Why does he insist that I bring financial ruin upon him?

(to preface – this is long and potentially not all that thrilling, but I hope y’all read it anyway. if not, that’s ok, i feel a little better just writing this out)

So I guess the first place to start with this is just about 1 year ago. One of my roommates (there’s 4 of us altogether) and I had a billing dispute regarding our phone service. Basically, the two of us shared one line, which was in his name. Last February, we lost phone service due to non-payment. We each paid half of the necessary fees to have service restored, and roomie agreed to keep a better handle on the bills.

The next month, he asked for another payment, which I provided. Then, about a week later, he asked for some more money for the phone bill. This didn’t make sense to me, so I said that I would like to see some detail of what costs were incurred, what payments have been made, etc (up to this point, I had just gone by his word). I stressed that I didn’t mind paying what I owed, but that I just wanted to take a look at everything and make sure that neither of us was making an error somewhere along the way. Roomie agreed that he would look into this and get everything sorted out.

Well, long story short, roomie did neither of these things. We lost phone service twice more over the next few months – finally in October, I could take it no longer. I got my own phone line, and asked the roomie once more to look into the (now old) billing and get the documentation so that it could be settled one way or the other. Roomie did not follow through.

Meanwhile, during all of this, the electricity bill was in my name. I had kept our service running non-stop, despite a stunning variety of financial setbacks, and had received payments from the other roommates, but not from this one. When January arrived and I had still not received any reimbursement, I decided to bring up the issue. My proposal was designed to be simple and beneficial to everyone – I figured we could call everything before October a wash, and all he would owe me was his portion of the electricity bill from October thru January. Basically, that means he would have gotten a year of electricity for $50. Sounds like too good a deal to pass up, right?

Me roommate apparently disagreed – he once more brought up the old phone bills, that were now approaching 1 year old. He showed info reflecting the charges he said that I owed, but did not reflect the payments that I had made. My response was once again that he needed to provide full documentation – charges, payments, everything – if he wished to continue his assertion that I owed him money. He once again agreed to get all of the info.

So a week went by and I didn’t hear anything more about it. I placed my own call to the phone company and requested the documents in question – took about 20 seconds, and the bills would arrive in 5 business days. I went to my roommate and asked him about the bills. He blew up at me, saying that I was “badgering him”. The whole thing degenerated into a shouting match, which I’m not necessarily proud of, but not really willing to shoulder too much of the blame for either.

The following week, my copies of the bills arrived. In looking through them all, it became clear that the amount he owed me was closer to $200 than $50 (please note – all figures have been changed to nice round numbers, just to make them, well, nice round numbers).

This brings me to today. Now I have a choice to make. Roomie is currently refusing to discuss the bills or talk to me in general. However, all of the documentation pretty clearly supports my position. Tomorrow I will present him with all of the information and tell him that since he rejected my offer of settlement for $50, my new offer will be settlement for $200. There will be a deadline, after which the matter will go to court. If I go to court, I will ask for the $200, plus court costs, plus wages that I lost due to court time. All told, my guess is that it might cost him as much as $500.

So now I find myself really fearing this next discussion – my main concern is that he will not be willing to pay the $200, despite the fact that every piece of info that we have shows that he owes it. I will be forced to take him to court. While I admit there is always room for a surprise or two in any situation, I’m pretty confident that I would win this case. I’m also pretty sure that he cannot afford to pay anyone $500 at the moment. I’m damn sure that I cannot afford to simply write off the $200.

I really don’t like the thought of screwing people over, but just how accomodating am I supposed to be for this fool? Why did he make it so difficult to get this sorted out? Why wouldn’t he just pay the $50 – why does he have to be so stubborn? Why the hell do I even feel bad about this? Am I in the wrong here somehow but just not seeing it?

Anyhoo, thanks for reading

Dude, you’re not, don’t sweat it.

He may think you’re bluffing with the court thing, so maybe you could get some official documentation written up to let him know you mean business. Maybe the papers required to file a suit, completed in full, would sway his decision-making.

Why can’t you give him the boot?

RiffRaff wrote:

Assuming that everything you say is true, if you feel quilty about this whole affair, you need some serious counseling about issues of self-esteem. Don’t delay, or else your life will be filled with this sort of agony.

RiffRaff, if everything you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt you) you need to evict the asshole.

You’re probably out the $200, but what the hell - take him to court, you might get it back.

This person is a user, content to skate through life sucking support off other people. He isn’t going to change. You’ll be dealing with this problem as long as he’s under the same roof.

The delay? The hostility? That’s a ploy to either intimidate you, or to stall you in the hopes you’ll get tired and lay off so he can go back to taking advantage of you. Hell, you already said you’d write off most of a year’s utility bills, right? So, to his mind, he need only delay you 8 months to a year to dispose of a debt without actually having to fork over money.

So - get rid of the little fart. It’s not like you’re losing his share of the overhead costs… he’s not paying his bills anyhow. At least if you evict him you lose the aggravation.

