Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My sister is a very highly paid professional. She makes twice the money that I do (and I am doing pretty well). I love her very much, and she is very generous with me, even though I don't ask for (or need) anything. There is one issue that really bothers me, though. No matter how fair the price for a service or a product, she feels the need to negotiate a lower price. It is as if she feels everyone is trying to rip her off. The most recent example is for a remote monitoring system for our elderly parents (which our parents can afford and will pay for themselves). The nationally known company provided a quote for a system so our parents could just push a button for help. After I reported to my sister in great detail how the system worked, she thought it sounded great. But she said, "Let me call them so I can get a better deal." Amy, it doesn't matter what price she is quoted, she will always try to get it lowered. It is as if she does not want anyone to make a profit! Some vendors (like her house painter) are barely getting by, and their prices are more than fair. How can I get her to understand that others making a profit is not a bad thing?

Older Sister

DEAR SISTER: Your sister has the right to try to negotiate a lower price for services, and any business she tries to bargain with can respond with a firm and final offer. As a successful business person she might deal with clients who also negotiate with her.

No national company is going to sell a service without their own profit already built in, and if a house painter agrees to lower his price in order to secure the job, then his profit margin is his business. Your sister might see that some vendors would rather not work with her (or will give her substandard service) -- and that is how the marketplace works.

I realize that this behavior seems obnoxious, but if she is able to negotiate a better package for your parents than the one initially offered, then this will benefit them in the long run because their bills will be lowered.

DEAR AMY: I have been dating my boyfriend for about a year and a half. Things are going well, except for one major issue: my friends and family don't take him seriously. My friends act like he's not "good enough" for me (they never have a reason why), and my family treats him like some high school fling (he and I are both 30). None of them has made any effort to get to know him. I've tried directly asking them to try building a better relationship, since this is someone I'm considering marrying, but they don't bother. If my friends or family were to bring serious concerns about my boyfriend to me, I would listen. They haven't. Instead, they just treat my relationship like a joke. I really want to find out what their objections are, or, better yet, to help them see how wonderful my boyfriend is. Do you have suggestions for me?


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DEAR TROUBLED: Some of the burden for proving how wonderful your boyfriend is should be borne by your boyfriend. Is he stepping up and engaging in these relationships? You should examine your own relationship history to see if you have conditioned people close to you not to take you seriously. If you are a 30-year-old adult on the road to marriage, then you will have to stiffen your spine. Pay attention to specific feedback, but also insist on tolerance and respect toward your partner.

DEAR AMY: Your advice to "Furious" made me furious! You advised a woman not to tell her friend that the woman's husband had visited a strip club! This wife deserves to know about his gross infidelities, especially when she could be exposed to disease. I hope "Furious" will ignore your answer and tell the wife without delay.


DEAR DISAPPOINTED: All of the information was second hand. I hope "Furious" stays out of it.