General Question

jca's avatar

How do I get my coworker to start either paying for stamps he asks me for or stop asking me for them?

Asked by jca (29291 points ) November 16th, 2010

A few months ago, my coworker asked me for two stamps. I told him I keep them at work, and I gave them to him. He did not offer the money to me, and so I was thinking “ok I won’t ask him for it because it’s only 88 cents.” About a week after that, he asked me for another, and I gave it to him. At that point I was thinking if he asks me again, I’ll tell him I took the stamps home. He did not ask until yesterday.

He asked for a stamp, I got a little flustered and was going to lie and say I took them home, but the lie would have sounded fake, so I said ok. He did not offer the money, and again, I did not want to sound cheap and say “that’s 44 cents, please.”

Is this something I should let go repeatedly, or what is a good way to ask for the money (honestly, I don’t want to sound cheap but it does add up).

Just FYI: We’re not anything other than work friends, we don’t hang out together, go to lunch or anything like that. We chat but nothing more, and our cubicles are next to each other.

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32 Answers

sleepdoc's avatar

I think you either have to decide this is something that is important enough to you to ask him to either pay you for future stamps or stop asking you for them or if it isn’t that important decide if you can afford to sponsor his postage. There is always the opportunity to lie and tell him he used all of what you had as well and if he wants to give some money to you, you will go and get some more to keep at work.

squirbel's avatar

Because stamps cost, you are in the right to politely ask that he reimburse you. He’s depending on you and taking advantage of you.

The next time he asks, politely say:

“I’d appreciate it if you could purchase your own stamps, or at least reimburse me for the ones you use.”

or

Jokingly:
“Hehe…stamps aren’t free, you know!” put your hand out for money~

When you are about to respond – think about it like this. He’s using my stamps to put on his utility bills!!!

DandyDear711's avatar

Put a sign on your cubicle: Postage Stamps 50 cents – COD

Trillian's avatar

Really? You say, “Well,theses stamp cost me forty two cents apiece. I’m going to add a convenience charge of a dollar each to that, plus eight cents because I like even numbers. That will be one fifty for one stamp.”

anartist's avatar

Say “I don’t have any available”—-
sort of the equivalent to “Mrs. Jones is not at home”

or more bluntly
“I don’t have any for you”
“Mrs Jones is not available” “Mrs Jones will not see you”

Brian1946's avatar

You have to decide how much accumulated cost is no longer “cheap” to ask for reimbursement.

As of now, he’s borrowed $1.76 worth of stamps from you, not to mention your time that you spent getting the stamps, and since we humans have relatively short lifespans, our time is very valuable.

Until then, you could tell him that you need all of those stamps for your mail.

DandyDear711's avatar

“I don’t have any to spare.”

jlelandg's avatar

If you don’t mind the person, then I suggest: when you run out of your current roll, tell them you need to buy new ones and you’re hoping they can chip in a little for the cause-you’re mainly asking because they often borrow-and in the future they can continue asking at little to no hassle from you. This will encourage a good working relationship and if they say no then you don’t have to be the one to initiate assholary.

chyna's avatar

“I only have enough to last me to pay my bills and won’t get a chance to pick up anymore, sorry.”
Or just say you don’t keep them at the office any longer. If you aren’t comfortable saying that, then make it true. Don’t keep them at the office for your co-worker to mooch.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’ll tell that cheap bastard for you if you don’t want to.Just tell him to buy his own. ;)

Afos22's avatar

Start asking him for stamps.
A. It will make him think you do not have stamps
B. If he gives you stamps, then you are reimbursed in the form of stamps
C. He will find himself in your situation and realize that its no good

bobbinhood's avatar

You said that the first time was a few months ago. That means this person is averaging about a stamp a month. That’s $5.28/year. I get that he should be responsible for his own stamps, but is $5.28 really that big of a deal? It just doesn’t seem worth the conflict.

If you decide it really is worth the conflict and a potentially awkward relationship with someone you see five days a week, just politely tell him that finances are tight and you can’t afford to keep giving away stamps. If your finances aren’t actually that tight, then you can tell him that you feel like you’re being taken advantage of and would appreciate it if he would start purchasing his own stamps.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Leave you stamps at home. That way, you don’t have to give them away or give them out with any expectation of a monetary return. And you don’t have to lie.

squirbel's avatar

Almost everyone’s answer is deceptive, in my opinion. Why don’t you guys talk to him directly? Why lie, or deflect? I’m confused.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@bobbinhood: If it stays at one stamp a month, that wouldn’t be so bad, but if this guy thinks he can mooch, then the stamp borrowing may escalate. There’s also the factor that one day, @jca might go for stamps, and find the roll empty because she kept giving them away.

