asking for a phone call before I interview in-person, I hit a coworker’s car, and more

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

1. Can I ask for a phone interview before investing time in an in-person interview?

I work at a growing tech company. I like the work and my colleagues and I make a decent living. My skills fall neatly into searchable buckets, so recruiters often reach out to me. I generally responded by saying that I was happy right now.

But we just had a kid and I’m concerned about future expenses, and I realized I am not making the market rate for my skills, so I am looking at other opportunities. I’m only going to move for the right job (technology where I perceive a future, good colleagues, minimal travel).

I had an interview recently where it went well, but I realized that we had entirely different expectations on travel (I think they thought my limit of 10% was an opening position).

Now during the normal 30-minute initial phone call, I am in the habit of clarifying minimal expectations on work, salary, and travel. But I got an interview with the CEO of a start-up who wants me to come in, which is difficult with work (I don’t want to have to carve out a three-hour block only to find it was a mismatch).

Suggestions on a nice way to say “I am not prepared to invest that much time until I know there are no dealbreakers”?

It’s weird how many employers still don’t do phone interviews, when doing them generally would save a huge amount of time by weeding out people who have quick and obvious deal-breakers (like the wrong skills or experience, which isn’t always clear just from a resume, or logistical conflicts with what you need, like salary or availability). And importantly, phone interviews can save candidates huge amounts of time too — there’s no point in them taking time off work and investing several hours in an interview (plus often more in prep time) if they and the employer aren’t aligned on basic points like salary or needed skills.

And yet, while phone interviews have become a much more routine part of hiring processes, there are still employers who don’t do them … which can be really frustrating for people in your situation.

It can be tricky to ask an employer to change their hiring process for you, but in your context this is a reasonable thing to ask. That doesn’t mean they’ll agree, but it’s truly reasonable — and if they refuse, there might be something interesting to learn about them in what they say/how they do it.

You could say it this way: “I’m really interested in talking with you! Would it be possible to set up a short 15-minute phone call first to make sure that we’re on the same page about things like travel and salary and the basic expectations of the position? I’m asking because it’s tough for me to take off several hours from work for an interview right now — I can definitely make it happen if we find we’re aligned on those things, but I’d appreciate being able to check that first before we move forward.”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. I hit a coworker’s car in the employee lot

I’m a new employee (three months) at an organization with multiple sites. I’m based at one site but often have meetings at other sites; my position can involve providing guidance to employees at various sites but not directly or indirectly supervising them. The nature of my role definitely depends on maintaining positive relationships with staff, as my guidance often involves guiding people to a new system or way of thinking.

Today I had a meeting and parked in the employee parking lot, in a free spot. When I left, I accidentally backed into the bumper of a car behind me. I didn’t see it when I was backing up because of the angle and the fact that this car was illegally parked in the fire lane (FWIW, it seems to be generally accepted that people park in non-spots due to the shortage of real spots and zoning rules in the surrounding area). The damage was minor — paint scratches, no dents — and I located the owner and gave her my information. Her reaction suggested she thought the damage was worse than it was — think large gasps, borderline rude response — and I am concerned that her idea of fixing the damage will be more substantial than may be needed (say, replacing the bumper instead of touching up the paint).

I admit part of me doesn’t want to pay at all because hey, if you park in a non-designated space in a fire lane you kind of accept such risks. At the same time, I recognize it would probably be better for my “work capital” to just pay and suck it up. Is there a way to say, “Hey, I’ll pay for the paint but nothing more?” Or do I just accept that I may be out $800-1,000 even though she was parked illegally?

You probably do need to pay for the actual damages, even though she was in the fire lane. (At least with the U.S. laws I’m familiar with, if you hit a stationary object, you’re considered responsible.)

As far as quibbling over the actual amount, can you just report it to your insurance and have them handle it? They’re unlikely to agree to repairs that aren’t truly needed, and that might be the most hands-off way of getting it dealt with.

But if you don’t want to involve your insurance (because it will raise your rates) and if she does propose more work than what a mechanic says is necessary (like if the mechanic says they can touch up the paint but she wants the whole bumper replaced), you could say, “Because it was minor paint scratches, I can’t replace the bumper for you. But I can definitely pay to have the paint touched up.” If she pushes, you could say, “I want to help make this right, but I also want to point out that you were parked illegally in a fire lane, which is why I bumped you. I think paying for the specific damage that resulted is a fair offer.”

3. How can spouses time their out-of-state job searches together?

My husband and I are applying for jobs in a city several hours away. His family (we both like his family) lives in that city and it is otherwise a more desirable place to live than our current city by pretty much every standard. The jobs we are applying for would be career advancements for both of us but would put us at about where we are now financially (this is fine and to be expected given the change in cities).

We are agreed that we are not moving unless we both get jobs and we are not applying for jobs that would involve a pay cut but would be easy to get. (This last option would apply to me but not to him as there are not those options for him.) His job will be easier for him to get because his field is less competitive and he has more experience in that position than I do in the one for which I am applying.

I have am a finalist for a position and should get an offer (if I get one!) next week. We have no idea when he will will hear about a possible interview but the job application closed a week ago. The position is a staff (not faculty) position at a university and often higher education can move slowly.

On the off-chance that I am offered a job before we know the status of his, what should I say? Should I tell them I need to wait until my husband hears and risk losing the offer? Accept and rescind if he doesn’t get the job? Neither job would start until July 1 and both of our current jobs would extend until then.

I’m not sure you’ll be able to do it this way! It’s very unlikely that an employer offering you a job will be willing to wait an unspecified period of time until your husband gets hired (which could be weeks or months — and he hasn’t even heard back about his initial application!), so you can’t really hinge your acceptance on that. And accepting when you’re not really accepting and know there’s a decent change you’ll renege is a crappy thing to do (they’ll be cutting loose other candidates who might have really wanted the job, losing serious time in filling the role, etc.) and could hurt you in the future.

Typically what people would do in this situation is know that they’re likely to be on different timelines and just work around that. That could mean that you take this job and both move out there together and he continues his job hunt locally (which can be easier anyway), or it could mean that you move first and he follows later. Neither of those is ideal! But expecting employers to be willing to coordinate around a separate person’s job hunt isn’t really a thing you can ask or expect.

4. Interviewer rejected me but said she’d provide a reference

I was rejected from a job recently. I got the automated response from their hiring software. So I reached out to one of my interviewers (the person who would supervise the role) via email. I thanked the team for their time and I asked for any feedback. She said it came down to the new hire having more experience in specific software and they thought they’d transition into their corporate environment better. Then she ended the email saying she’d gladly be a reference for me if I needed it and would keep her eyes open for jobs that would be a good fit for me.

How do you take this? Just as a nice thing someone says? If not, how would one even go about leveraging a favor like that seeing as they couldn’t really provide an accurate reference?

That … is a weird offer. You can’t use her as a reference because she can’t speak to her work — and when the reference checker asks how she knows you and she explains that she once interviewed you for a job, that’s going to look really, really odd — and like you don’t have any stronger references.

I’d write this off to her wanting to make a nice gesture and just landing on a strange/not helpful one, and don’t take her up on it.

5. Quitting when my whole team is leaving

My formerly small startup is about 18 months past an acquisition by a huge company that drastically changed our work lives and made most of the team miserable. In an effort to raise morale, one of our senior team members was recently made our official manager, but it was too little too late. Most of the team already has or is planning to resign, including me. How do I quit kindly when I will likely be the seventh person to give notice on an 11-person team in a two-month period? Should I avoid giving notice on a day when I know someone else already has? Should I emphasize that I know this is especially inconvenient? Just wondering if there is a special etiquette here to ease my nerves and possibly spare my manager’s feelings.

Just be straightforward and courteous, and don’t worry too much about looking for a way to spare your manager’s feelings — there’s no special wording or approach that will change the crux of the issue, which is that nearly everyone on your team is quitting.

If it were just one or two other people quitting around the same time, you could say something like “I know this isn’t great timing” … but here, with so many people quitting, I wouldn’t even go into that. Major changes were made to your work life that you didn’t like and you decided to seek out another job. The same is true for the rest of your team. These are natural consequences to the company’s decisions. You didn’t do anything wrong and don’t have anything to apologize for. It’s also not your new manager’s fault; it sucks for her, but this is the job and she’ll figure out a way to carry on.

I would try to do it as early in the day as you can though, to minimize the possibility that you’ll be the second resignation your manager gets that day, just because that might get you a slightly less frustrated reception.

{ 384 comments… read them below }

  1. Fekkow*

    Law is generally not on side of driver that backs up into other car, does not matter if car was in fire line. And damage can be extensive. OP need to pay!

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Yup. I had someone back into me like that once. I wasn’t parked illegally, just perpendicular to the regular parking spaces.

      She went on and on about how I was parked… Her insurance company called me before I could call them and told me as far as they were concerned it was *her* fault and they paid all my repairs plus the car rental.

      OP you’re gonna need to pay or call your insurance.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        The key there is that you weren’t parked illegally. Hopefully OP took photos of the cars at the time of the accident showing the fire lane. Often the OP’s insurance company will find a certain percentage of fault and the other woman’s company assigns her a certain percentage, and it is not usually left up to the drivers. In this case OP might be 20% and other woman 80%.

        1. Rebecca*

          What if her parking there made it more difficult to get out of the OP’s spot? There’s generally a reason that some spots are legal and others aren’t. I have been blocked in more than once, and if you park *in the way* of someone, you’re taking a risk too.

          1. MK*

            If a coworker is partially blocking you in the employee parking lot, you call them to move their car, you don’t bang into them. It’s possible that they didn’t block you completely, just made it more difficult to manouvre, and there are cases where the person who parked illegaly does bear responsibility, but most insurance companies don’t want to deal with the hassle of debating it, let alone going to court, so they settle.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              This. And it is *generally* expected that the person operating a vehicle bears the responsibility to not hit an inanimate object.

              *Generally* speaking. Just like it is generally the “fault” of the driver in the car that hits the driver in front even if it’s due to the front driver’s actions.

              Nothing is 100% all the time, but it is mist likely that the insurance company would find OO “at fault.”

              Really OP should just turn it over yo his insurance company. Lots of insurance companies have a “first accident forgiveness” policy that would keep his rates from going up. If this *is* a “first accident” of course…

              1. DArcy*

                First accident forgiveness usually takes one or two years to kick in, however. The idea is that you go back down to the no accident insurance rate if your record is clean of further accidents for a certain period.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Oh ok. I’ve never had an accident (knocks on wood) so I really don’t know how all of that works. I know I have that with my policy but never needed to use it. I’ve only ever claimed my insurance for a windshield repair (rock) and roadside so … ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        2. AnnaBananna*

          Yep re: % fault. I was once driving through a parking garage and a woman didn’t pay attention and started backing out and we ended up occupying the same space, as Walter Bishop would say. She tried to blame me for it. My rates didn’t go up but it DID show up on some sort of credit report (I still don’t understand where, not my consumer report) when I went to buy a car years later. I was…disturbed that my no-fault accident was on my record somewhere. I have to assume it was actually a low % fault and they just didn’t bother to increase my rates since the damage was so small (under $400).

        3. Grapey*

          Illegal parking or not, you’re still supposed to be aware of where your car is at all times. If it was a true hardship to move a car out of a tight spot, call the town to get them ticketed and towed.

    2. MK*

      That’s not actually accurate; it’s just that liability for an accident depends on who caused it, not possibly unrelated infractions. If your parking illegally made it hard for the other driver to see you car and contributed to the accident, that affects liability, if the accident was pure because you were careless, it won’t matter that the other person parked in a non-designated spot.

      Also, insurance companies don’t primarily care who was in the wrong legally or ethically; they often pay up because it makes more business sense to do so than fight a claim.

      1. Aveline*

        This isn’t accurate either.

        This all depends upon the jurisdiction. In some states, it’s pure comparative negligence. In others, it’s modified comparative negligence. Some use contributory negligence. These are not the same thing.
        As we don’t know where OP lives, we can’t speculate on whether or not the legal liability would be shared.

        I’ve practiced law in three states. Each had a different system. In one, any negligence by the injured party would bar a claim. So neither the driver nor the owner of the parked car could get compensation from the other. Where I now reside, a jury would apportion fault.

        Before the LW pays, she needs to find out what type of state she is in. If she’s in a pure contributory negligence state, if the parked car owner was even 10% at fault, she’d get nothing. I believe those are :Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

        Any lawyers from those jurisdictions that can confirm?

        So LW has two questions: (1) Is she legally required to pay? Depends upon where she lives. (2) If she’s not legally required, should she pay something to keep the peace at work?

        Also, given the amounts, it’s highly likely to be below her insurance deductible. So reporting it to them will only increase her rates and she won’t be covered. So she needs to know that as well.

        If it is below her deductible, don’t report. If it is above, do so and let the insurance company deal with it.

        1. Aveline*

          There are some places there where I’ve inverted contributory and comparative. Please forgive that. Point being, different systems.

          This isn’t a legally easy issue that laypeople will get right based on past experience.

          It’s not something that I as a practicing lawyer would be comfortable pronouncing any absolutes on without more info about where she lives and what the law requires there.

          So let’s not go down a long derail on whether or not she’s at fault and whether or not she would be required to pay anything. We don’t know. There is no absolute across the USA on this one.

          There are four systems (or three depending on how you view it):

          1. Pure Contributory Negligence Rule/Defense
          2. Pure Comparative Fault System
          3. Modified Comparative Fault System
          4. Slight/Gross Negligence Comparative Fault System

          Where does OP live? I don’t know. So I have no idea if she would be required to pay.

          I also don’t know the rule on whether parking a car illegally means the person who was hit has any fault. That also varies from state to state.

        2. MK*

          Absolutely it depends on jurisdiction (I myself am not in the US anyway). I was responding mainly to the many claims of “if you hit a stationary object you are always at fault”, based mostly on the fact that the insurance usually pays up in those cases.

        3. Burned Out Supervisor*

          Her deductible doesn’t matter if the insurance company determines that the fault lies with the driver. If they state she’s at fault, they’ll have the damaged driver go to their auto body shop for an estimate and pay the claim (says the person who has actually hit someone in a parking lot at work). The purpose is to make the injured party whole by fixing the damage to her property. Her deductible only comes into play if she also files a damage claim on her own car.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            Really? I had an actual adjuster come out, and they used that info to determine fault since myself and the other driver vehemently opposed the other’s story.

    3. Tiara Wearing Princess*

      I believe the driver who hits a stationary object is always going to be at fault.

      I once opened my drivers door and the wind took it and it hit the car next to me. There were basically some paint scuffs but the other car was brand new. It cost a lot more than I thought it should have, but it was cheaper than the ding I would have taken on my insurance.

      You can ask her to get more than one estimate but ……

      You hit her. Pay the lady.

      1. Baby wipes and duct tape*

        Our insurance agent told us if you hit a stationary object its your fault even if they are in/blocking the road way, these are things drivers are supposed to be watching for. This has happened to my husband someone had left their car parked in the street not off to the side and he hit it slightly, but because the car was off and no one was in the car it was my husbands fault.

        1. Knork*

          I hit somebody when I was making a turn–because it was night, and he didn’t have his lights on–and insurance still decided it was my fault.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            Okay, that’s effing STUPID. On the other guy’s side, not yours. I probably wouldn’t have seen them either.

        2. kittymommy*

          This is exactly the opposite of what happened to me. I hit a disabled car (that already been rear-ended and spun around) and the state police, local police and all insurance companies said that of all three cars I was the one most certainly not at fault (blame ended up going to the second car).

          1. Chickena*

            It sounds like the car you hit wasn’t stationary though, it was (or had just been) moving.

        3. Tisiphone*

          Call your insurance company and tell your agent everything.

          Story time:

          Several years ago, I was backing out of my driveway and had to wait for traffic to clear. Meanwhile, I’m in reverse with the white lights on, obviously trying to get out of my driveway.

          Somebody drove up and parked their car directly behind me.

          Traffic cleared and I started to back up. And stopped immediately as soon as I saw that car that hadn’t been there a minute ago. I felt no impact of any kind. But, because I was driving a manual, I refused to pull back into my driveway thinking I’d roll back and hit the car. The other driver was still in the car and I waited for them to move.

          I promptly forgot about it until the next day when I got a call from an insurance company I didn’t know about an accident on the next street over.

          Yeah. They called their insurance company but reported it in the wrong place. It took a minute, but I remembered the incident, and gave them the true story. I immediately called my insurance company and told them I was sure there was no damage.

          Turns out I had been touching the car and them moving forward scratched my rear bumper. I was surprised to see the scratch. Can’t tell you about the other car except that I didn’t see the door after they pulled forward so I could leave my driveway.

          I sent them pictures of my car’s rear bumper, and the end of my driveway, and described the incident. I’m not sure if they ended up paying or not, but my rates didn’t go up.

      2. Aveline*

        Lawyer here. Not an insurance lawyer, but I’ve passed three state bars and have handled some insurance claims.

        Everyone is well-meaning, but incorrect in their analysis and advice. Why? Hitting a stationary object doesn’t equal legally required to pay for damage.

        We are always at fault if we hit a stationary object. That I agree with. I don’t know of a jurisdiction that doesn’t have that premise. But that’s doesn’t mean she should pay up.

        Some states have negligence statues that would apportion blame between both. There are some states where, if the other party is at fault at all, neither pays the other. In some states, fault is apportioned. In some states, it’s one is guilty the other is paid.

        As we don’t know where OP lives, we cannot possible give her actual legal advice. Nor should we.

        This might be worth asking around to see if any friends or family know a lawyer who can answer the question of what type of negligence system her state uses. Because if it is pure comparative negligence, she’s might not be responsible for paying.

        Sigh. Even as a lawyer I would not give advice to someone over the internet on this type of topic. NToo many variables.

        1. Aveline*

          ‘Because if it’s pure contributory negligence…..”

          Sorry, they people who invented these terms should have chosen things that are more far apart. It’s easy to write contributory instead of comparative. JustUgh.

