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Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


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Soliciting Business Contacts Gets Personal


Dear Annie: A few years ago, I obtained a quote from a company for a manufacturing service. My business ended up not using them.

Two months later, I received an invitation from this company to an open house. I initially thought, "How nice." However, on reading further, it said a religious organization would give a presentation and donations would be encouraged. I felt I was being used.

Within the week, I received a follow-up call regarding the original quote. I informed them that their prices were not in our range, and at some point during the conversation, I gently mentioned that I thought the open house invitation was in poor taste. I probably should have been more diplomatic, but I thought the person on the other end could use some constructive criticism. In return, I was blasted. It turns out she was the daughter of the owner. In yelling at me, she also said that one of her sisters suffers from a genetic birth defect and that the presentation was to raise funds for the disease.

After all this time, it still bothers me. I just figured this family-owned business was giving jobs to relatives who perhaps were unaware of appropriate business practices. Was it OK for this company to use its business contacts to try to raise funds for a charity this way? — A Reader

Dear Reader: First of all, if the religious presentation was to raise funds for a specific medical cause, it should have been stated on the original invitation. Otherwise, people could easily get the wrong idea, as you did. And while we cannot blame a family for wanting to reach out to as many contacts as possible, it was inappropriate to use their minor business contact with you to solicit funds for a personal charity. But it would have been better had you not chastised the company employee over the phone, even with good intentions.

A simple "yes" or "no" to the invitation would have sufficed, and then this wouldn't be bothering you years later. Please try to let it go.

Dear Annie: My sister lives 30 minutes away. We all pile into my parents' car for the ride. The problem is, my sister serves disgusting food: fish that's not fresh, and salad drenched in dressing that she makes hours in advance, so it gets soggy. She covers the table in glitter, which gets into the food. Bringing a dish is not allowed.

I usually eat lunch before going so I won't be hungry. When my sister asks why I'm not eating, I make some excuse. What should I do? I don't want to say her cooking is horrible. Should I just put up with it? — Big City

Dear Big City: How often do you go? If it's less than once a month, we'd put up with it. How sensitive is your sister to criticism? If you go every week, you might offer to bring a dish by saying, "You host so often, I feel guilty not helping out. I insist on bringing the salad." Your sister may also learn (in time) to be a better cook and get the glitter off the table. Right now, she's still trying to impress you.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Salem, Ore.," the couple wondering how to tell friends and family not to buy them Christmas gifts. Years ago, our parents told us the same thing. They asked that instead of buying for them, we buy for someone else.

Many stores in our area have a "giving tree." Each ornament has a gift idea and a child's age and size. I was thrilled to find a tag for a little girl who wanted Barbie doll clothes, as I make those. The gifts are then taken to the area social services to be distributed. The stores are also involved with the food pantry at our church. There are so many people in need. — Giving

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
LW1: You were right to call them on it, and as long as you were polite about it, the daughter's reaction was inappropriate. Don't let it bother you anymore. Either they've learned from their mistakes, or they're continuing to alienate customers and will go out of business (if they haven't already). (Even if the charity and the sister's illness are legit, they were out of line, but it's also possible that the whole thing is a scam. Either way, you were wise to read the fine print.)
Comment: #1
Posted by: Baldrz
Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:54 PM
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