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Ask Rene: My Friend’s Son Cost Me CASH!

Hi Rene:

I hope you can help me make sense of this. A few weeks ago, I thought I’d put some stuff on eBay that I was no longer using. I’m busy running my own company as well as taking care of a sick parent, so learning the ins and outs of selling online was something that left me cold. An acquaintance of mine said her 17-year-old son, Mike, had a side business doing that, assured me that he was responsible and that I could trust him with my items, which were mostly high-end clothes.

Mike came and got my stuff, put it up on eBay, then disappeared. For three whole days! He did not provide me access or links that he said he would give me so that I could keep an eye on the auction nor did he respond to numerous text messages or emails.

Well, he called a few days ago to say he sold my merchandise, worth about $1500.00 for 50 bucks! And before you ask, yes, he knew roughly what those items were worth. When I asked him where he’d been for three days and why he wasn’t answering his phone, he said he was busy! He told me he wouldn’t charge a commission on what he sold, but I think he owes me money too!

His mother knows about this but didn’t offer any solutions, except to say that mistakes were made and everyone learned from this. In the meantime, I am LIVID! I feel like someone owes me some money! What do you think Rene?

Out of cash and out in the cold

Dear OCC:

Man oh, MAN I would be pissed! I think, without question, you are owed some money. The issue is, to what extent, are you willing to go to get it and from whom will it come? Here’s what I would do.

TALK TO MIKE: He’s a teenager. He screwed up. I’m not sure what else he can or will say, as they’re not necessarily the most communicative creatures on the planet. You said his mother told you he had a business doing this, which means he knows how it works. He knows he can’t check out while a live auction is going on. And what kind of businessperson, teenager or not, disappears for three days? 17 is old enough to know better especially given he’d done this before. I’d have a meeting with Mike and his mother and try pin him down. Acceptable answers for the absence include a) prolonged period of unconsciousness, b) being lost in the wilderness without a satellite phone or c) kidnapped by a pack of rabid dogs. Everything else is unacceptable.

TALK TO MIKE’S MOTHER: I’m not sure which makes me more irate, Mike checking out on you or his mother’s half-a**ed apology. And the fact that she didn’t offer to make restitution really makes my blood boil. While she should not ultimately have to pay, she should have ponied up the money, then made Mike pay her back. But there’s no way you should have to suffer for his irresponsibility. She should be embarrassed. I know I would be.

WHAT TO DO NOW: Well, this is where it gets tough. As I see it you have two choices. You can ask for them to pay some of the money back (which I think you are entitled to since Mike was derelict in his duties) and hope they agree or you can suck it up. If you suck it up, I don’t think there’s anyway you can salvage the relationship, as there are plenty of hard feelings to go around. But I think asking for the money will also cast a pall on the friendship, though that might be easier to deal with if you had some green in your purse. Decide which is more important to you but either way I think the relationship is irreparably damaged.

Final thoughts: I think Mike’s mother could have made this whole situation better if she was more concerned with her son trying to do the right thing instead of covering his butt.  Hopefully he learned something from your stern talking to because it doesn’t sound like he got one from her.

Good luck!

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5 Comments

  1. Mike W.

    December 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

    OCC,

    Sometimes–translated: MOST times– friendships and business DO NOT mix! Sad story. I agree with GEM on all points. But, from the details provided, I also wonder if Mike (I hate that he has my name-LOL!) ever really posted the items online and for the suggested price(s) you gave him? I don’t know Mike or his mother, but the story leaves me wondering if he DID sell the items for something to their value and decided to rip you off. Could his mother be complicit?

    “Mistakes were made and everybody learned from this?” Sounds to me like that statement could, and I emphasize “could,” be directed only at you– YOU made a mistake trusting your “friend’s” advice; YOU made a mistake trusting her son; and YOU learned, the hard way, that it would have been better for you to just handle selling your items yourself. What THEY learned is that they could take advantage of YOU.

    SMH! Again, I agree with GEM and fear the relationship you shared with Mike’s mother is now damaged beyond repair. In fact, from my perspective, it must not have been a true friendship to begin with. I’m just saying….

    Shake it off. It may take some time for your internal temperature from rage to cool, but shake it off. Despite the fact that the friendship is likely over, find a way to forgive and move on– not for Mike and his mother, but for YOU! 🙂

    MW

    P.S.– Selling stuff online is not as difficult as you might think. But use a trusted resource. This is not a paid endorsement, but eBay is what I have used for years with no problems at all. Yes, it does require a little bit of time to setup your account (you should also setup a PayPal account to make/receive payments), post your items and ship them when they sell. But considering what it appears that you lost in the Mike episode, it would probably be worth it.

  2. m.e. johnson

    December 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    OCC does say “acquaintance”, not friend. So much for being too trusting, especially these days it seems. Mike is right ~ friends/relatives and business DO NOT mix. Sorry OCC, not much you can do. You have no proof of anything. You just joined the thousands who get scammed every day. Maybe next time take your stuff to a consignment shop, get everything in writing.

    One day Mike will do this to the wrong person. KARMA!

  3. Juli

    December 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I definitely agree with the do not do business with friends policy. I had to learn that the hard way….TWICE…before I was convinced. I rented my house to an old friend’s daughter and her boyfriend. They were nightmare tenent, and everytime I called them on it I got grief. I chose not to involve my friend because her daughter was 20 years old. Long story short…I had to court order evict them from my home and I got it back trashed. Cost me about $3000. and the girl now has a court ordered eviction on her credit history for 7 years. She hates me but her mom and I have managed to stay friends. I wouldn’t hold her mom accountable for her behavior. But her mom did give a crap and was embarrassed.
    On the other hand OCC ….The boy of your “friend” is a minor so she is somewhat liable, but as M.E. pointed out you have no paper trial to prove your case. You lose. And yes you got a life lesson… Not to be friends with this woman and her family and to get something in writing before hand if you ever want to try something like this again. Sorry you had to learn the hard way like me. people can be so wicked.

  4. Pontificating Brother

    December 13, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Wow…this is a mess. I probably shouldn’t be responding to this because all I have in my mind is a taser/cattle prod and the thought giving both Mike and his Mother a little “jump start” in the world of decency. But the reality in all of this is that OCC just received an unfortunate lesson. It makes me sick to my stomach that Mike’s mom seems to be so cavalier in her response to OCC. Hopefully Mike will learn something from this although I don’t think he will because his mom doesn’t seem to be identifying his opportunities for improvement, Best Wishes to you!!

  5. Tiffany T

    December 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    “I also wonder if Mike ever really posted the items online and for the suggested price(s) you gave him? I don’t know Mike or his mother, but the story leaves me wondering if he DID sell the items for something to their value and decided to rip you off. Could his mother be complicit?”

    ^ This is exactly what was running through my head when I read this, too. I think you got scammed by them both. You can attempt to talk to an attorney to see if there is anything that can be done, but with your losses only being $1450 (a lot of money, yes, but in the legal world, not always worth the fight), it may not be the best idea to pursue it. It’ll probably cost you more than that to go after them, unless you can find other people who have been scammed by Mike & his mom, too.

    Sorry!

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