          P0int being. Different states have different rules.

        2. Aveline*

          Also, I shouldn’t say we are always at fault for hitting a stationary object. That’s been my experience, but I wouldn’t consider that black letter law. That probably also varies from state to state.

          1. Rose Tyler*

            Correct that this is not always true. I was once pulling into a parking spot and the driver of the parked car next to me threw open their door as I was coming in. Insurance compared the locations of damage on both cars and found that I was at least 75% of the way into the spot when the other driver opened their door and that it was her responsibility to check for cars coming in next to her, so she was at fault and her insurance paid to fix my car. So anytime you hear people talk in absolutes about how parking lots are always no-fault or other drivers are always at fault for hitting stationary objects, be skeptical.

            To make this comment helpful to the OP, I’d say to turn the whole thing over to insurance and let them sort it out, to keep everything fair and neutral. Sorry you are dealing with this!

            1. Bulbasaur*

              I would argue, and I expect your insurer did as well, that in that case the thing that you hit (the door) wasn’t stationary.

      3. Artemesia*

        If she doesn’t pay then the other owner can take it to her own insurance company and insist they sue yours; insurance companies tend to look askance at your not reporting damage at the time. You probably are going to have to pay or go to your insurance company to pay.

      4. Burned Out Supervisor*

        “You can ask her to get more than one estimate but ……” fun little tidbit: some states state that the person isn’t legally required to get more than one estimate either (ask me how I know!)

    4. JSPA*

      Also, if she gets frustrated and reports to her company (or even calls yours, when you have not reported) you may be voiding your coverage (this may depend on state law?) or at minimum, giving them a reason to think that you were entirely at fault (whether or not, by law, you were; again, this may vary by state and even county or municipal statutes governing parking lots and fire lanes). I understand that if the lower end of the cost range is mostly or entirely below your deductible, it feels like taking a hit on your insurance for no benefit.

      On the other hand, if you’re determined not to report it to your insurance, maybe circle back with her (once! not repeatedly!) and say you’re checking in on how she wants to proceed, now that the sudden stress of the moment has passed for both of you. Anyone who hears, out of the blue, that they’ve been hit, is likely to have some level of sudden anxiety–something happened to your life, without you having any control over it!–and her reaction on the spot may not be indicative of her general attitude, once that’s worn off. Probably by phone, but follow up with an email to say, “so glad to hear it’s indeed just a paint scratch, and that you’ve found a paint shop you like. Look for paypal of X dollars to cover that estimate in full, shortly.” Basically, you want to talk to her first, but create a paper trail after, so it doesn’t look like you’re admitting fault for something she could later magnify / go to your insurance over, with the payment as evidence of guilt / only partial payment.

      1. Knork*

        Also, we’re sort of ignoring this part: “The nature of my role definitely depends on maintaining positive relationships with staff.”

        That absolutely needs to factor into her decision. This could absolutely tank her relationship with this particular coworker, but it could also mean a broader hit on her reputation, if the coworker decides to spread the word that OP hit her car and wants to weasel out of paying for the damage or reporting to insurance. (I’m not saying that’s what OP is doing, but it could easily be presented that way).

        1. Aveline*

          Ding! Even if she’s not legally responsible, she might decide to pay. Might be worth it in the end.

        2. Antilles*

          I’m surprised how many comments are ignoring this factor – regardless of the legal requirements here, none of her co-workers are going to react positively to hearing that she backed into someone’s car and is complaining about paying for the damage.

        3. Samwise*

          Yes, this is very important.

          I would just call my insurance company and let them handle it. Because even if OP is careful to CYA with emails, the person she hit may still come back for more and then no guarantee that those CYA emails are going to be enough to get her off the hook PLUS there’s all the hassle of dealing with an angry co-worker for who knows how long.

          I’ve been on both ends of this situation (hitter once, hittee way too often), and I just don’t settle outside of the insurance co. I tried that once after getting hit, because it seemed reasonable and I’m a reasonable person and reasonably nice too — never again.

          Be aware as well that the person you hit, OP, can call her own insurance co. (I always call my insurance co. — they’re the experts, let them deal with who’s at fault and who owes what to whom.)

          If nothing else, OP, call your ins co and ask, hypothetically, what would happen to your premium cost if you should happen to be involved in a small accident of this sort. It may not be as bad as you fear.

          1. Burned Out Supervisor*

            Ugh, yes, I’ve tried to settle with the hitter outside of the insurance company and it did not go well. She made be get two estimates because she just couldn’t believe that paint damage on my 10 year old car would cost over $400. NOTHING involving repair of an automobile is cheap, IMO, so if someone is asking for $600 cash (with an estimate as proof) you should pay it or be willing to involve your insurance compay.
            The icing on the cake is when she said “Well, how do I know if you’re going to use the money to fix your car?” Like, that’s not how property damage claims work, lady. I could settle for cash with the insurance company and they wouldn’t care if I fixed it. It’s all about making the injured party whole.

    5. Gigi*

      It’s so important to take pictures after accidents! Hopefully OP got pictures. Insurance companies do not like to pay out so if it’s really just a minor scratch, OP’s insurance co will fight replacing the whole bumper.

      1. EPLawyer*

        It might look like a scratch, but sometimes there is damage behind the scratch. The bumper is the outer layer of the safety cage. If you damage it, you might have damaged some of the internal parts of the bumper that will then not keep you safe in the event of another accident.

        Report it to the insurance company. They know whether its just a scratch or something more.

        1. Cat Fan*

          This is true. I got rear-ended and it didn’t look too bad, but the layer of styrofoam behind the bumper was crushed and had to be replaced. The hit wasn’t even that hard, so I was surprised at the extent of the damage.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            Knowing nothing about cars, I’m even more surprised that there’s “a layer of styrofoam” anywhere! I know the car manufacturers know what they’re doing, but this sounds all too much like the forts my kids used to build!

            1. C*

              I’m not an engineer or anything, but my understanding is cars are designed to spread out any impact forces and keep them away from the people inside. Styrofoam is compressible enough to to take some of those forces, but still lightweight and inexpensive.

              1. Aveline*

                I was rear-ended during a traffic jam on the 405 in SoCal over a decade ago. I was parked. The idiot behind me was texting and driving highway speeds (80-90 MPH).

                The damage looked minor (collapsed part of the trunk). It totaled the car. Why? The car was designed to be totaled rather than harm the driver.

                I had not a scratch. Just barely hit my head on the steering wheel.

                The CHIPPERS told me that I was lucky I was in the type of car I was driving. They said “if you were in a [American brand], you’d be dead.”

                From that day on, I’ve always looked at the way the car was built. I want one that will requrie a $10 K bumper replacement, but keep me in one piece.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                Yes, in ye olden times American cars were designed to rigidly retain their shape through an accident. The car came through fine, but all the force was transferred straight to anyone in the passenger compartment. Now cars are designed to crumple around the passenger compartment, absorbing most of the impact.

                Styrofoam (or what looks like it to a layman) is used in bike helmets and packing materials because it’s very light and good at absorbing impact.

              3. Rusty Shackelford*

                And this is why I sadly shake my head at people who think big metal “tanks” from the past are safer than today’s cars because “those new cars are all plastic and they just crumple, and look at this big steel behemoth that got hit at 45 mph and is barely dented!” Yeah, those crash forces went *somewhere*, buddy. If the car didn’t absorb them by crumpling, that means it passed them on to the occupants.

              4. LavaLamp*

                Yep, bumpers aren’t metal anymore. Your car is supposed to use the impact force to fly apart vs having that force get to you.

                1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

                  Well, the base bumper is metal, but it’s covered with materials designed to compress and break so they absorb the forces instead of people in the car.

            2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

              Cars are safer than they’ve ever been and it’s due to focusing on saving the people instead of the cars. They’re designed to absorb the forces that used to be transferred to the people inside.

          2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            Same exact thing happened to me – I was lightly rear ended at a stoplight and thought I just had scratched paint, so I (stupidly) agreed to let the other driver pay me for the repairs instead of going through her insurance. It turned out to be an $800 repair because they needed to replace whatever is under the bumper too.

            Then she totally ghosted me, and when I filed a claim with my insurance they discovered the insurance information she provided to me wasn’t hers after all and she got off scot free…. lesson learned.

          3. SophieChotek*

            Yup. Same got rear-ended and barely looked like anything but was $1k in damages to bumper.

        2. Aveline*

          They’ll also know the law on negligence where she lives. We don’t. Just because it’s X where some of the commentariat lives doesn’t mean that’s how it works where OP lives.

          I don’t know if you remember the negligence systems from law school, but after taking three bar exams, I can tell you that fault for car accidents and payment responsibility is highly variant. In one state where I’m barred, she would pay. In another, the negligence of the other party in parking might mean no payment (i.e., pure contributory negligence states).

        3. Essess*

          Exactly what I was going to say. We were rear-ended by a woman who tried to refuse to let us call the police. She kept saying there was no damage, just a few scratches. My spouse almost let her get away with it until I pulled him aside and pointed out all the plastic clips that hold the bumper to the car body had popped out. It ended up costing us about $2000 to replace the bumper and that was 20 years ago.

          1. Aveline*

            Always call the police and file a report. Always.

            Always get a photo at the scene of both cars, the license plates, and the other person.

            if necessary, take video.

            1. kittycritter*

              Except in my experience, the police won’t even come to take a report if the accident occurs in a private/business parking lot.

              Someone hit me in a CVS parking lot and I tried to get the CVS surveillance video to show what happened. But CVS wouldn’t release it without a police report. And the police wouldn’t take the report because it happened in a business parking lot. AARGH!!

              1. JulieCanCan*

                Yes I was t-boned by a guy who flew through a red light (I was on a green), and my car’s entire right side was smashed in. I tried calling the police (in Los Angeles) and – no joke – the phone just rang and rang, 30,40 times. I called back 3 timesthen finally gave up on the police report. Luckily I had many witnesses and it was obvious whose fault it was, but trying to get the police in LA to respond to a car accident isn’t gonna happen. Just make sure to get insurance info, license plate of the other car, and crucial details you need down the line.

            2. Chickena*

              Depending on where you live, the police may not be willing to come to the scene of an accident without any injuries. They won’t come in Los Angeles – if they did, I don’t think they’d ever get anything else done. I assume you can still call in and report the accident though.

              1. Aveline*

                That was my experience in LA. They don’t show up if there’s no physical injury, but you still call.

          2. Chinookwind*

            Then you will enjoy this story. DH had a brand new truck for about 2 months when he drove up to the lights near our place with his father and brother-in-law. All 3 felt a slight bump while waiting at the red light. DH put truck in park and walked out. He says the driver was signalling to get around him but, when he made eye contact, 2nd driver put his car in park and got out.

            DH went up to him and asked for his insurance registration. 2nd driver looked at the bumpers and said that it is minor and they don’t need to call insurance or police. DH pulled out his badge, looked the guy in the eye and repeated, “You already have. License and registration.”

            Father and BIL just laughed in the car, enjoying the show. I drove past at the moment in time with my MIL and we both giggled because we could see the look of horror on the 2nd driver`s face when DH took out his badge. DH doesn`t take satisfaction in writing tickets, but he said that that moment did feel good.

        4. Nerdy Library Clerk*

          Yep. Over the winter, someone clipped the corner of my car while it was parked in my apartment complex’s lot. It scrunched the license plate holder and scraped the bumper – very minor appearing damage, but the bumper still needs to be replaced due to internal damage. You just can’t tell.

    6. Cat Fan*

      Right. What if it was a person walking through the fire lane instead of a car parked there? OP should have seen the car and not hit it. I’m not sure there really such a thing these days as just touching up paint. Even if it could just be painted, it would probably be the entire bumper piece. It still can be expensive.

      1. Aveline*


        However, you may not know that car hits pedestrian is not always car driver at fault. There are cases of a jaywalker being found at fault or having contributory negligence. So, depends on the fire lane.

        Everyone, both drivers and pedestrians needs to be careful.

      1. Aveline*

        Um, that depends.

        Maybe, maybe not.

        Otherwise, I don’t get the point of your post.

    7. Imaginary Number*

      My dad backed out of his garage into a truck that had parked in his driveway without permission. Didn’t matter. Insurance still held him responsible since he was the moving vehicle.

    8. Ron McDon*

      A colleague of mine (UK) backed into a car parked on double yellow lines near her parking space (double yellow lines mean no parking in the UK).

      Her insurance company found her to be at fault; she argued, saying the other car shouldn’t have been parked there – her insurers said it made no difference. She was the one who backed into another’s car, so it was her fault, even though the car shouldn’t have been there.

      I was surprised.

  2. Leah*

    For #4, I think maybe the interviewer may have meant that she would be a reference at that company if OP ever decided to apply there again. I once had an interviewer offer to vouch for me if I wanted to reapply later.

    1. sacados*

      Yeah, or possibly meant that the interviewer would be glad to share OP’s info/resume out to her network and be a “reference” in the sense of helping to get other interviews?

    2. FTW*

      This was my take as well. If someone reapplies at my firm, we definitely go back and talk to the first interviewer.

      She likely meant that in this situation, she would give positive feedback.

    3. JamieS*

      Agreed. It’s very unlikely she meant she’d be a general reference OP should put on their application. She probably just meant she’d provide positive feedback if OP applied at that company again.

    4. I Took A Mint*

      That’s what I thought, and that lines up with the interviewer promising to keep an eye out for other better fitting jobs (presumably in the same company).
      Or perhaps she even meant being a “point of reference” if OP had other questions about that kind of position/industry/company.

    5. Susan K*

      Yeah, that was my thought — the fact that she said she would keep her eyes open for other jobs for OP #4 implies that she meant internally — and perhaps she meant to say she would “refer” OP #4 for other jobs within the company.

    6. JSPA*

      Yes, pretty clearly this. “A good word for future in-house / in-department applications.” Surprising Alison has not run into this, but maybe the terminology threw them both her and OP off.

    7. Washi*

      Yeah, my guess was that she misspoke and meant to say she would give the OP a referral, not a reference.

    8. Adalind*

      That’s exactly what I took it to mean as well. As Washi said – maybe meant referral instead of reference. But definitely within the same company/internal position.

    9. Heather*

      Yes, I’ve actually been in this situation before with a tough decision on a hire a few years ago. I was a bit more clear in my email to the candidate that if they were to apply to another department on campus, I’d be happy to let the search committee know they were a very close second in our search. At least within our University, that kind of “reference” would carry more weight.

    10. sofar*

      That’s how I read it, too.

      Or, maybe she meant it in a general “I’ll put in a good word for you” kind of way. I had a friend get turned down for a job (she made it to the Top 2 of a very long, competitive hiring process), and the director of the organization told my friend to let her know if she applied anywhere else in town in their (small, tight-knit) industry. This director knows everyone, and having her say, “She was a top candidate for us, and it came down to her competitor having just a tiny bit more experience and I’d hire her in a split second if we had another position here to fill” would actually carry a lot of weight in this particular industry. Not really a reference, but more of a putting-in-a-good-word thing.

    11. Referred*

      Yeah, At my friend’s company you can be “referred” for a position by any current employee. Which basically amounts to telling the hiring manager there is at least one current employee that thinks you’re a pleasant person.

  3. Mike C.*

    $1,000 for bumpers was almost exactly what I was quoted after a parking lot fender bender and I don’t drive anything particularly fancy or rare.

    But as previously mentioned let your insurance fight it out, they will have a better idea of what’s reasonable than anyone here.

    1. sacados*

      I’ve never owned a car so I don’t know about insurance stuff, but I wonder is there a chance that turning it over to insurance means they would refuse to pay out anything?
      If they determine there’s no legal liability/fault since the other car was illegally parked?
      (Maybe that’s not how it works)

      1. Just Me*

        In my past life, I worked in auto claims. Generally speaking, no. A parked car is just sitting there. It’s on the driver of the car that is moving not to hit a stationary object.

        1. Beth*

          It’s a stationary object that was presumably there before you got in the car, so I doubt it being in your car’s blind spot would excuse you from responsibility. (Though people parking across your driveway is also not okay! That’s so frustrating. Maybe put some traffic cones in that space or something, so you can at least easily clear it before pulling out?)

          1. Sara M*

            Not even my blind spot! Our driveway is about 8 feet long and sloped. So I cannot see a low trailer, literally. And I come out from a garage door with automatic opener, so I don’t even walk past the spot. :(

            1. Beth*

              I can see how that would happen, but unfortunately I doubt it absolves you. The way driving works in the US, it’s pretty much always the driver’s responsibility to not hit stationary objects. You know your driveway is sloped, you know you can’t see everything on the ground from inside your car, so it’s your job to double check. You can’t legally assume that there’s nothing there. After all, even if nothing had been parked there, something could have fallen into the road (which could damage your car), or a runaway dog or stray toddler could be sitting there.

              1. I Took A Mint*

                This is how it is in my (not US) country as well. You have to check under and around your car, and I get why after seeing stray cats take refuge in a rainstorm. Here, fault is assigned not just by who actually caused the accident, but also by who has the more dangerous vehicle, and therefore the greater responsibility to be careful, so with great power comes great responsibility. It’s a different way of thinking about “fault” but it does make me a more cautious driver and I think more about preventing accidents before they happen.

                If I were in OP’s shoes but in my country, I would choose to learn from this that people generally park in non-spots, so it’s my responsibility to be extra careful backing up because other people are unpredictable and possible unsafe parkers, and my lack of care would cause a hit to my wallet and reputation.

              2. Tippy*

                Is it possible for you to install a mirror in your yard? This would allow you to see what you’re backing into without getting out of the car.

        2. Aveline*

          It is on the driver not to hit a stationary object. However, in some states, if the other driver is parked illegally, their own negligence in doing so can reduce the amount LW would owe.

          So I would not say it’s an absolute everywhere in the USA.