I think @chyna, @jlelandg and @Afos22 have got the best suggestions. Start asking for stamps, leave them at home or ask for him to pitch in next time you buy some.

I’m just curious, does this guy have a reputation as the office mooch?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Don’t lie. You’ll feel dirty and small and for a good reason!, and there’s no reason for you to make yourself feel that way.

But do speak up for yourself, very quietly and politely. “You know what these stamps cost. I gave you two one time as a favor, and I gave you others after that just because I didn’t want to seem cheap and miserly. But I’m not your personal repository. Please pay me for what the stamps cost, and do not expect me to hand them over just because I have them. You already owe me for four stamps.”

I’ve asked for stamps before, but I have more than the cost of the stamp in hand when I do. And I don’t ask for change, but if someone wants to offer me exact change, then that’s appreciated, of course—but not expected. I expect to pay for the value of the stamp and a little bit for the fact that someone has offered me a great convenience over driving to the Post Office or putting in an order and waiting for stamps.

You are perfectly within your rights to expect payment in full for every stamp you provide to someone else. And you’re a doormat if you don’t. Apparently you have mooching co-workers that wouldn’t be tolerated past the first time where I work and you do have to ask; but you have to stand up for yourself.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t understand why you don’t just ask him fro the money. Why you are reluctant.

Just say to him, “These are my personal stamps I am giving you. How come you haven’tt paid me for the ones I have given you?”

Joybird's avatar

I work in a school where there are alot of kids who seem to think they are owed handouts. They don’t think anything of walking in a room and asking for change. You can’t give them any. To do so is to exhibit poor boundaries and to encourage the student to come back again and again with nary a thought to repaying you or doing something else for you in an attempt at reciprocity. The problem isn’t with this coworker. The problem is actually with you and an inability to set firm, appropriate boundaries and then maintain them. It’s so easy to say to someone, “I’m going out at lunch and the post office is around the corner. If you give me a 10 spot I’ll pick you up some and bring you the change.” People like your coworker will always say “no thankyou” because they are really looking for a freeby.
From here on in…just say, “Sorry, I’m all out of stamps!”

Blueroses's avatar

@Afos22 has the best solution. Ask your coworker the next time you need a stamp.
A) It isn’t deceptive
B) It isn’t hostile
C) You just might get a stamp

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Afos22 GA GA thats what I would say too

DandyDear711's avatar

My first response was not deceptive.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Put a sign on your desk “Stamps 50 cents each” Like @DandyDear711 said.

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with @marinelife Just come right out and ask.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

“Oh I’m out now, I usually buy them at the so-and-so, they’ve got a machine that will dispense in blah-blah-blah amounts. Let me know you if you come across some, I could use another two or three…”

squirbel's avatar

@DandyDear711 Obviously yours wasn’t. That’s precisely why I said “almost”.

perspicacious's avatar

I don’t mind selling stamps to you, but I can’t keep giving them to you.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

“Sure, I’ve got a stamp and by the way, I’ll trade you for xx cents.”

Adagio's avatar

Unfortunately, sometimes the smallest words are the hardest to say…No is a wonderful word to master, deceptively simple yet so succinct, what’s more it’s near impossible to confuse its meaning…

Andreas's avatar

@jca Forty-four cents is 44cents. You are not bad to ask for payment. This person should offer to pay you for the stamps. For me, I now pay most of my bills online. It’s much simpler and far more convenient. Yay for Internet banking.

jca's avatar

I will post an update as to what occurs next. I Thank You all for your thoughtful answers and the variety of suggestions. I am giving you all “good answers” for your time.

The Update Lady
JCA

KatawaGrey's avatar

An interesting little tidbit: Stamps are actually considered legal tender in the US.

Kardamom's avatar

You could purposely buy a few one cent stamps. Next time he asks for a stamp give him one of those. When he points out that it’s a one cent stamp you can say “You’re right, I guess I must have picked up the the wrong ones. Maybe you could pick up a book of the regular ones to keep in your desk and then maybe I can borrow one from you. I’m glad you spotted that, Dave.”

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