Open Thread

by epi on October 3, 2012

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Puzzled mom October 3, 2012 at 3:56 am

Gift card dilemma!

So, my question is about what to do about a used gift card present? My son just had his 13th birthday party and received some iTune gift cards from a friends (a set of twins). The cards had been pulled off the backing that they come on from the store and attached to a birthday card. Well, my son pulled them off the card and noticed that the scratch off portion had already been scratched off. We thought that odd and so my husband plugged the codes into the website to find out that they had already been used and there was no value to the cards! My husband contacted tech support thinking that perhaps someone could have stolen the numbers at the store. Well, tech support emailed back and were able to tell us that the 3 $10 cards had been activated and used by the family (they had the last name) who gifted them and the dates they were used were almost 2 years ago for one card and almost a year ago for the other cards. My son was obviously upset about the cards not working (we didn’t tell him any of what we found out). We just told him that there must be some kind of mistake with the cards. The funny thing about this is that my son would have been totally fine receiving a homemade card from his friends and no present. He just wanted them at his party. He was excited about the iTune cards because he doesn’t really have much money to spend and we are not in a position right now to buy extra things like that. It was just disappointing to him and weird. I am just not sure what to do…would you say something to the parent? I can’t think of a polite way to bring it up. I also think my son should write a thank you note still but he is pretty sad about the whole situation. Any advice?

REPLY

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Chocobo October 3, 2012 at 9:23 am

I think if you were to say anything, it would be to put the givers in the best light. “I’m afraid we can’t get Son’s gift cards to iTunes to work, I thought I might tell you since I’m afraid something might have gone wrong for you at purchase.” Feigning ignorance and phrasing it out of concern for them gives them time to (a) assess what happened (perhaps your son’s friend pulled the wool over his parents eyes and replaced new cards with ones he already used) and (b) the opportunity to save face.

But you must also weigh that with the possible damage it might due to your son’s friendships and reputation at this delicate age to have his mother make inquiries on his behalf. Perhaps it is better to let it go, and write a thank you note that emphasizes how nice it was to have his friend at the party.

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Alicia October 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

Given the old dates of use they most likely thought they were regifting old unused cards. Either way one does not say something in this situation. There is no polite thing to say. As really no gift no need to send a thank you card but if he sends a thank you card i would not mention the itunes cards at all and simply camment on how great it was to have them there at the party.

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Elizabeth October 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

It depends whether you believe (or assume) that the givers intentionally gifted used cards, or whether they believed they still had their value. The more generous position would be to assume that they thought they had value, but were mistaken. In this case, they would not know that the value had already been used, and might be offended to not receive a thank you card.

I personally would write a card, and have it go something like this:
“Dear Twin 1 and Twin 2, Thanks so much for coming to my party and celebrating with me. Also, thank you for the Itunes gift cards. Unfortunately, I was not able to get them to work, but it’s the thought that counts. Looking forward to seeing you next week a soccer practice.
Your friend,
X”

This way, you acknowledge what happens but also indicate that you won’t pursue it further. This leaves the ball in the other family’s court, and they may either drop it or show up with new gift cards.

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Jody October 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

What a sad thing to happen to your son. I think Elizabeth’s solution is the best. If the other parents are honestly puzzled, they may ask for the cards back so that they can pursue the matter. If they do, they’ll find the same information you did.

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Faves November 14, 2012 at 4:19 am

If a friend attended a Thanksgiving dinner at my house last year and invited some of my attendees to their Thanksgiving dinner the next year, is that considered poaching?

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Jody November 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

Faves, I think it depends on the circumstances. Do you regularly host Thanksgiving dinner? If so, and if the first friend (the one you mention first) is aware of that, it might be considered poaching. If he was not aware you regularly host Thanksgiving dinner, I wouldn’t consider it poaching. If you don’t regularly host Thanksgiving dinner, and hadn’t announced plans to host, I wouldn’t consider first friend’s invitation posting.

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Elizabeth November 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

It also depends on your relationship to the invitees. Have you kept in touch over the past year? Has this friend developed a friendship with them? Relationships have ups and downs, and it’s possible that they have developed a stronger relationship while yours has waned? I can understand, though, that it is painful to feel excluded from a group that you feel you have put together. I hope you still enjoy your Thanksgiving, and commit to developing worthwhile relationships in the coming year.

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Jerry November 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

“Poaching” is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals, generally for food or for trophy, or the cooking of food by simmering it in liquid. So unless your friend is planning on eating, mounting, or cooking these guests in liquid — and any of these would violate both the cannons of etiquette and the criminal law of every state in the union — you can rest assured that your friend is not “poaching.”

But something tells me that you are more interested in whether your friend (“Friend 1″) may invite other of your friends (“Friends 2 and 3″) to his (Friend 1′s) Thanksgiving, even when you introduced Friend 1 to Friends 2 and 3 at a prior Thanksgiving meal. The short answer is “yes.” You don’t own your friends. We do not (yet) live in a feudal society. If Friend 1 has struck up a friendship with Friends 2 and 3 such that he feels close enough to invite them to an intimate meal, he can issue this invitation without having to consult with the person who introduced them.

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Chocobo November 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

No, that is considered making new friends, which is the point of throwing parties in the first place. I hope both of your friends have somehow reciprocated your hospitality by inviting you to other dinners or outings, but reciprocation doesn’t mean returning the exact same favor.

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Alene November 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I have a co-worker who asks people where they are going for lunch and if they would pick something up for her. If she were stuck in a meeting and couldn’t get lunch, I would be more than happy to help her out and get something while I’m out, but she said she just didn’t want to go out that day. This co-worker would give the shirt off her back to anyone if they asked, so I don’t want to make it seem she is not nice. What bothers me is I am an hourly employee who clocks in and out for lunch and if I’m late returning from lunch I have to stay late to make up that time. If I’m 7.5 minutes late it’s counted against me in my employee record. This co-worker is salary and makes twice as much as I do. If she is late back from lunch, it doesn’t matter and no one will take note. My time away from work is my time and I feel awful feeling negative towards this co-worker. Am I wrong for feeling this way? I want to help when the help is needed, but this is just lazy to me. Is it right for a salaried employee to ask an hourly employee to spend their time off work to purchase something for them? Maybe I’m just too greedy with my personal time. It just went all over me wrong when she asked. What do you think????

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Elizabeth November 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I can understand why this would bother you. It’s highly likely that this woman hasn’t considered the difference between her salaried time and your hourly time. I wouldn’t mention it. Just politely decline – say you have another errand to run and can’t pick something up for her. If you can do it, and it won’t take any more time, it’s a nice favor to do for someone. But if you think it will make you late, just offer your apologies.

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Jerry November 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Alene: You’ve omitted a critical fact — will complying with the request cause you to make an additional stop? Nothing obligates you to make a side trip. But if you’re going to a particular restaurant anyways, it costs you no time to order an extra dish and it’s a nice favor to do. The difference in your compensation is really not relevant to the calculus.

Something else to consider — you mentioned that the colleague in question would “give the shirt off her back to anyone if they asked.” What do you think the chance are that she will continue to be so kind to you if you can’t pick some food up for her at the same place you’re already getting lunch?

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