Cancelled Reservation: Ask my kid for the money back?
November 27, 2016 12:52 PM   Subscribe

So for Thanksgiving, my kid made the two us a reservation at a trendy vegetarian cafe, in the city, about 90 minutes drive from my place. We had to cancel (details follow), so I PayPal'd her the money to cover it, and she was going to find someone to go with. She didn't manage that; can I ask her for the money back?

Daughter is in her early 20s, working on her own, living with a bunch of friends. She doesn't drive a car. Her SO was already at dinner with her own parents.

So, the weather was really stormy, and the freeway was riddled with accidents and miles long backups. I have a moderately severe panic/anxiety condition, so making this trip was going to be a challenge under the best circumstances; but I'm working through this, gaining confidence, and this was going to be a big step for me. But ultimately, I couldn't handle it.

I called Daughter, and described my dilemma. She understood, and felt sad and sorry, but we decided she should try to make the reservation, since the place had a cancellation penalty I guess. She said it was all right, and she could probably find a friend to take her to this very fancy dinner.

I sent her the funds to cover dinner and a good tip, confident that she would make it work.

Turns out she didn't. So, is this a situation where I should just take the loss and don't make a big deal about it?
posted by quacky to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You made her a gift, you can *at best* tell her to use it for a nice dinner soon, and then let it be. This is unless you are in very dire financial need.
posted by Iteki at 12:54 PM on November 27, 2016 [20 favorites]


Yes.
posted by Huck500 at 12:55 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do not ask for the money back.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:57 PM on November 27, 2016 [12 favorites]


I don't understand why you want that money back. Do you need the money? (If so, yes. Ask for it back.)
Do you want to teach her a lesson? Are you miffed about her behaviour? Do you feel she should value your money or you more? Do you feel her failure to consume the meal means something more than is obvious?

I honestly think you should not ask for it back. In my twenties, I could have done something like that and felt embarassed. And my mom would say, "Don't stress about it! Just buy yourself something else that's nice. You're my kid! You need the money more than I do."
posted by Omnomnom at 1:01 PM on November 27, 2016 [40 favorites]


What the what? She didn't go to dinner on that exact hard to schedule evening so she should give the gift back? Would she have taken it if she knew there were such stringent strings attached or that you would be sitting around stewing for days afterward if you should ask for this money back?

It's weird that you frame this as possibly "taking this as a loss." This is not a business transaction. This is your kid who is on her first wobbly grown up legs. You gifted her a small bit of money which she will use for something she needs, whether that's a nice vegetarian meal with a friend or something else important to her this holiday season.. There is no loss here.
posted by sestaaak at 1:04 PM on November 27, 2016 [35 favorites]


Wait... if they had a cancellation fee, since she wasn't able to find someone to go with her *at the last minute, because *you* cancelled on her* why would you ask for the money back?
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 1:05 PM on November 27, 2016 [120 favorites]


No, you can not ask for the money back.
posted by mumimor at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


You also flaked on the original arrangement, and potentially left her with having to cover a potential cancellation fee. I presume part of the reason why you gave her the money in the first place was some kind of reparation for YOUR flaking. Absolutely do not ask for the money back, and don't make plans in future (that can leave people out of pocket) that you can't keep.
posted by ryanbryan at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2016 [24 favorites]


From my reading, it seems like you're the one who cancelled. That's when you lost whatever money you were going to spend on yourself. She was understanding about your not being able to make it. You can be equally understanding about it not working out for her. Asking for the money back seems petty.
posted by FencingGal at 1:07 PM on November 27, 2016 [17 favorites]


If you could afford the dinner, you can afford to eat the cost. Being at odds with family or friends over money is never ever ever worth it unless you need that cash for, like, dialysis.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:07 PM on November 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


If the restaurant has a cancellation policy, you were going to lose the money anyway. So just let it go.
posted by wryly at 1:16 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


You are at fault here for canceling at the last minute, not her. I wouldn't ask a friend for the money back in this situation...I'm actually shocked you'd think of doing so to your kid.
posted by tiger tiger at 1:30 PM on November 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Her mother canceled Thanksgiving dinner on her last minute and (unsurprisingly) she couldn't find someone else who was alone at the last minute to go to dinner with. The place had a cancellation penalty that she had to pay even though she didn't go (depending on the fanciness & the place, this may have been significant), so a lot of that money has already been spent on cancellation. You weren't, I suppose, obligated to pay the cancellation fee (plus anything extra she would have spent for dinner), but you chose to, and I can't imagine why you want that back.

Panic disorders are terrible, really, they are, and there is absolutely no reason that you should feel bad that it overcame you on this instance, because that happens, and it's great that you're working through it and gaining confidence! But you need to recognize that the sad result of the disorder was leaving your daughter alone on Thanksgiving with a bill that still needed paying, and that had to be really sad for her even if she is completely understanding and in no way upset. I'm not sure why the fact that she couldn't find anyone similarly alone last minute would lead you to wanting your money back, though, or why you would call it a "loss". It was a very nice gift you gave her, and you can be happy with that.
posted by brainmouse at 1:31 PM on November 27, 2016 [103 favorites]


This will seriously rupture your relationship with your daughter. Do not under any circumstances ask for it back. I can't begin to tell you what a mindfuck this kind of behavior from my mom is. I am barely thinking about talking to her after a couple years of break because I can't deal with this sort of thing. Do not do. Good job recognizing that this is something you should ask about instead of just doing.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm really confused here. Why would you ask for the money back? You canceled on her, after she'd already paid to reserve the table. On Thanksgiving, a day widely associated with family. It seems that offering to pay the cancellation fee would be the least you could do.

