coworker asks for lavish gifts, fired employee is retaliating on Yelp, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I didn’t get an annual raise because I was recently promoted

I’ve been with my current organization for just over two years, and was promoted to a director role in December, thanks largely to years of reading your site. There was a slightly contentious salary negotiation in advance of the promotion, as I was initially offered a very low increase to take on the new role, but we eventually compromised on my baseline number and everyone (I thought) went away happy.

Our performance review process is scheduled such that annual increases take effect March 1 of every year, and raises are capped at 4% (part of why I was insistent that the promotion increase be more substantial). Because I was promoted at the end of the year, this performance review really encompassed all of my work in my previous role. Which is why I was horrified to hear, in my glowing review with the highest ratings possible, that the organization was withholding my annual increase because I had recently received a higher salary to take on my new position. For what it’s worth, I started working at this organization in mid-November 2016 after negotiating a higher salary than initially discussed and still received an annual increase three months later during review time, so this is a first.

A new CEO came on board shortly before my arrival and the growing pains have been protracted and continuous. Recent cost-cutting measures have driven away formerly very dedicated staff (we are a prominent medical society with substantial funding), benefits have been getting cut or are slipping away here and there, and this seems like another step down that road.

My boss, who is beyond wonderfully supportive and second in seniority only to the CEO, understands my frustrations but says her hands are tied. I feel awful about leaving her in the lurch, as she spent substantial capital to go to bat for me for my promotion, but can’t bear the thought of staying after what feels like an enormous slap in the face. I am dedicated and driven with an extremely niche expertise in a town that pays well for it – is there something I’m missing here, is this a “normal” unhealthy nonprofit thing, or is it just time to go?

So … this is actually a pretty normal way of doing it, and not specific to nonprofits. The idea is that you negotiated your salary for a new role in December, and it doesn’t make sense to revisit it again until roughly a year has gone by. It’s pretty normal to figure that the promotion itself was recognition of what you did in your previous role, and the salary agreed to in December is a fair salary for the next year of doing that work. It’s very normal for them not to want to readjust your salary a few months later. Sometimes if an organization does all salary reviews in, say, January, they’ll prorate raises for people who started at mid-year. But it’s not typical to do that for just a few months worth of work time.

It sounds like they set you up to expect something different when they gave you a raise three months after you initially started, but that was actually unusually generous of them, rather than this being unusually stingy.

That’s not to say that no one does it the way you were expecting — but the way they’re doing it is very normal, and I’d argue very logical!

2. Fired employee is retaliating on Yelp

I manage a retail store and after a rocky six months with a low performing sales person (let’s call him Jason), I needed to let him go. This was after lots of coaching conversations, written documentation, and a mid-year review that detailed a lot of the issues I needed him to address (lack of organization, remembering systems, professionalism, and both written and verbal communication).

I think that despite all the coaching he was pretty blindsided by the firing, which happened about a month ago. He contacted my boss within a few days alleging that we had created a hostile work environment for him and that we excluded him and gave him fewer opportunities with big clients because he is a gay man.

This really threw me off because I actively recruited a diverse team when hiring for these sales roles, and have long been an ally to the gay community. None of my criticisms of his work were due to his gender or orientation — I feel totally confident in that. And my boss agreed, as she had seen a lot of the same concerning performance issues in person herself. We discussed the points he alleged and put the issue to rest (or so I’d thought).

Now, either Jason or a friend of his has posted a retaliatory Yelp review of my business (I know this because in another review he name drops the first and last name of someone who is Jason’s good friend). He says that he was ignored while shopping and given terrible service “because he is gay.” I contacted Yelp about it, but they have pretty generous terms of use and it wasn’t an obvious content violation.

This person is pretty volatile and I anticipated that there might be some retaliatory action, but is there anything you would advise when you start to see these behaviors from a former employee? My instinct is to just do nothing, as he may just want a reaction. But also, this is obviously an attempt to harm my business, which is totally not okay. What do you think?

I’d leave it alone and see if anything else happens. If it’s just this one thing, you’re probably better off letting this go and not feeding into it in a way that may feel he’s now locked in battle with you (which can encourage more retaliation). But if this is the start of a pattern, it’s worth consulting with a lawyer to figure out what your options are. (You may conclude after that consultation that it still makes sense to do nothing — but that’s the point where I’d want you to have a better sense of your options.)

That said, this is one case where I’d recommend responding to the Yelp review, to say that the business strongly supports gay rights, you’re horrified that someone had an experience that didn’t reflect that, and encouraging them to contact you with additional details if they’re comfortable — in other words, something similar to what you’d presumably want to say if you didn’t think this was Jason. That way people who see the review can also hear from you at the same time. (Just make sure that you sound warm and concerned, not angry or defensive.)

3. Coworker expects lavish gifts

My friend works in an after-school program and has a good relationship with a coworker. At first, the coworker was welcoming, but, things soon turned sour as she is a nightmare. The coworker (let’s call her Jane) gets everything she wants from her husband and her family and she tries to get my friend to give her things too. It seems that Jane is spoiled with lavish, brand name gifts and can get these whenever she wants from her husband or family, so in Christmas exchanges she will demand gifts such as Kate Spade earrings or Chanel handbags that are way out of my friend’s budget! If it is not a holiday gift, she will make comments such as, “Oh I wonder what you will give me for my birthday gift,” sometimes right when Jane and my friend are window shopping.

My friend has tried tactics like saying “I am out of money in my budget,” escaping outside of shops, or telling Jane that she is not up for Christmas exchanges/free meals, but Jane keeps repeating the same message of wanting my friend to give her these luxury gifts. Unfortunately, the boss is good friends with Jane and Jane is known to spread rumors. What is your advice? My friend is looking to switch jobs in the near future.

If nothing else, your friend should stop shopping with Jane.

Beyond that, she just needs to be firm: “My budget doesn’t allow me to buy coworkers gifts.” … “Don’t count on anything from me, I’m on a budget.” … “I can do a $10 limit in the gift exchange but no higher — can we agree on that?” … “Ha, right, I couldn’t even afford those earrings for myself.”

If she wants to tackle it more directly, she could say, “I get the sense you expect me to buy expensive gifts for your birthday and the holidays. I want to be clear — I have a limited budget and that’s not going to happen. I can do a small gift exchange at Christmas — meaning around $10 — and can’t do gifts the rest of the year. Let’s agree we’re not exchanging gifts beyond that, so that we’re both on the same page.”

If it continues after that, your friend can be as blunt as she wants, including things like, “It’s really weird to expect that of a coworker! We’ve talked about this before — let’s change the topic.”

4. My boss mentioned creating a job that I’d love to have

I’m currently working at a big company as a temp covering maternity leave. My contract ends this fall. Our team has five members, but our workload has been increasing. I’m the only one on my team working on email campaigns, which takes up 60% of my workload on top of my other projects.

A few weeks ago, my boss suggested that we should hire one more person to focus solely on email campaigns. This would be a completely new position. Yesterday, she really pushed this suggestion during our team meeting.

I would love to stay at this company and since I’m already doing the job I feel like she’s hinting at keeping me on as a permanent member after my contract ends. (This would make me a sixth member, when the person I’m covering for comes back from leave.) How do I tell her that I would love to take on the new position when it hasn’t been created yet? I have a one-on-one meeting with her soon, and I feel like I should use this opportunity to secure that position. Perhaps I could even work it out with my boss to craft out a job description for this new position.

Be up-front! You don’t need to dance around this at all. Say something like, “If you move forward with creating that position to focus on email campaigns, I’d love to be considered. What do I need to do to formally throw my hat in the ring?”

I’d definitely be explicit about it though! Don’t assume she’s hinting and hoping you’ll pick up on it; that’s actually not a typical way to do things and it would be remarkably passive of her. It’s easy to assume in your shoes that of course she’d know you’d be interested (it’s the work you’re doing right now, after all!) but managers don’t always assume that stuff — so make sure you speak up early!

5. Contacting people on LinkedIn who are in the department I want to work in

I’ve been applying for a specific role at a company for what feels like almost a year now. They keep re-posting the same job on LinkedIn. This company requires job candidates to create a login for their job site. The job site lists the status of your application. I noticed they archived the role when I applied last year, and listed it as “no longer under consideration.” However, the application I submitted last month is still listed as “under consideration,” so I guess it’s good news.

When perusing LinkedIn profiles for this company, I noticed some of them have posted “We’re Hiring!” in the heading of their profile. These are specific people who are in the same department as the role I applied for. Any thoughts re reaching out to these people? How should I approach this? Should the first note to them be innocuous, i.e. not asking about the role specifically? Like getting their opinion on an article that relates to their work (therefore the role in question)? Or should I get to the point and maybe approach the same as a (great) cover letter? I’m trying to get creative in getting hiring managers’ attention, without overstepping.

Don’t do it! You’ve applied, and the person in charge of hiring knows you’re interested. This is going to come across as trying to sidestep their application process — and if you’re not up-front about why you’re contacting them (like just asking for their opinion about an article), it’s going to come across as disingenuous (because it’s going to be clear what your end game is). That would be true in any case, but it’s especially true because you’ve applied multiple times in the last year. You risk coming across as if you’re not respecting their decision-making process.

I know it sucks to feel entirely at the mercy of their decision-making process … but you are pretty much at the mercy of their decision-making process, and the best thing you can do is to mentally move on and look for other places you’d be happy to work as well. They may contact you, they may not, but right now you sound more invested in this specific job than is probably useful or healthy.

{ 351 comments… read them below }

  1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

    LW#1, I honestly be surprised if you had gotten a raise–Alison is correct, you just got a promotion and raise. I don’t see this as anything but normal.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. I keep rereading and wondering if I’m misunderstanding OP’s concerns? It’s hard to get a full grasp of what’s at stake when it’s described in percentages, but I this doesn’t sound like it was dishonest, cost-cutting, or underhanded. I certainly wouldn’t quit over it.

      But based on OP’s other comments about the new CEO, I wonder if there are other factors at play that affect compensation or job enjoyment, and the raise is just the straw that’s breaking OP’s back?

      1. JulieCanCan*

        I keep thinking I’m missing something since OP jumps to the “should I be looking elsewhere?” (or something along those lines) so quickly. I really can’t imagine expecting a raise 3-4 months after getting a promotion…. and a raise.

        Unfair would be no raise when OP got the promotion and no raise at the typical raise period since “you just got a promotion.” (Or some other bizarre combo of unfair variables given as a non-sensical excuse).

        OP you should be stoked about your promotion and raise (and CONGRATULATIONS!) and appreciate your organization a bit. Think about all the horribly unfair scenarios we read about on AAM!

        1. Psyche*

          I feel like they accepted a lower salary than they actually wanted assuming that it would go up by 4% in a few months.

          1. you call that a raise?*

            Yeah, I think so as well. My company is similar to OPs and sometimes people get annual raises after a promotion (I have twice) but sometimes they don’t. So if OP was expecting it based on previous experience I can see why they’d be disappointed, especially if the overall salary was not as great as they were expecting.

        2. Someone Else*

          Yeah, I was once in a situation where raises normally happen (if at all) in April, got one, got promoted in June, and then the following April told I was ineligible because I’d had a raise that fiscal year (due to the promotion). That was disappointing for me, and I think reasonably so. It also wasn’t a formal policy, just a thing they’d decided to do that year.
          But in that case, they were treating 10 months ago as too soon for a raise, not 3. If OP it’d been nearly a year and they didn’t get a raise, I think it’d be fair to be upset (although it’s still not necessarily a dealbreaker depending on other factors), but for what happened in the letter, I’d think of it more like they promoted her early, before review time, so she got that pay bump early this year, based on what was to come in her review. Not that she got no raise at all.

      2. Wintermute*

        That was what I was thinking myself! It may be a case of once you’re upset you start looking for confirmation and reinforcement, but I got a vibe that the LW was unhappy with the work conditions and pay overall.

      3. Lizard Breath*

        I work for a nonprofit that gives routine annual raises and this year, my 4th at the company, is the first year that I’ll actually get the routine raise because I’ve been promoted every other year (not huge promotions, just taking on specific things that had a title and a pay bump associated with them). But no one ever told me I wasn’t getting the routine increase–I sort of assumed I wouldn’t get it and then would have been pleasantly surprised if I had.

        I feel like the OP is being a little overwrought, but if had been the org’s MO to still do the routine increase even after a promotion, and there’s a new CEO she’s not thrilled about, I guess it could be a “this TOO” kind of moment.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah…we just did this recently. We promoted a person and gave them the pay increase with notice that the raise took into consideration our annual increase that takes place each April. It’s standard procedure and we’re a for profit business.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        It’s too bad they didn’t tell OP they wouldn’t be getting the raise. Even if they thought it was obvious, it was still worth mentioning during what sound like contentious salary negotiations.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I agree with you. We find it’s always best to be transparent and up front about things surrounding compensation or benefits, even when they seem to be self explanatory!

        2. JessaB*

          Especially since it would probably have changed the OPs negotiation before the promotion. They might not have gotten more, but they certainly would have asked for it.

          1. valentine*

            it would probably have changed the OPs negotiation before the promotion.
            I think this is it: OP1 accepted less because she was banking on the March raise getting her to the right number.

            1. Alternative Person*

              Same. We can’t know the exact way it went down or what the exact policies are around promotions vs merit raises, but I think the company did short change the letter writer.

              1. MK*

                I don’t know, there is nothing in the letter that suggests the OP asked for less because she was thinking of getting a raise a few months later. Also, given that they only grudgingly gave her her baseline, I doubt she could have gotten more anyway.

                1. Marthooh*

                  The whole letter is about OP #1 not getting the raise they expected, so of course the negotiation took the expected raise into account. And we don’t know how much more they might have gotten if they’d tried.

            2. Ms Chanadalar Bong*

              Maybe. But if they budged on their number, then they might be thinking “we already gave them an extra 4% as a base salary”. Unfortunately, the onus here was them to ask what would happen during PA season.

            3. bonkerballs*

              While that’s very possible, it seems…I can’t think of quite the right word I’m looking for. Odd, I guess, that OP would think after a contentious salary negotiation where she ended up with a salary higher than her company initially planned to promote her to she would then of course get another raise just 4 months later. While it might have been nice for the organization to be a little more transparent that that would be the case, I’m certainly not side-eyeing them for thinking that would be obvious or at the very least very standard business practice.

