Advice needed re: friend asking favours

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by trinityroyal, May 8, 2009.

  1. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Normally when a friend asks a favour, I just say yes, wade in and do it, and then forget all about it. Or, say no if I'm not in a position to help out...

    This morning, a friend asked me to do her a favour, and for some reason it's not sitting right with me. I'm not quite sure how to react or what to do, and I'd like to get others' opinions on how best to handle it.

    Here's the message she sent me:

    How are you? I hope much better than I have been. I am not working at the office job any more. I was very sick and still need to take it easy until my medications does its thing. In the mean time I am teaching a group class here and there. I need to work on getting more classes to teach so I am kindly asking for assistant in preparing my advertising strategies. Would you in the next week be able to spare some time to help me. I have all my strategies in my mind but not to good at wording it properly. I desperately want to get this going out there soon.
    Please let me know if you can. The weekends are much better as I teach classes during the weekday evenings. I would ppreciated it very much plus I would give you a free dance lesson for helping me.​

    The things that are niggling at me are:

    - She's asking me to do as a favour the type of work I provide to my clients in my "day job"
    - Based on the effort her project will likely require, one dance lesson doesn't come close to balancing out against the time, work and supplies involved
    - I kinda feel like I'm being set up with a sob story (I'm sick, I've lost my job, etc.)
    - Between my client work, the family business, volunteer work, preparing for the babies...I feel a bit strapped for time already, and don't know that I want to take on another project, however small

    I do want to help out a friend in trouble, but I don't want it to become a habit with her. I've been burned by offering this type of help to friends in the past, and think that might be colouring my response in this case.

    My gut feel isn't strong enough to point me one way or the other, so I'd appreciate your thoughts. So, what do you think?

    Am I being petty? Selfish?
    Am I right to feel a bit uneasy about this request?
    What would you do?


  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I think you have reason to be concerned. I don't know her but I can see that she might just be struggling to get some business going and she doesn't have much money to put into it. That doesn't mean you can let her "use" you. I think you should decide what, if anything, you want to do to help out. You can tell her that you can't offer professional services free of charge. If you want to give her a discounted rate, that would be appropriate.

    If there are parts of this you can do via email or phone, you can offer that so that your weekend time isn't given up. If you don't want to get involved at all, that's understandable, in my humble opinion. Maybe just tell her you are already slammed with work and point her to someone else who might could help her.
  3. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I know how hard it is to say no. But if you have it in your head that a red flag exists however small you should pay attention. There are reasons we come up with them. Even in situations like this. Instincts can be very helpful. I know how hard it is to say no. I have a friend that needs help regularly. Sometimes I do sometimes I don't. It used to eat me up that I couldn't really do more. Then it occured to me that taking care of me and my own isn't selfish. It is smart. If you can do some share that with her. But if you feel like you shouldn't for whatever reason then don't.

  4. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Well, I've been in this EXACT position and got burned. I got burned because my friend called me at night begging me to help her son design forms and internet service and setting up brochures and printining them and putting all the forms I created (EXTRA EXTRA difficult Excel sheets) and put them on a CD for mass print for customers.

    The exchange was supposed to be moving my AC vent cold air return as his business was HVAC.

    I......jumped right on the project for him - working well into the early wee hours of the morning. It took me three days but when it was done - it was fantastic. HE was VERY impressed and had he gone to a person with my mad skillz - it would have cost him 10 times more than moving a vent.

    I waited - I waited........finally three months later I said "Hey how about asking your son to finish our deal?" And she said "Here call him yourself." And it kinda didn't set right with me - SHE called ME for the help and I thought she could call him but instead made me continue to call him long distance. After eight months of excuses he finally sent 2 inexperienced kids (18 and 19) out to my home who looked at the situation and said "We have to cut a hole in your floor in the hall." WTH? Oh no.....I don't think so call your boss adn have him come look at this - this is ridiculous...