Evict and sue him. You seem to have your “ducks in a row;” you’ll win the suit. You may not collect but you get to haul him into court once a year 'til he pays. Do that for three years; not the fourth. Then haul him into court the fifth year.

Good morning all-

Wow, that’s actually more replies than I thought this thread would get. Cool, thanks, folks. To reply to individual comments:

I’m hoping that you are correct. However, if it does not, I will be forced to go ahead and file suit. I understand that this is his choice, but I know how poor this dude is, and it will fuck him big-time. I guess what that really means is that Libertarian’s got a point when he says,

You ain’t just whistling Dixie… for whatever its worth, my heart wouldn’t bleed nearly as much for this joker if it was someone else, but I’ve been friends with this guy for a long time. Although I guess at this point, it shouldn’t matter…

In addition, one thing that bothers me greatly is how happy the thought of suing him makes me. I feel like I’ve been jerked around, and part of me really wants to see him suffer a little bit. But I gotta say, I don’t much care for that part o’ my personality.

Well, the thing is, he will be moving to the opposite side of the country when the lease is up (in a few months). Although I’ll be glad to be rid of him when he goes, in the meantime I want to keep him where I know how to find him easily until I get my money back. If I evict him between now and then, he could simply convieniently vanish, know what I mean?

Again, thanks all for taking the time to reply

I had problems like this once with two roommates who figured they shouldn’t have had to pay their share of the water bill, which was in my name. So I had the water turned off.

I had the money within two days. :smiley:

There is another way to deal with it RiffRaff.

Step (1), a written demand for payment.

Step (2a), if he pays, end of story, otherwise:

Step (2b) accept that the money is gone, as Broomstick notes, evict the guy, and learn from the experience.

You can’t trust everyone. And a court order against someone that doesn’t have any cash isn’t worth much.

The amount of money involved here, whilst it probably seems significant to you now, really isn’t much in the greater scheme of things. The potential for escalating aggravation and reprisal, however, is significant. It’s something that I’d pay $200 to avoid.

My 2c: I’ve lived with a variety of con-artists and financial idiots. If you have the power to evict, it’s worth losing the $200 just to get rid of him.

You may find that the legal system is of little help. In most states, you don’t have to have a lawyer to sue in small claims court; any other litigation is going to cost you a lawyer. Winning in small claims court doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your money.

Roomie1 and I took Roomie2 to small claims court and won. However, Roomie2 did not pay up, and it would have cost us time & money to pursue the matter. The process was basically “file form1 and pay a fee. If Roomie2 still doesn’t pay, file form2 and pay another fee. If that doesn’t work…”
Especially if your roomie is moving in the near future, you may have a hard time collecting.

I haven’t had experience with hiring a lawyer and suing outside of small claims court.

Oh yeah. Been there, done that. The sooner you get rid of that parasite loser, the better. $200 is a small price to pay.


You realize that you’re going to have this problem ongoing, and growing, until the lease runs out? “A few months”? He will double, or more than double, his debt.

How do your other roommates feel? Is he screwing any of them over about other bills? Paying his share of the rent?

You gotto get rid of the guy. If you can’t evict him, maybe together with your roommates you can go to the landlord.

I would give a totally different answer if this was a poor unemployed guy who admitted he hasn’t the money to pay now. But he’s actively trying to defraud you.

RiffRaff, do you even know that he has the money to pay? Seems like you’re out more than $200 if you take him to court (with a lawyer) and win if he can’t pay anyway.

Do you need a court to allow you to kick his ass out?

IANAL, but I’m pretty sure you would not be entitled to the lost wages in this case. (Judge Judy said so, so it has to be true, right?)

Just go on Judge Mathis. 85% of his cases are roomates fighting over the phone bill.

Howdy all!

Thanks again for y’all taking the time to read and respond. You have all given me some insight into the situation - unfortunately, the end result of this is that I’m now feeling really helpless. So it looks like my options are…

  1. Just let the whole thing drop - this is unacceptable for a wide variety of reasons.

  2. Try to evict roomie - he’s not screwing anyone else (within the apartment) on bills, and he is paying his rent on time. While the other roomies might agree with me in principle and understand my frustration, I’m not very confident that they would support me to the point of forcing an eviction.

  3. Take roomie to court - this may be effective, may not, and will certainly cost me more in time, energy, and potentially $$ as well.

  4. Turn off the electricity - this would be an attractive option, except that it leaves me working by candlelight as well. Also, this solution screws the other 2 roomies. I don’t want to do that.

Gaaaah, this situation sucks. But I gotta pick an option, right? Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit.

See, for me, it’s also hard to take that a friend of mine has become such a user and a jerk (although I agree with those who named him as such). A year ago, If I was on the outside of this, and someone in my current position told me how the roomie has been acting, I would not have even believed them. Beyond the dollars and cents of this issue, I’m finding myself really hurt by this thing. Damn, did one of my better friends really take advantage of me like that repeatedly? (yes, RiffRaff… yes, they did)

You will never see a dime of the $200, and you will never get rid of him.