      2. JamieS*

        No not really. Assuming OP is in the U.S. even if the other party is partially at fault for parking illegally OP is still predominantly at fault so would have to pay out. Although depending on where they live they may not have to pay 100% of the damages depending on how their state handles comparative negligence. However determining comparative negligence would likely mean having to get either insurance and/or the court system involved so OP would probably have to pay 100% of the damage if they want to avoid going through insurance.

        Also no OP can’t just decide on what what the damage is even though Alison’s answer seemed to imply they could. If the car is taken into a mechanic and it’s determined the car needs a new bumper OP can’t just say “well I’m only paying for paint and you’re SOL on the other grand in damage.” I believe they can ask for written estimates from professionals though so it’s not just what the other person says the damage is.

        1. Maria Lopez*

          With deductibles OP might still be paying for part of the damage, but insurance companies DO find partial fault all the time. If OP had backed into a legally parked car there would be 100% fault. Anyway, when you get a person like the one whose car OP hit, it is best to report it to the insurance company and let them handle it, even if you pay the $500 or $1000 deductible.

          1. Ambulance chaser (I kid)*

            “but insurance companies DO find partial fault all the time.”

            For negligence, yes. But this isn’t a negligence claim. I think OP is going to be liable.

            1. CastIrony*

              Yep, OP will lose, just as I did when I my little brother had cleared me to get out of my parking space on the busy school-zone street (He was helping me see when I could leave from behind), only to crash a bigger car than me. They called police, insurance got involved, and I paid an $80 fine because I live near a couple of schools.

              It stinks, but they’ll learn their lesson: use those mirrors!

            2. Aveline*

              Is it not?

              II don’t know that. I think some states might view illegal parking as contributory negligence based on dim memories of law school hypos.

              I would be vary wary of saying what OP is or isn’t liable for as I’m an attorney, but not knowing the jurisdiction where OP resides.

          2. JamieS*

            Still depends on the state. Where I live there’s modified comparative negligence which basically means both would have to pay a portion depending on their percent of negligence unless one party’s negligence exceeds a certain percent. For instance if the limit was 60% and OP was found to be 61% at fault they’d have to pay 100% of the damage but if they were 58% at fault they’d pay 58% of the damage because it’s below the threshold. Regardless OP should probably still go through insurance. Although that may not be up to OP if the other person files a claim. When I was real ended I just filed a claim with my insurance and they pursued the other driver’s insurance. I have no idea if the other driver proactively filed a claim with their insurance or not. I imagine it’d work basically the same way if the other person files a claim and gives her insurance OP’s info.

            1. Clisby*

              And some states have no-fault auto insurance laws, where each person files a claim with her own insurance company.

              1. Burned Out Supervisor*

                Depending on your state, No Fault would only apply to medical claims (MN). You can still be determined to be at fault for any damage to the other person’s vehicle.

                1. JamieS*

                  Yeah, that’s my understanding too. From my limited understanding no fault basically limits a person’s ability to pursue the other party in civil court, with some limitations, but doesn’t absolve someone of being responsible for damage to another’s vehicle.

            2. Aveline*

              Thank You.

              We have no idea if OP is going to pay or what. The negligence system in place in the state and whether illegally parking a car is contributorily negligent both matter.

              Anyone pronouncing this as an absolute doesn’t know.

          3. PepperVL*

            Generally speaking, auto policies in the US don’t have a deductible on liability. The deductible is for damage to your vehicle that results from you being at fault (or acts of nature or theft in the case of comprehensive coverage).

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              This is an important point–the deductible is for the repairs to your car in a single vehicle accident, or one where you’re at fault. Insurance should cover damage to the other car–part of the advantage of letting insurance deal with this, beyond the dispassion, is that no one wants to chase you around trying to shake free the $500 that was judged your share.

              OP, the dispassion of insurance also gives a regulated third party’s view of what’s “right” to repair the damage, rather than your guess of what’s not any big deal of her guess of what’s a tremendous deal.

            2. JSPA*

              That’s not been my experience? (Though it may be woefully out of date.) I wonder if this falls under state regulations; states can (and some do) regulate what sorts of insurance must be covered, and also what sorts of policies can be sold. Or maybe full coverage of liability is now a general thing.

              1. Aveline*

                You are actually correct. How deductibles work varies from state to state.

                Some states require it to work like the other posters suggest. Other’s don’t.

                For example, California has very robust laws on this. One is better off being hit there than just about anywhere else I can think of.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Wait. There are states where, if someone else hits me and I’m not at fault, I still have to pay a deductible? Or if I hit someone and I’m at fault, I have to pay a deductible for their car in addition to mine? That’s scary.

                2. Coverage Associate*

                  There are states where the at fault driver may have elected (when applying for insurance) for a deductible even on their liability insurance (which covers damage to another vehicle they cause), in exchange for a lower premium. But it shouldn’t affect things for an innocent driver, because the deductible issue is between the at fault driver and his insurance, not the innocent driver and the at fault driver’s insurance.

          4. PhyllisB*

            I was under the impression deductibles only applied to your own vehicle? I believe if you damage someone else’s vehicle, insurance pays the whole amount the adjuster approves.

            1. Aveline*

              Varies slightly from state to state.

              In my current state, I was hit by someone who was entirely at fault. I had already made some repairs. I never got my deductible back.

              Also, had a friend who was in an accident that was their fault. They wanted to have insurance cover only the other vehicle. They were required to submit their own for inspection and repair before the insurance would pay the claim for the other vehicle.

              It’s a lot more complex than we can resolve on this board. It also varies from state to state.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m not saying the OP can just decide on what the damage is! She seemed to be saying she’s worried the coworker will overstate what actually needs to be repaired, and she doesn’t have to accommodate that if so. I’ll clarify in the answer.

        3. Aveline*

          Not necessarily. There are four types of negligence systems. Some require some payment. In a few states, any negligence on the other party’s party bars recovery. In some, it’s comparative negligence. In some, it’s a modified system.

          We have no idea where they live. So we can’t know. We agree on that.

          But I agree this is academic. She has a choice: pay 100% or go through insurance/court system.

          If she wants to avoid the insurance company, tell the other party to take it to a mechanic they both agree to and get an estimate. That’s fair to both parties.

        4. Drax*

          that’s the thing right there. “they can ask for written estimates from professionals though so it’s not just what the other person says the damage is.”

          OP should be asking for them, as well as asking for more than one quote ESPECIALLY if they are choosing to pay out of pocket. If the person takes it to a dealership it will be close to 15-50% higher* then taking it to a normal unaffiliated mechanic.

          *source: I work at a dealership part time

          1. Aveline*

            That’s correct, but in some cases, you can insist on dealer repairs.

            I was rear-ended in my BMW a few years ago. My insurance company forced the other to have the dealer and the dealer-approved mechanics offsite to do the repairs. If you have a BMW and it’s repaired or has body work by a non-certified mechanic, it will hurt the resale value and also means it’s likely ineligible as a trade-in.

            So I insisted the dealer control the repairs.

            The other party’s insurance didn’t fight it.

            More and and more car brads are having programs where they certify mechanics in the area to do repairs (like in-network health care). If you go outside their network, they won’t take trade-ins, they won’t make further repairs or service on the car.

            I’m not saying that’s fair or right, but LW should be aware that the person she hit might insist on a dealer repair for legitimate reasons.

            If I were advising the other party in this, I’d want to know the type of care and wether using a non-dealer repairer would hurt the value of the car.

    2. MK*

      I have seen it both ways: people who underestimate the damage they did and/or how much repairs cost AND people who think of a fender-bender as an opportunity to stick the other driver with the bill for long-needed car repairs that have nothing to do with the accident.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I once tapped another car’s bumper. The owner went into hysterics, called 911, the police refused to attend, there was no visible damage. She took her car to a repair shop, no damage, not even a scratch on her bumper and still insisted I pay her damages. Let your insurance deal with it.

        1. CheeryO*

          Yeah, this is why I really don’t like the idea of trying to go under the table on repairs with a coworker. You never know how people will act in these situations, and it’s best to keep everything tidy.

        2. JJ Bittenbinder*

          I’m curious what “damages” she was insisting you pay? Her gas to get to the repair shop?

          I hit a parked car once and left my number. When the guy called me he immediately launched into how I had “really slammed into” his car. Letting insurance sort it out is what we pay them for!

          1. Burned Out Supervisor*

            Also, take pictures if you’re unable to speak with the owner directly. This helps when a car has existing damage not caused by the accident.

      2. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

        Yup. Something like this happened to me years ago when I backed up too far into a pickup truck in a parking lot. In my haste and total embarrassment, I assumed the dent that I made on the guy’s truck was totally my fault. My bumper had a scrape itself that took paint off. It was kind of an annoying process because he kept going back on forth whether or not he wanted to pursue the damages and he ultimately went through with it (which I was more than okay with doing if he wanted).

        However, once I went to the repair shop, I was told that the insurance wouldn’t be paying for any damages done to his truck! Looking more closely at the actual damage, the scrape on my bumper was on top of it whereas the damage on his was completely on the side and had to have been there previously. It would’ve been impossible for my car to have the damage it received if it backed directly into the side of the bumper. (I have a Mazda 3.) To this day, I’m shocked that my accident didn’t create any additional damage to his truck, but I’m grateful because I ultimately didn’t have to pay for anything.

        I still have the scrape in the bumper to this day. I didn’t consider the cost of fixing it worth it and I consider it part of my car’s charm now. :)

      3. nonymous*

        That’s what happened to me. I was backing out of a tight parking lot stall and the other person was backing up in the aisle. No damage to my car (I didn’t have paint on my bumper) and small scratches on the other guy’s. For some reason my insurance company accepted 100% responsibility and I didn’t hear followup. A few months later when I inquired, it turned out that they had paid $8K (!!). That replacement bumper must have been gold plated or something.

        1. Else*

          I bet it was like the one up above, where some clips and other internal things were damaged as well as the bumper paint – it didn’t LOOK bad to the average eye, but to a mechanic, all of its value as a safety feature was gone.

        2. Drax*

          My father used to drive a BMW, he once got crunched lightly on the front bumper – just a small crack in what appeared to be the aesthetic part of the bumper, looking at it looked like they missed the important bits. $12K. Turns out they hit exactly where the thermostat which auto regulates the temperature is and broke it. They had to pull it out, replace it and take off the panels to rewire the new one in, but he had to do it because it was +30C out (86F not in Canada, in a place where we usually sit around 50 degrees F so hot for us) and the heat wouldn’t turn off.

        3. Aveline*

          Because of safety features (i.e., car collapses so that passenger isn’t injured) and the tech, bumpers can be expensive.

          Heck, my side mirrors have cameras in them. So they are no longer a “cheap” repair.

          1. Burned Out Supervisor*

            Nothing about car repair is cheap anymore. Maybe if you have a nail in your tire, but even then, if it’s in the sidewall, you have to replace the tire. If you have AWD, you have to replace two tires. Ugh.

    3. JSPA*

      People often choose to lower the cost of their insurance by having a high deductible. In other words, the company can declare OP at fault, but only apply the cost to OP’s deductible (meaning, OP has to pay)–and still jack up OP’s rates for future insurance, for having an “at fault” accident. Likely “paint only” is within the deductible range, while “bumper replacement” gets into ” if I’m fully at fault my insurance pays about half and I pay the other half” territory (assuming a $500 deductible).

      However, having the company adjuster come out and make the determination, as well as saving the company money, may save the OP, in the sense that the company will not have the mistaken impression that OP misjudged wildly and was going too fast for a parking lot / caused more serious damage.

  4. sacados*

    OP5: I was in a similar situation. My first job out of college I was working at a small magazine with a 3 person full-time editorial staff– me (assistant Editor), the editor, and EIC.
    The recession hit and the company was having some financial problems (salary cuts, etc) so unsurprisingly I turned out not to be the only one looking for a new job. Both I and the other editor ended up giving our notice in the same week (unbeknownst to me at the time).
    Faced with that, the Editor in Chief decided that he didn’t want to deal with hiring and training a whole new editorial staff and gave his notice too! Haha.
    The magazine struggled through, but it was a LOT of institutional knowledge lost all at one time.

    1. Meredith*

      I was in one job (long-term) where the COO ended up having multiple disagreements with the board, and gave his notice in October. The #2 guy ended up leaving in December. At that time, the writing was on the wall (I was working remotely and I could see it from 3000 miles away!) so I started searching hardcore. I started a new job in February, and the week I gave my notice, so did 3 of my coworkers (on a team of about 20). Within 6 months, the company was closed.

  5. Budgie Lover*

    Gasping and being visibly upset is not a wird reaction to hearing that someone hit your car and caused damage.

    1. JamieS*

      Ha, yeah. I’m left wondering if her reaction was much more dramatic than OP made it sound in the letter or if OP just has a weird idea of how people should react to finding out someone hit their car.

    2. KR*

      Yeah, this is kind of what I was thinking. Especially if she has had a bad day already. Or if she recently had an accident and she’s still sore from it. Or even if she’s never been in an accident in that car and it’s still in it’s new phase. Someone barely clipped the corner of my bumper at the beach in traffic once. They didn’t even realize they did it and I had to flag them down beeping and hollering and waving. There’s only a small scuff on my bumper but I was still really upset because my car had never been in any sort of accident or major ding before as it was relatively “young”.

    3. Beth*

      Yeah, especially when she’s only got a verbal report. Even if the only damage really is some superficial scratches, there’s no way she could know that until she sees it herself, and maybe takes it to a mechanic for confirmation. Until then, for all she knows, OP might be wrong about the amount of damage, either via downplaying it to keep themselves out of trouble or simply by underestimating it.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Yuuup. It sounded like the car owner hadn’t even seen the damage when she was reacting to the news and phrasing matters—especially if you’re telling her it wasn’t a lot of damage because no one is ever going to say “I hit your car and it’s basically totaled.”

        (Example: my Grandma was at the grocery store and there was a page for “The owner of a [color and type of car].” She went to the customer service desk and there’s this middle aged woman who’s like “Omg, I accidentally love-tapped your car in the parking lot! The kids were screwing around in the back seat and I didn’t see it! I am so sorry!” Swore it was just a little paint damage, nothing major, wrote down her name and phone number to get it sorted out later. Grandma finishes shopping and goes out to the parking lot, finds out half the trunk is caved in and the bumper is bent and touching concrete. Tl;dr: Fake name, fake number, probably went into the store instead of driving away because witnesses were staring.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I had someone back into my car; my bumper was visibly damaged. I responded calmly, went to hunt in the glove box for my insurance information while she did the same, and when I stood up to exchange insurers discovered she had seized on my distraction to drive away.

          Let the insurance deal with it, OP.

        2. JSPA*

          An elderly church lady in one of those giant iceberg-like lincolns from “back in the day,” backing up at an angle to chat with someone on the sidewalk, made a 4 inch deep, 6 inch diameter dent in the fender of my parked car. She gave her middle and maiden name, old phone number, and the contact info for insurance that had lapsed 5 years previously. That and her license plate were enough to find her, but…it very quickly became clear that it was not worth my while (financially and in terms of social capital) to try to squeeze money from that particular stone. (Insurance tracked everything down, suggested I take her to small claims court.) Never did figure out if it was dementia or fraud, but did have a chat with her granddaughter-in-law about finding someone else to drive her on Sundays. She reassured me that the keys had been conveniently “lost,” and the rest of the family were circling through driving duties. Seemed like a reasonable resolution to me.

          Sometimes you’re better off eating a cost that’s formally someone else’s legal responsibility. (In my case, the car’s still driving, dent included, 14 years later. And of all the rust on the car, that spot’s not one of them.) Anyway, OP, if the other person’s a jerk about it, you get to know that she and her family all have to live with a jerk.

    4. CastIrony*

      No, cars are so treasured and personal that hearing it get damaged would upset anyone. it could’ve easily went down like this for OP#1:
      OP: “I’m sorry, but I crashed your car!”
      Co-Worker: *thinks they broke something* **gasps** You hit my car?! I’m going to make you pay for the damages!

      If I were in your co-worker’s shoes, though, I’d appreciate if you told me HOW bad it is. Trading paint is something I’ve done before (and run away from). I’d still be upset, but it would be so little of a deal that I’d end up leaving it and go, “I’m not happy it happened, but it’s life.”

      I second that insurance is the way to go if you have accident forgiveness. Good luck, OP#1, and tell us how it goes!

    5. anon today and tomorrow*

      Yeah, especially since I gather from the letter the OP told the coworker away from the car, so the coworker really had no way of knowing whether the OP was telling the truth about there being minimal damage until she went outside to see the car.

      I’d gasp and be visibly upset if someone hit my car, even if it was minimal damage.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        Some people just have more dramatic reactions than other people do — even if it was over the top, sadly it doesn’t remove your accountability to pay for it, OP. I have paid people outside insurance twice for rear-ending situations, both bumpers, and it was around $1000 both times for very different appearing damage. (Once I banged someone hard while traveling at speed and turning my head to change lanes and failing to notice the traffic in my lane suddenly went to a complete halt; the other time I gently tapped a new BMW bumper when starting up at a light on reflex because the traffic in both lanes on either side of me started moving but mine didn’t. My advice is to go through insurance so you aren’t second guessing and resentful about the cost. (I wasn’t because I totally know both were fully my fault, but I can see how it would be grating if I felt the other person was making too much of it).

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, the trouble is that cars these days don’t really have ‘bumpers’ in the traditional sense, it’s like a whole integrated panel that probably has parking sensors, etc. Even if you make a small crack in the bumper, you’ve got to replace the whole section and that’s going to be expensive!

      2. Triplestep*

        Me, too. But I am guessing the LW told her something less panick-inducing like “I scratched your paint” or “I grazed your bumper”. It’s a letter/headline mismatch, so I suspect the actual telling of an accident that did not even cause a dent would not have included the phrase “I hit your car.”

    6. Psyche*

      Yeah, it seemed like the reactions as before she even saw the car, so she may have been imagining it was worse than it was. I wouldn’t worry about her trying to get unnecessary repairs done unless she actually said something about it.