Is there more to this story? Did she reserve this restaurant over your objections? Do you think she tricked you somehow? Because otherwise, I'd be grateful for having such an understanding daughter and reschedule asap.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:42 PM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks for all the clarity about this! I just didn't know if I should even mention the money. Just looking for some kind of reality check here.

It is true that I am much better suited to pay this cancellation fee than Daughter. I definitely don't need the money in some dire way.

BTW, I'm her Dad.
posted by quacky at 1:44 PM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Even if she had found a friend to go with her, I think it would be strange to ask for the money back. I think your money was "lost" when you had to cancel plans. But that's mainly the fault of the restaurant. I hate cancellation fees too!
posted by areaperson at 1:56 PM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


also please consider that her suggestion that "she could probably find a friend to go" may have been more about allowing you to feel better about leaving her alone on thanksgiving than it was a serious suggestion that she'd be able to find someone to go with her.
posted by noloveforned at 2:04 PM on November 27, 2016 [63 favorites]


Aw. You're a sweet dad for wanting to treat her. She's a great daughter for being so understanding. What you need to do is call her to make new plans to eat and share a big huggggggg.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:09 PM on November 27, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think I see what you're asking: you guys decided she'd go ahead anyway so you sent her $150 to cover dinner and tip as opposed to $50 to cover the cancellation fee, and now you're wondering if you should request the $100 back since it turns out she didn't use it and only had to pay the cancellation fee.

I strongly think you should let it go. It was always a bit of a pie-in-the-sky notion that she'd be able to find someone else to go with her; people make plans for Thanksgiving weeks if not months in advance. Paying only the cancellation fee would mean your daughter isn't actively out any money but also would mean that you deprived her of the opportunity to spend that holiday in a more fun situation than stuck alone followed up by the unpleasant gift of a perhaps treacherously awkward conversation involving potentially-already-spent money. Whereas if you let it go, the extra cash instead serves as a bit of an extra apology for canceling on a traditional family holiday due to your own (rightful!) need for self care. I don't think the extra apology was definitively necessary, mind you, but it's a nice gesture and certainly once it's been made retracting it is rife with hazards.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:17 PM on November 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


And I should maybe clarify that by potentially-already-spent money, I don't mean on the dinner (we know she didn't go) but on rent, or a different dinner, or a group Black Friday outing. Which I think is pretty justifiable, in that if I was in your daughter's shoes and called one or two people only to realize that no one is free on Thanksgiving, I'd think, "Oh, well, I missed out on Thanksgiving but now I can get that comforter I've been eyeing!" as opposed to, "This is now a sucky commitment I have to see through; I will call every person in my address book and then suffer it alone if I have to or put the extra money in an interest-bearing account to return to my father when he requests it later this week because this is earmarked."
posted by vegartanipla at 2:28 PM on November 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


(ack, sorry for the incorrect gender assumption!)
posted by brainmouse at 2:47 PM on November 27, 2016


but we decided she should try to make the reservation, since the place had a cancellation penalty I guess. She said it was all right, and she could probably find a friend to take her to this very fancy dinner.

I sent her the funds to cover dinner and a good tip, confident that she would make it work


I'm sure you are correct to place a lot of confidence in your daughter, but finding someone who is willing to cancel their existing Thanksgiving plans to do something else is nearly impossible, even more so that many people prefer not to eat vegetarian for Thanksgiving. (Not meant as a dig at vegetarian Thanksgivings -- I attended one myself)

It was smart of you not to put yourself in danger of an accident, which would have lead to a terrible Thanksgiving for everyone. It was kind of you to offer the money to your daughter so she could attempt to find another Thanksgiving guest. But those are both sunk costs now -- you'd be out the money even if she had found someone -- and you are facing the situation of whether you should charge your daughter money for having missed out on celebrating Thanksgiving entirely due to things that were not her fault. Basically, having her pay a fine because she wasn't able to "make it work" by getting someone else to cancel whatever other Thanksgiving plans they had.

Asking for the money back isn't going to do anything to improve your relationship with your daughter. I'm not sure why you would want to do such a thing, since you say you don't need the money -- To make her feel ashamed of having spent Thanksgiving alone? To discourage her from making Thanksgiving plans with you ever again? What is your goal here?
posted by yohko at 9:50 PM on November 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


To make her feel ashamed of having spent Thanksgiving alone? To discourage her from making Thanksgiving plans with you ever again? What is your goal here?

Exactly. I would probably be incredibly wary and distrustful of someone (anyone, let alone a parent) cancelling on me last minute for an important celebration, even if I know they had anxiety/ medical issues.

I would probably understand why it happened, but the thought of being flaked on, AND spending an important holiday alone would make me very upset. If it was a friend, I would probably think twice about giving them any emotional energy going forward (like making plans, keeping up with the friendship). Most of all, I would not give them any leeway to mess me up again, and limit my interactions with them to small, low-stakes events, like coffee in the afternoon. Definitely no more big plans with them for the foreseeable future. Not as a vengeful act of retribution, but to protect myself and my feelings.

The money -- your problem. You were going to spend it anyway as a gift to your child.
posted by moiraine at 3:13 AM on November 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's your daughter. If she doesn't offer the money, and you're not so desperately broke that not getting it back would put you into dire straits, honestly I'd just let it go.
posted by Sara C. at 12:13 AM on November 29, 2016


I wasn't sure what I thought coming into this thread, although it seemed weird to think of my parent asking for money back like this. As a kid of that age I assumed that all money flows from parent to child were appropriate and good. Now I agree with everybody else. The money isn't wasted; it'll support her wellbeing.

Next time, you could offer to pay her back whatever she spends or the cost of cancelling. That way you don't spend more than you planned to/need to.
posted by ramenopres at 6:40 AM on December 5, 2016


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