        3. Catalyst*

          To be honest, I would expect someone going into a director level position to be well aware of these practices as they are the norm in most businesses. Maybe they should have said it explicitly, but in their defense, it would never occur to me that someone I was promoting to a position like that would not be aware of it.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I was thinking exactly the same thing. I kept rereading the letter to figure out what I was missing.

          1. LGC*

            Yeah, that’s my read – if LW1 is at the point in her career where she’s a director of a non-profit, I’d think she would have experience with norms in raises and promotions, and I’d likely question her judgment in asking for a raise three months after what was likely a substantial promotion.

            (Okay, it’d be more like, “why is the director asking something that a lot of interns already know?” but it’s still questioning her judgment.)

            1. DC Cliche*

              The only thing I could think of is she possibly meant bonus? If I didn’t get my bonus and that was standard practice, because I also got a raise, I would be upset. But that odesn’t sound like what happened at all.

              At a prior gig I negotiated a two-step raise into the director level–I was much much younger than all the other directors, and didn’t have a specialized/advanced degree, so wasn’t going to hit parity. But we worked in a 15 percent salary raise over time in the promotion process (the second part kicked in at the six-month mark), and didn’t a COLA/normal raise two months in when everyone else did. The next year I got the standard bump.

          2. this way, that way*

            I was thinking this too. Unless director is a token title, a couple of years ago our company was trying a new tactic to engage happier employees and changed titles to seem like they were more significant (like receptionist was changes to Finance Engineer, and Accounting specialist was an Accounting Manager). For 2 years we had over a hundred VP’s of stuff it was ridiculous and a nightmare to hire in new people.

          3. Zombeyonce*

            I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily true. I’ve read on this blog in particular how plenty of non-profits regularly give out director titles to people w/hardly any experience. I think a director title at a non-profit (not all of them, but some) can be incredibly different from a director at, say, a finance firm.

        4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I think this is the only thing that the company didn’t do quite right. They should have made it clear when they presented with the offer letter for the new position that this included the annual raise. Which is how my company does it.

          Actually depending on the timing my company just holds all promotions until the end of the performance appraisal cycle and lumps them all in together. It’s not uncommon in my company for a person to know they are being promoted up to 4 months in advance of the title/pay catching up because of the timing. It’s always a little interesting to see on 4/1 the deluge of org announcements and scoping out who has a different title.

          1. Lizard Breath*

            Holding all promotions till the end of the cycle seems like an iffy tactic if people are taking on new responsibilities but can’t use the relevant title or get paid for them. I suppose if it’s one of those “everybody knows the culture” kinds of things it’s OK, but it seems like it requires the person to explain a lot, like “Hi, I’m Wakeen, the incoming Billing Overlord, so I’ll be handling this issue even though my mail sig still says Office Minion.”

            1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              It can get interesting, but as you said it’s the culture. We really don’t put fences around people’s titles here to begin with. So it’s not that much of change if someone starts acting like a new role. And it usually becomes an open secret. (Says the person in the middle of an unannounced org change with new reports and responsibilities that everyone knows about but hasn’t been announced)

              Where it usually gets dicey is when management of people come into play. My last promotion me and the outgoing person finally had to preemptively tell one of the direct reports because the lines were getting really fuzzy since I was technically a peer and suddenly was directing him on what his team’s goals should be.

    3. Blank*

      Yeah, this happened to me last summer. Glowing performance review, but since I got a promotion (with raise), I missed out on the merit increase. Would have been divine to get both, but that’s not how it works here.

      1. KHB*

        I had something similar a few years ago. I got a promotion at the beginning of the year, but because HR dragged their feet on the paperwork, it didn’t officially go through until February or March. So the following year, when it came time for raises, mine was pro-rated because I “hadn’t been working in my new role for the whole year” (even though I had).

        I understand that that’s “how it works,” but it still feels like a BS rule for nickel-and-diming employees (and especially top performers, since they’re the ones that get the promotions). Would it be so terrible to say that if you’ve been at the organization for the whole year (in any capacity), you get an annual raise based on your full year’s worth of work?

        1. Jadelyn*

          I mean it wouldn’t be terrible, but it also wouldn’t make sense.

          Let’s say I currently make $40k in my current role. My merit increase was going to be 5%, which would have me making $42k, a raise of $2k. But I got a promotion and now I make $50k! I’m making $8k more than I would have been with my previous rate+increase. Why, then, would it make sense to add a 5% raise on top of already giving someone $10k over their previous rate, and $8k over their rate+increase?

          1. KHB*

            By why wouldn’t it make sense? Annual raises and promotions have complementary purposes. With a promotion, you’re getting a salary adjustment in compensation for taking on substantially new job duties (in most cases), whereas an annual raise is for some combination of rewarding your performance over the previous year, acknowledging that you become a more valuable employee as you gain experience, and adjusting for inflation. Why wouldn’t it make sense to do both those things, completely independently of each other?

            Here’s a concrete example. Suppose John gets a promotion effective 31 December, 2018, and Jane, an otherwise identical employee, gets the same promotion effective 1 January, 2019 (or whatever the nearest non-holiday dates are). Then (under my employer’s rules, anyway) John is shut out of the annual raises for 2018, whereas Jane gets a raise for 2018 (and also for 2019, because she’ll have been in her new role for the entire year). John’s salary is going to lag 5% (or whatever) behind Jane’s salary forever, just because of when their promotions happened to be approved. Is that fair?

            I suppose you could explicitly roll John’s 2018 annual raise into his newly promoted salary, so that John gets a bigger salary bump with his promotion than Jane gets with hers (and in general people promoted later in the year get bigger bumps than people promoted early in the year). But as far as I’m aware, that’s not part of how they calculate these things. At least, when my promotion was delayed by 2-3 months, I didn’t get a bigger salary bump in compensation for that.

    4. MommyMD*

      Agreed. You just got a wage increase a couple of months ago. I think you will look like a discontent if you complain about this. I would expect a raise NEXT March but certainly not this year. And four percent is a decent raise.

      1. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Four percent is a great raise. We’re getting a generous two percent per year with the last ratification and in the job before that, we were told to get excited about a one percent raise (on average! Mine was 1.05!)

        I think LW1 is basing it on her earlier experience and without the situation fully explained to her, she feels disappointed. That’s okay. I might have been too. But Alison is right, too. “We just gave you one with a promotion and you haven’t been in the new role long enough…”

        1. Psyche*

          It’s possible she got a raise previously because they negotiated salary without actually being able to judge her work. They saw she was worth more and adjusted. This time, they negotiated knowing how good her work is, so that was already taken into account.

        2. it's me*

          I got 1.8% last week and wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed! That makes me feel better.

      2. Let's Bagel*

        That was my first thought – 4%! I have never worked anywhere that gave out 4% raises as the standard annual increase. Would be great.

    5. That action*

      A friend had the same thing happen last year and every time she complains about it, I’m baffled. 10% increase and a promotion but she complains that she didn’t get “her raise”. And now this year she got a $12,000 bonus and was insulted by a 4% raise.

      Anyway, I agree that this is all completely normal and have to wonder what kind of abnormal environment they came from rust makes them see it this way.

      1. Mr. X*

        Wish I had that- my company caps at 6 percent for a promotion and I’ve never gotten more than 2.5 percent for a cost of living increase. And if you get promoted you don’t get a cost of living increase that year.

        1. Sn*

          6%? This seems very small unless the promotions aren’t that significant – analyst I to Analyst II. Both of my recent cases use salary bands. Promotions will bring you to 80/85% of the new salary band’s mid-point, or minimum 6% raise.

          In my previous company, I was able to get an 11% raise due to showing I was under market. However, I was also working for an amazing manager, so it was a “help me, help you” exercise to build a case she could take to the executive level and HR.



          1. Cercis*

            A gov’t agency I worked at capped all promotion raises at 5% (not that it was written anywhere) and any more had to have City Manager approval. I’d gotten my foot in the door by taking a lower entry level job (as people are advised to do) and then got promoted a couple of steps up (as fit my experience and education level) and they had to get approval for me to get a 6% raise so that I was at the very lowest level of the salary band. I never even so much as got a cost of living raise during the 2 years I stayed after that promotion (although I’d been explicitly told I’d qualify for a merit raise, but no one got merit raises, so I knew it was an empty promise).

            It’s a big part of why I’ve never taken another entry level role again. The local gov’t agency here has a strong culture of promoting from within, so to get a job you have to start at entry level, back to $25k/year. I just can’t do that to myself (that and the entry level jobs they have available are ones that I won’t excel in so my chances for promotion are fairly slim).

    6. Ms Chanadalar Bong*

      Agreed, it seems super logical to me.

      Looking at it from a different perspective: if LW had gone through performance evals first, and then been promoted, I wonder if they would have expected their new salary to be adjusted with the raise they’d received?

      This feels really dramatic. They loved your work, so you were promoted. And because you did good work, they agreed to pay you more (any chance it was in the neighborhood of 4% more than they originally offered). There has to be more to this story!

    7. Working is Hard*

      Yep, seems totally normal.

      Plus, an annual merit increase is for your performance in that position, if you’ve only been in a new position for a few months you logically wouldn’t be getting a merit increase for that performance.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Joining the chorus to confirm that this is the normal way to do things at every place I’ve heard of.

    9. Trout 'Waver*

      I completely disagree here. There are two components to end-of-the-year adjustments to salary. There are merit based increases and there are cost of living adjustments that reflect inflation eroding salaries over time. Negotiating for an increase during a promotion is clearly in the former category, and end of the year cost of living adjustments shouldn’t reflect that.

      The fact that it is the norm to do the opposite is not fair and only occurs because companies can get away with it.

      1. Cost of Living Raise!!!*

        Op doesn’t state it is a cost of living raise, she stated that it was merit based on her previous job. So it is common practice that if you leave before you get the increase you loose out on that increase. Other than government I have never worked anywhere with a cost of living raise.

      2. Jadelyn*

        That assumes there’s a cost of living raise separate from merit. My org doesn’t do those – we just do merit increases. We can also add adjustment percentages on top of that, but most people just get their merit increase, which is 1-6% depending on your performance in the prior year. I don’t know where you got the idea that dual-component merit/COLA increases are some kind of universal standard that some companies just get away with not adhering to, but that is not remotely an accurate reflection of my experience, or it seems a lot of folks’ experiences.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          You’re missing the point. If most people get 1-6%, then the average is the cost of living adjustment and the +/- from that is the merit component. They’re just stacked on top of each other in your case and your manager is calling the whole thing a merit increase for morale reasons.

          A 1% raise when inflation is 2.44% is an effective 1.44% pay cut. Some merit increase, indeed!

      3. Bostonian*

        Yeah, I think the rub comes from the fact that if she had been promoted in some other month, she may have gotten both increases.

        Honestly, I’m surprised there are so many people saying this is normal. Where I work now, she would have gotten both increases. We only have 2 promotion cycles: February and October. If you get promoted in February, you don’t lose out on the yearly increase in March (mind you, it’s a measly 2%, but it’s something!).

    10. AnotherAlison*

      In my F500 company, you have a raise opportunity 2x per year — the annual raise, and an “unadvertised” mid-year that is for catching people up or people who have gotten new positions. In 14 years, I’ve gotten the mid-year raise only twice. You don’t get a raise with a promotion or for taking on a new role. You are supposed to be appreciative to get the role, and then go crush it for a few months and prove they made the right decision, then get the raise.

      You would look tone deaf if you negotiated a raise during your promotion, and it seems like the OP looks similarly tone deaf and unaware of how it works in this scenario.

      I can see the OP being irritated if she had calculated the annual raise into the amount she negotiated for (i.e, she wanted 12%, but settled for 8% assuming she would get another 3% COLA in a couple months.) However, as others mentioned, as a director, it looks bad to have made that assumption.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Oh that’s weird how your company does that. I’m not sure that I’d like that.

        1. Blue*

          This seems very odd to me, too. In fact, if I was offered a promotion with no raise and no chance to negotiate for one, I’d be looking for another workplace.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            We have a pretty unique culture, and people are generally well taken care of and trust management. If people don’t leave in the first 5 years due to fit, you see people in operations stay for their entire careers. Average tenure for people at my level is 16 years, which means most of them started here out of college. I’ve had recruiters approach me with salaries that were ~$20k more than what I was making 6 months ago, but by the time you work through the benefits, it’s only on par with my current package, and I got a healthy annual raise and bonus yesterday that I take into account, too. Not to be spraying the koolaid around for my employer, but just pointing out that they’ve found other positive ways to keep people to stay.

    11. librarybook*

      Just to provide another viewpoint, I found this abnormal because my own large company awards merit-based raises and then everyone gets the same cost of living raise across the board. I would be annoyed if I was deducted my cost of living raise because I’d received a merit raise. They are different.

    12. Dan*

      Just to add experience from two different jobs:

      1) Old job did everything all at once. If you got promoted, you were informed of such during the annual review process. COLA+Promotion raise in one shot.

      2) New job does annual review/COLA/performance raises at the end of the year, and then promotions in the spring. They’re two different processes. I got a 5% raise at the end of last year, and just a few months later (e.g., now) I got a promotion, with a *15% raise*. My pay shot up $20k in four months. (In my line of work, you generally “earn” the promotion first, and after you’ve been busting your butt, you get the promotion. Your day-to-day continues as is, it’s not a situation where your responsibilities change and all of that.)

      Moral of the story: It’s actually kind of fascinating listening to other people describe what “normal” is, when there very much are companies who don’t follow the norm. When you work there for years, that *is* your norm.

    13. Jadelyn*

      My org’s policy on merit increases is that anyone who received a promotion or raise (or both) after October 1 of the prior year, is not eligible for a merit increase on top of that. This is really, really common and normal. It may not feel good, but it’s not the slap in the face that OP is taking it as.

    14. Cacwgrl*

      Same thing happened to me last year. I was promoted in the first pay period of the new year. Worked my butt off the entire year, in which we also had a leadership change. We did year end reviews and at no point did anyone say I would not be increased based on my work. In the past two years, I’ve received promotions based on work increases as well as year end payouts. I was blindsided at feedback time once increases had been approved and I was at the bare minimum, versus what I and my two higher level managers felt I deserved. But it was the same deal. New big boss made the call and there was no going back. No one expected it to actually happen even though it’s very common but I was pretty upset that in the time between our discussion and the big bosses decision, then back to when my boss finally told me, it was drug out. Boss should have said something sooner in my opinion, but they don’t handle conflict super well. I thought about leaving, as that was the straw for me, but kept my mouth and temper shut down for a bit to make a reasonable call. And for me, it is going to work out just fine. The manager just below the big boss is reassigning me to a position that will allow me to shine and a chance to earn back what I missed out on, but also getting me on a new team to help resolve some other issues within the entire work group.