    7. Essess*

      It’s possible the person only had bare minimum insurance on it so they were worried about having to pay for repairs out of pocket which can hurt if someone has a very tight budget.

    8. pcake*

      Maybe to the letter writer the damage looked more minor that it was. Or maybe the person whose car was hit had just had it repainted or even just had it fixed after another accident. Heck, maybe it was a friend’s borrowed car.

    9. LeRainDrop*

      I totally agree. And the biggest pain in the butt for me when my car gets hit is not the money/insurance aspect; it’s that I’m going to have to take the time to drive around and get a couple repair estimates, find someone to give me a ride to/from the repair shop for drop-off and pick-up, and then deal either with being without a car for the period or the hassle of a rental car. The time and personal labor that doesn’t get compensated is what upsets me.

  6. Secretary*

    There is a lot of advice out there about keeping insurance out of it for little fender benders etc. when both drivers are reasonable then that’s great, but when someone is being unreasonable it’s a lot safer to just go through the insurance and let them duke it out with the other insurance company. That’s what you’re paying for! Your rates don’t always go up either.

    1. Maya Elena*

      Claim counts are part of the things they use to set rates, so unless you have some kind of “accident forgiveness” add-on (which you pay for prospectively, or they wouldn’t offer it), it is likely to increase them somewhat.
      But it rolls off your record in 3-5 years!

    2. Pnuf*

      There’s no indication all that the owner of the other car is being unreasonable – it seems the LW has decided she will be based on her (entirely understandable IMO) reaction to being told her car was hit.

      1. pleaset*

        Yeah. I read this and felt for the person who’s car was hit. I could see that person writing a letter in that “A coworker hit my car and seems to be trying to get out of paying for full repairs.”

        1. Trouble*

          maybe it’s because I worked with luxury cars for years and years but even being precious about my car, if someone scratched my bumper and came to tell me about it rather than run off, I’d say ‘oh dear let’s go have a look.’ And if they backed into a stationary car at the speeds you tend to reverse at (5ish miles an hour manoeuvring in a car park in reverse?) The damage might even come out with a good dose of MacGuire’s 105, 205 a cutting pad and an orbital sander with some good polish after. Seriously, these things often look worse than they are and if I said I scratched your bumper by accident, having come to find you and own straight up to it, and you started pitching a fit before you’d even seen the damage? i’d assume you had dollar signs in your eyes and were imagining a big pay day. And I’d likely go through insurance in that case so that they got the damage fixed as recommended and not pocketed whatever they told me it was going to cost and got a mate to polish it out on the weekend. Yes cars crumple by design but not at car park speeds and the white effect left would likely polish off.

          As someone who is legally trained above keeps saying the law isn’t cut and dryed and to be honest in the name of good relations if you parked your car somewhere idiotic/illegal, and a colleague hit it, felt bad, came right to you and owned up to it, and you made it a huge drama, any damage to the relationship is on you too. These things happen and OP was honest and admitted she hit the car right off. The person might be morally owed their car back to the same state as before and depending on the state they might be legally owed that not to cost them anything, but OP isn’t necessarily wrong to feel this other person might try to take them for a ride. The bumper is almost certainly fine in this case unless a light was hanging off it, and the paint could likely be smart repaired if it was isolated to a corner or smaller area. The whole thing doesn’t even really likely need painting.

          20 years in the motor trade to base that on.

        2. gbca*

          And this is exactly why OP should just let insurance deal with it. Because on both sides, going outside insurance is a pain. There will be all these questions of, was OP trying to get out of paying for the repairs? Or was the coworker trying to scam OP out of getting extra work done to her car? Letting insurance handle this avoids all those issues. This is particularly important since this is a coworker.

    3. Bagpuss*

      #2 It’s not unreasonable for you to ask to see the estimate for the repair work and if you think it’s excessive, to ask for a second estimate, but to be honests, $800 – $1,000 may well be an entirely reasonable amount.

      It may be sensible for you to tell your insurers any way – or at the very least, read your policy and see what it says about notifying them in a timely way of any possible claims. You don’t want to find it costs more than you

      Be aware that an apparently minor bump can have much more serious consequences than are immediately obvious – when someone hit my car, visually it looked as though there was minimal damage – scratches to the bumper, but nothing major. It turned out, however, that although the bumber iself wasn’t badly damaged (perhaps because it was a very low-speed collision) the stuff underneath was – It wound up needing part of the frame of the car, plus a bunch of sensors, replacing.

      I’m not familiar with not liability is assessed in the US but would expect the situation to be that if you hit a stationery object, you are the one at fault and therefore liable.

      It doesn’t, on the face o it, sound as though the owner of the car you hit was unreasonable – it’s normal for someone to be upset and worried if they’ve just been told their car has been hit!

    4. Lynca*

      I was recently in a fender bender. Both cars were damaged- I never saw or heard from the other driver afterwards about the damages. Insurance handled it and all I had to pay was my deductible to get my the damaged panels replaced. I was also deemed at fault and didn’t get a rate increase. My rates actually still went down in the latest renewal.

      But that really depends on how good your insurance is or how long you’ve been on the policy.

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        I backed into a VERY expensive car in a parking lot once. (The driver was not at all amused and reminded me that it was a VERY expensive car.) We had the same insurance company. We gave our information to the police and that was the last I ever heard of it. Like, not a single word. My rate didn’t go up either.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not even about being unreasonable, it’s about being neutral. I consider myself to be a pretty reasonable person, and there is no way I wouldn’t let my insurance deal with even a minor scratch. I don’t want my rates to go up, but I also don’t want to risk a) paying way more than I should or b) having the other driver disappear and fail to pay for my damages if they’re at fault. I think this is especially critical in a workplace situation because emotions get high, you have to see the other driver at some point, there are mutual co-workers who might take sides, etc.

      A college kid backed into my parked car while my partner was out picking up dinner. The kid, understandably, freaked out and told my partner he would bring him cash, and my partner almost took it! I said absolutely not, get the kid’s insurance info or call the police. A good thing too, because the damage ended up being way more extensive than I ever imagined (he backed my headlight into my radiator, great job) and the $1000 the kid offered wouldn’t have covered it. If the money would have even materialized in the first place.

      Insurance provided a neutral party to just handle it, which is one of the reasons why I have it.

      1. WellRed*

        Plus +1,000. Especially since there’s a coworker involved. Call insurance and then stay the heck out of it. Cheaper and less awkward in the long run. To the commenters who seem to think the LW is trying to get out of paying, I don’t get that vibe at all. She simply doesn’t want to pay for anything extra. However, I also agree, there’s no such thing as “touch up paint.” It’s going to be a tad more involved.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          However, I also agree, there’s no such thing as “touch up paint.” It’s going to be a tad more involved.

          Yeah, you can’t “touch up” a scratch without leaving a really, really noticeable… thicker, different-colored scratch.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah, that was my experience. I dinged a coworker’s car while pulling into a spot. It was an old car and I made a tiny (fraction of an inch) dent in the molding on the rear driver-side door. I left a note. The guy called me with an estimate which tbh in my opinion, was more than his whole car was worth. I called my insurance and they worked with him. My premium went up by a tiny bit, but the total increase over the years still ended up being less than what the coworker had wanted me to pay. FWIW, it happened almost 20 years ago, the man whose car I dinged has actually passed away since (that’s how long it’s been). Also FWIW, my coworkers were on my side in our debate – but that was probably because he was an outside contractor and did not work with any of them directly and so they knew me better than they did him.

      I have been on the other side too – several years later in my next job, a coworker who was parked next to me ripped my entire front bumper off my car on his way out (as in, the bumper was lying on the ground when I saw my car) and drove cheerfully away – two of my teammates saw it happen and called the police. His insurance took care of everything. Oddly enough, the cost of giving me a new bumper and a new grill was only twice what the estimate had been for the guy’s door that I had dinged. Maybe door work is that expensive. Maybe old parts were more expensive because they were harder to find. You never know with car repairs, I guess.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I had an Altima, and he had a huge pickup truck. The pickup truck won. The guy swore he hadn’t heard anything.

          BTW always park straight down the middle of your parking spot, folks. I did and it really helped my case when the cop came out.

    7. blackcat*

      Yeah, I have only seen the “pay someone to go away” strategy work once. My dad clipped the bumper of another car in stop and go traffic. There was some scratching to my dad’s (luxury) car. Other car’s bumper was held on by duct tape–it was impossible to tell if there was any new damage. My offered a $500 check, which the other driver gladly accepted.

    8. Someone Else*

      Plus if the other party is this upset, she’s probably calling her own insurance anyway. OP should be going through insurance because she’ll want to have told her insurance before the other person’s insurance calls hers.

    9. MoopySwarpet*

      We had a fender bender where the person who hit us wanted to pay out of pocket vs using her insurance because family had had a certain number of tickets/accidents and wanted to keep it off the insurance. The bumper was barely dented, but the shop wasn’t able to pop it out fully and probably should have replaced the bumper. However, since we didn’t go through insurance, we didn’t feel like we had the ability to force them to fix it to 100% where we would have if it had been through the insurance.

      The way we handled the money part of it, though, was that she paid us the high side of the estimate range plus rental car and we signed a contract stating we would pay back the difference if there was any. If she hadn’t been willing to do put down the full amount up front, we would not have agreed at all. Even so, at the end of it all, we wish we had just had the insurance handle it all.

  7. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

    A driver hitting a stationary object is basically always at fault. If you refuse to pay, and she sues you, you will lose.

    Call your insurance company and let them handle it – that’s what you have them for and it will minimize the drama.

    FWIW, I would also be pissed if someone hit my parked car.

    1. Aveline*

      Do you know what jurisdiction she lives in?

      Is it pure contributory negligence? Modified? Comparative? Something else?

      What is the state law on negligence of parked vehicles? Because that varies as well.

      In most cases, the person who hits a stationary object with a car is at fault. But that’s not absolute.

      Also, being at fault is not an either-or in most states. Most states allow some apportionment of blame.

      We have zero idea about what the law is where she lives.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        All the more reason to call the insurance company, I’d say. They’re probably better equipped to sort out the legal issues than OP is.

  8. JulieCanCan*

    OP 2, I hate to say it but I caused a one-half centimeter scratch on a BMW bumper – no exaggeration it was smaller than a pinkie nail and as thin as a small-tip sharpie. The guy was a pita and instead of putting white-out on it like I would have, he had them do a $990 bumper replacements. My insurance covered it, but I couldn’t fathom how a scratch you had to SEARCH FOR cost $990 to fix. I was so incensed- WHO DOES THAT? I guess I don’t care enough about cars (and in my city, it’s an accepted fact that your car will be hit/scratched/bumped/nicked/scraped numerous times throughout its life, so why bother? It’s a CAR for Pete’s sake)

    Just wanted to be the bearer of truth since car scratches can be RIDICULOUSLY expensive. If she does get an estimate, it could be a high one. Cars truly suck.

    1. MK*

      Cars are assets and their value hinges in part a) whether they have ever been in an accident and b) if they have, how thorough the repair job was. And if the car was purchased on some kind of loan and isn’t fully repaid yet to the dealership, it might be part of the contract that all damages have to be repaired fully. Also, paint jobs on cars is finnicky and expensive labor.

      1. I Took A Mint*

        Yeah, honestly I can’t really fault someone for seeing that their very expensive and precious BMW was scratched, and given the choice between leaving it alone, covering it with sharpie/some other “hack”/workaround, or having the offender’s insurance pay for it to be properly and completely fixed…choosing to have the offender’s insurance pay for it.

        1. Dragoning*

          Yeah, if I had a scratch and I knew who did it, I’d be making their insurance pay for it, too. I bought my car used, but less than a month after I got it (It’s my first car!!!), some keyed it.

          They keyed. My car. And I have no idea who or why. So I had to repaint with one of those things from Autozone myself, and it looks…well, better than a key scratch, but awful.

          My first car.

          If I had an option, I’d have had someone pay to fix it, too.

      2. JSPA*

        Or leased–if he doesn’t return it pristine, he could be on the hook for that replacement.

      3. Bobby*

        I don’t disagree with you totally, but cars aren’t assets. Their only value is in their ability to get you from point A to point B. Vintage or collector’s cars aside, if you buy a car with the expectation that you’re going to keep it in pristine condition or that it’s going to appreciate in value then you’re gonna end up like the shocked Pikachu meme at some point.

        1. Not a CPA*

          Cars are assets, but they are assets that depreciate. Just because cars don’t increase in value doesn’t mean that they don’t have *some* value.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          If you think cars are not assets and their only value is in getting you from point A to point B, then I will trade you my 2005 corolla for a 2018 BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. I agree they are not an investment or an asset that will appreciate (besides the vintage/collector car example), but they certainly are assets. Some people buy cars and then resell or trade them in after a few years. A car that has been in an accident will be worth less than one that has never needed repairs for damage.

        3. MK*

          They are assets. They are not investments, true, but they are represent a value that is part of a person’s estate.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I don’t know whether it is the same in the US, but I am aware that here in the UK iit’s nt uncommon for people to have cars on lease, or on deals where they can trade it in after a certain number of years and replace it. On theose contracts, you pay for any damage when you return the car, so even a small scratch would be relevant.

      1. Drax*

        Also a leases / trad deals require you repair it at a dealership, specifically them or another one owned by the same owners which adds anywhere from 15-50% on top of the cost

    3. Valegro*

      I got rear ended at a stop light. My car was 9 months old. It thankfully just caused paint damage, but the insurance adjuster warned that even taps can cause damage under the surface that can’t be seen. They ended up repainting the whole bumper because just touching it up tends to be too obvious. It was just over $500.
      If you hit me I’m not just going to use white out on my car and decrease it’s resale value because you don’t value your own car!

      1. Hotstreak*

        Exactly! When someone else is at fault, your car should be restored to pre-accident condition (or you should be fully compensated for the damages).

        Things like touch up paint are for your own vehicle, when you don’t think it’s worth it to do the repairs. You still get compensated for your loss regardless of the repair chosen, since the compensation is based on the damage caused.. not how creative the eventual repair was.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          When someone else is at fault, your car should be restored to pre-accident condition (or you should be fully compensated for the damages).

          Yep. I had a car that was a piece of junk mechanically, but pristine in appearance. When someone ran a stop sign and ended up taking a chunk out of my bumper (this was long enough ago that it had a big strip of rubber), his insurance company told me they were declining to repair it and would give me $50 to “compensate” for the appearance. I disagreed. I prevailed easily, because I’m sure they knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on, and were just hoping that *I* didn’t realize that.

    4. Billie Yum Yum 2x2*

      Who does that? A guy who drives a BMW. There’s a reputation for BMW drivers for a reason.*

      * Standard Disclaimer: not applicable to all BMW drivers of course, but 99% of the ones I’ve known would do this exact thing. And also never, ever use turn signals. It’s like they aren’t even a feature in the dang cars.

      1. Aveline*

        I’m a BMW driving lawyer and I generally agree.

        However, if he’s on a lease or if he’s one who wants to trade his car in, that scratch might make the difference between getting his full value and not.

        BMW dealers are notoriously picky on trade ins. Also, if you don’t go through a certified repair shop and make your own repairs, they can refuse trade ins, service, etc.

        It is often against your contract for lease or finance to not do repairs or to do them with someone other than a dealer/certified repair shop.

        He might not have had a choice.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Also as other posters have mentioned with bumpers especially now a days even if it is a small scratch the inside of the bumper foam that is meant to crush could have been damaged and no longer usable. This is the reasons whey helmet manufacturers recommend you replace your helmet after the helmet has suffered an impact. If the helmet on the outside just looks scuffed or scratched the foam on the inside would have been crushed. Even though the helmet will still provide some protection in a future fall, it will not absorb as much shock due to the foam not being in pristine condition, and it could lead to more serious head injuries.

        Honestly less then $1k for a bumper replacement seems pretty reasonable.

      3. Jamie*

        I don’t drive a BMW and I’d have done the same thing. I’m not going to live with damage on my car caused by someone else…and white out? I drive a black car and my daughter put a little scratch in it and when she went to grab a sharpie to fix it my involuntary shriek could have been heard down the block.

        And I love her. But I get to decide if I want to lifehack my car – no one else.

    5. CheeryO*

      Yeah, I’ve had a couple of parking lot oopsies, and it’s an expensive mistake for sure, but I would never blame the other person for wanting to make it like it never happened. Aim for a 20-year-old rust bucket next time. ;)

    6. LawLady*

      I remember an online discussion I saw a while back (I don’t think it was here– maybe on reddit?) about scratches and bumps on bumpers. The people who lived in densely packed cities were much more like “yeah, bumpers are made for bumping” while the people in rural or suburban areas were more like “of course I would fix a bumper scratch.”

      I live in a densely packed city in an area where street parking is tight, and my bumper is covered in scratches and little dings. As are all of the cars in my neighborhood.

      1. JulieCanCan*

        Yes! I live in LA and literally NO ONE has a bumper that hasn’t been bumped. And if you do, it will change very soon, trust.

        Every car I’ve driven in this city, from a Range Rover to a Honda to a Volvo, has ended up with a bumper full of, well, BUMPS. Because that’s why they’re there. For people to bump into.

        Show me a car in LA that’s been driven for over 6 months without bumper scratches and I’ll Show you a leprechaun riding a unicorn with a bag of gold over his shoulder.

    7. Aveline*

      Not to be mean, but if your insurance covered it, there was a reason. Insurance companies don’t pay out for minor scratches in most cases. They did the calculation and decided that they should pay.

      You seem really angry at someone making a repair that they were legally entitled to make.

      Whether or not the repair was frivolous to you, it was not frivolous to him. Otherwise, why go through the trouble and hassle of having the repair?

      I have a BWM with a much larger scratch than that on the back. I’m not repairing it. However, I can see, under certain circumstances, I’d get a repair for something that might appear cosmetically not as deep.

      I also don’t get “incensed” at him since you didn’t have to pay. If there are no consequences to you, why do you care so much? He paid for his insurance. He used it to get your insurance to pay. Why is that morally wrong?

