Never Mix Business With Family

I’ve heard that expression my whole life and yet I don’t listen. Oh bleeps. I need some advice.

Last October my cousin, let’s call him Randy, who is an HVAC technician and now works for a company that sells AC Units, came to me with a proposition. Our current AC unit is not the most efficient and we’ve had to repair it a handful of times. He had a unit in his store that was being discontinued. He promised me it was a good unit, just no longer being made, so they had to sell it cheaper. He also assured me we’d always be able to get parts for it and that wouldn’t be an issue. He said it should have a 10-15 year life span. He was able to sell it to us for $1800.

If you know anything about AC Units, you know that’s a stinkin’ good deal. A unit for our house would probably cost around $4500-5000, so we talked about it and decided to go for it. I wasn’t in treatment with an RE at the time so all of our GI Bill money was basically up for spending. We decided to use the excess on the unit.

So I wrote him a check, and then….nothing. Nothing happened. I kept asking him about installing and he’d always say “Well, it’s winter, so we don’t need to worry about it” or “Well, I need to come out to your house and see what we need to do about getting the old one out of there.” There was always an excuse. Then around May or June this year, I finally said “Randy, it’s summer and I would really love to be using the new unit we paid for.” So he came out to my house to assess what needed to be done…

And discovered that to make this unit work with my house we needed to have $10,000 worth of electrical updating done, because this new unit draws a huge amount of amps that our older house isn’t equipped for. Obviously I don’t have ten grand, and if I did it would be spent on IVF. So now we’re nine months down the road. He can no longer return the unit, so now he has to try and sell it.

At this point it’s relevant for you to know that this cousin is stinking rich. Not from working, but from people passing away and leaving him and his wife (who is my blood relative, he’s related by marriage) TONS of money. I mean, seriously, they have hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if they don’t have that anymore (because they spend money like it’s NOTHING) then that’s really not my problem. I know they still have a bunch because they do whatever they want. Go on vacation, buy season tickets, go to fancy restaurants, have people come and clean their house, mow their lawn, landscape, etc.

Now, if I had a shit ton of money sitting around and I had royally screwed over my little cousin, even if it was an honest mistake, I think I would just pay her the money and then keep the money when the unit sells. He’s been “trying” to sell it since June now and NO ONE. He won’t talk to me about it. When I bring it up he gets defensive and says stuff like “Well I show it to everyone who comes in” or “I’m going to put it on the internet soon.”

I REALLY don’t care what he does with it. What I care about is that he owes me $1800. I now have no $1800, and no new AC Unit. I asked him about it tonight and he once again got defensive and brushed me off.

Honestly, I’m at my wits end. $1800 is SO MUCH MONEY to us. Seriously. Fertility treatments are awful-you guys know that. And the money is one of the worst parts. My husband and I BOTH work two jobs to make all of this happen. Getting to go to Alaska was such a huge deal for us. They act like they owe us $5.00.

So my mom thinks I should call his wife and very kindly but firmly explain that this isn’t our fault, and while we know he didn’t do it on purpose, he owes us this money and we want it now. Any other professional would have had to pay us back by now, and that the whole situation makes me uncomfortable and I would like them to pay us so that we don’t have to deal with it anymore. And quite honestly, we didn’t ASK for this. He came to us, and I know his heart was in the right place, but at this point I just need it resolved.

I’m going to do it, but I’m SO STRESSED about it. It’s uncomfortable, and sucky. What would you guys do? I’m starting to lose sleep thinking about it. This is why you never do business with family. And I love these guys so much, but I’m afraid it’s going to ruin our relationship.

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10 thoughts on “Never Mix Business With Family

  1. Ooooof. Does the wife, your cousin, know about your fertility treatments? I’d just start off by saying you’re sorry, and this is awkward, but we’re dealing with x, y, and z, and we really need to resolve the situation. I mean, it’s easy to tell you what to say, haha, but I wouldn’t want to have to make that phone call.

    I lived with a cousin for a few years and it was awful. Then years later, I helped her sister pay the deposit on her wedding dress ($900 later), and my aunt ultimately had to pay me back. It all worked out in the end, but stuff like that is anyways tricky.

    • They do know about our treatments because we see the same doctor they do! And my mom has said that if they won’t pay me she’ll talk to my aunt because we KNOW she’ll pay and then they’ll owe her and i know he’ll HATE that, because he doesn’t like his mother in law very much. She loves me though-she’s one of the aunts who is always trying to give me money!

  2. I would do it on the tail end of a bad RE appointment. That’s usually when I need someone to yell at the most…..

    This stinks, I’m so sorry you’re in this position!! I hope it all works out for the best

  3. What a sticky situation. I’d be very stressed about it too. I don’t blame you. But he can’t hold onto your money forever. I know we all hate confrontations. But it’s a substantial amount of money. I am sorry you have to deal with it. I hope that you will come up with the best words to say.

  4. Oh no! That’s a terrible story! I would definitely speak to your cousin as the building resentment will also affect your relationship with her. If they are unwilling to pay you your money perhaps they can give you the unit so that at least you can advertise it and flog it? At this point it is essentially stealing… You’ve paid 1800 and have received nothing for it! A last ditch effort would be to approach the company directly? But only if you are prepared to burn bridges with your cousin I imagine!

  5. Ugh. I hate it when people can’t just do the right thing on their own! Your mom’s approach sounds reasonable and well thought out, but I imagine it feels terrifying – talking about money is hard!

  6. You’re mom is totally right. Your gut is right. But you’re also right that the time before that phone call is going to suck. I had to make a phone call yesterday that I put off for 24 hours, so I speak from recent experience. It did work out well for me in the end though, because I was direct and like you, had a solid case. But man…. That did not stop my tummy from churning…..

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