  2. JKP*

    We also had an ex-employee retaliating on the business’ reviews trying to pose as a client. Agree with Allison’s wording to respond to the review. Also, we did have luck getting those reviews removed because review sites like yelp, google, etc specifically bar employees/ex employees from reviewing their employer. So it depends on if you can prove to yelp that an ex-employee left the review. It did take a few months to get them to act on it, so having the response to the review helped in the meantime. In our case, they left reviews on every site possible, which actually made it easier for us to show the link that they were all from this same ex-employee. We also talked to a defamation lawyer who sent a scary cease-desist letter for $1,000, and we haven’t seen any more bad reviews and all but one review was eventually removed. The BBB wouldn’t remove it because “money changed hands” even though the money was us paying them for work and the review claimed they were our client.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I was going to recommend this—if the defamatory comments continue, a firm c&d letter (which should be cheaper than $1000!) will usually be effective.

      But it’s worth vetting if the comment may have come from a real person (not affiliated with Disgruntled Ex-Employee), because you certainly wouldn’t want to send a c&d letter to a real customer who had a homophobic experience at OP’s shop.

      1. JKP*

        The c&d letter was more $ because we had a complicated case with the ex-employee doing more than just leaving bad reviews. The letter ended up very long, so I’m sure you’re right that in their case it would be cheaper. I just thought we got a deal for what we paid and it was well worth it.

        1. valentine*

          OP2: It’s worth consulting an LGBTQA org to see how your gay employees and customers may suffer (micro)aggressions. Being an ally doesn’t mean you recognize everything that would make your workplace unsafe for gay people.

          1. Sapphire*

            I’m glad someone else said this. Straight cis people aren’t really in a position to judge whether the environment for us queer folks is safe, especially since subordinates might not feel comfortable telling a boss when they’ve done something hurtful. Even self-proclaimed allies screw up sometimes, and in my experience, self-proclaimed allies double down on that when called in on problematic behavior.

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              Yep. This is what is hard for non LGBT people to understand. I know many workplaces think of themselves as LGBT friendly when at best they’re LGBT tolerant.

            2. Penny Parker*

              And, the opposite is also true: Sometimes people are given every break in the world, are bad employees, and when they get disciplined they want to blame it all on being a minority. This is coming from someone who IS a part of a minority group.

            3. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I agree sometimes people think they are the bees knees because they treat or attempt to treat people of different races, genders, orientations, sexes, religions etc… with the same basic human decency as everyone else. That seems to be because they see the baseline or compare themselves to people who are actively hateful/discriminatory.

              Just to be clear I am not trying to imply that OP is doing this, but just to caution to carefully examine the situation and make sure it is actually what OP thinks it is.

              1. OP 2*

                Absolutely, this is definitely something my boss and I discussed at length. She is actually a gay woman and is a senior executive in the company, and is also really concerned about making sure we create a totally inclusive and diverse culture at the company. After he sent the first email to HR, we reviewed his accusations one by one. That said, the accusations didn’t hold water.

                He pretty much approached every social and work situation assuming the worst intentions of other people. For example, we had a team from other stores in the shop (which included a mix of both straight and gay employees) and he immediately decided that them catching up was cliquish and rude. He also said to me when we first started that “interior designers don’t like working with gay sales associates” (we are a home furnishings shop). Or he would refuse to help a certain race or age of customer because he assumed they would be uncomfortable with him. It was really tough to watch. It also spilled over into just general hostility towards internal colleagues in other departments and our neighboring retailers too. He didn’t always say it was because of his orientation, but it came up weirdly often. So it was mostly just his negative approach to the world, unfortunately! It really was frustrating because I do have friends who have actually been in hostile work environments, where homophobic “jokes” are tolerated, or women who are clearly passed over for roles due to favoring your classic “old boys club” candidates. It makes it really difficult for situations like this where you still want to be sensitive- just makes a mockery of the whole thing.

                1. Myrin*

                  That’s what I figured from your letter, OP, but it’s still really great to see you interact in the comments to clarify!

          2. Jennifer*

            I was going to say this too. As a minority, I have noticed many people aren’t nearly as tolerant as they think they are, even those who are well intentioned.

          3. Dragoning*

            I was also thinking this when the letter mentioned they were shocked that someone would criticize their support of the gay community because they are a long-time ally.

            Sure, nothing in that realm may have happened in this case, but an “ally” doesn’t really get to decide that.

          4. straws*

            Agree! I try as hard as I can as an ally, but I frequently consult with my LGBT sister before related decisions or when something concerning comes up. Sometimes everything is fine, but other times I need to adjust wording or the direction of my thought to have it work out just right.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Re: the last paragraph: yes, thank you. It is entirely possible that Jay is making up nonsense about why he was fired but that another person really did have a homophobic experience that you didn’t see. Even self-described allies do screw up… and not everyone who works at your store is necessarily an ally. You may very well have hired someone who really does have some unpleasant prejudices you don’t know about.

    2. RachaelM*

      We had a similar situation, but with what appeared to be one disgruntled ex-employee leaving multiple reviews on Glassdoor trashing the company lying about our financial position (we think they were all the same person as wording and grammar were very similar). To make matters worse, they told Glassdoor that the company was incentivising positive reviews, so all positive reviews were removed! (I submitted a positive review which was taken down and I certainly wasn’t incentivised!) What was especially frustrating was that there were legitimate problems to raise, which all hit lumped in with the made up ones and dismissed by the founders. I still have no idea what we could have done about it

    3. Works in IT*

      Which annoys me, because in the (more than a year) since I quit depressing grocery store job, they have not restocked the gelato once. Or even changed the price tags to indicate that the gelato will no longer be sold there. I am now an incredibly irate customer who is angry at the lack of gelato, not an incredibly irate ex employee (most of the employees who made life awful for me have since been fired, there’s nothing to be irate at anymore) but for the purposes of the review I am still an ex employee.

      …. I want hazelnut gelato : (

    4. No Mas Pantalones*

      I was an early adopter into Yelp and active in the community postings. (I was one of the first “Elite” people in my area. Pfff, I say.) I also have a few friends that have worked for the company. Not one of those friends has a positive thing to say about Yelp other than “I don’t work there anymore”, and I deleted my account once I found out just how horrific that place is. Here’s the thing about Yelp: if you want any help from them, you’ve gotta pay your pizzo regularly.

    5. Bostonian*

      Also, OP, if one of the negative reviews includes someone’s name (as you say it does), you can flag that for violation of terms. Glassdoor has rules that you cannot identify a specific person in your review.

      1. OP 2*

        It was weird. When I first saw the review I poked into this person’s account and read another review he had written for a restaurant. He said something like “I went to this bar with my friend Corey Anderson” which is coincidentally the same name as one of his references that I had spoken to during the hiring process. So it is just a little bit of a stretch to use that to “prove” it was him. We are 99% sure though, because his writing style is distinctive as well and the review was just oddly written, I wish I could copy and paste it but that feels a little too weird to me for some reason!

        1. JKP*

          We proved it was our ex-employee by pulling up past emails he had sent us, looking in the headers and finding the IP address they were sent from, then when we gave that IP address to the review sites, it matched the IP address posting the reviews (info only they had access to). It may not work in your situation, but that’s what worked for us.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, I would like world peace, for my dog to live forever in her current state of health, and a 1959 sunburst Les Paul Standard, but none of that is going to happen by dropping weird hints around my coworkers.

    I don’t mean to be unkind, but why is your friend (YF) even entertaining the idea of buying any coworker gifts? It’s unclear if she and Jane are friends (they could be because they go window-shopping?), but if they’re just friendly at work folks, then I don’t see why there should be any expectation of receiving a gift. Does Jane reciprocate with lavish gifts for YF?

    I agree with Alison’s advice, and I would consider going a step further. YF should tell Jane that YF doesn’t believe in workplace gift-giving. And then YF should truly opt out (i.e., don’t be offended if she doesn’t receive gifts and firmly decline to give anyone at work a gift).

    If YF is into passive aggression and if Jane has never lavished YF with luxury gifts, then I would enthusiastically turn the tables. Next time Jane suggests YF should buy her a luxury gift, YF should respond with a series of enthusiastic questions about what kind of luxury gift Jane plans to get YF for [Holiday / Birthday / Etc.].

    1. Pandora's Box*

      OP#3 here.. My friend reciprocated once and then learned her lesson when she got repeated hints for Michael Kors handbag. I think when she asked about her gift, Jane went silent. I would love to see how it goes if Jane was initiated to buy a lavish gift! I was told the husband caved in every time!

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I think that if Jane brings up gifts again, your friend should respond with a question about why Jane hasn’t gotten her a Christmas/birthday/whatever gift yet. Eventually, Jane will stop asking if she’s regularly reminded that the friend is also keeping score.

        1. valentine*

          the husband caved in every time
          I really hate this framing. Why shouldn’t he buy her whatever she wants?

          Friend shouldn’t offer any gifts and only deploy the $10 as a peacekeeping tax if the team’s voluntold to do a Secret Santa.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, there is a HUGE difference between asking your husband to buy you a Michael Kors handbag and asking a coworker to buy you a Michael Kors handbag!

          2. Pandora's Box*

            I hear there are affairs involved. The husband probably cover up by lavishing her, and then she figures she can do that at work. -_-

            1. AMT*

              I love this logic. “The person I married, who feels a greater sense of obligation to me than anyone else, buys me expensive handbags. Let’s see if near-strangers will follow his lead.”

            2. Flash Bristow*

              Affairs. Ouch, but ultimately not your business (nor your friend’s). But… does she have the view she can manipulate anyone into giving her what she wants? Ugh. She needs a dose of reality and quickly. Shame it isn’t Christmas where everyone spends just £10 on secret santa, or whatever makes the point. Hmm. There needs to be some way to get the message across, ideally a whole-office event where she can see that nobody spends more than x amount, and everyone else is grateful for that.


          3. LilySparrow*

            As a person who shares marital assets, I can’t get this framing either. “Go buy me this specific thing I want with my money” isn’t a present or even a surprise. It’s a shopping order.

            I can only assume there’s multiple layers of weirdness around money in this employed adult woman’s upbringing/home/mind.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is inspiring! Now that I know it’s on the table to make coworkers buy me pricey handbags, I am going to widely circulate a wish list for my birthday.

        1. Artemesia*

          This whole thread has me utterly puzzled. Why would anyone do anything but laugh at a co-worker begging them to buy expensive gifts, particularly if that person was not lavishing them with expensive gifts (which would be a different problem). I assumed it might be a different culture where ‘branded goods’ are a big thing and perhaps pressuring people is too, because there is no place in the US where this would be the norm and not just utterly laughable. The response should range from ‘yeah right, I’ll get right on that’ to ‘when pigs fly.’

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            I agree. I have never, ever worked at a place where individual coworkers were expected to give gifts to one another. Company or department Secret Santa, yes, but there was always a limit (a low one like $10 or $25) on the cost. Birthdays were stuff like a signed card from the department and a cake – no gifts. Never anything like “Jane” expecting her coworker “Jessica” to lavish her with expensive and personal gifts. Jane is not just out of line, she’s bizarrely out of touch with proper professional behavior.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            I could imagine one of my former coworkers doing this, but she was… a real piece of work.

          3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I had a *boss* who did this. Every year for her birthday, her subordinates, who were making probably a third of what she was earning, were expected to lavish her with expensive gifts, like a dozen roses or designer handbags.

            In reality what was happening was someone who had the money (high paying role + husband had a good job) was buying all of these gifts, and writing the names of everyone who worked there in the card. Some of the mid-level employees who could afford it would chip in money to the person purchasing the gift. The low-level employees weren’t asked to give anything, just “FYI you helped us give Fergusina a Louis Vuitton bag and a big box of Godiva chocolates for her birthday today if she asks.” We also had to email her on her birthday to wish her Happy Birthday, or we’d be in trouble.

            1. Jadelyn*

              …some people shouldn’t be managers. Not that that’s news to anyone here, I know, but still, that one is pretty egregious.

            2. Former Employee*

              I really appreciate it when someone who can afford to do so, actually steps up and saves everyone else from the evil machinations of boss Cruella de Vil.

        2. just a random teacher*

          I mean, I’m excited when a coworker buys me donuts! (Sometimes they also buy me additional tacky desk decorations.) Clearly I need to step up my level and type of requests.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            I’d prefer the tacky desk decorations and donuts to some fancy purse.

            Someone keeps sneaking candy into my candy dish, at least as fast as people are taking it, which probably makes me happier than Jane when she gets a new purse.

        3. AKchic*

          You mean this *isn’t* why Amazon has public wish lists? I mean, that’s why *I* have them. So when people start bugging me, I can send them my wish list and tell them a price range to purchase from. I call it my “Annoyance Tax”.

      3. Tim Tam Girl*

        OP3, when you say your friend ‘reciprocated’, do you mean that Jane gave your friend an expensive gift to start with and then your friend was pressured by Jane to give an equally-expensive gift in return? Or was it that Jane gave your friend an inexpensive gift to start with and when your friend then offered a gift in exchange, Jane tried to pressure your friend into giving her something super-expensive?

        Either way, I think that if part of the situation is that Jane is giving your friend gifts of any kind/value, your friend shouldn’t accept them. It may seem ridiculous that Jane could give your friend something small and then feel that your friend owes her something huge in return, but… people are ridiculous sometimes. If your friend is trying to break the cycle, she should break all of it – and that means not accepting anything, even snacks or little trinkets or whatever. If Jane and/or your friend comes from a culture with a big focus on gift-giving, this is likely to be harder and more awkward, but it’s an important component of resetting Jane’s expectations.

        I’d also encourage your friend not to focus on how Jane’s family behaves around gift-giving. I know it may feel like it gives insight into why she operates like she does, but it’s really completely irrelevant to a workplace friendship – or to quote Captain Awkward, ‘reasons are for reasonable people’. Jane is behaving inappropriately in the context of the ‘friendly co-worker’ relationship; it doesn’t matter why or how she got that way. What matters is your friend breaking the cycle with Jane, including by limiting interactions, especially around shopping or any other money-exchanging situations; stating clear boundaries (Alison’s scripts are great); and actively trying to shift the relationship back towards ‘co-worker’ and away from ‘friend’.

