Dear Miss Manners: A friend and her husband ran into some issues with their new home, and needed funds to fix the problems and make the place livable again. They started an online campaign to raise the money. Based on the amount donated, you would get a “gift” of your choice. (Her husband is a craftsman and made the items.)
I donated a larger amount than I originally intended, because I wanted a particular gift. The money was raised, and the couple expressed their thanks online.
It is now several weeks later, and I have not received my gift. There has been no acknowledgment of it, nor any follow-up conversations or posts regarding the delivery or making of the gifts. Not even a, “Hey, we are so grateful, but very busy, and we’re getting to it.” This is unusual for a couple who shares so much online.
Should I inquire after my gift or just let this disappear into the ether, knowing that I helped someone I care about? I feel as if their pleading for help was answered resoundingly, and once they got what they wanted, they just moved on.
Although one’s heart naturally goes out to anyone in need, Miss Manners finds her sympathy limited because of your friend’s self-serving misuse of both English and etiquette. Friends do not fundraise from their friends, nor do they charge for gifts. They do return personal thanks for largesse.
As this appears to Miss Manners to have been a commercial transaction, she sees no bar to your asking when you will receive the merchandise. But as you have, to date, accepted the premise that this is not a commercial transaction, she will understand if you preface the request with a sympathetic inquiry into the recovery operation, and an acknowledgment that salvage operations may be delaying trips to the post office.
Dear Miss Manners: My generous relative sends gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions. She is very well-intentioned, but the gifts she sends are food items that are poor quality, stale and/or mushy.
I have told her I don’t need any gifts, but she says she wants to acknowledge important occasions. I feel guilty that I always throw out the food, because it’s always inedible. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t want her to waste money, and I don’t want to put her gifts in the trash.
You are right to recognize a general ban on criticizing gifts, but there is a narrow exception for the situation you describe. Well-intentioned gift-givers expect that you will receive what they intended to send — not to mention what they paid for.
Miss Manners therefore recommends telling your relative if the food arrives in a condition that would require the seller to replace it. One does this with an apology for the trouble, because your relative will not want to use this merchant again.
But be warned that there are limits to this exception: If your relative sends pears, for example, you may speak up if you receive spoiled pears, kumquats or no fruit at all — but not if you simply dislike pears, or they are not in your diet.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
© 2023 Judith Martin
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