    He never showed, he never came back or called. It's been over a year now - and I finally hired someone to fix my bathroom. For 15.00 and some pop rivets - he fixed the problem in under 10 minutes. What I had given in my time and talent was in my humble opinion worth about $500-plus. I don't see that friend anymore and yes, in the back of my mind part of it was her pleading and begging because her grandkids needed food - rent - and getting this done so he could start his business was VERY important. So I was svckered in.
    While I love my friends - this last scam cost me myfriendship with her. I tried to continue to be friends - but she never returned my calls BECAUSE she thinks every time I call - I'm going to ask about her son not coming. So I left her with her own thoughts. I figured four times being blown off was enough to tell me - not wanted. Or in my mind - Got what we wanted.

    What I would do - is offer my services at a discount. If I would make $500.00 doing for my friends what I would do for clients? I would tell her that I would be glad to do this at a discount - but that I'm so busy the time it takes me away from (whatever life throws at you) has to be compensated - but since you're friends - fairly. I would say - HEre's my deal - I can do 1 hour for free /instruction to get you started. If you decide you want me to continue to work on your account? We will keep this like a business agreement, draw up a written contract, have it notarized with a payment schedule.

    I'm not kidding - I recently had a guy from my office that I give HUGE jobs to repair parts of my bathroom......I paid for ALL the materials, I worked as a helper, I helped hand tools, pick up tools, brought him drinks and cleaned up the mess. He charged me $300 - which is 1/2 of what I would have paid anyone else. I think that's fair.

    I'd tell her the same. BECAUSE - I did it myself...and neither of us feel cheated or used in our deal. I got a floor, joists and a rebuilt ac vent - HE got $300.00 - I got what I wanted at a huge discount.....he got paid for his work - and knowledge.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    All I know to say is...........I wouldn't ask a friend for a favor that she charged other people to do. I might ask for a discount or perhaps even advice, but I wouldn't ask her to do work I know she gets paid to do.

    Does that make sense? It just wouldn't feel right for me to do so. I mean, that would be like a friend asking me to come in and give nursing care to one of their family members for free.

    Oh........and it's not just me. My art instructor does commissions. But I know he will charge a friend for a piece of artwork. He may give them a discounted rate, but he still charges them.

    If you don't feel one dance lesson is enough to cover the "cost" of the favor, you can either haggle or simply tell her your plate is too full.

  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Trinity, you have a perfect excuse. With your pregnancy and the job and family you feel you don't have any time to spare at present. Maybe give her a suggestion or two and let her down easy.

    My thing is that if I'm asked a favor, it should be on my terms. She told you what days and times suit her. She should make time for anything you are able to give her. I think the issue not sitting well with you is that she isn't asking a favor but demanding your assistance and then dangling a reward that doesn't quite cover it.

    She is being very self centered. I wouldn't give her more than you can fit in around the rest of your life. She does it on your terms or she doesn't get it.
    I would have to tell her weekends don't work for you as it is the only time to do house work and spend time with husband and prepare for twins. Sheesh.

    I get royally miffed if I'm doing a favor and they start to make demands.
  7. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    I can't imagine writing a letter like that to any of my friends! And especially if they had the busy life you have!! I think she is presumptuous and also she is setting all the terms! My gosh, if I had the nerve to ask a friend to help me I sure wouldn't be telling them when it was most convenient for me! I'd be asking when it was convenient for them! Also, one measly dance class hardly is reciprocal payment.

    I think you can say "no" with a very clear conscience!!!!!!

  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    If you're questioning as to whether or not you should do it and have already listed out the reasons why you are already strapped for time and energy - then I think you've found your answer.

    A favor is a favor. If you cannot do it or cannot squeeze in the time, no need to ever feel guilty.

    This is not so much about getting burned or being taken advantage of. She's made her request, you've thought about it and either you can or you can't. If it will prove to be too time consuming or cost you your well being or you simply don't want to be bothered by ONE MORE THING, then say no and be okay with your answer. Tell her to ask again should the need arise, but right now you can't possibly do ONE MORE THING. You're sooOOOOooooo sorry....blah blah blah.

    on the other hand, if you can and you're willing, then go into it expecting NOTHING in return.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think you need to feel like you should have to do this favor. Good gosh...your a working mom who is carrying twins! You are not only busy but tired. You should be asking for help not giving
  10. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Dear friend,

    It was good to hear from you. I'm sorry to hear about xxxxxx. I too, have alot going on in my life. LOL. (Keep it light and jovial). It was good to hear from you, I'm unable to help you at this time, but let's keep in touch.