        1. Beanie*

          I think she meant that her friend reciprocated by also dropping hints on expensive gifts she “expected” Jane to get her for birthdays/holidays/etc., and Jane suddenly went quiet and seemingly dropped it.

      4. Denise*

        Ugh. I would be so tempted to say something passive-aggressive (mostly aggressive) like “It must be nice to have a sugar daddy bankroll a frivolous lifestyle.” I’m guessing that working in an after school program doesn’t bring in nearly enough to justify those kind of expenses for yourself, let alone coworkers.

        1. valentine*

          It must be nice to have a sugar daddy bankroll a frivolous lifestyle.
          Gross. Friend not only hasn’t told Jane no, she gave her a gift. Why stomp your professional reputation and leap to sexism and misogyny?

          1. Aveline*


            (1) Jane is working, so she’s decidedly not just sitting around doing nothing all day. So the “frivolous lifestyle” bit may well be wrong. She might be Mother Theresa with a better wardrobe.
            (2) A husband giving a wife a gift is presumably doing it from common marital funds. This is very, very different than a date lavishing her with presents in anticipation of a reward for doing so.
            (3) Neither is the same as a coworker gift exchange.
            (4) And it’s not a free exchange, it’s solicitation of gifts.

            So, both misogynistic and really not on point.

        2. London_Engineer*

          This is a bad response- she needs to disengage not antagonise.

          But now I am stuck picturing Jane as Shangela launching into her famous monologue

          1. Log Lady*

            “I don’t have a sugar daddy. I’ve never had a sugar daddy. If I wanted a sugar daddy, yes, I could probably go out and get one because I am what? Sickening!”

        3. Magenta*

          That says way more about you than it does about this situation. It is nasty and sexist and incredibly unprofessional!

          1. Sapphire*

            The commenter was saying they’d be tempted to say something like this, not that they were advising OP’s friend to do so.

              1. Sapphire*

                Yes it is, I agree. I was just pointing out that this person didn’t advocate for such a response.

          2. Anon7*

            There’s a quote I always liked that says, “Your first thought is what you have been conditioned to think. Your second thought defines who you are.”

            Let the one who has not been tempted by an uncharitable thought (but had the sense not to actually express it) cast the first stone, and all that.

            1. Aveline*

              No one is casting stones. We aren’t saying “ban Denise.” We want Denise to stop and reflect. And we don’t want OP to suggest the language to her friend.

              Anyone here who is a regular poster has stepped in it from time to time. Having the other commenters say “whoa, now” in a straightforward way is one of the bonuses of the site.

              Telling a poster “this expression is misogynistic/racist/classist/unkind” is very, very far from casting stones.

              1. EOA*

                You are casting stones. You should probably just admit that. Those stones may be warranted but let’s not pretend you aren’t judging denise.

                1. Aveline*

                  I’m not judging Denise. I’m judging her statement.

                  There’s a huge difference. So I don’t need to pretend anything.

                  No one said “Denise is misogynistic.” They said the statement was.

                  It’s exhausting the times on this site people say things that are inappropriate but when people call out the statement, they get piled on for being unkind to the poster.

                  There are huge, huge differences between directing criticism at a statement and making an attack against a poster.

                  Please point out above where people are saying “Denise is X” instead of “The statement is X.”

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  No, there really isn’t a huge difference. Let’s not pretend that we’re all so mindful that we never slip into generalizations based on offhand remarks made by people we only know through snippets on the Internet.

                3. AMT*

                  There is a huge difference between “I’m never sexist, let’s all shame Denise” and “I don’t like to read sexist comments on this site.” Whatever sexism we all may be guilty of, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s objectively a sexist statement.

            2. Starbuck*

              Once you’ve gone to the trouble of typing it out in a comment box and posting it online, I don’t think that defense applies anymore.

          3. Dagny*

            The reality is that Jane’s salary is not enough to support her lifestyle. Normally, this would be a non-issue, but when Jane is asking her co-worker to support this lifestyle, it’s worth pointing out that she’s supported by someone else.

            It’s not sexism; many women (myself included) out-earn their husbands, or contribute sufficiently to the marital household income that it would be wrong to state that their lifestyle is supported by someone else. Many women earn less than their husbands but are plenty happy dressing for work (clothes and accessories) that are appropriate to their own roles.

            1. Starbuck*

              “The reality is that Jane’s salary is not enough to support her lifestyle.”

              There’s nothing in the OP’s letter that indicates she isn’t supporting herself or that she couldn’t buy these items on her own if she wanted to. This is an assumption on your part, not necessarily reality.

        4. Quackeen*

          Ick. Why is it your business what Jane’s husband buys her, and what makes your opinion of what is and is not “frivolous” the absolute judgment? And since when is a husband a “sugar daddy”?

          There are so many things that strike me wrong about your comment that I feel gross after even reading it.

        5. Artemesia*

          To refer to the woman’s husband this way is a far worse transgression than begging for gifts; it is repulsive.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            If the husband wants to (or is okay with) giving Jane lavish gifts, that’s nobody’s business but theirs.

            Sledgehammer hints to coworkers that they should give Jane a similarly lavish gift? Nope. When my brother borrowed money from my parents to buy tires and wanted a particular top of the line brand, they said they’d pay for Sears. Likewise, when my brother and his wife said it would be nice if their daughter could go to a Montessori School, my parents said it would be nice and not a word about providing any funds for this.

      5. Batgirl*

        Uh why wouldn’t your friend just say No, or ‘you’ll get what you’re given’ or ‘in that case we shouldn’t exchange any more gifts because our budgets are too different ‘ or ‘excuse me are you asking me to buy you a MK handbag?! You know thats wildly in

        1. Batgirl*

          *inappropriate right?’
          Just because she orders her family around, doesn’t mean everyone is available for being hit up. If she’s treating this friend ‘just like family’ then some bluntness should be fine. If she just has no boundaries then bluntness is the only thing that works.

        2. Ovieaptor*

          ‘You’ll get what you are given’ made me think of a coworker’s young elementary school children’s saying. The teacher used a saying when the kids were given/using something that had variety (like a mixed assortment of a birthday treat or maybe they all got a pencil but they were not all the same color). The saying/phrase was ‘You get what you get, so don’t throw a fit’.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I like to imagine it started as the latter in first grade classrooms, and was escalated to the former when workplaces needed to explain that they had ordered one cookie per staff member, and so no, you couldn’t take two dozen and pile them on your desk and spend the afternoon defending them.

              1. Artemesia*

                My grandkids grade school using the ‘and don’t throw a fit’ version which is actually the only one I have heard in use. An important life lesson in a memorable phrase.

                1. Dragoning*

                  My mother taught preschool for many years and picked it up from there. Hearing it makes me feel like she’s treating me like one of her two year old’s again and I have a viscerally unkind response to hearing it.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Is it weird that my pronunciation of “get” in the sentence is actually influenced by which ending I add? If I say the “don’t throw a fit” version I pronounce “get” closer to “git”, even though that’s not normal for my dialect; if I say the “don’t get upset” version I pronounce it the way I usually would, as “get”.

            2. Anonymeece*

              My bf’s mother uses the, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!”

        3. GreyjoyGardens*

          I wonder what is up with the lack of boundaries on Jane’s part. Having a husband or family member gift her with expensive stuff, sure. But coworkers? In what universe is it appropriate to beg for gifts from *coworkers*? It’s just not done, at least where I live. Is this a very different culture or workplace than the norm? Or is Jane just entitled and lacking in boundaries? And why does her coworker even think that this is OK and not just laugh in Jane’s face?

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, everything about this letter is absolutely bewildering to me, simply because it seems so alien in all the ways.

      6. TooOldForThisNonsense*

        OP#3: What about a cheerful, “Oh, sweetheart, I can’t afford to be your friend!” If you’re feeling really confident, you could add a humorously self-deprecating: “I’ll have to slum it with X and Y instead.”

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Ha, I said that to a date once. These exact words “you’re a great guy, but dude, I can’t afford to date you”. (BG, it was the early 2010s, he was from Europe and was in my US city for work, and wanted to have phone calls and text chats on his work (overseas) phone number. My phone provider confirmed that those would cost me an arm and a leg. The guy refused to entertain any other options, like using his personal phone, getting a burner phone etc., it had to be his Swedish number or nothing. It really clicked into place for me when, on our first and only date, he said “but it doesn’t cost *me* anything, my work pays for this phone”… uh, okay, good for you?)

          1. Dragoning*

            Was he such a great guy if he wanted you to spend so much just because it didn’t cost him anything, though?

      7. Quickbeam*

        I’ve been down this road. My approach is that I don’t gift at work. Period. Even the most rapacious gift hog ends up leaving it alone. I personally find gifting at work really uncomfortable but if you treat everyone the same they get over it.

        1. No Mas Pantalones*

          Cosign. I adopted this a long time ago.

          Hell, all my friends and I have a strict “no holiday gifting” policy. Random gifts are fine, but they can’t be too frequent, nor may they fall on any observed holiday (birthdays included). They’re also not tallied/tracked, nor expected. Takes a lot of pressure off and it’s a lot more fun to show up to coffee with something and be like “Happy Tuesday Totally Sucks So Here’s a Pressie!”

          1. Artemesia*

            Our policy as well both at work and socially. The one exception for me was holiday gifts to staff that supported me, but they were tokens — a holiday loaf or a case of clementines or a bottle of bubbly. Our friendship circle is resolute about no gifts; we all host dinner parties and bring wine when going to someone else’s party, but no holiday or birthday gifts. Those things tend to be a burden all around.

          2. Ellex*

            No holiday gifting and random gifting:

            “I saw this [inexpensive thing] and immediately thought of you.” (usually a gag type gift from a dollar store)

            “I made cookies/other treat and brought you some.” (I’ve done this – mostly just bringing a few extra cookies to share, and I keep a snack stash which I’m also willing to share).

            “I’m having a crappy day and want to go out for lunch and would like company, please join me, it’s my treat.”

            1. Antilles*

              Yeah, that’s where I fall too – I might bring in some snacks for everyone to share; I might buy lunch or a drink every now and then; but that’s about it. Nothing more formal than that, ever.

      8. Oxford Comma*

        I think your friend needs to exclude Jane’s husband and family from the equation. That’s all irrelevant to your friend’s situation.

        Alison’s second script sounds like the one I would use.

        I’ve never worked anywhere that did birthday gift exchanges. People might chip in to take someone out to lunch or get a cake, but that’s been the extent of it.

    2. Bartimaeus*

      Honestly, my reaction would be, “Jane, the next time you ask me for an expensive luxury gift I can’t afford, I will give you one (1) orange for Christmas.”

      Then follow through on that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s the modern adaptation–kids are no longer threatened when you explain the concept of a rock they can set on fire, while they are unenthused about a healthy snack.

          1. Dragoning*

            When I was a child my parents actually gave me coal for Christmas once.

            I put a weight on it and tucked it under the fireplace hoping it would turn into a diamond from the heat and pressure.


            Did not work.

          2. SusanIvanova*

            Oranges are great! If you really want to give a terrible healthy snack, the ones we had at my last company are perfect: desiccated rice cakes, rock-hard granola bars, etc.

      1. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

        Is it (one) orange total, or do we buy an orange every time this comes up?

        If we buy an orange every time, do we buy the orange immediately and put it in the crisper drawer, or wait until Christmas to buy them all?

        A wheelbarrow of oranges is a great visual, but a wheelbarrow of oranges in various stages of decay is even better.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      One thing I like about having gone through a brief period of being broke while in my mid-forties (one income, two dependents, kids’ college bills, vet bills, surgery bills… things are a lot better now!) is that it taught me that there’s no shame in telling people “nope, sorry, can’t afford this”, “nope, not in my budget now, maybe in a few years”, etc. Repeat until Jane gets the message.

      I would be wary of “responding with series of enthusiastic questions about what kind of luxury gift Jane plans to get YF for [Holiday / Birthday / Etc.]”, because Jane just might get YF a luxury gift on the assumption that it is a quid pro quo arrangement and YF will get her an even more expensive one in return. Whereas we want Jane to stop hitting YF up for gifts, period.

    4. Fergus*

      co-worker is a leech, and they are everywhere. I wish there was leech spray for this.

    5. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Other than bosses maaaybe passing on a box of candy or a bottle of wine at the holidays to their direct reports after a particularly trying year,as one of my managers once did for me and my peer counterpart as a thank you for staying during some big changes, I have never understood any workplace gift giving. It’s super presumptuous and overbearing to assume someone doesn’t have dependents or loans or just wants to spend their earnings how they see fit, especially if they are single. The OP should perhaps be firm and lean into a hard policy on not exchanging gifts with coworkers at all, but say something over the top like “YOU ARE SUCH A CARD, JANE. YOU CRACK ME UP.” To make it clear that idea is BONKERS. And perhaps try to bow out of any window shopping if possible.

    6. Earthwalker*

      I can’t offer any advice better than Alison’s on what to do about Jane, but I wish we could stop the whole gift giving, secret santa, yankee exchange, birthday celebration, shower customs at work entirely. It would be great if offices had a policy of not giving up the chain, down the chain, or to peers out of peer pressure or a misplaced sense of obligation. People like Jane get a sense of entitlement that’s really weird. There are always issues over how an employee was forced to spend more than they could afford or didn’t get as good as they gave. At holidays stores move a mountain of very generic what-nots for office gifts that will end up in landfills anyway. Office gift customs do more harm than good IMHO. I wish we could all agree that the only appropriate workplace gifts are words of good cheer. Just words.

  4. Anonandon*

    It’s almost as if letting any random jackass review any business for any reason might have been a BAD idea… Hopefully consumers are catching on to the fact that sites like Yelp are worthless.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I disagree; sites with reviews can be really helpful. I don’t personally like Yelp because they do it badly (let people pay to hide bad reviews and try to extort companies that won’t pay) but it’s usually pretty easy to tell if a reviewer is biased or fake on any review site. I appreciate people putting in their experience with a company or details about what’s offered so I can make better purchasing decisions.

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        Yelp: We’re totally not a mafia! But we have an offer for you that you won’t want to refuse….

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s so over the top. Review sites are great tools to increase business and that’s why companies even display advertisements asking you to visit their Yelp or Trip Advisor pages.