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had one person back into my old car and leave a huge dent, and another hit my new car from behind and break off a bit of my rear light cover. I let them both go, because I thought it wasn’t worth the hassle. Admittedly my cars were an old Altima and a new-ish Forester – not a BMW.

      I drove the Altima with the dent in its side for the five more years that I had that car, and received some really ridiculous comments on occasion (the worst was when I was buying a house through a couple, husband and wife that worked together as realtors – the husband called me early on a Saturday morning to come look at a house, and when I came out, he pointed at the dent in my car and said something about me having had a fun time out the night before – the implication being that I’d somehow driven drunk and dented my car(?!?!)) Apparently having a dent in your car makes you look like you’re a terrible driver. In reality the other driver backed into my car while I was stuck in traffic, could not move, and was honking at her and had several dozen witnesses, but no one cares about that after the fact. Still don’t regret letting the other driver go, but it was an old car that had been pretty inexpensive to begin with.

    9. Smia*

      What? If someone hit my car, then I have every right to have it returned to the condition it was in. I’m not putting white out on a BMW *or* Honda.

    10. Le Sigh*

      I had someone do a hit and run on my parked Toyota two weeks after I bought it. Granted, it was more than a scratch — it was a pretty good bumper scrape and noticeable once you saw it. Fortunately I got insurance to repair it under my hit and run policy, so it didn’t raise my rates.

      But even if it had been a small scratch, if I could have made the person who did it pay for it, I would have. And it’s just a Toyota. I spent years driving beat up old cars. This was my first big auto investment–it wasn’t fancy, but it was nice upgrade for me. I live in a city. Of course I expect things to happen to it. And it’s fine if you want to use a marker on it — I let a dent in my old Cadillac sit for years b/c I didn’t see a point in fixing it. But if someone else damages it, you’re darn right I’m making them fix it. $990 sucks and I get being frustrated or unhappy with the situation, but you don’t really get to be salty about whether they choose to repair it since you did the damage.

    11. LawBee*

      “My insurance covered it, but I couldn’t fathom how a scratch you had to SEARCH FOR cost $990 to fix. I was so incensed- WHO DOES THAT?”

      I would totally do that. You hit my car, I didn’t hit yours. You caused the damage, I didn’t. You’re paying for it to be repaired and put back the way it was – I’m not.

  9. Beth*

    #3: Like Alison says, odds are pretty good that you’re not going to be able to time your job hunts so you both have offers to start around the same time. It would be lucky if it works out that way, but there are so many factors in this kind of thing–different employers work on different timelines, you might not get a position that you thought you were a shoo-in for, etc. Trying to coordinate two separate job hunts and force them onto the same timeline just isn’t realistic.

    Have you decided that you’re definitely moving to this new area? Could you make things work for a while on one income if you needed to? If so, I think you guys should move whenever one of you has an offer in hand. The other one can keep hunting once you’re in your new area–or, if you prefer, the one with the offer could stay with your in-laws for a while until the other one finds a job and moves out.

    1. CastIrony*

      This sounds like it’s good advice.

      If a long-distance relationship turns into reality, I’m going to say two things for OP#3:

      1) Being together again will be your ultimate dream come true.
      2) It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot, then it will get easier, then, after visits, it will hurt a lot again. All of this is normal, just like not feeling any of this is.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’ve had to do this, and I’m likely going to have to do it again next year. I’m in an international relationship, and we met in China. It took me a year to find a job in France after he left China, and now we want to move from Paris to a smaller city closer to his son and where the cost of living is way lower. We can’t afford for both of us to be out of work, so he’ll go first and job hunt while I stay here and work, and then once he’s settled, I’ll follow and do the same.

        But we found that being long distance for a while helped our relationship (in the way you only realize in retrospect, it definitely sucked while we were in the middle of it). We ended up really valuing our time together and phone calls and made them count.

      2. JSPA*

        I’ve done a lot of long distance, and it’s actually not bad, so long as you focus on “doing the stuff only one of you loves” when apart, rather than moping. Five AM fishing? Cookies in bed? Hosting the weekly book club twice in one month? Taking the whole dining table for a 5000 piece puzzle, and eating over the sink? Three hour baths? Drum circles? Debate Nietsche and drug policy with visiting college friends?

        On a practical note, though, academic institutions may (or may not) be willing to give higher-level staff some of the same “two body problem” considerations that they extend to academics. It might be much less awkward to raise that issue in an academic setting than in any other workplace. May depend whether his expertise is, say, mainframe maintenance vs boilers and steam tunnels, though. (Not saying that’s how it should be, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it is.)

        1. DrR*

          I came to say this: It sounds like he is pretty specialized, and discussion of spousal hires definitely comes up in academia in a way it doesn’t elsewhere.

      3. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Yes long-distance relationships are hard. But as Rebecca and JSPA have said if done right it can make your relationship stronger. You have to develop and work on having really good communication, calls, texts, and letters. (if anyone even still remembers how to send one) When I did it it helped a lot that we had a time line of when it was going to end. If you are both job hunting you know that while it is kinda open ended their is a plan and an end in sight for the two of you to be together again. It also helps a lot if you have already been together already.

        I had a friend who entered/started into a long distance relationship with someone they met on a destination vacation spot. That was hard because they never got to know each other on a day to day basis, it was all visits, visiting a significant other is different than living with or near a significant other. When I was long distance we managed to visit each other about every other month. When we would visit it was like a mini vacation, we would go out often and do a lot of fun things that we normally wouldn’t have done. When we were finally both back in the same city it took some getting used to because we had to readjust/relearn how to have fun together on a regular “boring” day to day basis, and always going out and doing super fun things.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      Employers are also more likely to give a candidate a chance if they’re already in town (versus someone living in a different city) so moving after one of them gets a job will give the other spouse the advantage of applying from a local address (whether or not they’ve already moved with the newly-emloyed spouse).

      But basically, it’s incredibly difficult to force a timeline for one job search; doing that for two searches is almost impossible. (Source: my mom looking for new jobs to coincide with my military father’s relocation every few years.)

    3. traffic_spiral*

      Yup. What happens when you turn this job down, then your husband gets an offer while you don’t have one so he has to turn that down, then you get another offer but now he doesn’t have one, and on, and on, and on?

      I’d sit him down and re-hash the agreement now to figure out something more reasonable.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, the current agreement seems like one you arrive at in a world of ideal theoreticals, which should change in the light of discovering how actual local reality works. Like my ideas about two people working 3/4-time when the kid came along–this is a nice hypothetical unrelated to the structuring of most US jobs.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        This. Unfortunately, we’re not entitled to our ideal scenarios. The jobs don’t have to take your spouse’s job into account.

        So, is it more important that you both get jobs in New Location eventually as quickly as possible considering the individual fields (so the job searches likely won’t line up ideally timewise, and someone may have to move without a job, or someone may have to stay behind, and it may be a very bumpy few months of misaligned job searches and separate moves … but the final meetup will happen sooner)?

        Or is it more important that the job searches line up timewise (so it could be YEARS before that happens, and both of you could alternately be turning down perfectly good jobs because Spouse’s job search is too far misaligned)?

        The couples that I have known who have done this have moved when the spouse whose job could support them both, at least temporarily, got an offer (in fact, they usually pulled the trigger on the move BECAUSE someone got an offer that was to good to pass up). Second Spouse then had an easier time job searching once they were local, and found something within a couple of months.

        I also wouldn’t discount finding a temporary job if Second Spouse has to move without an ideal offer. Especially in a new town, the temp job could be what helps build a network to lead to an ideal offer.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Deliberately moving to an area with family you like often offers up the option that one of you can stay in someone’s spare room while you start the new job, while the other keeps their old job and the house and follows on later.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I think realistically you need to choose how much you care about actually moving to the new city vs. comfort/financial security. Moving is expensive and you often take a hit initially due to a variety of factors, including the timing of finding jobs. So it’s fine if the OP decides that she doesn’t want to move until they both have offers, but I think then she needs to accept that she may never move at all!

    5. FluffStuff*

      I’m OP #3. This a general comment to all the comments I’ve seen so far.

      Our family cannot live on one income.

      In terms of how much we want to move, I am ambivalent. I love my job and am very well respected (voted best in the state). My husband is always looking for something else but I’m not clear how much he likes his job. He keeps saying we will only go if we both get jobs. I have tried to bring up the fact that this may not be reasonable.

      I could most likely get a job in the other City but it would be a $30,000 pay cut. The job that I was interviewing for would be a step above my current job but pay about the same.

      The thing that I thought would help the timing workout is the fact that I work in education and he works in post-secondary education.

      None of this is probably relevant, however, because there is a licensing issue with the new state and I will most likely not be able to get the job for which I was interviewing. I was told to finitive Lee that I could not get a license on Friday and therefore withdrew my name but now the licensing agency may be changing their mind. It’s infuriating!

      The good news is all of this advice will apply next year when my husband inevitably finds more jobs for us to apply to.

      Thank you for all your comments.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Thanks for the clarifications, OP.

        I hope this all works out for you and your husband. Sounds like there are a lot of factors to consider, discuss, and decide. Best of luck!

        1. valentine*

          It sounds like you don’t want to leave and that the rules, which are too constraining, are his. What if you prioritize staying where you’re doing so well?

          I think this tandem thing only works when the couple is working for the same institution that wants to make it happen.

      2. JSPA*

        Could be an unexpected gift: you can tell the one you’re now interviewing with that you’d feel better passing their licensing as well, before making any moves. As he’s the one who’s less happy, and harder to “fit,” it might make sense for him to take the lead in looking for jobs. In the meantime, you work on getting the dual license (which you’ll want anyway? And which could make you more employable / a stronger candidate generally, anyway?). Saying, “I don’t want to take a job based on rules being bent but will work to do this the right way” is actually a very responsible stance, and I don’t think they are terribly likely to hold it against you.

        If you benefit at all from the academic calendar / have any extended summer holiday, maybe also have him visit the parents without you, and then you, without him, to see what it’s like to be apart from him, and with the family / in laws (if you have not done that before).

      3. traffic_spiral*

        Well, that’s different. If you’re both like “well, it’d sorta be nice but the current situation is fine,” saying you’ll move on the day when the moon loses her daughter and two Mondays come together is a perfect plan. If it happens, great! If it doesn’t, no big deal, you’re both happy where you are.

      4. BradC*

        Sorry to hear about the problem with licensing, that sounds frustrating!

        The problem of both halves of a couple looking for work simultaneously is particularly common in academia, it even has a name: the “two body problem”. (Sometimes it refers to the narrow case when both are looking for tenured university positions, but you might still find some useful advice searching for “academia two body problem”.)

      5. Beth*

        That definitely makes a difference. Needing two incomes makes a move harder…and more importantly, it sounds like you’re not even fully convinced you want to move.

        What’s pushing you for this hunt? Is your husband really excited about the idea of being closer to family? Was there a specific job that sounded like an amazing opportunity, and you’d make the move work if it meant getting that position?

        If you do decide you really want to move, you may need to accept that your jobs won’t start on the same timeline. One of you might move out earlier and stay with family until the other finds work (that’s the only way I can see to guarantee you’ll have two incomes while doing this move). But job hunting is a lot of work, and that kind of staggered move would involve some sacrifices. The odds of you finding two well-paying positions starting around the same time are really slim; is it worth doing all that work, and putting in all that thought and energy, for something that’s unlikely to happen?

      6. Abi*

        I was sort of in this situation but we REALLY wanted to move to the new location. As much as we tried to sync job searches it was near impossible so we eventually bit the bullet and I took a job that was enough for us to survive on (a decrease from our current standards) and we moved. My husband is also in education and it took him about a year to find a job that he liked (he did some contract work and tutoring while looking). It was a tough year but oh so worth it in the long run.

      7. Rural Juror*

        We were recently in a similar situation. Decided we wanted to move to nearby city near in-laws, but were in good jobs and would be okay waiting for the right opportunity. We knew the chances of finding something at the same time were super slim. I had a better idea of what I wanted and a better chance of finding a higher salary position, so we decided I would start applying for jobs I really wanted. I ended up finding a terrific job and moved in with my in-laws to start. Once I had an offer, he ramped up his search, found a job, and started 2 months later. In the meantime, he stayed at his old job in our old city so that we wouldn’t lose the income. His new job is a bit of a pay cut and definitely not a dream, but he can look again in a year or two if he needs to. It wasn’t easy, but it worked for us to pick one person to prioritize and for the other to just find an okay job to move.

  10. Maria Lopez*

    With deductibles OP might still be paying for part of the damage, but insurance companies DO find partial fault all the time. If OP had backed into a legally parked car there would be 100% fault. Anyway, when you get a person like the one whose car OP hit, it is best to report it to the insurance company and let them handle it, even if you pay the $500 or $1000 deductible.

  11. AnonForThis*

    #5: My last organization will likely be dealing with something similar. Due to poor administrative decisions by our new directors, most of my former department is actively looking to leave, and the department lost 3 people in the span of a month, including myself, and our manager. Plus other departments are actively unhappy as well and I predict a mass exodus in the coming months. My reaction to my situation was concern for my remaining team members, since they’re still in a really toxic environment, but I have no sympathy for any hardship felt by our directors. I knew my leaving would leave them in a lurch, but they dug their own grave on this one.

    Now what I need to do is find a way to let go of the bitterness I left with……

    1. Billie Yum Yum 2x2*

      Exactly. Look out for #1. In your life, you are #1. Jobs are an exchange of time for money, but environment plays a large role in that. If your time at said job is miserable, it’s probably not worth the money they’re putting out. While I can easily get attached to a job (currently in that position and need to let go and hunt), jobs are not personal, living entities. They’re positions to be filled by someone, and there will always be someone whether it’s you or not. Everyone is replaceable.

      TLDR: Would your job give you the courtesy of not firing you or laying you off on the same day as other employees they’re firing or laying off? Nope. Turn around is fair play.

    2. WellRed*

      Agreed. When a company makes poor decisions that lead to staff leaving it droves, that’s on them.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Yup, my former EVP laid 75% of my team off, and then was shocked (!!!) when about half of the remaining 25% left on their own. She truly could not comprehend that those who had been “chosen” to stay wouldn’t feel like they were part of some exalted club and band together.

        The people I’m still in touch with who didn’t leave are almost all looking to still.

      2. Kyrielle*

        This. I think it’s still normal to feel bad for the boss, if they didn’t control those decisions, and for the teammates you leave behind. But they are people too, and can make their own choices; they’ve either elected to stick with this, or they’re busy trying to engineer their own exit.

        Either way, there is no obligation on anyone else to stay and support them; it’s just business.

        When my last company got bought out and my product’s new sales were stopped, I felt bad for my teammates and boss when I gave my resignation. I knew they were dealing with the same thing. But my staying there wouldn’t have served me well at all, and in the long run also wouldn’t have helped them. (It is much easier to reassure myself of that fact now, however, after the office we worked in was closed, and most of those people were let go….)

        1. Bulbasaur*

          Agreed. New manager could have left as well, and didn’t need to accept the manager job. Since they did, dealing with situations like the one you’re about to present them with is pretty much squarely in the job description for them. There is no harm in doing it as sympathetically as possible, and saying it’s not about them (if that’s true) but there’s also no need to change anything about your approach to spare their feelings.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      Yep. My old job (which I genuinely loved) had a new leader come in that really tore the place up. She put half the department’s jobs on the line, and was just a vile human being. 3 out of our four office staff ended up leaving within a month or so of each other. It really broke my heart to leave, but it was a really high cost of living area, with very few job prospects, and if I didn’t leave when I was still employed, there was a chance I wouldn’t have been able to afford to move.

      I know it’s hard when everyone else is leaving, but I think all you can do is be polite when you hand in your notice, leave as much documentation as you possibly can, and finish up as much as you can and move on.

  12. AcademiaNut*

    For #3 – I work in a field that has a lot of couples and a lot of moving for jobs, and the only situation I know of where you can tie one job offer to another is when your spouse being hired is part of your job offer (something that happens very occasionally for academic couples, usually in the same department).

    Other than that, what couples do is wait until they get one good job offer and then either go long distance until the second person can get a job and move, or have the second person quit, follow to the new city, and look for work. Which one they choose tends to depend on finances, family situation (like having kids), and the type of job.

    From the employer’s perspective, you could probably manage a week or two to think about the offer, and you might be able to push for a bit more if you were waiting to hear the results of a completed interview. But at the speed of academic hiring, it could be months before the other job reviews applications, conducts interviews and hires. So if you can’t tell them if you want the job or not, they’re going to want to move on to someone who will take it, rather than face restarting the hiring process a few months later.

    1. LawLady*

      Yeah, my husband and I did this. I got a job, we did 6 months of distance, then he joined me. Not optimal but I think that’s just how these things go.

    2. Else*

      Yeah, and the more desirable the city you’re moving to, the harder it is to do. My wife and I managed a tenure track position at one university and a librarian position at another in the same tiny town starting three months apart, and the only way that we could ever catch that particular unicorn was that the tiny town is in the far middle of the rural Midwest.

  13. Eleanor Rigby*

    2 – hopefully there won’t be a next time bit if there is you could take a photo of the damage.
    Also, it sometimes seems like a minor repair but ends up causing a much larger one because something gets put out of joint.

  14. Anon who says ni*

    #2 you have car insurance for a reason. Use it. Unless you’ve gotten into a ton of accidents your rate wont go up for just one.

  15. Rez123*

    #1 I’ve never had a phone interview and it has been pain in the ass to figure out traveling to the offices. Most of them have been within 2h train journey and then the interviewers ask things like “did you travel here for the interview?”. Sometimes the face to face has been fine but most could have been conducted in the phone and I could have avoided travling and they would have saved their time. So, yay to skype/phone interviews.

