Ask Amy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 10:45pm

DEAR AMY: About 10 years ago, my mother-in-law was moving to assisted living and was getting rid of or selling furniture she could not use. She gave each of us pieces of furniture. My sister-in-law said she would like Mom's breakfront but she didn't have room to keep it.

I offered to store it for her. I said if they moved, she could have it. It isn't an antique.

I put the breakfront in the living room and used it.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law moved to a smaller apartment, so she couldn't send for it.

She said she didn't want it but said I could pay her $1,500 for it. She said this is what she had seen it was worth.

I took a picture of it to antique and resale shops, and they said it was worth $300.

To whom does this breakfront belong?

If I hadn't opened my mouth, my mother-in-law would have sold it and received the money, so I feel it belongs to her and I should pay her for it.

Please let me know what you think. My sister-in-law is angry that I haven't sent money to her.

— Upset

DEAR UPSET: The breakfront doesn't belong to your mother-in-law. She gave it to your sister-in-law, and you agreed to house it for her.

I agree that she is being petty about this piece of furniture, but it seems to be causing problems, so prepare yourself to part with it.

You've had the use of this piece for 10 years, and now the burden should be on your sister-in-law to take possession of it or arrange for someone else to take it.

Tell her you understand that she feels strongly about this piece and offer to e-mail her a digital photo of it. If she wants to sell it, she can offer it on an online auction site, and it can be sold to the highest bidder. If you want to bid on it, you can.

Otherwise, tell your sister-in-law you're going to replace the breakfront, and give her a date by which she can take possession of it, sell it or donate it to a worthy cause.


DEAR AMY: I pick up lunches for my company's meetings quite often, using a particular restaurant in the neighborhood.

When I called there today to order takeout lunches, the restaurant manager asked me why we don't tip. I was taken aback!

I told her that I used to tip but often something was wrong with the order when I got it back to the office.

She assured me that she had a new crew and that it wouldn't happen again because she would personally see to it.

I couldn't help but feel uneasy about the call.

I went to my immediate supervisor to get his take on the situation, but no one seems to know if we should tip for takeout.

Another restaurant that we use from time to time delivers for free, and we are not required to pay a tip. What do you think?

— Tipless

DEAR TIPLESS: You are not required to pay a tip for takeout, even if a restaurant employee demands it. Your office's ongoing patronage is the restaurant's reward.

However, if you have a relationship with a restaurant that regularly prepares large orders for you, correctly and in a timely fashion, you should reward the good service with a modest tip when you pick up the food.

You should reward the other lunch place you use regularly by tipping the delivery person when she delivers your large orders.

I'd suggest transferring your business to the restaurant that serves you the best — and doesn't demand tips.


DEAR AMY: Regarding letters in your column about acknowledging e-cards, I have never thanked anyone for an e-card, and that's because I don't want to receive them. I'm sure there are people who feel as I do.

For those who are overwhelmed with too much e-mail already, or for people who have a slow computer, receiving an e-card they have to open is like the post office telling you that someone has mailed you a card, but you must make a trip to the post office to pick it up and fill out two forms to read it!

So, no — I won't be thanking you for an e-card. Please take this as a hint.

— Tired Of E-nonsense

DEAR TIRED: Hint received.

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Filed under: Lifestyles