      Most consumers know to use their best judgement and to weigh the good and the bad reviews.

      1. Jasnah*

        So true. As a consumer I’d rather have a mixed bag of thoughtful reviews and “this was a gift so I don’t know if she likes it” level reviews (why would you review it then??) than nothing at all.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Some places can be very pushy about leaving reviews, to the point that it looks like you have to leave one. That’s what I assume is going on when I see the “it was a gift” kind of review.

          1. Artemesia*

            I am still getting weekly reminders for a company that while I was not totally dissatisfied, I was not thrilled with. You’d think they’d stop nagging if people reneg. I don’t feel like dinging them; they weren’t terrible, but they are not getting a glowing review anyway. I find reviews even on yelp helpful, but you do need to have an eye for bogus in both directions.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            At that point I’m looking at never doing business with you again, to avoid all the nagging about review-leaving.

      2. Lynca*

        And I think that is really important to note. If there is one spectacularly bad review in a sea of moderate to glowing reviews, most people are going to be more critical of the bad review. It’s the outlier. I know I’ve thought to my self, “wow this person has an axe to grind” when reading reviews that were overwhelmingly negative.

        And a heartfelt, warm response to address that issue is a good way to show people using the reviews that you are committed to your customer base. It’s swayed me before, and I ended up a repeat customer.

        1. Falling Diphthong*


          I occasionally wonder about the stories hidden in the reviews, as with the hotel which had a positive review save for the limited number of of deck chairs around the pool. “Ha ha, everyone has their own little bete noire” I thought, only to go on through a dozen reviews, I believe written by different people, along the lines “pleasant and comfortable, though you need to stake out your deck chair by the pool very early.”

        2. Lizzy May*

          Exactly this. I look for patterns, not just at one review. One bad review is a sign of one angry person. One good review is probably fake. A pattern of good or bad reviews is what I look for. If there aren’t enough reviews to form a pattern, I ignore it completely.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            I look to see if bad reviews are something I care about. “Food was delicious, but waitress was rude and inattentive” = “good restaurant for witty, who mostly wants the waitstaff to leave her alone”.

            1. Artemesia*

              Years ago I read a review on TA for a small hotel in Beaune France. An American father was incensed that they had scolded him late at night because his young kids were noisy and then was angry that they made him pay for a lamp the kids broke. It should have been ‘normal wear and tear’ and the ‘kids had been in the car all day and of course they had to run off some steam.’ I booked it immediately as my kind of place where they at least tried to deal with boorish visitors.

            2. irene adler*

              It is helpful to have a description of what the reviewer found good or bad (“food was hot, and very flavorful. Wait staff busy so service a bit slow.”) One can then decide for themselves if the issue is of importance.

              I find reviews like “X company was great!” to be useless. Say why it was great.

            3. Decima Dewey*

              I also find it useful to see a bad review for an ice cream place that has flavors like Peanut Butter Maple Tarragon, Lemon Buttermilk, Earl Grey Siracha, Bourbon Bourbon Vanilla, or Blueberry Ginger, and the reviewer is complaining because they couldn’t get a chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry that’s available in every supermarket or convenience store.

          2. Busy*

            Yes. And even if there are more than one review that is really positive, you can usually tell by the wording it is fake.

            What is important to me is not the negative reviews, but more so how the business responds to it. No response = maybe true, doesn’t check social media, not concerned about reputation.; “Please contact us about your experience” response = knows how to behave professionally at least.; Insulting or berating responses = ain’t going anywhere near that place!

            This is going on right now with an doctors office (!!!!) near where I live. The entire office staff and ex-office staff have waged full out airing dirty laundry about each other war on google reviews. No way in hell I am going near them at all! Even if they are the only specialist in a 25 mile radius.

    3. Rez123*

      These are great tools for consumers. There are million options around and this can help determining the best option. I mainly use tripadvisor for hotels and restaurants. Average person has enough critical reading skills to know if they should take the review into account. Also several times the responses from the companies have made me not want to visit the establishment, not the poor review.

    4. MK*

      I disagree that they are worthless, but they are not as easy to use as they would have you believe. You can’t just go by rating, you need to read the reviews and consider criticallly what they say.

      Also, this is a problem with any rating system. I read an article about how Michelin wanted to start giving stars to chefs and restaurants that were different than their usual “fine dining” fare. In one case the chef who had been given a Michelin star asked them to remove her, because customers were seeing “Michelin star” and coming to dine without looking at the menu, and were then disappointed with their experience.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Michelin already some what does this. They have their bib gourmand designation, it is all or nothing. It is supposed to designate good quality food at more affordable prices. I’m not sure is this is still the criteria but
        at one point I think the criteria on price was 2 courses and a drink for under $40. Even the secret Michelin reviewers admit some of the “starred” restaurants are a bit more of a once in a while experience where the bib gourmand can be more of an everyday type place.

        I love visiting Michelin starred or bib gourmand restaurants but I always check out the menu before I visit.

    5. Wintermute*

      I use them, but I am very selective in how I do. I look at 2-4 star reviews only, because people that are either trying to smear a business or are friends and employees trying to buff their numbers go for straight 1s and 5s to increase their impact on the average.

      I also look for details, not just “bad, but not terrible 2/5” but specifics, especially for restaurants, people will mark a place down for the silliest reasons, I’m reading for details, complaints of mis-prepared orders (especially for delivery places), complaints about cold, undercooked or overcooked food, etc. For a mechanic I’m looking at whether people complain about things being added to their invoice, how long it took to get the work done, or if repairs failed quickly or were improperly done.

      I also give MASSIVE side-eye to any exceptional claims, especially if they have no supporting details. If they detail an interaction and say exactly what was said or done and it doesn’t seem wildly farfetched, that’s one thing, but smear reviews rarely have those kinds of details, they usually just state it as a fact without support.

      1. Harvey 6-3.5*

        I actually prefer looking at the 1 star reviews. Often the complaints are about things that aren’t important to me, so I can dismiss them. If they say specific information that would bother me (i.e., shared bathrooms in hotel), then I will check to see if it is true. I agree that five star reviews are only useful when they have specific info too.

        1. ElspethGC*

          I enjoy reading one-star reviews just for the hell of it, especially for tourist attractions on TripAdvisor. My favourites are things like “Why did they build this 2000-year old building so close to the motorway/airport?”, “We went to the Tower of London in the middle of the summer holidays and there were *queues*!”, and “This incredibly expensive and exclusive hotel didn’t provide room cards made from platinum, complete rip-off.”

          1. General Ginger*

            Oh, same. There is a person who left a bunch of 1-star reviews for a local Starbucks everywhere you could possibly review them (Yelp, Google, etc). The complaint? They always order ahead on their way to work, they go there every morning, and by the time they get to the Sbux, their drink is already cold, and given how often they go, shouldn’t the Sbux baristas know not to start their order as soon as it’s submitted, so it’s still hot when they get there for pick-up?

          2. Genny*

            My favorite was a disparaging comment about how this one tiny museum in Narita, Japan doesn’t have signs in English and the staff only speak Japanese. Um…..duh?

        2. wittyrepartee*

          Same. Most of the time I just don’t care. “Waitstaff did not smile at me” Good! Then they won’t mind that I’m paying no attention to them.

      2. Psyche*

        I always find it funny when I read bad reviews of a product where they tried to use it for something that it isn’t supposed to do and are angry it didn’t work.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          I love those too and the basically no-common-sense ones where they leave a bad review which basically says, “I didn’t read the product description and thought I was getting a room-size area rug for $5.00 and then this doll house rug showed up.” Hmm, maybe the price should have been a clue.

          1. General Ginger*

            “I ordered the slow shipping, because it was free, and it was slow! When I told them the slow shipping being slow was unacceptable, and asked for a shipping refund, they didn’t give me one!”

            1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

              The business response should definitely be, “Yes, we absolutely did refund her free shipping. The free shipping was credited back to her account on February 31. We have a company policy of always refunding free shipping, no questions asked.”

          2. JKP*

            Yes! I have a dollhouse, and like miniatures, and it actually sometimes screws up the ratings because of too many 1 star reviews where people didn’t look at the size and thought they were buying the full size item.

        2. Eukomos*

          There’s a great blog called “Wrong shade, 1 star” that posts ridiculous reviews like that of makeup products. It is seriously hilarious.

        3. Former Employee*

          I have to remind myself of this sort of thing when I read some absurd sounding warning on an item such as not to be used close to eyes when it’s bug spray or the like! My first thought is of course, everyone knows that. Then I remember all of the hilarious to downright scary things people have done with products not put to their intended use or utilized in a manner that is dangerous, though the usage itself may be technically correct.

          I thought of bug spray because someone blew up their home by setting off about 20 (40?) of those bug bombs some years back.

        4. Helena*

          Yess, or the dvd reviews on Amazon that only have one star because “this only includes Season 1” – that is made very clear in the front of the box.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think review sites are helpful, particualrly once the business has a fair number of reviews.
      Of course you haveto read with discrimination, but if you have lots of people all flagging simialr issues, it’s worth thinking about whether that issue is a deal breaker for you.

      I prefer sites where the busines has the opportunity to respond, I think that their response often tells you as much as the review, and those where you can see how many / where else the person has reviewed.

      I think this helps you to weed out the ones which are either the owners mates, or the disgruntled ex employee / rival / customer from Hades.

      (and since I do use them, I also leave reviews, and I try to be as factual as I can and give a bit of background for any praise or blame, with the hope that whoever is reading can put my views into context.)

    7. Chalupa Batman*

      Meh. I look at reviews frequently, but I do take into account that people generally only review if their experience was very good or very bad. I usually have an agenda of a few things I care about when I look at reviews (like the deck chair example) and focus on patterns related to those things. Mr. Batman and I stayed at a very nice hotel with terrible reviews, but the comments were things like “there were no robes provided!” and “where’s my free alcohol that no one promised me?!” The good/neutral reviews said things like it was clean, staff was attentive, and the bathroom was large. Sold. And it was lovely. Just like any other advertising, the consumer has to take some responsibility for vetting it.

      1. Artemesia*

        Another thing I look for besides the irrelevant (to me) criticism is lots of positive reviews in similar awkward English. Chinese sites are particularly prone to this. It becomes really obvious that they are all written by the same person. Remember similar things in reviews from purported Americans on an Italian hotel where they cited the ‘gentle service’ — a bad translation from the Italian and thus clearly a plant not an actual American reviewing the place.

      2. Cacwgrl*

        LOL I just did that and got burned a bit but some was my own fault. Went to a wedding in a small town, found VRBO and AIRBNB to be way too pricey and found a local, non chain hotel. Reviews were mixed but the price was great for the wine country on v-day weekend, so we went with it. Booked king non-smoking rooms directly with the front desk months ago and the man I worked with gave us the lowest rate right off the bat. I didn’t have to play the AAA, AARP, etc game and I appreciate that. We get there, the office is barely off the Main Street of this one Main Street town and I find out there are rooms further up off the road, but they are on built on a hill and each level only had one room each. My dad wasn’t able to come and I wasn’t about to leave my mom in a room not near me (she would have been fine I’m sure but I wasn’t comfortable), so we ask for two non-smoking near each other. It put us right on the street. Like the first room off the road and these rooms were still on the to be renovated list, but that was my only option. The floors were horrible, like I went to walgreens and bought slippers that I threw out when I checked out, the blinds did not help keep street lights out and the road noise was awful. Mom’s room was far enough up where she didn’t have street issues and her floor was better so I didn’t feel like the place rated as horrible of a rating as it could. They offered me better rooms but that didn’t work for our situation and they accommodated me on the spot when I checked it. Customer service was great. Room quality was awful. I still haven’t reviewed because normally rooms are more important to me and anything else and if I read what I have to say, I don’t think I’d have booked there.

        Long story short, poor reviews are the best ones to read but I learned my lesson about disregarding them.

    8. Roscoe*

      I don’t think they are worthless, I just think any one review on its own is worthless. If you have 99 positive review and 1 negative review, I may still try the place out. That also doesn’t mean the person is lying about their experience. Maybe they encountered an employee on a bad day. Maybe there were a bunch of circumstances that led to whatever bad experience they had.

      However, with Yelp, and Glassdoor, and other sites, I believe it does give you a good idea of what to expect. You can look at trends. If 2/3 of the reviews for a restaurant says “the food is amazing, but the service is lacking”, well, you know what to expect if you choose to go there. If most of the Glassdoor reveiews say “the culture is amazing, but the pay is crap” then you know going in what you get. Again, I think you should always take the outliers with a grain of salt, but I don’t think those sites are bad.

    9. CRM*

      I actually think review sites are very helpful, and can be good for businesses. I also think that the majority of consumers understand to take these reviews with a grain of salt.

      I generally use Yelp because many reviews include helpful information that may not be readily apparent. For example, noting that X restaurant is cash-only, or that Y hair salon can’t always accept walk-ins, or that Z bar might be too intimate for a first date. These tips wouldn’t turn me away from a business, but would help me have an overall better experience.

      1. salvadora*

        Yelp is really useful to me in very specific ways–if I’m already interested in a store or restaurant, a bunch of
        OTT glowing 5s and a bunch of OTT wrathful 1s aren’t going to do much.

        But if it comes to [X hair stylist] vs [Y hair stylist] or pad thai vs drunken noodles, online reviews can be a great resource.

    10. CoveredInBees*

      I think you have to be thoughtful about using review sites. I tend to stick to the middle of the road ratings and mostly look at the details. Complaining that Korean food is too spicy? Not something I’d give much weight. Saying they’re really busy on Sundays or the reviewer liked a certain dish? That’s useful. People who are just complaining tend to be easy to spot. Sites like Yelp are rarely the first place I look for recommendations, but I’ll double check there for additional info.

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      While I do also think that Yelp is worthless, it is for other reasons. I use the customer reviews/ratings feature a lot for just about everywhere I am a consumer, and it has been immensely helpful.

      As for Yelp specifically, I heard bad things about their business practices, both from the business owners in a FB group I’m in, and from an ex-SO who is a business owner. Something like, they will remove your business’s negative reviews if you pay them a fee, and other things of that same nature. I uninstalled their app years ago, because their business practices made the ratings completely unreliable.

      1. JKP*

        In my experience, Yelp also removes your positive reviews if you DON’T pay them a fee.

