Dear Jeanne and Leonard: When a friend asked me for contact information for the guy who details my car, I was happy to give it to her. Then I found out that she ground him on the price, even though it was very reasonable for our area. Not only that, she later complained to me that she’d been overcharged and that my guy didn’t do a good job. Wasn’t she out of bounds, or am I being too sensitive?

– Lawrence, Illinois

Dear Lawrence: Don’t worry, you’re not too sensitive. You’re right: If you ask a friend for a recommendation, you don’t nickel-and-dime the recommendee, and you don’t whine to the recommender.

Obviously, your inconsiderate friend didn’t understand that you were doing her a favor. And she didn’t understand that she owed you two things in return: appreciation – not criticism – and respect for your relationship with your detailer.

Had she just said, “No, thanks,” when your guy told her his price, all would have been well. But she didn’t. So next time your pal asks for a recommendation, recommend that she ask someone else.


Dear Jeanne and Leonard: What’s the right way to handle a cheapskate?

A group of us, all women, get together every week for cards and dinner. We take turns hosting, but it’s pretty loose – people just volunteer when they haven’t done it in a while. The host provides the entree, and the rest of us supply salads, desserts, wine and so on. A couple of years ago, one of the women in the group started bringing her cousin to our get-togethers. In all that time, the cousin has never offered to host the group, and most of the time she doesn’t even bring something to share. But when she does, it’s just a bag of chips.

I don’t want to hurt the cousin’s feelings, or the feelings of the woman who brings her, but I don’t think this is fair to the rest of us. Also, the cousin is rather annoying. What should we do?

– Being Used, Kansas City

Dear Being Used: Of course the cousin is annoying. Mooches are always annoying – and thick-skinned, too. So don’t bother dropping hints to Mrs. Chips that it’s time she starts pulling her weight. She already knows – and so does her sponsor – that in bringing the occasional bag of Fritos, she is contributing nowhere near the equivalent in time, effort and money as the others.

This leaves you with two options: You can start scheduling hosting duties and handing out dish assignments; or you can vote this moocher off the island – because as long as you keep feeding her, she’s not going to paddle off on her own.


Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I have an ex-stepson with whom I’ve had no contact for more than 10 years. Because of his job, he’s able to access my personal information, including my Social Security number. So he puts me down as a secondary reference whenever he opens new credit card accounts, accounts he then doesn’t pay off. As a result, I am constantly getting calls from people trying to collect the money he owes them. What should I do?

– Barbara, Southern California

Dear Barbara: Lucky for you this guy is your ex-stepson and not your stepson. That means there’s no reason for you not to contact his employer, the police, the district attorney and the state consumer protection agency. If none of them can get the guy to stop, talk to an attorney … and think hard about what other mischief your ex-stepson could be up to with your personal information.

Please email your questions about money and relationships to