Working With Friends
August 5, 2004 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Problem with a friend whom I also have a business relationship with. [oo my first more inside]

So here is the deal. Back in May I lent my friend some money with the promise he would either pay me back or do some work on a site I purchased from him. There were some SNAFUs on the way - his computer died, my computer died, other projects that were paying signafigantly more. There was a deadline of middle of June which didn't get met. A deadline of middle of July which didn't get met. When I confronted him on it, he mentioned one of the problems above, and so I was nice and send end of July.

August 2nd came and I asked him where it was. He asked for me to just chill for a couple of days. I asked if it would be done by Thursday (today) and he said yes. I have a feeling it won't be done today. This failure to meet a deadline on an easy project has left a rather sour taste in my mouth.

Now I can only come up with three solutions to this and I am looking for advice on which one to use, or if there is a better alternative method of handling this, please let me know. The three solutions I have are:
1) Walk away and cut my loss.
2) Walk away and make public his failure to help with the site he originally programmed.
3) Ask him for my money back (which he doesn't have) and tell him I need it to pay to have someone else program the site

Please give me your advice.
posted by thebwit to Human Relations (19 answers total)
It really depends on whether you value this friendship or not. From your tone, it seems like you are not too keen on keeping this person as part of your inner circle. Leaving friends behind is part of life; it's best to make it a conscious decision than to have unhealthy relationships linker.
With that said, if this is a person you no longer wish to spend casual time with, I would go with number 3, that failing, number 2.
(If my assumption is incorrect, and you wish to remain friends, your only option is number 1).
posted by nprigoda at 6:11 AM on August 5, 2004

If you want to keep the friendship, I think (1) is your only option. The question is whether you can absorb the loss, both financially and psychologically (i.e. actually forgive him for it.) And, of course, never hire the guy again.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:17 AM on August 5, 2004

Option 1. And take a time out from seeing him for a bit as well. Your business relationship is over, and on that front, you need to simply accept your loss and move on.

You also need to put some distance between yourself and this incident, so you can deal with the friendship thing with perspective and a level head. Your friend certainly screwed you, and he needs to apologize for it, but it was probably not malicious. People get busy, can't manage their time, and wind up making bad decisions. It doesn't mean he's a bad person.
posted by mkultra at 6:33 AM on August 5, 2004

Doesn't sound like much of a friend to screw you over like this... I say demand he make good his obligations.
posted by ac at 6:40 AM on August 5, 2004

Yep, walk away, eat the loss, and figure out how to get the site done some other way.

Also avoid talking to the guy for a while. If he values the friendship he'll eventually come back with an apology.
posted by skylar at 6:43 AM on August 5, 2004

I've dealt with this same issue. Some people have money problems. It doesn't mean they are bad people -- it just means you can't trust them with your money.

I know it seems like a personal betrayal. But with people like this, it's similar to a gambling problem or an alcohol problem. It's a bit silly for me to accuse an alcoholic of betraying my friendship because he told me he wouldn't drink anymore and than did anyway.

I suspect that the money is lost in any case. Whether you're mean to him or nice to him, you probably won't ever see it again. So you should deal with this purely as a friendship issue. Imagine it wasn't about money. He slept with your girlfriend or something like that. Do you forgive him and move on? Do you end the friendship?

Obviously, you should avoid future business entanglements with him, even if you keep the friendship.
posted by grumblebee at 6:47 AM on August 5, 2004

You're going to eat the loss a la (1), anyway. The question really is if you want to keep a friend who screws you out of money.
posted by majick at 7:01 AM on August 5, 2004

i lent money to a co-worker, not really a close friend, and it was a hell of a job to get it back. just keep chipping away. get small chunks back. threaten to humiliate them in front of their new employer, send them email every day, knock on their door. generally make their life sufficiently shit that they steal from someone else instead of you.

or give up on the money if you think the above isn't you (i'd suggest giving it a try - persecuting someone can be quite entertaining in its own strange way).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:03 AM on August 5, 2004