    12. JustaTech*

      I feel like Yelp is one of those things that really works for some people and just doesn’t for other people.

      For example: I was at a week long class at Berkeley, where there should be tons of great, cheap, food options. But the first four places I went (based on Yelp) were meh at best. But one of my classmates, everything she picked off Yelp was *amazing*. We said she had great “Yelp-fu”and just asked he to pick lunch for the rest of the week.

      What’s strange is Yelp in Paris, where it’s very clear that all the reviews are by Americans. (As in, no reviews in French, and no obvious Brits.) Which in some ways is disappointing, but in other ways is nice because they’ll say things like “great food, but no one speaks English so get ready to pantomime” or “has an English menu but the food is meh”.

      1. Kaffeekocherin*

        It’s not that strange that Yelp isn’t as popular in Paris/France as it is in the US. Many non-English speaking countries have their own review sites or prefer other review sites. So while we have Yelp here in Germany, I would look to Facebook, Google, or local restaurant/hotel review sites first. As you mentioned, Yelp is mainly used by Americans (the same goes for Tripadvisor), so after reading the nth review giving a restaurant one star for charging extra for ketchup or not providing free water (which is both normal here), I desperately want to see reviews from locals/people who know the customs and don’t get hung up on things that I know to expect anyway.

  5. Artemesia*

    #5. ‘Under consideration’ doesn’t mean what you think it does. They have already rejected you for the role before; your resume etc got reviewed then. All ‘under consideration’ means now when you repeatedly apply is that they haven’t gotten around to dealing with new applications yet and moved you back into the ‘no’ stack. It is really annoying when someone repeatedly applies to a position they were already rejected for. Probably not lethal to do it once months apart, but after that drop it. And then trying to end run the process will make you look like a stalker. Time to move on.

    1. JessaB*

      I think it depends, if you’ve applied for something, interviewed and got near the end of the process but they picked someone slightly better or who had some other plus to them and not you, applying for a similar job, or the same one if the person they picked did not pan out, is not such a stretch. On the other hand if the rejection was a “got your resume, sorry not moving forward,” then yes.

      1. Artemesia*

        If you were interviewed and told you were a near miss then when a similar job is posted later, touching base with the hiring manager to let them know you are still interested and ask if you should apply again is fine. If you just applied and got the usual boilerplate back then to repeatedly apply is tone deaf — particularly more than once a few months later.

    2. Approval is optional*

      It’s not 100% clear to me whether the LW has applied twice (last year’s archived one, and one last month) over the period of a year, or multiple times over that period. I may just not be working in maximum reading comprehension mode though!
      If you’ve not been successful at getting past the ‘submit application’ stage after multiple attempts LW, then from the company’s perspective you lack something(s). So try to work out what, and develop a plan to ‘get it’ (to a reasonable standard) before you apply again. I’d suggest that as a starting point, you get an objective take from someone you trust, on how much of a stretch the role is based on your experience, training, references and so on. It doesn’t take much in some companies to be seen as a naive and unrealistic (or worse, a joke) in these situations, if your aspirations far outstrip your competencies. And if your competencies will one day catch up to your aspirations, you don’t want to be in the never hire pile because of too many ‘premature’ applications.

    3. MissGirl*

      I applied at very large company and never heard back. A year later I applied for another position and happened to see the old position under my log in. It still showed as under consideration even thought I’m sure it had been filled for months. Sometimes they just don’t update these things.

      OP, you’ve been applying for a year. I would stop applying to this company for several months and then only apply to positions you’re an extremely strong candidate for.

      1. Genny*

        Anyone who has ever submitted an application through USAJobs has the same experience (and I admit that’s where my mind jumped to first). It’s not uncommon to have your application officially rejected two years after the application period closes. Sometimes hiring managers don’t actually close out old applications, thus never prompting the system to update your application status.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Eh, the OP wasn’t formally rejected for the first position. We don’t really know if her resume ever hit anyone’s desktop for review, or if they just closed the position to delay hiring and reopened it soliciting new candidates without doing anything with the old ones. I personally wouldn’t stalk the staffers on LinkedIn and I wouldn’t keep submitting online applications into the ether, but if she can find another way to make some personal connections within the company, it may be worthwhile. A lot of people in my department are recruited via networking contact and word of mouth, especially the senior folks.

  6. Beth*

    OP2: How many yelp reviews does your store have? Does your store generally respond to negative comments? I actually don’t think responding to this comment is a good idea unless both 1) there aren’t all that many reviews, and 2) you do generally reply to negative ones. As a gay woman, thinking about how I read internet reviews of businesses, that’s the only scenario I can think of where you replying might actually make you look better to me.

    Here’s my thinking. If there are a thousands of reviews, I would probably never notice this one; even if I did, the first thing I’d look for would be other reviews either corroborating or not corroborating it. With that big a pool of reviews, I don’t need to take your word for it–I can look for trends in people’s reports of your actions on my own, which I’d trust over a response from the company. You might as well not waste your time or make this review stand out from the others.

    And if this is the only comment (or only type of comment) that you reply to, that would actually do the opposite of reassuring me. A business that generally makes a habit of addressing negative reviews is one thing, but a business that specifically goes out of their way to advertise that reports of them being homophobic are false while not bothering with other negative feedback would set off alarm bells for me. There’s a real chance that the latter is someone scrambling to cover their ass, rather than someone genuinely concerned with making customers happy. (Of course, they could also be a strong ally who’s horrified by this accusation in particular! But I have no way of knowing which it is without going, and if I was checking yelp reviews before going in the first place, I’m probably not feeling like taking the risk.)

    1. Jasnah*

      I agree, I think it’s more persuasive that this is just some guy’s weird misinterpretation if you treat it like all the other negative reviews. But if you only reply to his (especially to say “Come on Jason it’s not because you’re gay! I love gay people all my friends are gay!”) then that looks suspicious! It looks like you’re a little Too Concerned.

      1. OP 2*

        That’s exactly my thought process, like the whole “you doth protest too much” thing…

        1. Free Meerkats*

          Or the reply could be something along the line of, “Hi Jason! How is unemployment treating you?”

          No, don’t do that.

    2. Wintermute*

      This is a really good point about raising the visibility, and also about making it stand out from other negative reviews. I presume this isn’t a situation where they have thousands of reviews but even having five versus 20 makes a big difference here.

    3. MissGirl*

      I was reading Glassdoor reviews about a company yesterday where they rarely commented on individual reviews. One review mentioned a lack of women in leadership roles. The HR responded rather defensively that a third of their executive board was female along with some other stats. Honestly, it drew more attention to the comment than it otherwise would’ve warranted.

      It’s hard to know what to do as a business because some consumers take every comment with a grain of salt while others believe everything the internet tells them.

    4. Chalupa Batman*

      “Do you usually respond” is an especially good test on whether you should post a reply. If you don’t typically respond, choosing to respond to this one looks weird. I also agree with Jasnah-unless you’re in a business where it would be obvious, a single person saying “I was treated badly because I’m gay!” would only make me wonder what made him think the salesperson even knew he was gay. In the absence of a better explanation or other reviews to that effect, it would come across to me as being his hangup, not relevant information about the business.

      1. aNameGoesHere*

        “a single person saying “I was treated badly because I’m gay!” would only make me wonder what made him think the salesperson even knew he was gay. ”

        I’ve found regularly that straight people are able to “pick out” that I’m a lesbian, well enough to loudly talk about how gross they think lesbians are while they keep turning to look at me and see if I’ve reacted yet. Pretending there’s no visible signifiers of being gay is not helpful. Obviously they aren’t 100% accurate, but I and all the other LGBT people I know personally would not consider “this person picked out that I was gay and discriminated against me purely based on dress/mannerisms” to be surprising.

        But I also don’t know that I’d trust this review if I saw it in the wild. I might be able to pick a fake one out. If it’s very specific, I’m more likely to trust it. If it’s just “They kicked me out because I’m gay!” that’s maybe someone who was incredibly rude and got kicked out for good reason, but “They kept giving me dirty looks and trying to guide me away from another customer who had their kid with them” is more believable.

    5. Artemesia*

      It depends on what is in the review. I recently moved and looked at reviews for moving companies. One company I had had recommended by a friend had a review which said they had been sued by the company for defamation for posting a negative review. THAT was a total deal breaker. I would never get near a company that behaved like that and I could not trust positive reviews if they threaten people who write negative ones. So they got crossed off the list for that one review. IF that was a false review then the company needed to deal with that. But for a garden variety negative review, ignoring is probably best unless it is something easily fixed and thus a ‘let us fix that for you’ response is warranted.

    6. OP 2*

      We are a new business and just have two reviews right now. The other is five stars and includes a lot of specifics around why their experience was great.

      I don’t feel like yelp is as “big” in retail but I take a lot of pride in my work and having a crap average bums me out. I guess we need just a few good ones to even it out, that should happen eventually on its own.

      I definitely have boycotted businesses when they have been revealed as donating to icky causes or having discriminatory workplace practices. So that’s what I’m most worried about, is that someone would feel uncomfortable coming in. The thing is that the review is pretty poorly written that it seems sort of obvious that it’s a personal thing. I’ve showed it to a few trusted colleagues and everyone agrees it’s not a review they would trust if they were unfamiliar with my business.

      1. Beth*

        A Yelp review saying a business is homophobic is a very different thing than solid financial records of them them to homophobic causes. The latter is a proven reality, a pretty strong point to act from; the former is some random internet stranger’s opinion, and we all know that the quality and trustworthiness of internet strangers varies wildly.

        Considering you have so few reviews right now, if you really want to respond, I think you can–it’s visible, you don’t have an established practice towards negative reviews yet, this can be your point of establishing how you’ll handle them going forward. But I want to caution you against getting too invested in Yelp reviews. You can’t control what people write–and trying can really bite you in the butt. The moment it starts to look like you’re trying to accumulate good reviews or eliminate bad ones, people are going to start assuming that your ratings are manipulated and trust even the really good ones less. Reasonable customers already know to take internet reviews with a grain of salt; you might be better off trusting your customers to do that and ignoring the whole thing.

  7. lammmm*

    OP #1 I’m surprised you got a raise the first time around. I started a new job in May and was genuinely surprised I got a raise at review time in January as I had been there less then a year. It was pro-rated, but still a present surprise.

  8. Lena Clare*

    OP3’s Jane is just…soooo weird. I have no idea what goes on inside people’s heads with stuff like this.

    I love Alison’s responses, they’re perfect. You could also try getting your friend to say “but what expensive gift are you getting *me*?” and see what Jane says lol.

  9. MommyMD*

    Why would anyone expect gifts from a coworker? Especially lavish ones? Jane is weird. I’d tell her I reserve gift-giving for family only. What a strange person.

    1. SAS*

      The gift request thing is so bizarre it makes me think it’s just an ongoing joke or offhand comments for Jane. Like a more common workplace “request/joke” of “Cathy did you just offer to write my enormous report due at the end of the week? Thanks you’re the best!” Maybe that’s just my office…

      Does Jane respond poorly when she doesn’t get the requested gifts (or any gifts)? If not, I wouldn’t even address it, I’d just accept it as a quirk.

      1. Mary*

        Yes, “taking colleague’s jokes too literally” actually seemed like a far more plausible explanation to me than “colleague genuinely expects me to buy her gifts worth hundreds or thousands of pounds”.

    2. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

      Right? And even with family, if you’re over 18, you get nothing! (Unless you’re in school or a nursing home, then it’s cash, ramen, and socks.)

      My FIL is like Jane. He bases his self-worth on status symbols. It’s super irritating, and expensive. He still pouts at Christmas.

    3. Hold My Cosmo*

      Agreed. LW is asking for scripts, while I’m surprised she didn’t just immediately blurt out “Dafuq?!?!”

      1. Someone Else*

        She said Jane has a reputation for being vindictive and is buds with the boss, so I assume that caused some trepidation in how to shut it down because there’s a need to make sure Jane doesn’t have an over the top reaction and decide They Are Now Enemies.

      2. Pandora's Box*

        LW#3 here – It is definitely a WTF moment for me. But when Jane does not get her Kate Spade earrings, she complains to the boss and spreads rumors. It doesn’t help that she gets away with that in the family and the husband lavishes upon her to cover up affairs….

        1. Rose*

          Seems like a lose/lose then. What is friend’s relationship with boss like? Could friend go to him/her and do a lie/truth type of thing? “I think Jane is great and I just love Jane and blah blah but I just don’t have it in my budget to buy her the gifts she’s wanting. Since you all get along I was wondering if you had any tips/advice on how to navigate this, I’d really value your opinion, knowing that the gifts are not an option.”

          1. MJ*

            Or: “Jane wants a new [fill in the blank] this month. Last month it was a [fill in the blank]. Because she becomes a mean girl when she doesn’t extort expensive items from coworkers, can we have a raise. A few thousand a month each should keep up with Jane’s excessive gift demands.”

            But really, does the boss know that Jane is extorting things from people?

            “Haha. No.”

    4. Tricksie*

      I think I’d make it into a joke by going over-the-top. “A Kate Spade purse? You know I get all my coworkers a new Lexus with one of those giant bows.”

    5. irene adler*

      Yep. Back in high school I had a ‘friend’ who frequently told me, “You should buy me that.” “That” was always something very expensive to add to his Beatles collection. Something well beyond my budget.

      I just ignored him whenever he said this.

      Some people!

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        I had a “friend” in my 20s who frequently said things like this because she knew I made more than she did. (Never mind that we were in completely different industries, different roles, and that I had a good 7 to 10 years experience on her.) I started answering with my own “You should”s, consisting of kissing a few things, spending her cigarette money on said item, or shutting her piehole with various expletives. Then I just stopped hanging out with her. Problem solved.

    6. Blue*

      Agreed. Birthday gifts hasn’t been a thing in any of my friend groups since I was in college, so I really find this baffling. The most we do is covering the birthday person’s dinner. Also, isn’t it considered gauche to *ask* someone for a present? As a kid, I was definitely taught that acting entitled to a gift was beyond rude. I’d go with Alison’s scripts, but I would definitely be tempted to drop a passive-aggressive line like, “You know, your willingness to ask for presents impresses me. I could never bring myself to do that, since I was raised to find it so ill-mannered.”

  10. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    OP4 – go for it! Tell your boss that you’d love this role, and ask how best to apply.

    Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

  11. MommyMD*

    Nobody ever wants an opinion about an article. Most people can see right through that.

