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Miss Manners: I give unsolicited advice to businesses I patronize

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Dear Miss Manners: Sometimes I give suggestions to businesses, such as a gym, a store or my condo management. I am very careful to be respectful and polite, and to wait till the person at the counter is available to speak with me.

I usually receive one of a few answers, but I don’t know how to reply.

Sometimes I hear, “No one else has mentioned this,” which I find condescending. Or I’m told, “There has never been an incident before” to requests for safety measures, which I find very illogical. I’ve never had a fire at my home or been in a car accident, yet I use smoke alarms and seat belts.

I believe that when there is a problem, it should be investigated — such as checking the temperature or the decibels, for example, if I mention that it is extremely cold or extremely loud — instead of telling me I’m the only one with the complaint. There is never a simple acknowledgment or validation of my concerns.

And that is unfortunate. Miss Manners might have some sympathy for an establishment receiving conflicting feedback on subjective criteria, but these replies suggest that your reactions are out of line.

Your response to such remarks should be, “Thank you. I will take it up with management.” Whether or not you actually do so is entirely up to your own equally subjective criteria.

Dear Miss Manners: Approximately 15 years ago, I gave my niece a ring. It was a ring that my grandfather (her great-grandfather), a migrant farmworker, found. He gave it to my mother, and she gave it to me when I was 15. It is a class ring from my alma mater from the year 1918, and I wore it for many years.

I gave it to my niece on the occasion of her wedding; it was her “something old.” My niece has since divorced that husband, and is remarried with a family.

I have never seen the ring again. She doesn’t wear it, and I truly regret giving it away. Assuming she still has the ring, is there any way to ask for it back? I do not want to hurt her, but the ring has enormous sentimental value to me.

Did your niece divorce the ring along with the ex-husband? Because otherwise, there is no reason to think that these two events were related — and the ring is still rightfully hers.

Miss Manners suggests instead that you remember it fondly in front of her and her children. Tell them the legacy of their great-great-grandfather, and add, “Perhaps someday, your mother will pass the ring along to you, as I did to her. It is such an important symbol of our family history.” And then watch as your niece quickly scrambles to produce it.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin