Dear Captain Awkward,
Here’s an awkward situation for you.
My acquaintance gave me a mattress in the summer, because it wasn’t working for her back.
I paid $260 for the movers. Unfortunately, they turned out to be creepy and unprofessional.
She’s convinced they stole things from her. At first I believed her, but now I doubt. They allegedly took a hard drive she had in storage, as well as her car keys. She’s sure they took more, but “can’t remember what.” She claims that she saw them come back 4 months after the move to attempt to go through her car…hmm. A great number of her complaints were regarding the fact that they didn’t speak English in front of her, so I had kinda been thinking she was having challenges with racism.
She contacted me a week ago, convinced that they swapped out the mattress in transit. I reassured her that this was not so.
Unfortunately, this opened conversation. Since giving me the mattress, she has discovered that she has stain protection insurance. She is having back issues again, and doesn’t like the new mattress she purchased.
She wants me to stain this mattress, have it cleaned, “discover” that the stain won’t come out, then have insurance replace it so that she can have the new one and I can get the one she’s using now.
It’s a completely different firmness. I’ve researched what she’s offering, and it’s entirely unsuitable for people of my weight and sleeping style.
Although she has assured me that she doesn’t blame me for the mover situation, she’s now exerting some significant pressure on me. She’s outlined in great detail how much money the situation has cost her, and has told me that the reason she’s pushing me is that she’s “fighting for her health.”
I feel sympathetic to her back issues, and I want to be a good human in this scenario.
But I’m currently unemployed and can’t afford to purchase another mattress if the one she’s offering doesn’t work. And I’d rather not commit insurance fraud.
We have many mutual friends. I feel like I’m stuck with her plan if I don’t want her to badmouth me.
More importantly, I don’t know the right thing to do.
No Such Thing As Free
Hi No Such Thing As Free,
Thank you for this oddly specific question!
If the movers last summer stole this person’s stuff last summer she had options, from filing a police report and making a claim against renter’s insurance to leaving the company a bad Yelp review. I agree with you that something smells about her claims as to what the movers supposedly stole (what is the black market resale value of a random hard drive, exactly?) and something definitely smells about her suspicion that these movers somehow “swapped out” the mattress for another one (what is the black market resale value of a random used mattress, exactly?)
Now you are supposed to “stain” the mattress, return it to her house somehow, and then…profit? I can’t even follow this.
Her problem is that she picked out a mattress for herself and doesn’t like it 7 or 8 months later, and she has decided that it’s also your problem, so she wants to use the sketchy movers to pressure you into doing something unethical and weird.
If this person wants her old mattress back from you, she can ask for it back. You can decide if you want to give it back to her, or you can decide if you want to keep it. Either way, you should not do weird stain stuff to it, and either way you probably are done with this friendship. She’s not going to look kindly on you for not helping her out with the Great Mattress Stain Caper of 2018, you’re not going to look kindly on her for demanding her mattress back after giving it to you as a gift. In your shoes I’d assume the friendship is done and proceed accordingly, like, “Hey, I’m sorry your new mattress sucks, but I don’t feel comfortable with any of this. I hope you figure out how to get a mattress that you like better.”
Repeat as necessary. “Hey, this is too weird for me, sorry. I can’t help you out.”
If she makes trouble with your mutual friends, you can say “She did me this really nice favor one time, but it had all these weird strings attached, like the time she wanted me to purposely stain my mattress so she could get a replacement for it. Too weird.” You’re right to be wary, because she’s shown you that she’s very manipulative and okay with lying about stuff, and I suspect that she *might* twist the story so that *you* are supposedly the one who stole something from her. But also, there is no part of this story that makes her look good, and I bet your mutual friends have their own “hrmmm, this doesn’t add up” stories about her.
This friendship is done. Don’t commit mattress stain protection fraud with her. Thanks for this reminder that sometimes the cheapest way to pay for things is with money.