Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 9 February 2017

Also in Dear Mary: I was bullied into buying a horrible hat; why gift vouchers make a terrible present

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Q. A (very attractive) man I knew at university invited me to a party given by him and his girlfriend. When I got there I found the girlfriend has reinvented herself as a hat designer and there was a pop-up shop at the party. I was bullied into buying one even though, patently, none of them suited me. Because of the social nature of the event I was embarrassed into pretending

I thought it was wonderful and I shelled out a lot of money. What should I do now?

— Name and address withheld

A. Offer the hat to a pushy and aggressive friend. If she says she doesn’t like it, urge her to make an appointment at the pop-up shop and see if she can exchange this unsuitable present. The result will be either that your friend will walk out with a hat she likes, or she may even achieve a refund.

Q. Mary, have you any tips for what singleton girls should do on Valentine’s night? There’s so much marketing around it now, it’s not as though my friends and I can forget it’s happening, particularly when three of us work together for a glossy magazine company. We don’t want to be depressed while smug couples are sending each other flowers and pants. How can we make the best of the night?

PS: please don’t suggest Tinder.

— Name withheld, London W1

A. Find premises fit for around 50 and ask 25 amiable singleton friends to a Valentine’s night party. The proviso is that each must bring a Plus One of the opposite sex in the form of another single person to whom they are not attached. In this way the room is quickly filled with single people who feel none of the pressure of speed-dating and none of the humiliation of being single, and everyone can have a laugh.

PS: Have you made the connection between working for a glossy magazine company and not meeting any men at work?

Q. A close relative has for several years given me a Christmas gift of a store card credited with a modest sum to spend at a well-known store. Usually it is enclosed in a greetings card that states the value of the enclosed piece of plastic. This year, however, it came inside a Christmas card, no value being given. When I visited the store in question and asked an assistant to tell me the value of the card, you may imagine my surprise at the reply: ‘One pound and ninety pence.’ What should I do now?

— HS, London N8

A. Your relation is unlikely to have bought you a gift voucher in the sum of £1.90. Ring up the store’s customer service department and ask how you should proceed. There should be a digital trail back to the purchase point. A slapdash intern may be to blame. If this solution is of no other use, may it at least warn readers not to buy gift cards. You and Yours recently calculated that £300 million a year of gift vouchers go unused.