Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I use my airline visa for everything and have lots of miles racked up.
My good friend has a big family and asked if she could buy miles to
take them on a trip. I suggested a trade for painting my sun porch
since her husband, once a contractor but now a teacher, isn’t working
this summer. She said yes, but after the fact sent over her eighteen-
year-old son, since the husband found a lucrative short-term gig. I’d
rather have had my handyman do the work, but having suggested the
trade didn’t see a way out. The son did a sloppy and inadequate job. I
don’t want to lose a friend over this but I feel like the bargain wasn’t
honored. What should I say or do?
Money between friends is always tricky. It would have been better to
separate the transactions. Sell her air miles; get a commitment that
the husband would do the work, even supervising the teenager, even
on a weekend. In the absence of an agreement beforehand, you are
pretty much stuck. You can ask the husband to come back and fix the
areas that are egregiously ugly, or offer to pay the two of them to
come back and put on a second coat. Note that a good friend would
interpret this offer and not accept payment. As with all painting
projects, the hassle value of disemboweling your house a second time
will be far worse than any other part of the project.
In the future, be really clear on what does and doesn’t work for you.
Friends are harder to come by than painters or handymen, so you
should not cause too big a stink. But let her know you are
disappointed and ask what she thinks would be a good way to resolve
things. You’ll work it out.