    #3 It is against the odds to get hired at the same time. I think it’s worth discussing if you are serious about moving if long distance relatiosnhip or living on one income till other finds a job is an option. Excluding very specific skills, academia or executive position I’m not sure how willing companies would be waiting. Like PP said, maybe possible to “think” for a week.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      I work in tech like the LW, and I’ve always had phone screens first. From a hiring perspective, I would always want them for my own sake. Why would we invest six person-hours of our people’s time just to find out that we misunderstood their resume, or they didn’t know we moved across town last year?

      I believe you. But wow, what a waste of everyone’s time.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Agreed! For me living in NYC, a phone screen is a must. When I was looking for a job last time, luckily I only had a few places ask for an onsite interview as a preliminary one. They ended up being total wastes of time–less than half an hour but with a 2.5-3 hour round trip there. Come to think of it, the few I did have had crap reviews on Glassdoor. Not surprising.

        But Alison is spot on with her script. Having people come onsite before any of the preliminaries like experience and salary is set is a waste of time for all parties.

        1. OP #1*

          OP #1 here
          I recently told a recruiter at a company that I was not prepared to interview at their company as they had Glassdoor rating of 3.1. He kept coming back trying to persuade me the organization had changed, but as I pointed out to him, I simply was not prepared to invest the time on the basis of what I had seen there.

  16. Zoey*

    Can I just ask: what’s a reference checker? Sorry for the stupid question but in my country this is done via a form sent out by HR. Is this a phrase like ‘hiring manager’ where it means ‘whoever is handling this at this time for this position’ or is it a full time job someone would have in an HR dept or some kind of agency?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A reference checker is just whoever is doing the reference checking. It might be the hiring manager, it might be HR, it might be the recruiter. (I’d argue that good hiring managers do their own reference checking, but not everyone agrees with that.)

      Also! Hiring manager = the person who will be your manager once you’re hired (not just whoever is handling the hiring process).

      1. Zoey*

        Sorry that is what I meant by hiring manager, I just wasn’t clear about it. Thanks for the explanation!

  17. I Took A Mint*

    Could the script for #1 be used if you weren’t hunted by the company? For example, if you initiated the contact on your side, rather than being scouted. I’m not sure how much capital one would need to burn to ask “can I call to ask a couple questions about the position?”

    I understand recruiters and hiring managers are busy but if the job ad doesn’t have basics like travel expectations or salary then how do you find out more about the job without taking time off from work and sitting through an interview? (Salary and location is almost always disclosed up front where I am so I’m baffled at how anyone makes a decision without it)

    1. MayLou*

      I always call to ask a few questions about a job before I apply, normally about working pattern and location (salary is always included in the adverts). I haven’t ever had anyone find that weird, in fact I think it’s often been a positive thing as they know I’m genuinely interested and considering whether it would be a good fit.

    1. Lucy*

      Yes, always. When I backed into someone else’s car in a parking lot, I took lots of photos (and the details of someone who saw me do it). The car’s owner contacted me asking for a full replacement of his bumper and the parking cameras/sensors or something. I replied…

      “Can you tell me whereabouts on the bumper that damage is? Only it doesn’t show on any of my photos.”

      Never heard from him again.

      More recently, when I was bumped into, the photos and video I took were very useful for calling the insurance company. Lots of details I hadn’t thought to note but which were visible on screen.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Company had the same issue. Took pictures of a tire rub against a persons wheel well. The car was too close to the trailer in bumper to bumper traffic. Woman was irate and over the top.
      Boss, to calm her down, said send us the bill…The bill that followed was for thousands of dollars to replace rear quarter of car and a rental car. We submitted to insurance and never heard back. Our policy was not dinged, because she was clearly looking for an erroneous payout. That was a day we were happy to have insurance.

  18. nnn*

    Wasn’t there another letter a while back where the person who wrote the letter had their car in a fire lane and some sort of accident ensued? I don’t remember the details and I’m not able to effectively google it up, but the situation seems familiar…

    1. LGC*

      I remember that one! It was a law intern who parked where she shouldn’t have and a client hit her car. The intern wanted the tape, but her firm told her (basically, in her words) to go pound sand.

      That letter was…contentious, from what I recall.

      1. WellRed*

        Another case where you need to just let insurance deal with it rather than trying to launch an investigation. As an intern! An investigation at a law firm!

        1. LGC*

          To be fair to the intern, I think what she said was that the client hit and ran, and apparently the firm knew who hit her car – they just wouldn’t tell her because he was a major client. So…not an investigation per se, but I guess it’s not that far off.

  19. Dr Useless*

    RE LW1: Where I’m from, most job ads tend to have a contact person listed, who you may contact if you have any questions about the job. I presume this is not the case in the US? (This question is not rhetorical, I’m quite curious to know.) Otherwise it would make a lot of sense to contact that person and ask about travel requirements, before investing time in an application.

    1. MsM*

      A lot of ads will have you submit via an application form/portal or generic email address, and stipulate no phone calls. You can still try and track down a contact, but it’s a risk.

    2. CoveredInBees*

      Unfortunately, it is not very common in the US and asking about salary early in the process is sometimes treated like you’re asking for their full customer list and trade secrets. It is truly bizarre. Many employers won’t post a salary or salary range on job ads for reasons that I do not understand. Yes, it will attract fewer applicants but the applicants it attracts should theoretically be a better match. They seem to fantasize about someone who expects a much higher salary but is somehow convinced to work for less when they go for an interview.

      To some degree, I can understand why many employers don’t put contact info, especially in an applicant-heavy market. Job applicants frequently contacted our HR person with questions about postings (none of which had her contact info) to ask questions that were either clearly answered in the post or just “a quick 20 minute chat” about a position she wasn’t in charge of hiring for. She would refer them back to the posting and say we’d be in touch if their application fit our needs. It seemed like they were trying to stand out from the crowd by making a personal contact but instead their applications were usually sent to the circular file as they were almost always weak applicants to begin with.

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      In the US, a lot of job postings don’t even say the name of the company or the location of the job. Which is a huge problem if you’re planning your commute carefully, or the company has multiple locations and won’t specify which one is hiring.

  20. londonedit*

    Phone interviews really aren’t common in my experience in the UK, certainly not in my industry anyway. You apply, and you’re either invited for an in-person first interview or you’re not.

    I can see how phone interviews would be really useful all round, though – and I am starting to see more job adverts that say something like ‘For an informal conversation about this position, please contact X’. Less of a phone interview than a chance to ask any questions before you apply, which seems like a good idea to me.

    1. anonintheuk*

      I’ve had them, but only if the job is a significant distance from my location.

    2. Lucy*

      Spouse has recently been job hunting in the UK in tech field. Every single job he interviewed for had a phone screen first. It may well be industry specific.

      I agree that it’s a very useful first step on both sides, and easily fitted into a lunch hour or other formal break.

    3. Media Monkey*

      they are super common in my industry in the UK (media/ advertising). normally first contact is with a recruiter and that is almost always an email then a scheduled call to discuss the role. recruiters tend to be specialist to the industry so they know a lot about the specific companies they recruit for. for the job i have just taken (yaay!) my first interview was a phone interview as the person interviewing is based in Manchester (i’m in London and the role is in London), and then the second plus presentation was in-person in London.

      1. londonedit*

        Ah yes, when the job has been advertised through a recruiter then I’ve always had a phone conversation with the recruiter first, before they’ll submit an application on my behalf. But wherever I’ve just applied direct to the company, there hasn’t been any sort of phone contact.

      2. GrayHat*

        I was coming here to post exactly this – if there are recruiters in OP #1’s industry, OP should think about working with one. The recruiter can do a lot of this filtering for you, or maybe even knows the answers to your questions offhand from past experiences.

        1. Ralph Wiggum*

          Ugh. I have a pretty poor opinion of recruiters in the software tech industry (which it sounds like is OP’s industry from the letter — “tech” + “startup”).

          There are good recruiters out there, but someone without experience working with recruiters probably can’t tell the good from the bad.

          OP, if you do opt to work with a recruiter, make sure it’s someone who’s been in the job for several years, and only work with that individual. The individual recruiter matters, not the company they work for. As a general rule, you want a recruiter with established connections who builds personal relationships with hiring managers.

          1. Ralph Wiggum*

            I realized I should probably clarify what I dislike about many recruiters.

            The bad ones operate solely on quantity. They try to throw as many candidates as they can at as many open positions as possible, and hope that some stick. They’ll sell up the candidate to the company and the company to the candidate, not because they’re a good match, but because it might increase the chance of a hire. They usually make matches solely on the skills listed on the resume vs the job description (which pressures the candidate or even the recruiter to pad the resume). Often, these recruiters are not at all technical, don’t understand hiring managers’ needs vs candidates abilities, and have high turnover (<6 mo in the position).

            It's frustrating for the candidate, since they're sent to a bunch of job interviews with a low chance of getting hired (exactly what the OP would like to avoid), and it's frustrating for the hiring company, since they get a slew of low-quality candidates.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Oh, I have definitely had recruiters pad my resume. I was furious; I once had an interviewer thoroughly (if erroneously) convinced that I’d lied on my resume and confronting me nastily about it, and it’s an experience I hope never to repeat.

    4. smoke tree*

      I was wondering if this might be a US thing–in Canada, I don’t think they’re common at all, except as an alternative to an in-person interview for logistical reasons. It seems more typical to have one or possibly two in-person interviews. Seems like a good idea, though.

  21. Klingons and Cylons and Daleks, Oh My!*

    The most you can do is be glad that the boss is allowing you to work through the notice period rather than firing you on the spot.

    1. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Which letter is this in response to? #5? If so, seems to me that that LW might be well pleased to be set free early. Sounds like a pretty terrible place if people are leaving en masse.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Why would they fire her on the spot? I mean, some employers do that but she’s not doing anything that would prompt that from a normal employer (if anything, the context means they’ll want to get what they can out of her during her notice period).

  22. Lady Phoenix*

    #2: Funny enough, I did this.

    Our parking space was weird, I wasn’t paying attention, and I backed into ancoworker’s parked car.

    I went into a tizzy finding the owner and showing the pictures. Her car was fine, not even a scratch. MINE had a dent in it. Luckily she did not call insurance.

    I have parked at different spits and am much more careful.

    As for OP? Welp, you DID damage her can get insurance involved, but it might be a nightmare.

  23. Lucy*

    #3, since your job is the more difficult to find, I think you really ought to accept any suitable position. It seems likely your husband will get something suitable within a reasonable timeframe, whereas you aren’t in a position to be as picky.

    A time living long distance will feel very long to start, but will feel insignificant within a year or three. Spouse and I had a year long distance and I only vaguely recall it now.

    Best of luck to you both.

    1. Lucy*

      This sounded meaner than I intended. By “any suitable” I don’t mean “anything at all even vaguely suitable” but “something that ticks all your boxes”.

    2. Overeducated*

      I halfway agree. I think sometimes it is better for the person with fewer options to find the decent job first because the other person is more likely to be able to upgrade to a better position if their first isn’t great.

      But my spouse and I have done this multiple times (yay academia), and in our case we’ve had to settle for one job that pays enough to cover the bills and family insurance, and one job that allows the other person to hang onto their field by their fingernails. We’ve each had a sort of “gap year” of part time work while searching in different places.

  24. Macedon*

    #1. Honestly, I think I’m becoming more jaded with age and work experience, but I’ve recently been dealing with this because UK employers in my industry are fond of listing “Competitive” or “Depending on Experience” salaries in job postings, then going straight into in-person interviews or tests as a first step — so I’ve just started asking over e-mail.

    Last time, I wrote out something along the lines of, “Thanks for getting in touch and extending the opportunity. I’m thrilled to be considered. Ahead of the interview/test, do you mind if I briefly ask what salary range you’ve budgeted for the role (or whatever you need to ask)? I’d just like to get a sense of whether we’re on the same page regarding the practicalities of the role before moving forward.”

    I’ve yet to have any of them refuse to disclose a number or defer the answer to the in-person interview, though I imagine one day someone might try. I figure if I ask it gracefully and with a breezy air of “of course you wouldn’t decline such a sensible request”, they can’t really refuse.

    1. Allison*

      My last employer told me they don’t like disclosing the salary information over text, but the recruiters were allowed to disclose it over a phone call.

  25. Deirdre*

    LW #1 – when hiring, I always start with phone interviews. I frequently had people ask the very questions you are asking and never found it out of line. When I have invited candidates to come interview (after phone screens) it wasn’t uncommon to have a candidate indicate they had a few more questions and we would set up time to chat. Hiring is a two-way street. If employers won’t give you the time for a call, that would be a yellow flag for me.

    1. irene adler*

      As a job seeker, thank you so much for doing phone interviews.

      My current boss is a firm believer that all interviews must be in-person. His rationale: if they really want the job, they will extend themselves to attend an in-person interview.

      (feel free to eye-roll on that one)

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        (feel free to eye-roll on that one)

        Why thank you, I did!

        Let me guess, he is also a “butts in seats” type?

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Yes. I’ve had this with a boss too. The only time she was flexible on this point was with (unpaid) interns, whom she insisted on being part of the hiring process. She was the CEO and never worked with the interns at all. Hiring anyone for anything took forever because of this. Also, this was a non-profit with a very specific budget and she refused to put even a salary range on job postings or things that would indicate how senior the position would be. Since many of the job titles could earn a wide range at different employers we got a lot of applicants who were a match for the posting but not for the job.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #4: I got my career-starting job because an interviewer passed along my resume. His team didn’t hire me for a few reasons (all valid!) but I apparently impressed him enough that he offered to send my resume around to his colleagues. I imagine your interviewer means something along those lines. I would never have used this guy as an actual reference, more of a referral. It was a very kind gesture and still means so much to me.

  27. Batgirl*

    I’ve done the dramatic gasp as the unlucky car-owner!
    Similarly, I did it before actually seeing anything – and I was also parked in a non spot.
    There’s something in our reactions to car damage (either as driver or car owner) where you feel both really oddly to blame and also like it’s super unfair that this happened to you, when you should just be grateful it’s a minor matter and no one was hurt. Not to mention; can I trust this person to settle this fairly?
    I think it’s because, especially with cars parked somewhere they shouldn’t be, drivers sometimes hyperfocus on things that are moving, especially living things like people walking by, and can kind of assume the parameters of fixed objects, like parking spaces, haven’t changed since they pulled up.
    That’s not a bad priority but it can be kind of an experience thing – not necessarily of driving experience but of less than ideal parking conditions.
    When it was my mistake as a driver, the owner of the car I hit was rather sage about it: “No one is hurt and that’s what insurance is for “. Expensive, but I never did it again and that was my role model for when it was my car hit….by my boss.
    I’d parked at right angles behind him but quite a few lengths away in daylight – during which he would have easily seen it and manoeuvred around. There was nowhere else to park and I was required to use my car for work.
    However I could have gone back outside as it went dark to move it as more spaces freed up.
    I think that my gasp (literally “Ohhhh nooooo!” when he called upstairs and told me) was mostly my reaction to my own miscalculation of risk in parking there.
    It was actually quite bad but my reaction to the damage was less than the initial shock and much assuaged by his calm manner.
    He was a proper gent about it, leaving the choice of either a cheque or insurance up to me and while as a human being, I know he must have cursed my parking a bit and that he absolutely could have blamed the non existent lighting – he freely admitted he just hadn’t looked in his mirrors.
    I wouldn’t judge the driver on her initial reaction; this stuff is weird to navigate and our driving and parking choice hard to weigh objectively.
    Not to mention the fact that you don’t have to pay anything ridiculous just because she requests it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is a really good example.
      What I see here is that the car owner panicked and in turn OP panicked. It’s hard for two panicked people to have a conversation.
      I rear-ended someone. Not only did I know it was my own fault, I knew that the industry go-to is to say that the hitter is at fault in this setting. I was shook, very shook. Then it got worse, the other driver got out of her car and I noticed she was very pregnant. My tears came right up.
      Since I did not move out of my car, she came over to me. When she saw I was crying, she assumed I was injured and she almost started crying. (See the pattern? We were feeding each other’s emotions.) For a couple minutes we just keep asking each other “Are you alright?”. Then we realized we were repeating ourselves and we started actually talking.

      I said, “Clearly, this is my fault and I will make sure that you are properly reimbursed.” My husband, the former insurance adjuster gasped out loud when I told him I said this. I stated my logic here. *I* hit the back end of her car. This is a text book thing, the hitter *is* at fault in these instances. What happened next was interesting. Because I asserted responsibility, the lady calmed right down. We exchanged information, I think I even dug around and found my insurance company’s phone number. I was mostly concerned about her and her baby. I must have asked about the baby a couple times. She finally said, “No, I know the baby is okay. I can feel that it is okay.” She said she was worried about her husband’s reaction. I said, “Tell him that I will take care of this.”

      The police asked if she wanted them to write me a ticket. Amazingly she told them NO. I got home and called the insurance company (no cells in those days). We never heard another word about it. They paid to fix the back end of her car and that was it. My own vehicle was in the shop for 17 days. Yeah, I made a mess.

      I felt awful about it to start with and then when I realized there was an unborn child in the mix, that really started the tears flowing. And there was that part of me that kept thinking, “NSNR, how could you be so stupid!!”
      We are supposed to feel guilt when we have done something wrong. It’s kind of worrisome when a person does not feel some level of guilt. Because I was so rattled, I started taking those driving courses every three years.
      Oddly, in taking all that ownership, I found parts of myself that I did not know I had. I grew because of that event. It’s been decades and I still take the driving courses to help myself stay more current.

      We all step in crap, OP. You will be okay in the long run. If it were me, I would notify the insurance company and let them help you in your worry about the repair costs. Helping to clean up the problem is really the best you can do with your situation.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I think everyone expects a fight about this stuff so when you take responsibility immediately, it defuses everything really quickly.

        1. Aurion*

          Yeah, I think so too. Two years ago after a rough day at work I wasn’t looking when I backed out of my spot in the parking lot and I clipped someone. My car was fine, his bumper popped off.