      1. KarenT*

        Thirded. It’s about as conspicuous as it gets.
        If there’s big industry news, I’m interested in my bosses opinion, close co-workers, friends in the industry, not strangers on LinkedIn.

    1. Leela*

      Yes! And as someone who used to work at Huge Online Teapot Retailer when cool new delivery method was announced, I hated getting seemingly irrelevant and pointless messages that would always turn into probing me for job info or “I don’t know if you checked my profile out but as you can see I have blah blah blah”

  12. 867-5309*

    OP #5 My advice matches Alison for your specific circumstance, right now.

    However, I’ve had success reaching out to hiring manager and recruiters via LinkedIn. I always do it before there’s a job posting to express interest in learning more about the company/team/work or before I apply for a specific job. I don’t do it for every job. My note is direct about my interest, why I’ve contacted them specifically and typically includes a request to see if what I think is a match, actually is.

    Sometimes people don’t respond at all but my success rate is above 50%, out of about the dozen times I’ve done it. It’s needed me conversations and interviews, including one with a company in Norway before I moved here permanently. In the latter, I made it to the final round.

    Good luck!

    1. Anonon*

      I sent a linked in message to a hiring manager literally this morning (small company) as they’re hiring for two roles and my experience is basically a bit over qualified for one and a bit under for the other – there was no way to apply other than to send a cv no covering letter for one of the positions . Reading this I was like ‘shit have I screwed up’ but your comment gives me hope this wasn’t 100% inappropriate..!

      1. 867-5309*

        I’ve done that before also – A company was looking for a freelance marketing consultant and it was pretty junior to my experience. However, I was looking to pick-up some easy work, so I wrote the hiring manager a note a LinkedIn and explained I’d be applying and why, even though my experience was senior. She replied to me, though they had already filled the position.

        I think you have to do it in a way that’s smart, thoughtful, direct and realistic. I would never advocate spamming hiring managers or even sending notes to people on LinkedIn for everyplace someone applies.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Requesting an informational interview could work, though I think the caveat of a time when no job is posted is a good one.

      OP’s suggestion about emailing about an article, though–if some stranger sends me an email asking my opinion on an article, I figure ‘scam’ and hit delete. Like the occasional “Hi Falling Here’s that link.”

      1. 867-5309*

        Agree. That’s why I said I agree with Alison’s advice in her case. Plus, she’s already applied at least twice.

      2. Jack Be Nimble*

        Seconding the suggestion of asking for an informational interview, with the caveat that you should only do so if you’re genuinely interested in learning about the interviewee AND you have something to learn from them. A recent college grad asking someone with a few year’s seniority about how they landed their current role etc. is fine. Someone seeking a back door to the hiring process by asking for an “informational” interview is…not.

        I recently received an unsolicited resume with a request for an informational interview. The person asked me to review their resume and “if there is alignment, to host an informational interview with me.” They closed with “Thank you very much for agreeing to provide this help. I greatly appreciate your kindness and generosity!” and it left a really awful taste in my mouth. The person didn’t seem to realize how much of my time he was asking for and didn’t give me any sense of what he was hoping to learn from an informational interview. It was very obvious that he was a jobseeker and thought this would be a good way to get noticed or make a connection.

    3. Kathy*

      I agree completely! In the past, I’ve used LinkedIn’s “InMail” feature to email the HR person/recruiter/hiring manager and introduced myself as a professional courtesy after applying for a position. I almost always receive a response and more importantly, it’s a digital handshake that STARTS A DIALOG and makes you stand-out from the other hundreds of online applicants/applications.

  13. PBJnocrusts*

    OP with the raise. IF I was in your position I would focus on the positive eg you like your job, your manager is supportive etc. and it doesn’t mean there will be no raise in the future for you :) I worked in a company for 8 years and never got a raise (and no, there was nothing wrong with my work performance- raises were very rarely given at my workplace).

  14. Wintermute*

    #2– I know it can be agonizing to have a bad review out there you can’t control, know is inaccurate and not made in good faith, and feel powerless to stop it. Take heart though, he’s shot himself in the foot by the claims he’s making. Customers aren’t ignorant of the fact Yelp becomes a battleground for disgruntled employees and people with axes to grind. I disregard any reviews that seem way out of the norm, and I usually focus most on 3- and 4- star reviews when evaluating a business because those are more likely to be nuanced and accurate and are less likely to be any form of astro-turfing (either for or against the business). A lot of guides advise just that.

    It’s also important to consider that many consumers are savvy enough to realize when someone’s making an inflammatory claim (of discrimination, of harassment, etc) that’s probably a fake smear unless it’s part of a pattern. If ONLY ONE PERSON is saying that they experienced something that seems tailored to get people up in arms, it’s almost always someone with a grudge. It’s simple logic, if you acted like that more than one person would notice! I wouldn’t take that review as worth the time it took to read it, based on the red flags, with or without a good, empathetic response. If there was a response I’d figure at the very worst they had a customer that was oversensitive or misinterpreted something and the business took care of it.

  15. Dessi*

    Never in my life would I think a coworker would seriously ask another coworker to buy them lavish gifts. Certainly not a fake letter. I’m just flabbergasted at the audacity of some people

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I can just imagine myself laughing in her face. “I’m sorry, you think I should buy you *what*? Ha ha ha, why would I spend a month’s mortgage payment on *you*?”.

    2. londonedit*

      Same reaction here! I don’t even like it when my own mother asks me for a Christmas or birthday wishlist – I hate the idea of telling people what to buy for me, even if they’ve specifically asked me to do that (yes, hello, I’m British :P) I’d never dream of a) expecting anyone, least of all a co-worker, to buy me a gift in the first place and b) demanding specific and expensive gifts from them. Jane clearly has absolutely no class or manners.

    3. CanCan*

      I would treat it as a joke. (Because any sane person I know would only make a request like that in jest.) I would reply with obviously joke gift suggestions:
      – I’ll buy you a ton of Kate Spade earrings, but you’ll have to get me a Lamborghini so that I can properly deliver them to you.
      – The Chanel purse looks a bit bulky. I can give you a really nice, compact paper clip instead.

  16. TuesdayMorningAnon*

    I can see how LW1 might have been surprised if they came from an environment where everyone gets a cost-of-living increase, but it sounds like these raises were tied to performance and therefore it makes sense that people need to be in their roles at least a year to get one. If there’s a COLA component to these raises, though, or the pay scale itself has been increased (like for federal employees), I would think otherwise.

  17. EPLawyer*

    This may be totally off base but do we know for SURE that Jane’s husband is giving her these gifts? Like has anyone seen him buying them and then presenting them to her? We know she SAYS he is doing that, but do we know? Because Jane just sounds like she is working too hard to brag about the gifts from her husband.

    Or maybe she is that spoiled and really does expect the world to buy her things. Boy is she in for a load of disappointment.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it matters whther or not her husband gives them to her. Either way, it isn’t reasonable or realistic for her to be asking for, or expecting gifts from coworkers.

      I think I would be inclided to start by saying something to her, next time she does it, such as “Oh, I don’t do gifts with coworkers. I’m happy to go in on a $10 gift exchange at Christmas, but beyond that, i wn’t be doing gifts (or expecting them) so pelase dont ask me again”

      If she continues, I think you could legitimately speak to your boss, and just say that it isn’t wholly clear to you whether or not Jane is serious, but it comes over that she is, and as she hasn’t stopped making the demands even though you have asked her to, it does make you fell pressured and uncomfortable. Unless your boss is completely unreasonable, she shouldn’t have an issue with you raising it.

      1. Bagpuss*

        (if your boss is totally unreasonable, then stick to having the conversation with Jane then if she continues to bring it up, treat it as a not-very-funny joke (A dead-pan “Ha Ha, very funny. Can we talk about [work related thing]?” )

        In other words, have a reaction which makes clear that (i) you are not treating her demand as serious, becuase it is so clearly unreasonable, and (ii) it’s getting old.

  18. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #3 – I would stop shopping with Jane, and ignore her requests for lavish gifts. Don’t feed into her spoiled behavior and change the subject when she brings it up. “I don’t exchange gifts with co-workers”. No reasons needed (i.e. not in your budget, etc.)

  19. Linda Evangelista*

    OP1 – I actually disagree with Alison here. If your city is anything like mine, raises need to be substantial to keep up. And if its only 4% as part of the normal process, I think its acceptable to assume you’d be getting that on top of your promotion.

    Its really hard to expect talented employees to continue busting their butt for a raise that effectively serves as a cost of living adjustment in an expensive city. I think this says more about corporate/capitalist culture than it does about your org specifically, but its telling that your org is more than willing to adapt to it.

    I wouldn’t blame you for looking elsewhere. It says your org has substantial funding – what does that mean, exactly? Enough that pay scale issues are egregious?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The average annual raise in the U.S. is 3%. So you can certainly hate the system, but it’s not helpful to encourage the OP to feel her organization is doing something outrageous and out of step with normal practice when they’re not.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Well, but a percentage increase doesn’t really tell us anything about whether she’s being paid fairly or not – she just recently got a promotion & raise, so it’s doubtful that a cost-of-living increase is required after only a few months. While a lot of cities are outrageously expensive to live in, if the base salary is fair, you don’t necessarily need a huge percentage increase to keep up with inflated cost-of-living increases.

      If the base salary isn’t fair for that city, then yes, absolutely a larger raise would be warranted. But if she was happy with the salary 3 months ago, I’m not sure why she’d need another raise so soon – unless she had been led to believe they’d renegotiate the salary at this point.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Maybe not three months later but certainly by 15 months later, and then OP is behind. Its not just about today its about all the days between now and the next time raises are offered.

    3. Iris Eyes*

      Hmm I think you are getting at something here, if this is a merit based raise then well she already got a raise on merit and a promotion too (and good on OP for negotiating it.) If this is a COL adjustment (not a raise, not based on merit but on economics and usually flat) then yes, she should still get the pay bump.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        A cost of living bump is recognition that the cost of living has changed since your salary was last negotiated. That’s not likely to be the case when the salary was negotiated three months ago.

  20. CupcakeCounter*

    This is not a unhealthy non-profit thing it is a very normal everywhere thing. I started current job in October and they were quite clear that I would not be eligible for any merit increase that first year. Right after my 1 year mark I got a significant raise/promotion that was more than double what the normal merit would be (7% vs 2-3%). Again they made it clear that it would make me ineligible for the merit that year. That WAS my merit increase.
    Your promotion was based on your previous work. You have not been in your role long enough to merit anything and you already got an increase based on your previous work – just at a different time.
    You need to adjust your expectations because there is nothing here that would warrant leaving or having an attitude of being taken advantage of/screwed over.

    1. Linda Evangelista*

      If OP1’s city is as expensive as mine, I don’t think they’re entirely off base. Its hard enough to afford to live here. Normal everywhere doesn’t necessarily mean ‘okay’ or ‘good’.

        1. Linda Evangelista*

          The merit raise comes from the work done all throughout the previous year. Merit for a great job, promotion with additional pay to cover the additional duties. I don’t know, I don’t think this is at all unreasonable to expect.

          1. Beanie*

            In which case one could view the promotion and the raise that came with it as a merit raise, as that all came about as a direct result of all her good work in the previous role. To reward her a second time would be like double dipping.

      1. you call that a raise?*

        Agreed. I live in the Bay Area and would feel similar to the OP if it wasn’t clear that I wasn’t getting both.

  21. Very tired*

    #1 – I’m going to disagree with parts of what Alison said. It’s not a good practice to spring a combo merit/promo increase on someone after the fact. Some places do this (nonprofits are not alone), but it backfires enough that many organizations have moved away from it. Why cause ill-will if you don’t have to? A person you’re promoting is a person you want to retain. Nickel and diming isn’t the way to do that with a strong performer. Also, the higher level role usually pays more, so that promotional increase isn’t for merit – it’s for that higher level job. I argue that even if you do the promo increase and merit at the same time, it’s more effective to break them apart when presenting to the employee. “You’re getting a 10% increase, 7% for for the new position and 3% to cover merit”.

    You just don’t want a strong performer that you promoted to feel undervalued and look elsewhere.

    1. Arctic*

      But you don’t know they are a strong performer in their *new* job until after they have been it for some period of time.

      1. Linda Evangelista*

        You don’t get to add extra duties to someone’s job description without paying them “to see if they can handle it”. That’s free labor.

        1. Mr. X*

          This is exactly what my company does. They will not promote you without you effectively doing the higher level job already to prove you deserve the promotion. It’s not official policy but I’ve never seen someone promoted when they hadn’t already been doing the job they got promoted to.

      2. Very tired*

        You don’t know that for an external hire either, but you’re still paying that higher salary. The merit is recognition for past work, but at 4% max it’s really a cola.

        1. Arctic*

          LW is making a higher salary. No new hire would expect an annual merit raise soon after being hired.

          1. Very tired*

            And that’s what makes it sticky – OP isn’t a new hire. So, if it’s truly a merit increase (not a cola), it’s to recognize work from the past not keep up with market. You’re skipping that recognition when it would have been so easy to address at the time of the promotion.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When she got the promotion, she negotiated a new salary for the new job. It’s not a raise for the old job. She got the promotion in part because of the work she did in the old job, but now she’s negotiating a brand new salary for the new job she’ll be doing; a merit raise for the old one is no longer relevant because she’s no longer doing the old one. This is a very standard way to handle it, and it’s not an outrage.

      1. Cercis*

        I agree, but it sounds like she negotiated her current salary with the idea that she’d get a merit raise in March. If the company implied that to her, do you think she’d be within her rights to be annoyed?

        I see where she’s coming from – she fought hard for this raise and “settled” and probably thought “well, it’s not quite what I’d like, but I’ll get the merit raise in March and that’ll help offset this.” It was a wrong assumption, obviously, but based on her past experience with the company.

        It’s why as workers we have to be really careful to ask the right questions. I once got promoted and when I asked for a raise that would put me a little higher than the bottom of the pay scale I was told that 1) they never gave raises higher than 5% and my previous role had a much lower pay scale so they were already breaking policy by giving me a 6% raise to get me to the bottom of the pay scale and 2) I’d of course qualify for a merit raise in a few months. The merit raise never happened (that was company wide, no one got raises that year). I had known it wouldn’t based on my past experience – merit raises were so rare that I only knew of one person who got one and only after he brought in a better offer from outside the company. Obviously, since I knew it wasn’t going to happen, I was a bit bitter at being the bottom of the pay scale, just because I had taken a lower level job to get into the company. I now ask questions when I apply to a company about their policies on promotions, pay scales and raises.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If the company implied to her that she’d get another raise in March, then yes, she’s right to be annoyed. But at least with my read of the letter, I don’t think that happened — I think she assumed it based on the first raise she got there.