At my law school graduation I saw a guy who graduated last year, who I knew didn't have a job as of his graduation.

norm: so what have you been doing for the last year?
him: well, I finally got hired in January, but before then things were pretty tight.
norm: I'll bet. how did you survive?
him: I discovered a lot of my friends had people that owed them money.
norm: ?
him: yeah, so I wrote a bunch of letters threatening to file conciliation court cases on their behalf and they gave me a cut of what I recovered. remarkable success, actually.
posted by norm at 7:34 AM on August 5, 2004

It depends on the amount of money, but if you can stomach the loss (e.g. the amount lent is less than 20% of your monthly wage), then I'd tell him that he's messed you about, and I'd walk away (option 1). There's no point in dragging his name through the muck (2), and even though you could ask him for the money back (3), I wouldn't spend too much time chasing it.

Plus - He hasn't let you down yet, so I'd wait until the end of tomorrow before making any decisions / saying anything. Some people just like to leave things to the last possible moment.
posted by seanyboy at 7:35 AM on August 5, 2004

There's no point in dragging his name through the muck

Why not? Why shield him from the natural consequences of his choices?

It's an unfortunate situation as however it resolves, you are screwed. Unfortunately a huge number of people simply cannot be trusted.
posted by rushmc at 8:14 AM on August 5, 2004

Embarass him. Kiddingly, but embarass him. "What's the deal man? Every time I talk with you you say this is going to get done and that its no problem. I feel really embarassed talking to you about this. What would you do in my shoes?..... When you say 'chill for a couple days' it really makes me mad, because it suggests I am not being patient and I've already been waiting a couple months."

With friends, you can be honest. Let yourself be really honest. In other words, do (1), but at least get off your chest what you need to in a straightforward, non-agressive way.
posted by xammerboy at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2004

Why not? Why shield him from the natural consequences of his choices?
Because it'll be more trouble than it's worth, and you'll end up looking like an arse. Plus, there's always the possibility that you'll open yourself up for litigation. Plus, you risk alienating him, and NEVER seeing your money again. In this situation, if you're not going to gain anything from doing it, then don't do it.
posted by seanyboy at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2004

there's always the possibility that you'll open yourself up for litigation.

Huh? What litigation? Truth is an absolute defense.

I would caution anyone, especially attorneys from writing collection letters or making collection calls for anyone unless you are intimately familiar with the FDCPA and follow the rules to a tee, or you will be sued by a consumer law attorney like me.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2004

3) Ask him for my money back (which he doesn't have) and tell him I need it to pay to have someone else program the site

Insist that he start paying it back over a period of X months. Whatever he can afford. With interest.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:34 PM on August 5, 2004

juicylicious--i was waiting for someone to say that. :)

please please, never ask your lawyers friends to "write up something important sounding on big scary legal letterhead"--it can easily amount to malpractice for them and, in this case, you'd be doing just what you're mad at your friend for (well, the reverse, at least: he's failing to render professional services in lieu of repaying a loan; you'd be asking for professional services without payment).

plus, you'd probably be getting crappy legal advice. you wouldn't ask your doctor friends to take out your appendix in the bathtub.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:52 PM on August 5, 2004

What Xammerboy said. And, the friendship is pretty much done for. He's made that clear. Consider the dollar amount to be the price of a lesson on doing business.
posted by theora55 at 6:04 PM on August 5, 2004

In this situation, if you're not going to gain anything from doing it, then don't do it.

I think this is a pretty self-centered attitude. I think letting it be known to those he might hit up for money next (e.g., coworkers) that he doesn't honor his obligations could save other people from considerable future suffering. Scam artists thrive because of the sort of complicitous culture of silence that you are advocating. They fade quickly under publicity.
posted by rushmc at 9:58 PM on August 5, 2004

Something you may want to run past your accountant...if the site is a business expense site, you can probably right off the nonpayment as a business loss.
posted by dejah420 at 7:29 PM on August 6, 2004

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