It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Particularly friends who offer to share the perks from their work.
As a result, people like to dine at restaurants their friends work at, and get a surprise free dessert, or a sizable discount on the cashmere sweater at the boutique another friend works at.
These friendships can be dangerous, however, as it can become shockingly easy to take advantage of these benefits.
Or worse, one might grow to expect friends to always be giving them free or discounted items.
The roommate of Redditor Throwaway-292901 wanted a makeover for her upcoming birthday, and since the original poster (OP) happened to be a stylist, she thought she might be able to pull some strings to make her wish come true.
The OP was happy to oblige, but not quite in the manner her roommate expected, leading to a heated exchange between the two roommates,
Concerned she may not have handled the situation as well as she could have, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for refusing to do my friend’s hair for her birthday for free?”
The OP explained how her roommate wasn’t at all happy about how she responded to her birthday request.
“I (28 F[emale]) am a hairstylist.”
“I usually do blowouts, wolfcuts, pixies, and whatever you can think of.”
“I also do hairstyles like cornrows, box braids, lemonade braids, etc.”
“My roommate (26 F) has her birthday coming up, and since I didn’t wanna f*ck up the gift I was getting her, I just asked her if there’s anything specific she wanted for her birthday.”
“She told me she wanted knotless braids down to her butt, with a highlight, beads, etc.”
“Although I’m a white woman, I was adopted by a black family when I was 4, so I do have experience with black hair. It’s probably what I’m best at when it comes to hairstyles.”
“I told her I’d be happy to book her an appointment, and would have to charge her $35 an hour, which was VERY generous, because the hairstyle she was asking for could take 6-9 hours.”
“Keep in mind, braiding is quite literally the McKamey Manor for your wrists and hands.”
“She frowned at me, and I asked her if everything was okay.”
“She told me she was just disappointed that I have to charge her even though her birthday is coming up, and because we’re roommates.”
“I told her that this hairstyle takes hours, and there’s no way I would do it for free for anybody.”
“She told me that I am over exaggerating, and that it would take way less for me because I’m a professional.”
“I told her that the least I could do no matter how professional I am is 4 hours and 30 minutes, and I could lower down the price to 25$/ a hour.”
“She called me unbelievably selfish, and told me she’s just going to get a messy bun on her birthday.”
“I was upset that I denied giving her the hairstyle she wanted for free, but at the same time, it’s a very difficult style and takes VERY long to do.”
“But I feel like I should have done it on the house since it was for her birthday, which is tomorrow, as of when I’m writing this.”
“I decided to go on AITA; just to see if anyone agrees that I’m TA so I can give her the style.”
“So please tell me, AITA?”
“I did buy my roommate 400$ worth of things.”
“I can’t give her my time, since I’m completely booked, but I did also buy her a pretty wig she really liked.”
“She somehow found it, my fault for hiding it in the closet, and some clothes as well as a purse.”
“Also 157$+ in online purchases.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
While the Reddit community was somewhat divided, they generally agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for refusing to give her friend a free makeover for her birthday.
Many felt that it was out of line for the OP’s roommate to expect her to do a service for free, and she had every right to still charge her, at a discounted price.
“She wants hundreds of dollars of work for free.”
“Your time is valuable and so is your skill.”
“She is a roommate, not a family member.”
“She is lucky she was offered a discount.”-GeekynGlorious
“It’s unreasonable to ask for such an expensive gift.”
“It’s sad that she doesn’t realize just how much time, effort and money goes into her request.”
“It would be like if you asked her to buy you a $500 dress for your birthday.”
“She just doesn’t seem to get it.”- Glad_Law5844
“I’ve never understood the notion that friends/family should get ‘freebies’ because they know X person in X industry.”
“A discount, a deal, because of your connection or because it’s their birthday/anniversary, is cool.”
“But expecting a free, full service is absolutely asinine.”
“That’s a LOT of work to do that kind of hairstyle, and offering your services at the deep discount you did should still count as a birthday gift.”
“Sounds like your roommate is trying to guilt trip you into giving her your services for free.”-Mobabyhomeslice
Others, however, felt that while the OP shouldn’t have done that service for free, nor should her roommate have expected it, the OP should have perhaps offered an alternative, easier service she could have done for free, and her roommate wasn’t unreasonable for not wanting to pay for what was technically a present.
“Here’s where I’m at with this.”
“You asked her what she wanted for her birthday.”
“She told you.”
“And then you said ‘ok but you have to pay for it’.”
“That’s not a birthday present.”
“The polite options were: Do it for free, or say you can’t do it.”
“Normally, I’d be so with you on this, but you asked about a birthday present.”
“Nobody’s TA for saying they want something for their birthday, even if it’s unrealistic/not feasible.”
“And you wouldn’t be TA for not getting it for her, but I think the better answer than asking for money would have just been to say ‘well I don’t think I can make that happen but I’ll take it under consideration when getting your birthday present’.”
“I dunno if I can justify calling you an AH here either, so NAH, but I do think there were better ways to handle the conversation that you started by asking about a gift.”- BigBigBigTree
“For a second I thought you got here something already and a fun hairstyle was going to be on top of the gift and I was like geez, NTA for sure.”
“But then i read the post and it seems like you gave her cart blanche and then backed out.”
“I understand that this hairstyle is long and hard and she definitely asked for too much, which was rude, but you went about the compromise all wrong.”
“Instead of charging her for her gift you should have helped her scale it back.”
“‘A hairstyle sounds like a great gift!'”
“‘That hairstyle can take up to 9 hours though and is actually a little pricier than I can afford to gift right now’.”
“‘What if the braids were mid back instead or <insert easier style of braid>’ would have been more tactful and appropriate.”- KartlindWitch
“I think you guys both communicated very poorly.’
“She should have backed off when she found out how long it would take.”
“But you can’t explicitly ask someone what they want for their birthday and then be surprised when they expect it for free.”
“You should have opened with the fact that that style was not something you would do as a gift.”
“Then you offer doing it at a discounted rate or a simpler style as a present.”- exhauta
The OP later returned with an update, mainly responding to those who criticized her for charging her roommate for a birthday present.
“I see a lot of comments that think I would charge her for a birthday present.”
“If she asked for a more simple style like a blowout, but unless you’re a braider yourself, you will not understand the full difficulty of braiding!”
“As you can see, I did buy her a ton of stuff.”
“The world isn’t over, we don’t hate each other.”
It’s one thing when a friend offers you a complimentary service from their work.
One should, however, always think twice before asking that friend to get something for free.
With that in mind, however, the OP did, technically speaking, ask her roommate what she wanted for her birthday, presumably as a gift.
And one doesn’t usually pay for their own presents.
Leaving one to wonder if the OP and her roommate had just stopped to think for a moment, they might have come to a mutual solution which might have pleased them both.