at this and see a different side I'm missing, but it appears, nope, it's pretty one-sided.

We've known this family friend for about twenty years, so there's no thoughts of scam or not knowing my in-laws well. *becca* I think has the heart of it - she probably was trying to be a hero. Not sure what's going to happen next, but there's a few ideas here I can try. Strangely, I suspect if I do interfere, my in-laws will be upset with me for causing a rift between them and this family friend... sigh.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:24 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Why can't the family friend sell the tickets on Craigslist or whatnot?
posted by nicebookrack at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2014


Well, I'm going to disagree. Psych! Really, I agree 100% that your in-laws don't owe this "friend" one cent.
posted by Dolley at 4:05 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Completely unreasonable and insane. A gift is only a gift if it's a gift, not a burden. The family friend is not a friend - they're behaving like a jerk.

You don't "surprise" someone with a ticket to something you are not sure they want or can even take advantage of. And you certainly do not ask them to pay for it because you made a dumb-ass decision FOR them without consulting them first.

Nope, nope and nope again.

Your family friend has hopefully learned an expensive lesson. They have no right whatsoever to ask anything of your in-laws except forgiveness for their unthinking and inconsiderate behavior.
posted by Gray Skies at 4:07 PM on October 8, 2014


Randomnity: I've been quoted $1500 for cancellation insurance. The cost of cancellation insurance varies with the cost of the trip and the health/age of the travelers. If it's an expensive trip (Cuba at Christmas, nice resort, you're looking at $2-3K/person) and the travelers are elderly and/or ill the insurance will be expensive. In my case it was in expensive trip (I don't remember exactly but more than $12K) and one traveler was healthy, but over 70.

Anyway, it's not crazy to think the insurance might cost that much, but regardless of how much the insurance was, the in-laws shouldn't pay it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:37 PM on October 8, 2014


Wait, besides what everyone else has pointed out, I just realized, the cancellation insurance isn't a cost they incurred because your in-laws are cancelling. You pay it regardless.

So if your in-laws went to Cuba the friend pays (for example):
Flight $1600
Resort: $5000
Insurance: $1500
Total: $7600

If your in-laws DON'T go to Cuba, the friend pays the same. Gets a $6600 refund and has only actually spent $1500 (the insurance cost). The friend actually spends LESS money if your in-laws don't go.

Something here doesn't add up. I believe you that this isn't a scam, if you're so sure, but they are at the very least very confused or somehow there's been a misunderstanding about whats happening here.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:10 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wait a sec. Something's missing here. These are your in-laws, right? And you say you wondered if it was "just me thinking this is ridiculous". YOU LEFT OUT WHAT YOUR SPOUSE THINKS.

Mr/MrsGhostintheMachine presumably has an opinion, and this opinion is presumably informed by a lifetime's knowledge of her parents, plus twenty years' acquaintance with the family friend. What's his/her evaluation of the situation?
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


We've known this family friend for about twenty years, so there's no thoughts of scam

Sadly, knowing someone for a long time doesn't always rule out scams.

Sometimes, someone who isn't a professional scam artist but simply needs some extra money for whatever reason will choose to take advantage of an elderly friend or relative whom they know well enough to know they will feel obligated to pay this sort of thing.

I hope this is not what's happened here, but if there is not some way of verifying that these tickets and insurance existed and that this is what the fees are I'd be very suspicious.
posted by yohko at 5:54 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


A friend of a relative arranged a party with fussy details we had to coordinate, then turned up late and to our surprise, declined to pay for any part of the party leaving the other relatives with the bill to the embarrassment of the person the party it was for. The reasoning I think was that this person had done all the arranging and so didn't have to pay, despite choosing expensive places no one else wanted and generally being diva-ish. Some people are just truly clueless and selfish, not scamming. Your parents might prefer a family friend to intervene, not their kid, If you have a mutual friend who can set this twit straight. It's absolute rubbish.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:09 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Given the apparent ages of the people involved, is it possible that at least one of the people directly involved is dealing with brain/mental faculty-related issues, quite some way from being their normal self?

(My mother's mental faculties deteriorated a lot before she died. In the few years or so before she died, she said all sorts of things she wouldn't have said before she started down the dark road.)

That said, of course it shouldn't be paid, but I wouldn't address it with the friend with aggressive anger, profanity, etc.
posted by ambient2 at 7:25 PM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yes, agreed with ambient2: please check first that the gift-giver isn't having some sort of mental health crisis, or addiction crisis, or sudden onset decline of brainpower, before ripping into them. I'm about as suspicious a person as can be, but this one reads more like possible dementia than scam or social gaffe. It's just too extreme and weird and random to be any sort of clever plot or naive cluelessness. A polite phone call will give you more info.

Having said that: nope, no way, no how should your folks pay a cent.
posted by nacho fries at 8:38 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


The dementia theory is the only one that sounds correct to me. Presumably nobody keeps up a 20 year relationship with someone who acts like this in the ordinary course.
posted by slateyness at 9:04 PM on October 8, 2014


If you decide to take the 'bad guy' approach (maybe not quite to the extent suggested above, but some kind of firm refusal with an emphasis on 'what were you thinking?'), is it possible to get your spouse to be the one who actually has the discussion with them? I suspect that the conversation will be better received from your spouse, whom the friends have known for decades, and that your spouse may be forgiven or even lauded by your in laws for the same thing that they would have been upset with you about. It shouldn't matter, because you're doing the right thing, but I have a feeling this strategy would work better for you.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:13 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Mrs. Ghost is upset about this, obviously. But she knows her parents are very fond of this family friend so anything negative said would just rebound, and my wife would be the one everyone would be mad at. Oh, it's a crazy world sometimes.

No, mental health isn't an issue here on either side. My father-in-law's issues are more heart and liver-related, and family friend is much younger and in good health all around. She's a gossip and busybody, but is also a pleasant and friendly person. It'd be easier if she were a monster, but she does have good qualities as well. I do genuinely believe she thought this would be a wonderful gift for them, but she's a certain type of Christian that believes in giving generously to charity as long as the charity is suitably grateful in return.

Apparently it's too late, anyway - her parents have already paid the friend. So I guess it's just about doing what we can to make sure this doesn't happen again.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:39 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bummer. I would be tempted to covertly shame her, Miss Manners-style, each time we met.
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm so angry on your behalf I could bite the heads off nails.

GGGGRRRRRRR!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:00 AM on October 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


> Apparently it's too late, anyway - her parents have already paid the friend.

This is appalling, and I too could bite the heads off nails.
posted by languagehat at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I agree with everyone. But, this is so bizarre that there's got to be some other dimension to this.

Christian that believes in giving generously to charity as long as the charity is suitably grateful in return.

Ah, there it is. Your folks' friend is a dog turd with a grin. I would probably be unable to summon any charity for this person in the future.
posted by cmoj at 11:12 AM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


...but she's a certain type of Christian that believes in giving generously to charity....

This story has turned out to be an extremely odd form of "charity" on her part.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


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