Dear Annie: My wife is a self-employed accountant, and she did work for some friends a few years ago. She billed them at the time for several hours of work, charging a modest fee. It was a complex situation, and another accountant was involved, representing a different family member. The work itself and number of hours were very similar, yet he charged his client six times what my wife charged her clients; her clients were aware of the huge break they were getting. She gave them the break because they're old friends. Still, they have blown off her bill since then. It's thousands of dollars. My wife has not charged interest or late fees.
The couple have plenty of money, with both being very successful. They constantly flaunt it.
My wife is reluctant to pursue them because of the friendship, even though they've been astonishingly cold and unresponsive. Though it doesn't sound like much of a friendship to me, I'm not in her shoes. I can understand why she doesn't want to send a collection agency after them, yet I don't see any other way. — Owed in Owensboro
Dear Owed: Your wife sounds like a generous person. Her "friends," on the other hand, might be rich in finances, but they're poor in integrity. Before you call a collection agency, you and your wife need to have an honest conversation with them and tell them exactly what you told me. If they still don't respond, then they were never your friends at all, and you should turn the account over to a collection agency, knowing that their "friendship" was not real. Let's hope it's an oversight on their part.
Dear Annie: To "We Would Prefer More Time, Too," the man whose visits to his hometown are filled with requests from friends to spend time with them: My son lives overseas, and his visits home are filled with similar requests. This solution isn't perfect, but it works for us.
As soon as we know that he'll be in town, we begin looking for one day that we can set aside as a "friends and family" day. We put the word out, through Facebook and emails, inviting everyone to stop in any time after noon for food and a visit. I provide a simple buffet-style meal, and kids are welcome. Because he always comes in the summer, we sit outside, and the kids play in the yard.
We get a steady stream of guests. Some drop in for a few minutes. Some sit and visit for hours. His close friends always come, and there are always some surprise guests, too — old coaches, teachers and classmates. I enjoy seeing these visitors as much as he does! — Works for Us
Dear Works for Us: I love how you've made each of your son's visits home an occasion to celebrate togetherness with friends and family new and old. A great tradition. Thank you for sharing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]