Paying Back Money: What Would You Do?

This weekend, a friend, ‘Tina’ told me a story about her friend ‘Stephanie’ that bothered me and I wanted to get your reaction. The details have been altered slightly.

There was an event that Tina was considering going to, but the $150 price tag was one of a few reasons she decided to skip it.

Tina then got a call from Stephanie’s mom saying that she bought her a ticket. Stephanie’s mom didn’t know about Stephanie and Tina were not on the best of terms at the moment. Still, since the ticket had already been bought, Tina didn’t want to say no.

Tina attended the event with Stephanie, and while it was awkward, they survived. A week later, Tina is considering who should be responsible for the cost of the ticket.

There was never a discussion about who would pay for the ticket and it’s unclear if Stephanie’s mom wants Tina to pay her back or not. If Tina never says anything, it’s unlikely that anyone will bring it up again. But Tina did attend and doesn’t want to put any more strain on the relationship than is necessary.

Obviously Stephanie’s mom should have asked before buying the ticket, but now that she didn’t, who is responsible for paying?

Tina says that she’s going to pay the money back, but is a little annoyed that she wasn’t consulted first because she would have politely declined.

What would you do?

Paying Back Money: What Would You Do?

Sweating the Big Stuff

17 thoughts on “Paying Back Money: What Would You Do?

  1. First of all, be careful. When us men try to “fix” things, rather than let someone vent, we get into trouble. You may have all three parties mad at you….

    Other than that, I would say consider the ticket a gift, say a gracious thank you and move on!

  2. Hmm. I’d like to know how much contact Tina has with Stephanie. Do they see each other everyday? Also I’d like to know what stephanie Mom’s personality is like. I’d probably judge my decision off of those two facts. But from what I know, I’d probably pay for the ticket. I’d say there is a decent chance that Stehpanie’s mom will not accept it, saying “you don’t have to do that, blablabla”. I dunno though, maybe she will accept – either way, you save face.

    1. @myfinancialobjectives, Definitely possible that she wouldn’t accept it, but I’m not sure. They don’t spend much time together and have minimal contact I’m guessing. I agree that offering may be the way to go and you just hope it gets rejected. If not, what can you do?

      I think the frustrating thing about this is that we try and save money and we cut back in one category only to be completely ambushed. Like, really? I didn’t eat out all month and you’re giving me a $150 bill for something I don’t value that highly? Ugh!

  3. Personally, I think if Stephanie’s mom bought the ticket for Tina without getting Tina’s consent to buy the ticket FOR her, then it is basically considered a gift to Tina. $150 is a big ticket item that is too big to casually buy for someone without asking, and then expect to be paid back.

      1. @Daniel, I liked Crystal’s response that sending a thank you note would be appropriate. I think it would be very bad form for the mother to ask for a check after receiving a ‘thank you,’ but should she ask, I think it would be ok for Tina to respond that she thought it was a gift, but to please ask for her consent before ever buying a ticket of that size for her again. Makes the chances of this ever happening again slim!

  4. I wouldn’t pay unless I was asked first. Buying someone a ticket as a gift is nice – being saddled with an unexpected expense is rude. I’d send the mom a very sweet thank you note for the invitation and ticket and leave it at that.

  5. Evan is right, that is very Curb Your Enthusiasm. (By the way, I know Larry would just keep the ticket and never consider paying the mom.)

    I agree with BFS. Send a thank you card and move on. However, Tina probably should have clarified before you accepted the invitation. She could have said ‘I really can’t afford it’ and then Stephanie could have said ‘My mom bought it as a gift…’. Problem solved.

  6. I like the thank you note idea. There is no way she’s obligated to pay when the mother bought it without asking.

  7. I don’t understand why Tina just couldn’t say no in the first place. I realize it is too late now but if she knew she could not afford it and her and Stephanie weren’t even getting along anyway, why not just say, “Thank you, I really appreciate it but I have made other plans for that day now anyway and cannot cancel.”

    Also, how old are these girls? Someone’s mom buying her daughter’s friend a ticket sounds like highschool to me.

    1. @leslie, Try post-college roommates. I think it was just an awkward situation that normally would have been fine. High school girls can rarely afford $150, so if that were the case I’d just assume it was a gift.

  8. Sorry, but Tina should have taken care of this right up front. When the Mom called her and said she got a ticket, Tina needed to say thanks but I’ve decided I can’t afford it. Then, the Mom could either have just said it’s a gift or else they could have just worked at selling the ticket. Once it’s gotten this far, it really is quite uncomfortable.

  9. Tina should keep her money. To the extent possible, the only thing she should feel is a warm, fuzzy feeling that Stephanie’s mom was kind enough to purchase her the ticket.

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