          Throughout the conversation he kept asking me if I was okay, because I looked really agitated in between my apologies. I think the guy felt more sorry for me, actually.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Not So New Reader, this brought back a memory for me. When I was pregnant with my third child I got rear-ended by a young girl heading to school. Police came (I didn’t call them; someone living on the street did. This was before cell phones.) My car didn’t look damaged, but the officer advised me to get it checked out because you can never tell. He was right; $1,000.00 worth of damage.
        This poor girl was so freaked out and worried about being late for school that after the tow truck came for her vehicle, I took her to school, walked her to the office and explained what happened to the secretary.
        All well and good, and I knew the insurance would take care of everything. I made a just-in-case visit to my doctor and everything was fine. When her dad found out that I was pregnant he looked me up and insisted on paying for my doctor’s visit. I assured him everything was fine, and that my insurance at work covered all doctor’s visits. He insisted, so I just named a sum. Fifty dollars I think. He reached in his pocket and handed it to me right then. He also thanked me for being so kind to his daughter. He said this was the first time he ever heard of the “injured” party taking care of the one who inflicted the damage!!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am sure she will remember you for a very looong time. I am kind of impressed with Dad there also.
          Just wanted to mention, I am glad the kiddo was okay, as well as you being okay.

          1. PhyllisB*

            This is days late Not So New Reader so you may not see this response, but I was impressed with dad, too. I remember thinking that if this had been my daughter I would want someone to show compassion. And yes, “kiddo” is fine. She’s 31 now and a fine young woman.

  28. staceyizme*

    To the LW quitting due to the buy-out- they are unlikely to be surprised that additional people are going to resign and I don’t think that you have to do anything beyond being courteous and professional. Something must have gone awry in the transition due to the buy-out: perhaps the company misread the organization’s cultural norms or treated your team with too little consideration? In any case, good luck in your next chapter!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. My previous company was bought and people left in droves, both before and after the official sale closing date and are still leaving. I don’t think OP needs to worry about being another person in a line of people headed out the door. It’s just what happens when there’s an acquisition.

  29. Ralph Wiggum*

    #1 If the company is small enough to 1) be considered a startup and 2) have the CEO herself handle recruiting and hiring, then they’re probably able to be flexible in interview timing and format. At least, a lot more flexible than a larger company with established processes.

    Alison’s script is great.

  30. TL*

    #1: Any chance you can go to your current job and ask for a salary more in line with the market rate, if you otherwise like it there? You don’t want to threaten to leave (keep it positive), but something like “I’m approached by recruiters all the time, and while I really enjoy my job here and want to stay, it’s hard to ignore that the market rate for my skills seems to be more like $X.” You have to know your company but I just processed a raise for somebody in this exact situation.

    #3: when my husband accepted a job in another city, he was able to work out in the offer process that he could work mostly remotely for 6 months or so while I searched for a job in the new city. He traveled there a day or so every week and otherwise worked from home, and we had 2 apartments for a while, and it generally kind of sucked, but we got through it. Of course will not work for all companies or positions.

    #4: this isn’t that weird. It happened to me several times when I was doing the long slog of a job search I just mentioned in a new city. She’s likely not offering to be a true “reference,” but the way I used these offers is more like “I saw this other position posted on another team at Company. Any insight you could provide?” and they would recommend me to the hiring manager. It’s more of a, hey I interviewed this person already and they were super impressive and I’d hire them if I could, just didn’t fit exactly with the role I had open.

    1. Morning Glory*

      Yeah, I am pretty sure for #4 they really meant ‘recommender’ and not reference. I’ve seen several hiring managers do this at my org where a candidate is strong but not quite a right fit for that position.
      They’ll check to see which other departments are hiring for something similar and pass along the resume and cover letter to the right person with a brief note on why they liked the person. It’s really not that weird, it’s just that the person wrote the wrong word to describe it.

    2. Iris Eyes*

      Great point. From the sounds of it though all of these higher salaries might be due in part to increased travel responsibilities. If the LW#1 is traveling 10% or less now and these positions all want 25%+ then that could be the difference in the job responsibilities that justifies the higher rate.

      1. TL*

        That’s true! I guess then, that’s not really the market rate if the jobs aren’t comparable in that regard.

        1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          All of these are great points. I read LW#1’s letter as saying that the amount of travel is a deal-breaker in her case. Of course, not everyone would feel that way and would be just as happy to travel 25% of the time as 10%. That’s why, in her case, a preliminary phone interview makes a lot of sense, because it could be used to address that issue. As to salary, I have absolutely no idea why employers in the U.S. don’t want to disclose the salary range they have in mind. It’s infuriating and it’s a complete waste of both the employer’s and the candidate’s time.

          1. OP #1*

            You are correct in that for some people travel is not a problem.
            Also some employers they don’t see it as being something to be compensated.
            I once had a job where they announced unilaterally that they wanted us to travel 100% of the time with no increase in pay.
            I told them to shove it.
            A lot of it is just finding the right match.
            If you are a tech company based on NYC you your customers might be based there.
            The reason companies don’t post salary information is it is easier to price discriminate… there’s always the hope of getting someone who doesn’t know what they are worth.
            But when I gave my salary expectations generally I don’t get much pushback.

          2. TL*

            I know re: salary. I just recently moved into a recruiting role for the first time and I’m trying to change the culture here since I’m in charge of those conversations now. The argument from my boss so far has been “don’t give a range because if we end up offering them less people will argue that we told them something different.” But, to my mind, that situation can be avoided in a couple of ways. I’ve been telling folks a fairly broad range starting out on the lowest end of what we would offer anyone for the role; that way if they are in agreement about that range, they’ll be pleasantly surprised if we offer them more.

            Second, we do sometimes have situations where we downgrade a position for some reason during the process–either we decided we need the role to be more junior, or the applicants we’re getting aren’t really Director level, let’s say. In that case I don’t see a reason why I can’t be transparent about that. The “no salary talk” thing seems to be a way that people avoid having conversations that might be uncomfortable? Idk, that’s not how I roll!

      2. OP #1*

        Regarding talking about the market rate. I actually did that a few weeks ago. I got a small pay hike. One guy on my team got an offer from another company. My company couldn’t match it, not least because they would have had to give it to everyone on the team.

        1. TL*

          Yeah, there’s your answer then I guess. Valuable information about what you’re working with at least! Good luck!

    3. FluffStuff*

      That is a good point about working remotely. My job/field would not work that way but my husand’s could. That might work ok.

  31. Wulfgar*

    I drive a stick shift and was stopped in a line of traffic in an incline waiting for a bus to move. A woman who worked in the same complex was so close behind me that I drifted an inch as I clutched, I apparently tapped her bumper. I didn’t even realize it until she called me to say that it had happened.

    I immediately called my insurance company, and she called hers. She told me to learn to drive. I pointed out that if she hadn’t been tailgating she would have been fine. She was a very angry person; the person in the cube a few feet from me could hear her screaming at me.

    The insurance adjuster found $28 damage to her hood and $96 to my truck. My rates went up for a minor accident that I didn’t even realize I’d been in, but it was worth it to call. I think she was trying to pin a large dent in the hood on me.

    1. KR*

      Ugh I hate when people do that! If I see someone pull up behind me on a hood I like to rock a little so they *know* I’m in a stick shift. But sometimes they still pull outrageously close.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      This. I got rear-ended very lightly by a guy who wasn’t paying attention in a construction zone. Scratched the plastic (the bumper wasn’t even painted). He didn’t want to give me his insurance information so I gave my insurance company his license plate number, name (he did give me that, and his phone number so I could call him and . . . probably have him ignore me in the hopes I’d give up on him doing anything), and the description of his car. I had the bumper replaced mostly to make sure there wasn’t damage underneath that would make it harder for me to make a claim if I was ever hit again (that is, if the next person tried to claim it was preexisting damage).

  32. EMW*

    Ok for situation number 3, if the LW does accept the job and move while spouse stays behind, how does he navigate that at work? We work with a lot of our friends and would not be able to keep the fact that I’d move halfway across the country. At some point wouldn’t his company tell him he needs to pick a date to finish up his work with them?

    Our current plan is if I get a job, he asks his current place of work about full time telecommuting or working from the new city office (this office is a completely different division). If they say no, he asks for 3-4 months to look for jobs internally and externally and train his replacement. If he gets an external position, he gives two weeks notice before he starts.

    1. TL*

      This is give-or-take what I did in a similar move situation. I did end up having to leave without something lined up because 8 months of a job search resulted in nothing (very luckily found something shortly after), but I was on very good terms with my boss and he wanted to keep me as long as I could. So I was able to help interview and train my replacement, then left on great terms.

      1. EMW*

        Yeah, he would not stay past 3 or 4 months. We can make my salary work indefinitely if we need to, but it delays our ability to buy a house in our new city. Ideally he would not have a huge gap in paychecks between his current job and his new job.

    2. Sarah N*

      I think this depends a lot on the company. Some companies might try to push the person out like you describe, but I definitely don’t think it’s automatic. I think there are plenty of places where they would see the value in your work and not see any need to force you out by a certain date. I think it is also possible that your colleagues who are also friends maybe know what’s up but you could ask them to keep it quiet, and they would honor that and not suddenly alert upper management. We were in this situation when I got a job across the country that didn’t start for about 8 months…my husband’s close work friends knew we were moving, but he just said “Hey, don’t mention this to our bosses” and they certainly respected that. (His career works on a much quicker hiring cycle and it was impossible for him to really interview for jobs before we moved.)

  33. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

    Eh, I get that being parked in an illegal spot is lousy and could inconvenience others, but unless that person is genuinely obstructing someone from moving their car, it’s still your responsibility if you hit them.

    When I was in grad school, I lived in on-campus graduate housing and the parking lot I was in was STRICTLY for people who lived at that apartment. We were located directly behind an undergraduate residence hall that predominantly housed freshmen and had it’s own lot designated for undergrads with a certain number of credit hours. It’s extremely well-known how lousy parking at my Alma mater is for freshmen and that if you bring your car, you will almost never be able to park near your residence hall if you live on-campus. However, given how restrictive my apartment’s lot was, I was very fortunate and never had to worry about parking.

    One night, I parked near my building and just needed to do something in my apartment for 10 minutes before leaving again. Admittedly, I was parked ON the line, which I will concede was not the best way to park, but I come back out to find a bad scrape on the side of it and a note from a freshman saying she had scraped my car and with her number. While it was great she left the note and while I should’ve been parked better, it was still her responsibility for the damage. The spot next to my car was also far from the only one available and it wouldn’t have been impossible to park in it without scraping my car despite it being on the line, though she shouldn’t have been in this lot to begin with. Even worse, she dragged her feet on telling her parents what happened for weeks and ultimately my insurance had to call her parents’ insurance so I could finally get the repairs done.

  34. A Simple Narwhal*

    Wasn’t there a letter recently where someone was parked in a fire lane and got her car dinged, and the offender told her it was her fault for parking in a non-spot? #2 seems to be offering opposite advice, but it might just be the differences of power and who wrote in.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      So I found the letter and it was a little different than I remembered (intern got hit by a client, the main question was her wanting to pitch her case to higher ups about getting the security footage released) and in the end Alison’s advice was to contact her insurance.

      But it did feel like a pair of lose-lose situations – you hit a car in a non-spot, well you shouldn’t have hit them – you got hit in a non-spot, well you shouldn’t have parked there. Though I guess that’s what you get when neither parties are blameless.

    2. Kettles*

      Ooops, I wrote my comment before I saw yours! I found this really odd too; the intern was hauled over the coals and people said she deserved to be fired… but this time round, the fact that the colleague was parked illegally is barely being mentioned.

      1. Dollis Hill*

        Yeah, I’m finding this difference markedly strange too, especially as in this case the colleague wasn’t just parked haphazardly or inconveniently, she was parked illegally. I’m in the UK so not sure what a fire lane is but I’m assuming it has something to do with providing access for fire engines in the event of an emergency – if it is I’m shocked that people are glossing over that so much.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          That’s exactly what it is and I am a little mad at this business for expecting people to park illegally because they don’t provide enough parking spaces. This is a real hazard should there be a fire!

        2. DArcy*

          Someone parked in a fire lane is actively endangering everyone in the building by blocking emergency vehicle access. All such incidents should be reported to the local non-emergency police number so that they can be towed clear.

      2. L. S. Cooper*

        Yeah, especially since, if I recall correctly, the intern was parked in a place she shouldn’t have been, but not parked illegally. #2’s coworker was parked illegally. In a fire lane, of all things!

  35. Kettles*

    Hang on; I remember the exact opposite of this with an intern who parked their car illegally. Most of the commenters were telling her to let it go rather than antagonise her company. Several said it was entirely her fault for parking in a non parking space, and said she should ‘take responsibility’. Some said the intern deserved to be *fired* for parking in a non parking spot.

    Yet this time everyone is telling the person who hit the car to pay up, and that she is entirely / mostly at fault.

    I’m curious as to what the difference is here?

    1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      That situation was different, in that that previos LW was trying to get video evidence of what happened from her company, who refused to provide it, and she was an intern (and theoretically has less capital). In this instance, the LW admits she hit the car and is actively seeking to maintain a good relationship with the person she hit. I imagine those differences account for the different responses here.

      1. Kettles*

        I still find it a bit odd; if the intern was wrong for being parked in the wrong place, so is OP’s colleague. Overall the advice was the same – go through insurance – but there was a really different feel. There was some real nastiness toward intern in those comments – exhortations to take responsibility, to step up, to stop complaining – that hasn’t been levelled at OP’s co-worker. Rather, multiple people have said it is perfectly natural for OP’s coworker to be upset, while intern was painted as a whiny brat for being upset over the same thing.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The intern was outraged that her firm didn’t want to give her video footage to use against a client and wasn’t recognizing the practical realities of the situation.

          This OP is asking about how to maintain a good relationship with her coworker.

        2. JamieS*

          Morally OP’s colleague is also somewhat wrong and would probably be told so if she had been the one to write in. However since the person who hit the car wrote in the responses are going to be geared to what they’re responsible for both legally and in the name of keeping a harmonious relationship.

      2. Kettles*

        Having re-read the letter now, I agree intern wasn’t handling her company correctly re the footage. However I still think she was over blamed for the incident.

        1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

          Yeah, I’m basically with you on this. That LW responded pretty unprofessionally and was a bit harder to sympathize with, as well as conceding to not wanting to even attempt to move her car and leaving it there all day. However, it’s still ultimately the same kind of accident and I was shocked by how many people painted it as being 100% her fault as if the person hitting her had no control over their vehicle.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s also a difference in who’s writing. If someone writes in who was illegally parked, the advice is never going to be “you get to park wherever you want and a pox on anyone who hits you!” It’s always going to include “hey, you have some responsibility here.” And if someone writes in who hit someone who was illegally parked, the advice is never going to be “too bad for them, they should have parked legally” because that’s not how our laws work.

            1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

              Oh, I definitely agree in terms of giving advice! Obviously, it’s not as helpful to talk about what the other person can/should do versus discussing what the actual LW should do.

              But in regards to talking about these kinds of situations in a more general sense, I just got the same feeling as Kettles that people were giving conflicting opinions regarding who would be at fault in these kinds of situations, not specifically regarding the advice to give to the LW. And it was just jarring because you’re right, we wouldn’t tell someone they have no culpability in this kind of situation, but people in the last letter were still painting the intern LW as it being 100% in the wrong, which isn’t helpful either, whereas more people here seem to be splitting the fault here more evenly.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think I know what you mean. I think it reflects how much the tone of the commenters’ response will depend on the vibe of the letter — someone who seems not to recognize their own role in something is likely to get criticized pretty hard, whereas someone who does recognize it gets more support. Which I can understand! But it can make for really different tones for similar situations.

                1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

                  Oh, I’m definitely with you! Letters like the Leap Year boss (which is admittedly an extreme example) where they refuse to see any error of their ways will understandably get a DRASTICALLY different tone of response from people versus if they showed any awareness or at least respect towards the people involved.

            2. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

              I apologize. I just went back and I don’t really see people painting the intern OP as it being 100% her fault and many conceding that the client had some responsibility. For some reason I just remembered people being a lot harsher, but I was wrong, definitely many people saying that it was a shared responsibility for the accident.

    2. LawBee*

      Different people comment on different letters. ::shrug emoji:: We’re not a hivemind.

  36. Toni Christmas*

    Ahhhh! I am a claims adjuster. PLEASE, just report it to insurance. Situations like this are literally why we are here. Nothing is more aggravating than getting a claim that is weeks old because the parties tried handling it privately first, only to end up quibbling over things they know nothing about. People vastly underestimate what it costs to fix vehicles anymore, even for seemly minor repairs.
    To you it might look like just a paint touch up job, however that bumper cover may need to come off the vehicle in order to be painted, which means you’re paying labor hours for it to be removed and replaced as well as labor for the actual painting. Depending on a million factors, they might need to blend the surrounding panels in order for it all to match, which of course isn’t free. And that is all assuming the bumper cover can even be reinstalled; some times you have no choice but to replace the part because reattaching it isn’t recommended. Don’t worry, whether you use your insurance or hers, no one is going to pay for repairs that aren’t needed.
    And like I tell my peeps a million times a day-the severity of the damage is a non issue. I realize you might feel like her reaction was an over reaction (and from my experience, it probably is), but that is just one more reason to involve your insurance and let us do what we do all day long. Unlike the involved parties, claims people have no emotional investment in the incident because we’re all dead inside.

    Ha! I come here to take a quick brain break from work and end up going on a claims rant!

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Yes! I posted below, the “light scratches” are never just that. Not going to repeat the stories I posted, but last time my car was broken in to, the thieves broke the driver’s door glass. Easy replacement, no? Except some glass went down the door, the window motor had to be replaced, because it was damaged, the door had to be disassembled and re-assembled, etc. $1,300. Simple, non-fancy car.
      Call your insurance.