          1. Cercis*

            It’s one reason I’m glad this blog exists – we don’t know what we don’t know. Based on her first experience, she thought she’d qualify for a merit raise. She’s not wrong to think that, she had experience that they’d do it. But it is out of step for a lot of places and with more reading she might have realized it was an exception.

            Looking back on my working experience, I accepted things that were very dysfunctional and expected things that weren’t normal, because they’d been common in my offices (mostly bad, some good). I’d have never realized how dysfunctional some of that was if it weren’t for this site.

            In my case, I knew they were blowing smoke when they said I’d qualify for a merit raise at the end of the year. I knew that merit raises were pretty much never given and the most I would be able to hope for was a step raise (they’d started instituting those so that people were leveled in salary based on their years of experience and education compared to what they expected someone at that level to have). It just so happened that they did salary freezes right after I took that job, so I never got another raise and stayed at the bottom of my pay band. So while I was pretty bitter about it, I also knew it would be the case. And because of that experience, I’m reluctant to apply to any place with a strong “promote from within culture” because they require you to start at entry level to “get your foot in the door” and in my experience this means you’ll work 4-5 years before you finally rise to the level you should have been at to start (assuming you don’t wash out sooner).

      2. Very tired*

        I do compensation for a living, and this is a little behind the times. Whether it’s normal or not doesn’t make it effective.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It matters because right now the OP feels her company has done something outrageous and feels slapped in the face. It’s helpful context to understand that it’s a very normal way of handling it.

  22. SandrineSmiles - France (At Work)*

    I’m so so surprised about the “lavish gifts” coworker.

    I mean, I’m a receptionist. The other receptionist and I are quite friendly. Her husband comes from a rather wealthy family and her own ain’t bad either. She has just decided that, for her own family, her husband and I will work for what they have and only rely on family in case of dire emergency, which I think is rather honorable.

    So, I know things and yet… only time I’ve ever asked her directly for anything was for when I didn’t have change for the drinks machine, or lunch. But lavish gifts just because her family could give her stuff? Hell no, not my family, not my business.

    However, because we are friendly, she gifted me with a very nice pot of fancy honey for Christmas, and in exchange I got her things from my dad’s vacation on our home island. I still haven’t finished the pot of honey cause seriously the stuff is amazing, and she was really happy with the things I got her.

    If I had the money I would give her so much more, but I don’t, she doesn’t either and it’s fine that way. We still plan on having a fun/silly photoshoot if she ever finds her Vuitton bag again, but we don’t care and laugh about it.

    OP’s coworker seems… very weird. And terribly spoiled and entitled. Best wishes to you, OP.

  23. Zathras*

    The only thing I can think of that might spin #1 differently is if the salary increase that came with the promotion were small enough to be close-ish to a 4% raise. In that scenario the OP would have been making something very close to what they make now if they’d stayed in their old role and received the 4% increase.

    It seems unlikely to be the case here, since OP says they negotiated up from a smaller increase. But it’s one scenario in which I might feel comfortable sitting down with my boss, laying out the numbers, and at least asking for a couple of extra vacation days or something like that if I couldn’t have the raise.

  24. Environmental Compliance*

    #3 – the friend says it as a good relationship, but to be honest – someone that is constantly (and apparently somewhat aggressively) requesting extravagant gifts (!) from coworkers (!!!) even after it should have been obvious that it’s an uncomfortable topic doesn’t really read as someone who is interested in having a good friendship. It sounds exhausting to deal with.

  25. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1 – Like AAM said, it’s normal, but I can see where you question it as the yearly bonus is for your work performance this past year, while the raise/promotion is for work going forward.

    #3 – Jane sounds like a child. You have to be firm with children to set boundaries and even then they may not like it and go tattle to someone they think can change your mind. I do NOT envy your friend this co-worker.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Promotions are generally for past work as well. I don’t find this unusual but I think it depends on timing. There hasn’t been much time in between the OP’s promotion and raise time to fully evaluate how she’s doing – If raises go into effect March 1, there would have to be a review prior to that, so even if she got the promotion on December 1, that’s less than 3 months time to review. Maybe if it was 6 months time or more, they would consider a partial raise, but in this case it’s not much time.

  26. T*

    #3, Jane is not a friend. She’s a coworker to your friend and she’s an a$$hole. Sorry if that’s blunt but friends do not demand expensive gifts and expect only certain brand names. Her materialistic focus is juvenile and it’s not up to your friend to satisfy her childish, tacky demands. At best your friend can say she’s tightening her budget and only has money to spend on gifts for her family.

  27. Chalupa Batman*

    OP 4, I second Alison’s advice to be up front and ask for the job, because I actually did that and it worked. My department was looking at several options for making some changes, and one of them involved the opportunity for me to take on a new role. I asked for a meeting with my boss and laid out what I envisioned it would look like if we chose that path. I was clear that I understood that there were various factors in play that I may not be fully aware of, but I was fully willing and able to take it on if we went in this direction. My boss agreed on the spot that it sounded like a feasible option and was the direction they were leaning; I’d known it was a strong contender, but I think laying out what they could expect if I were given the role helped solidify it for my boss and allowed them to make a strong case to other players involved. I start the new job at the start of the next fiscal year, with a substantial raise. I know that’s a best case scenario and it won’t always be that way, but I hope that helps you tip the odds in your favor.

    1. I Want The Job*

      Op4 here. Congratulations on your new job!
      Thank you for your sound advice. You’re right, I’ll be upfront and tell my boss that I’d love to be considered.

  28. LQ*

    Places I’ve been had that didn’t have everyone gets reviews in January always updated your review/raise date to match the promotion so it was a year out from that. My hire date was in April but my review/raise date was January after my first promotion (after less than a year so I didn’t get another raise until the next January) and then something…now October. And that’s happened at 2 places. One nonprofit and one government.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding director but it seems to me like something that someone who is responsible for managing other employees should know how their company manages raises and promotions and the conjunction of the two. Maybe you never promoted an employee who worked for you and they hadn’t been promoted before but I think that if you come out swinging at your company for this it will seem really out of touch.

    That said if you really feel attacked by this normal (for all businesses, not just nonprofits) behavior then you should definitely look somewhere else where you don’t feel like you have an adversarial relationship with the company you work for, especially in a director level role.

    1. Linda Evangelista*

      At my org, director doesn’t necessarily mean you manage employees (though that could be different for OP).

      1. LQ*

        That could be a difference. The places I’ve been director is always a role you get to after other roles of managing staff. So it would be second tier or higher management level.

      2. you call that a raise?*

        Same with mine. Also, some directors only manage PT staff and those roles don’t usually expect promotions unless they apply for an FT role.

  29. she was a fast machine*

    I’m having trouble understanding the response to OP 1, because if I were in her shoes I’d be confused too.

    She’s working at the job, doing well, and gets promoted. She negotiates for the salary she believes she is due for the NEW position, i.e. the new work she will be taking on, not the work she is being promoted away from. The promotion and salary bump are not a “merit raise”, they’re because they need someone to do the director job, and they need to pay a director’s salary, and she negotiated for her salary in mind of the fact that she hadn’t yet gotten compensated for her great work that year and expecting that she would be compensated for that great work at a later date.

    And now she’s not getting a merit raise based on the work she did before she was promoted, and her calculations based on her salary she negotiated are not coming out. It’s crummy that the company never bothered to say “oh hey, since you’re getting a promotion we’re counting this as your merit raise this year”, even though they didn’t promote her and pay her more just because she was good at her job. Like, maybe she should have known this but it still doesn’t seem like a great thing for the company to do to her?

    1. Esperanza*

      I agree with you. Everyone else is eligible for merit raises, but because she got a promotion they’re not giving her one. The promotion isn’t a merit raise — it’s a salary she negotiated for the new position.

      1. Someone Else*

        I’d reframe it this way:
        She negotiated salary for her new position to reflect that role.
        OK, fine, even if she’s eligible for a merit raise in her new position, she’s only been in it 3 months. (Less might be factored into the raise decision since it’d be decided before it actually goes into effect) Based on her 3 months in the new position, they’ve decided she’s doing fine, but not so amazing as to merit a raise at this point. Whether it’s because she’s good-but-not-great at the new role, or there just hasn’t been enough time to fully assess how she’s doing at the new role is irrelevant. The conclusion either way is “based on these three months in this role, you don’t merit an increase right now”.

        Her merits in her previous role got her to the current position, which pays more due to the nature of the new role. High performing in the previous role has nothing to do with the merits of how she’s doing in the current one.

    2. Psyche*

      But generally the promotion/salary bump does take into account prior performance. She used that as leverage during her negotiation. So essentially she wants it to count twice. I do think it would have been better for the company to be clear that she wouldn’t be eligible for a raise after only three months, but I don’t think that they are intentionally screwing her over either.

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I think what is missing here is that usually (not sure if this was the case with the OP) the anticipated merit is included in the promotion amount to a certain extent. And at the end of the day, an employee is much better off with the promotion increase than they are merit increase which is usually substantially less the a promotion increase.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I think the timing is significant. Let’s say she was promoted on Dec 1. Raises go into effect March 1, which means a review had to happen prior to that in order to determine raise percentages. That’s less than 3 months in a new position. She says that most of her review was for her old position, which if they do yearly reviews makes sense. I think it’s unrealistic to expect a full 4% raise for a job she’s been in for less than 3 months. I would imagine that most people, coming into a new company, would not be eligible for a full raise after less than 3 months of working if they were eligible for a raise at all. I wonder if the company misled her, or she’s just making assumptions and has unrealistic expectations.

    5. Amber Rose*

      I mean. A promotion/pay raise are because you’re good at your job. If you suck at your job, you don’t get promoted (in an ideal world.)

      The pay boost was compensation for new duties, which were given because she was doing a good job, and that recognition + pay boost was instead of a raise. That’s pretty normal.

  30. Lily*

    The gift-demanding person: If someone not close to me told me to buy them expensive stuff I’d probably think this was a bad joke. Maybe you could just try to pretend she’s joking? “Yeah, Jane, right after you bought me the cottage down in the woods I’ve always wanted” or similar.

  31. wandering_beagle*

    OP#4, I agree with what Allison said about needing to be upfront and tell your boss you’re interested in the job during your 1:1. It’s completely normal to do that.

    Going a step further — I am a consultant/contractor and what I have been coached to say in interviews is to *literally* say I want the job. You think it’d be quite obvious at that point that I would want the job if I’m interviewing for it! But saying something like, “I would be really excited to take on this role” communicates clearly that you want the job.

    1. Mary*

      Conversely, I run lots of mock interviews with students and always start with “Can you tell me why you’ve applied for this job?” and a large majority of them give me a horrified and panic-stricken look and can’t answer the question!

      1. KayEss*

        I hate when interviewers ask that. It should be obvious that I applied to the position because I think it’s a good fit for my skills, and I’m at least not disinterested in doing the work—and I can explain that, if necessary. Usually though, they seem to secretly be fishing for unusual enthusiasm about the company, which is like… no, I had never heard of you before I saw your job listing. You’re not Google, you don’t have people stalking your HR website waiting to pounce on open positions.

        1. Helena*

          I don’t know, it’s pretty common in my sphere (Medicine) and it’s actually a prompt to explain where this job fit in with your career trajectory, and what skills you can bring to the role.

          So I might say that I have a subspecialty interest in area X (which this job contains a lot of), demonstrated by A, B and C on my CV. My research fits into the department research portfolio in the following ways, and I can also bring new skill Z which your department does not yet have.

          Consultant physician jobs, at least in the UK, are generally permanent (so you’ll be in post for 30+ years). So a good strategic fit is absolutely vital. Every applicant will meet the baseline qualifications, so you want to be sure you pick somebody who will complement the department as a whole.

          Obviously the question is less relevant if it’s a 3month temp job, or a junior role.

    2. I Want The Job*

      Op4 here. Thanks!! I’ll definitely be practicing saying that in front of the mirror:)

  32. Tarra*

    #5 I would find it a bit weird if a total stranger asked my opinion on an article and wouldn’t respond in case they turned out to be a journalist.

  33. Kenneth*

    LW#2 – Unfortunately retaliation via Yelp and other business review sites is all too common. Companies showcased in the news for whatever reason can find their Yelp, Facebook, and Google Review pages flooded with fake reviews that reflect the news reports, regardless of the facts (and sometimes contrary to them). And anyone who perceives themselves wronged by a business could take to Yelp and other business review sites as a means of revenge. Doing a Google search for “business revenge reviews” (without quotes), there are articles going back a few years.

    The top result is this one from Thrive Law: It provides a few approaches, the first being to ignore the post, especially if it’s surrounded by tons of other positive or mostly-positive reviews such that the one negative review is otherwise lost in the crowd.

    Sometimes the best response is to not respond.

  34. agnes*

    I like what one of my friends’ workplace does—if you want a birthday celebration, you plan it, bring the cake, etc. Your colleagues all sign a card for you. Period. No gifts.

    If you don’t want a big celebration you don’t have to worry that you will get one, and if you do want a big bash, you don’t get deflated by unmet expectations.

  35. Lindsey*

    #3 is asking for Chanel handbags? Really. I find that hard to believe someone is asking a coworker for $3,000-$8,000 purses. But also for Kate Spade earrings which are far more achievable for the average person. What a weird combo.

  36. Former Employee*

    OP#3: Your friend should advise Jane that she is going to report Jane to her Mommy because Jane is being so rude as to ask for presents.

    Just kidding, but Jane sound like a child whose mother needs to explain to her how rude it is to ask people for gifts.

  37. LilySparrow*

    #3 I really can’t imagine responding to Jane with anything other than a belly laugh or just my mouth hanging open in astonishment. This is beyond rude, it’s just bizarre. If Jane is really going to try to intimidate her co-workers into buying her stuff by spreading rumors to get them in trouble at work, or potentially get them fired, that’s schoolyard extortion. “Hey kid, give me your lunch money or I’ll beat you up.”

    Why would the friend keep hanging out with Jane at all? Just don’t have personal conversations with her, much less going window shopping together.

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