I invited my friends to an event. It was sort of like a TED Talk. I bought all of our tickets and they agreed to pay me back. Unfortunately something came up at work and I was unable to attend. I was planning on getting the money for the tickets when I saw them at the event.

One friend hasn't paid me back and it's been over a month. I've told him I can meet in person for the money or he can e-transfer me. He ignores such messages, but replies to other messages. It's been very typical of him to say he's too busy to meet up and I haven't seen him in person since. I got the impression he didn't like the event so maybe he wishes he hadn't spent money on it.

How do I get money from him? I'm sure his integrity and friendship is worth more than $20. I don't mean to act passive aggressive but I could tell the mutual friends about this.

I've thought about messaging him directly:

Hey Bob. I've asked you several times for the money you owe me. What's up?

but I don't want to be rude.

  • When you say "and they agreed to pay me back", are you 100% sure this particular friend also agreed to this? Or was this a case of throwing it into the group, one or two people saying "sure we'll pay you back" and this person not saying yes or no? Because "the group agreed to X" generally means "1 or 2 people agreed to X and the rest didn't object loudly enough".
    – Theik
    Mar 3, 2020 at 8:25
  • Are you sure his integrity and your friendship are worth more than twenty bucks to this person? You might be surprised how many people that isn't true of. Do you have any idea if this person is bad about paying back debts in general? Is there anyone you can find out from? Whether this person is forgetful, lazy, or trying to avoid paying the debit will determine which tactics are most effective.
    – Kat
    Mar 3, 2020 at 21:40

1 Answer 1


The first reason that springs to my mind for not paying you back is that your friend CANNOT pay you back, though $20 seems like a smallish sum in the USA, but that’s still a possibility.

Another reason that happened to me personally recently is that he never agreed that he had to pay you back, and hence resists what feels (maybe unconsciously) to him like an exortion. In my case, I actually was the not-willing-to-pay person, and what decided me to do it nonetheless is that though we didn’t agree beforehand, the deed had been done and I had objectively benefited from it, so it was fairer to the both of us that I paid for something that we didn’t agree on but had been done, rather than the contrary.

However, in both case, your message suggestion doesn’t seem rude to me: you’re stating a fact without accusing, you seem genuinely concerned but not angry, and straightforward enough so that he can’t avoid replying without a good reason, so I’d say go for it (then again, I’m just a stranger on the Internet...). :-)

Also, have you tried getting in touch with the other people you saw him with at the event? What did they say?

  • "Also, have you tried getting in touch with the other people you saw him with at the event ? What did they say ?" I don't understand this part. What would I ask/tell them?
    – user24249
    Feb 28, 2020 at 13:43
  • You wrote "I was planning on getting the money for the tickets when I saw them at the event". Does that mean you saw your friends at the event ? Have they paid you back ? Do they know each other, and Bob in particular ? Or did I misunderstand you ?
    – breversa
    Feb 28, 2020 at 14:16
  • 3
    Hi breversa, FYI I made an edit to the post so it's more on topic, focusing on how to ask for the money (since guessing why the friend isn't paying or judging whether something seems rude are both off-topic here). Also, IPS requires answers to include some backup, whether that's personal experience or an external source, could you edit to add that?
    – Em C
    Feb 28, 2020 at 16:29

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