    Don't you do it. She should be calling offering you help! Keep it short and sweet, but right to the point. I noticed the message was all about her...nothing about how you are, or anything else. Don't even feel guilty. Sometimes the answer is , "No".- Alyssa
  11. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    husband does web design.

    He has done design free or discounted for several clients / friends. But it's always been him OFFERING to do it, not someone ASKING him to do it.

    He does our church (for free). He does the neighborhood portal site (for free). Both pay their own domain and server fees.

    He's done several luthier and music festival sights. Again - they pay domain and server fees. If the luthier begins to see a profit from the site, then he gets a fee. The festivals are usually ones we are involved with, so while he may get paid, it's usually less than what he would normally charge.

    He did get almost burned once. He had done a site for a music store for a friend for a very discounted fee. About a year afterwards, the friend decided he wanted to have someone else do it, and that designer wanted to have all of husband's code, included a customized search engine, a chord finder for instruments, etc. husband dumped all of it quickly to prevent that - and had many people ask where it all went. That was 5 years ago, and the shop still has a very poor site, but the owner is too embarrassed to come back to us and ask for help (he's now trying to do it himself).
  12. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone.
    Your insights, as always, are spot on.

    She IS focusing only on her needs, at the expense of mine. I can't ever imagine asking her to give me free dance lessons, or to do my company books at no charge (her other line of work), and her request seems to be equivalent to that.

    I don't normally resent doing favours for people, so I was having trouble understanding why this one was setting off warning bells for me. Thanks for helping me to clarify things.

    I think I'll be sending her a polite but firm no.


  13. Star*

    Star* call 911


    Sending me $20 bucks is out of the question? :surprise:

    JUST checking. ;)
  14. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I would say by your post that you are not comfortable in doing this. You have to follow your instincts.

    Try an answer such as,

    1. Use other's advise as already posted.

    2. "I am honored that you have asked me to help in this. However, I can not possibly find the time to do a proper job. With the babies coming and the normal hectic life of Spring and Summer, I need to spend all my spare time preparing. I can not possibly be away from home for one more moment. My kids need me now as they switch from Spring to Summer activities."

    3. Give no excuse - a simple, "I am sorry, I am just not able to take on anything right now."

    4. "I have no free time available. The babies will be here quicker than I a will be ready for. I need to spend extra time with the kids while I can."

    5. "Can't, board members say NO WAY!"
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Trinity, I just found this note.
    Did you say no?
    Otherwise, maybe she could do a rough draft and email it to you. Then you won't have to listen to the sob story, and you can do it on your own schedule.
    You do have your hands full so it's not like you're making up an excuse so you can put up your feet and eat chocolates all day.
    Although if you did, that would be your right. :)
    Good luck!
  16. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member


    Bless your kind heart - it sounds like you know what is best for you, but want to let thefriend land as softly as possible.

    In your post you said: "Between my client work, the family business, volunteer work, preparing for the babies...I feel a bit strapped for time already, and don't know that I want to take on another project, however small."

    Those thoughts are all good, sensible reasons why you can say no without remorse or guilt. I suppose you could tweak the wording, if you want - something like "my work and family responsibilities are very demanding right now and I cannot take your project on without compromising my health."
  17. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for your input and insight everyone. I was glad to have so many weigh in and confirm that I wasn't over-reacting.

    Here's the response I sent.

    Hello Friend-asking-favour,

    I'm sorry to hear that you have been sick over the last while, and I hope that you're on the mend.

    With regard to your request, I truly wish that I could help out. Between work, family responsibilities, the pregnancy and preparing for the new babies, I'm pretty overwhelmed at the moment, and just can't take on anything further. I would hate to promise you my help only to have to back out later.

    I'm keeping you in my thoughts, and hope that business picks up for you soon.

    All the best,

    I feel so much better.
  18. Andy

    Andy Active Member