    2. Mrs Mary Smiling*

      Rant 9/10. Would read again.
      I hope it felt therapeutic to get it off your chest and you are now light as a bird. I learned things and was entertained. I damaged a panel on my car, and learned ALL ABOUT the blending. I was just standing there as they explained thinking “Do I care? I don’t really care. I really wouldn’t have cared if the panels didn’t match, but it’s done now, I guess. I had to wait extra days so they could match the paint better?” It has passed my deductible, so I wasn’t out money for the extra time, but I did think that on my 8 yo civic I really didn’t care, but it seemed rude to indicate that to someone who was proudly showing their work? (But seriously–bah, blending)

    3. Bunny Girl*

      Yep! I had someone T-bone me in 2017, which totaled my car and sent me to the ER. I immediately handed it over to my own insurance, and they dealt with everything. I sent all my medical bills to them, they got them paid, cut me a check for my car, and then went after the other driver’s insurance. I barely had to do anything, which was so nice when I was recovering because it took quite a while. You pay for your insurance, have them work for you.

  37. EricT*

    Like alison and other said let your insurance deal with it. if you don’t want to go to the insurance and she quotes you something high tell her you want a second and maybe even third opinion at at place you choose since you are the one paying.

  38. RussianInTexas*

    LW2. Yes, they may replace the bumper instead of painting/fixing it, because in modern cars bumpers are made of carton and are usually just replaced. There are a million little plastic clips underneath, supports and all, that might be cracked. The paint would have to be matched too. Yes, it’s at least a $1,000 work, sorry about that. Bodywork is expensive.
    My rear-ended scratched up bumper ended up being $1,500 worth of damage. You can’t tell by just looking at it how much it would cost.
    When boyfriend’s car was rear-ended, the dude tried to give the cash on spot, $2000, boyfriend declined. It was almost $4,000 worth of damage, the trunk had to be straightened out.
    Plus, the fact someone parked illegally doesn’t give you the right to just randomly damage their cars, no?

  39. Rachel*

    OP#3, I was in the same boat as you a few years back. My husband got a job first and I stayed behind while I finished out the semester (I worked in academia) and applied for new jobs. I noticed you said you guys have family in the new city. To mitigate costs, could you live with the family while your husband continues to live at home? My husband lived with friends for about a month and luckily our rent in our old city was manageable so the few months that we did have overlap in rent, it wasn’t too bad. The cities were also a few hours away and it especially sucked because we had just gotten married a couple months before. Long distance wasn’t fun but we made it work.

    I don’t know what field you work in but I can’t think of many where it would be acceptable to make acceptance of a job offer contingent on your spouse getting a job at some nebulous point in the future. But I do think there are steps you can take to make this as painless as possible. Good luck!

  40. Dust Bunny*

    OP2: I’m going to caution you right now that this will almost certainly be more expensive than you think it should be. A decent paint job, even just a touch-up, is not cheap. Sometimes it’s actually cheaper to replace the bumper, which likely comes prepainted if the car is relatively new, than to try to prep damage and match a paint job. Bodywork is expensive. My car got hit by a flying piece of rock one time and I actually remember thinking, “I hope that hit the windshield and not the paint” because a $400 windshield is a bargain compared to whatever it would cost to fix the relatively-small dent and paint damage. (It did hit the windshield, thank goodness.) So be prepared to not get up in arms about the cost if repairs.

    I second/third/etc. the recommendation that you deal with this through your insurance company.

  41. Cameron*

    Am I the only one that thinks that minor paint scratches are just part of owning a car? And that the purpose of bumpers is to protect the car when you lightly bump into things? I mean, over the life of my 12-year-old vehicle, probably 100 people have opened their car door into mine, leaving minor dents and scratches, and not a single one ever left a note, because that’s just what happens in parking lots. And I’ve accidentally “bumped” a few cars here and there when parallel parking, but it never once occurred to me to say anything, it’s just part of parking. (There’s never any sort of obvious scratch, or the car is already so scratched up you wouldn’t even notice.) When you park 1000 times, you’re going to lightly bump a car or pole or wall 5 times. It just happens. Paint is not part of the integrity of the vehicle.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This is a personal choice, though, and it’s not one that you/I/anyone gets to make for anyone else. And the person who hits me is still at fault: Letting it go or not is my call, not his/hers. I keep my cars as long as possible, take good care of them, and I’d like them to not look like crap, so, yes, I’ll insist on having that fixed.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      That is really depends on where you live.
      Where I live, we don’t parallel park, almost never. I can’t say I bumped in to anything in my 20 years of driving may be more than couple of times, and it was in the early years of driving. It is really not the “part of owning a car” down here, we have plenty of nice wide parking spaces, thank you very much. If you can’t park without bumping or scratching my car, you should stop driving. I don’t bump in to people, and I expect them not to bump/open the door in to me. Also, teach your child not to swing the car door in to other’s cars.
      I would be royally pissed if I came out of my office building and found the bumper of my car scratched up. My car is 7 years old and looks nice. I prefer it stays that way.

    3. Drax*

      Yeah, I was just about to say that. I drive a city where the parking stalls have not caught up with how big the vehicles are as well as in the winter our roads shrink 2-3 feet from snow banks. 10 years of driving and I have never “bumped” someone.

      Yes, scratches are a normal part. But if you hit someone or they hit you, the proper thing to do is leave a note. If it’s just paint, fine. But what happens if what you think is a bump actually bent the frame? That cars a write off (or in my area, structural frame damage is not allowed to be repaired) and you did it and just drove off into the sunset with your functional car. You don’t get to decide if it’s bad or not without even giving the person a chance to check it out or get reimbursed.

      Someone hit and run my antique car in my apartment parking lot. It’s going to cost me over $10K to get fixed but looking at it, it’s “just paint”. But because of this mentality, I get to pay for it instead of who ever did the damage.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My “small” bumper scratch (it was hit and run) ended up being $1,500 worth of damage my insurance had to cover, because the fasteners underneath were broken, and the whole bumper had to be replaced.
        Friend had her car totaled (less than 24 hours after paying it off,which SUCKED) because of a “small bump”, the frame was bent. It was almost unnoticeable, the roof was not quiet straight. But totaled it was.

        1. Drax*

          Yep. My first car was a write off as someone (hilariously an off duty cop) changed lanes into me and hit me at EXACTLY the right spot that it bent my frame without doing pretty much any exterior damage. He insisted I get it fully checked out but I would have never known if he hadn’t it insisted. Total write off.

    4. TootsNYC*

      “Paint is not part of the integrity of the vehicle.”

      It can be. Paint is a protective coating that protects from moisture and dirt.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Plus, the appearance of your car can have an affect on how people see you, and then how they treat you.

    5. Drax*

      Also, I’ve hemmed and hawed about mentioning this but you do realize that what you did “bumping car and leaving” is a hit and run. It honestly doesn’t matter if you think it’s bad or not, that’s the law. Hit and runs are illegal pretty much across North America and if you do enough damage it upgrades from a misdemeanor charge into a felony.

      That’s not “part of parking”. Maybe bumping a pole or a wall, sure. Maybe opening your door into another car (I don’t agree but I can see the logic of that one) but not driving your car into another car.

    6. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

      Bumpers are to protect you, yes, in the same way that bike helmets are to protect the wearer. If the helmet actually does that job–takes any sort of impact–you’re supposed to replace it, because damage isn’t always visible, and a damaged helmet might not protect the wearer in a future accident.

  42. madge*

    Yes, LW2, just report it to insurance. It may not even affect your rates. But if you refuse to pay for more than a touch-up, that will absolutely affect your relationship-centered working atmosphere.
    Things that appear to be minor can be crazy expensive. Someone broke the outer plastic piece of my husband’s truck mirror. It’s maybe a few inches and doesn’t affect mirror usage. BUT, the entire mirror has to be replaced and the part alone is $1400.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I bumped into the guy in front of me in stop&go traffic (I thought he’d moved so I started forward).

      He only wanted me to pay for the bumper fix and we were both upset when he found out that because of his car’s construction, the tap was hard enough to render the bumper unsafe for future collisions, and we had to pay to replace the whole thing.

  43. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    For # 2 – Since she was traveling for work, would this not be something work should cover? It wasn’t at her location, so doesn’t that fall under travel she is doing on behalf of the business, and therefore shouldn’t the business cover it?

    1. SamIAm*

      Work will not cover something someone did illegally. Technically, it is a violation to hit someone’s car, just as it would be a violation to steal a hotels projector you used for a banquet, or trash your hotel room. A business is not liable for personal negligence, even if its unwillfull.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        That’s not true though. In many states, when it comes to driving, employers are generally responsible for the actions of their employees, as long as an employee is acting within the scope of employment. I don’t know if this is considered commuting to work since it isn’t her normal work place. It seems like work travel to me.

        And since it is the company that allows employees to park illegally, it seems like this is something they should be covering. At the very least, they need to start telling employees they can’t park illegally anymore.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s untrue. Businesses carry insurance for this kind of thing, they will pay out the damages if it’s covered under their policies. It’s a cost of doing business thing.

        You’re thinking about how businesses usually won’t reimburse you for parking violations or if you get a driving citation in a work vehicle. If you trash a hotel room, it’s charged to the card on file, which is usually a corporate one. They can then try to recoup their losses if they want to go that route or if they have a company policy that the employee is held responsible but that’s another ball of wax.

      3. Coverage Associate*

        There are thousands and thousands of pages in law books and provisions in every business insurance policy that employers are liable for employees’ negligence for acts within the scope of their work. A fender bender while driving for work isn’t different than a waitress accidentally spilling something on a customer.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It will depend on the insurance that’s being carried and the jurisdiction but yes generally the company SHOULD have their own insurance for incidents that happen when driving while on the clock.

      This is why many companies have strict rules about who is allowed to drive on their time and a persons driving records being approved prior to allowing them to drive to other locations.

    3. bo bessi*

      This again is really dependent on the individual circumstances. My company’s car insurance does not cover damage caused to a personal vehicle even if you’re traveling for work, which is totally legal. They encourage everyone to use a rental or company-owned vehicle for that reason.

  44. SamIAm*

    My son hit a parked car at a gas station. The other car was illegally parked in a fire lane, literally under a “No Parking” sign. Two witnesses even offered up that it wasn’t my son’s fault to the police. Didn’t matter one iota. Law says he can’t hit another person’s car no matter where its parked.

    1. valentine*

      Of course. I don’t understand this “They shouldn’t have been there” loophole people want, especially the driveway example above. It’s the driver’s responsibility to avoid obstacles and they really don’t get better than large, stationary ones.

  45. SamIAm*

    Work will not cover something someone did illegally. Technically, it is a violation to hit someone’s car, just as it would be a violation to steal a hotels projector you used for a banquet, or trash your hotel room. A business is not liable for personal negligence, even if its unwillfull.

  46. Soveryanon*

    Phone interviews – I really don’t understand hiring managers who don’t do phone interviews. It’s such a time saver! I am a big advocate of using whatever technology tools are available, as most people who are job searching are probably already working.

  47. IReadItForTheArticles*

    LW3: My now-husband and I have been moved to three different states over the past 4ish years, so we’ve been down this path before. I have found that employers generally have some degree of flexibility when you’re relocating, but you can’t expect them to wait on you forever. Personally, I think a month is a reasonable amount of time from when you get an offer until your start date. You have to have some degree of flexibility yourself. My husband and I sometimes were able to find and start new jobs at exactly the same time, but in some cases, you have to be comfortable with being apart for awhile. Since his family is in the new state, could you possibly stay with them so you’re not paying rent/mortgage in two places?

    1. IReadItForTheArticles*

      Oops, that first sentence should say my now-husband and I *have* moved. We did this voluntarily and it wasn’t because of job transfers or anything like that.

  48. TootsNYC*

    4. Interviewer rejected me but said she’d provide a reference

    She may have meant to say “referral.” Or uses the same word for both terms.

    I have totally called industry colleagues at other companies to say, “I interviewed someone I think would be great, but we only had one job. You should interview her.”

    But I wouldn’t use this woman like a real reference.
    What I would do, however, is treat her like a network source. If you’re a finalist somewhere, ping her and ask her what she knows about that company, or industry trends, etc.
    And drop her a note when you land, put her on your Christmas card list, whatever you do with former bosses or colleagues.

  49. Allison*

    Re #4: While it doesn’t make sense for her to be a job reference, I think there’s some value here. She may have meant referral — she’s happy to refer you to positions she hears about, and if they ask who referred you, you could use her name.

    I’ve done this before with memorable internship candidates, especially if we had several top contenders and perhaps the other hiring manager and I had different favorites. If a friend has an opening, I offer to pass their resume along and usually say something like “this person met with me to learn about the job/industry and was impressive” to avoid saying “they interviewed and weren’t the first choice.”

  50. Belle8bete*

    I really wish more people would do phone interviews, or be willing to mention certain details upfront. In my industry it is really normal to tell people the payment offered (or a range) if asked (sometimes in the job posting). Often, folks do not need to even fill out a job application, but just send their materials directly to a coordinator of some kind. I know that’s not true for other jobs, but it’s been true for almost everywhere I’ve applied or worked in my field (outside of academia). Also, the range per hour can be from $12-50, no joke (I usually come in around $35, a lot of places will pay around $20 if they can get away with it).

    I encountered a job (I don’t really need another gig, but I like to check things out, and sometimes I know other people who I can recommend to the position) where they wanted applicants to fill out their own app (a little unusual for my industry) and wouldn’t tell me anything about compensation beyond “we talk about it at the interview”. I was a little annoyed, because most of us are freelancers who are already balancing many different jobs…don’t ask me to come out there and then find out we’ve both wasted time because you cannot pay even close to my range (or, my favorite, if I say I can do programming on Monday and Wednesday, have me interview and tell me “Oh, we only need someone for Thursday”).

    I admit I didn’t go about it the right way. The smart thing would have been to reply with “I understand that you prefer to wait until the interview to talk about compensation. My range for work like this is usually around X. Is that something that you might be able to work with? I know we haven’t had an interview yet, but I know you are really busy, and I would hate to take up your time unnecessarily.”

    If they then STILL won’t give me any sense of what they can do, I’m not going to go interview (when I was younger, I’d still go, but not anymore).

  51. e271828*

    LW #5—this is, for better or worse, pretty normal in a tech startup acquisition by a larger company. No one will be surprised when you hand in your notice. Unless the team at the startup are walk-on-water quality employees, such an acquisition is often more about getting the intellectual property the startup represents than about recruiting more employees. If the acquirer did not take pains to spin your group in as a unit and try to integrate you smoothly into their process and culture (from the manager change, I’d say they did not), they don’t care whether you stay or go. Maximize your benefits, however that works out (e.g. do the math around any vesting options if that’s a thing), and quit if you can get a better deal somewhere else.

  52. OP #1*

    I’m OP#1 (the phone interview guy).
    I’ve actually got a reasonable amount of work experience, and worked for for extended periods in a number of countries. In NYC my experience has been I would apply in LinkedIn or Glassdoor, then typically get an initial phone screen with an internal or external recruiter. The next stage would be a phone screen with a hiring manager.
    I was a bit thrown to be asked to come straight in, but the company was a French startup expanding in the US.
    The norms may be different there.
    In any event I said the time proposed wasn’t convenient. They offered another time, and I said responded with actually I would prefer to start with a phone interview, and they said no problem at all.

    Regarding the recruiter remarks, I would say that most recruiters do not understand what I do (not that I am doing rocket science, but they typically are nontechnical salespeople). I use a lot of them because they may know about specific jobs, but I’ve noted as soon as a job opportunity doesn’t work out they lose contact. That’s fine, I’m not exactly sensitive.

    Regarding the job search generally, I have a pretty good idea what the market is like. Right now, in terms of metrics with my current job, I would say my level of satisfaction is Work: 8, Colleagues: 8, Travel: 10, Compensation: 5.
    If someone wants get in touch re a new job, I can take a slight ding on the travel for greater compensation.
    But for a massive ding, or moving into a technology with limited future I have no problem shaking hands and saying no right from the beginning. I don’t lend to feel conflicted as I figure Iam saving everyone time, and it is not like I *have* to move

    1. OP #1*

      Also, meant to say, giving a salary range is pretty unusual in my industry (you typically can say what is worth your time). They are looking for bright but cheap people.
      I had one recruiter get in touch about a job where it was literally paying half the market rate. I basically asked if he was joking. He ruefully admitted that it was ridiculous but they wouldn’t budge. Some startups think it would be a privilege to work for them.

  53. LPUK*

    For letter writer 2, I’ll say you can’t always predict their behaviour from their initial attitude. I have a live examples – not once but twice in a week, I bumped into other people’s car in the car-park causing small but visible damage ( I know I know, it was a bad time at work and I am classing them as stress-related injuries – never had another bump since). The first person was extremely calm and didn’t see it as a problem; the second person was extremely upset and shouting even though I started with an apology and offer to pay and kept on apologising. Funny thing is though, when he calmed down, he took it to a local garage, and I paid for just paint damage – it cost me about £80 and he wouldn’t take more. The woman that was so calm about it? She took it to a dealer who gave it the full treatment and cost so much that I had to put it through insurance in the end

  54. LizardOfOdds*

    OP3, some employers may offer job assistance to moving spouses. In my experience this is common for big companies in the tech industry. All of the large companies I’ve interviewed with have offered something in their relo package to support spouses who would need to hunt for a new job after moving. In the case of my current company, we offer job placement to match spouses with jobs at the company. This is probably industry specific and only available for very large companies, but it may be something you can ask about during the offer stage.

  55. cheluzal*

    After reading a lot, I have concluded: I hate people parking in fire lanes, and body shops overcharge for painting a bumper (no damage to be fixed here).

  56. Jeani*


    There may be a difference in terms here. The LW thinks the interviewer said “give a reference” but meant if I find a position I will “refer” you to that position. This is common in large hospitals.

  57. Checkert*

    OP 4 I actually had that exact thing happen when I was interviewing for an internship at Big Company. She wound up advocating for me to find another position for me when the first I interviewed for was filled by someone who had experience doing exactly what the position was for. Consider it an internal reference and if you apply anywhere else in the company, I would reach back out and let her know.

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