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Help me write an email/note to a friend about a weird thing....

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So, we have ants. Every year, around this time or in the summer during the heavy rains, ants find their way into our house. It's just part of living where we live, and we're well versed in how to deal with it. Put out bait, they carry it back to the nest/mound, they die and it gets rid of them. No big deal. (I mean, it's not fun, but we're used to this at this point). 

Well, this weekend ants showed up in my closet, crawling on my t-shirts (hanging up on the lower bar in the closet). Weird, but not the first time. We put out the baits, and waited. Only the ants weren't leaving this time, and weren't taking the bait. 

Finally (3 days later) DH moved the ant-covered shirts outside so they'd quit spreading. Put out more bait. Noticed, when he moved the ants, that the one shirt they were favoring is a shirt a friend made for us (heat-set vinyl decals on the shirt). 

The ants are *eating* the vinyl off the shirt!?! Mostly one color of vinyl. We've had other shirts by this friend, with no issue (even shirts in the areas where we've had ants before). 

My question is: HOW do I let my friend know that this vinyl, or something in the process, or something, is attractive to ants?? I mean, I need to tell her, right? But how, in a way that doesn't make her feel bad???

It's not a problem with her shirts, at all, and she tracked down this color specifically for us (went lots of places to get the exact right color, for our son's college), and.......it's such an odd thing, but I know she'd want to know in case she uses it again. I mean, it's unlikely to recur just like this, but on the other hand, these ants literally like the vinyl so much they were coming in from outside, ignoring the bait, and chowing down. One of the decals is completely eaten off the shirt, visible holes in the rest, but almost all on the one color only. 

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I wouldn't write a note.  At most I'd text her a photo and say, "Eeek, I think the ants like the adhesive of this vinyl you bought for us.  You might not want to use this color (or maybe brand?) again after all."

I've heard of people having ants invade their home in Florida to eat their carpet adhesive.  I don't know what ingredient it is in certain glues but I imagine it's the same one,

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That's totally weird.

How close are you to this friend?  I assume fairly close since this is not the first shirt she has made for you and she went to some effort to get the shirt right.  

Given that, I wouldn't bother with any sort of email or note.  Tone isn't going to come across properly.

Just, next time you see here, say something like "so, we had the weirdest things happen.  I was pulling some laundry out of the closet and that shirt with the vinyl on it....I found a couple of ants eating the vinyl!  I had no idea that ants would eat something like that!  Whatever company you got that from, you might want to contact their customer service people and let them know because that's SO weird."  

That way, she knows you are aware that the problem lies in the manufacturing of the vinyl, not the creation of the shirt.  

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I would be honest but breezy and gentle.  Say something like, "hey, wanted to let you know about a weird thing with one of your shirts.....  Are you having this problem at your house too?"  

 

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10 minutes ago, Katy said:

I wouldn't write a note.  At most I'd text her a photo and say, "Eeek, I think the ants like the adhesive of this vinyl you bought for us.  You might not want to use this color (or maybe brand?) again after all."

I've heard of people having ants invade their home in Florida to eat their carpet adhesive.  I don't know what ingredient it is in certain glues but I imagine it's the same one,

 

10 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

That's totally weird.

How close are you to this friend?  I assume fairly close since this is not the first shirt she has made for you and she went to some effort to get the shirt right.  

Given that, I wouldn't bother with any sort of email or note.  Tone isn't going to come across properly.

Just, next time you see here, say something like "so, we had the weirdest things happen.  I was pulling some laundry out of the closet and that shirt with the vinyl on it....I found a couple of ants eating the vinyl!  I had no idea that ants would eat something like that!  Whatever company you got that from, you might want to contact their customer service people and let them know because that's SO weird."  

That way, she knows you are aware that the problem lies in the manufacturing of the vinyl, not the creation of the shirt.  

Yes, this is my motive entirely -- I know she'd want to know, so that she's not using that particular brand/color/whatever of vinyl again. 

I'll probably ask her to remake the shirt at some point (and of course pay her again, not ask for it free or anything like that), and will need to explain at that point at least. In person will definitely work; we're neighbors and so I see her often. She's the sweetest friend, super kind, and I know I need to tread lightly so she doesn't take it personally (she will be horrified, probably; I *must* explain it in a way that lets her know that I know that it's the vinyl, not her at all). But again, I know she'd want to know so that she isn't using it again on other people's shirts, just in case. 

It's so odd! (DH was joking maybe the ants are fans of the rival college, LOL!)

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I wouldn't write anything to her. I don't think the main 'problem' is the t-shirt material... the problem is that you have ants in your house.

And good luck with the ants!

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23 minutes ago, Jen500 said:

I wouldn't write anything to her. I don't think the main 'problem' is the t-shirt material... the problem is that you have ants in your house.

And good luck with the ants!

Well, yes....that's a given, LOL! But *everyone* here gets ants in their house at some point every year. When it rains a lot, they come in looking to dry out. When it doesn't rain for a while, they come in looking for water. It's just a fact of life, and an issue that likely ALL of her customers will have at some point or another. It happens like clockwork.....it pops up in the neighborhood FB group, in my FB memories, etc. at the same time(s) every year. So, I mean, yes, the problem is that we had ants. 

BUT, the ants weren't *leaving* because they liked whatever material was in/on the shirt vinyl. Which isn't *her* fault at all, but *is* something I think she'd want to know, so she uses a different brand shirt vinyl next time.  For three DAYS they ignored the (normally works w/in 24 hrs) bait traps because the food supply on the shirt was that much more tempting. We removed the shirt last night, and this morning, the bait is GONE and able to do its job. 

This particular shirt had 3 colors of vinyl on it, in equal amounts, distributed equally over the shirt, although with one color on one side, one on the other --- the ants crawled up the wall, *across* the other 2 colors, to the far side of the shirt, to eat the vinyl on the far side. Literally, the red was on the side facing the wall (on that sleeve, and across the chest on that side); the white was on both sides as a secondary color in each emblem & across the chest, and the maroon was on the side *AWAY* from the wall (on that sleeve, and across the chest on that side). The ants climbed up the wall, onto the shirt, ACROSS the red (leaving it alone), across the white (leaving it alone), and onto the maroon, specifically, eating that emblem entirely OFF the shirt (the sleeve side) and eating bites out of the wording on that side of the chest (and again, leaving the white totally untouched, and the red mostly untouched). 

So.....yes, the problem happened/was found because we had ants get in the house (as happens in our area, yearly). BUT there is *definitely* something about this particular vinyl that is attracting them, and I do think she'd want to know "Hey, if you have to do more shirts w/this color.....you may want to find another brand, because this happened."  Heck, she may want to check her stash to be sure she's not got ants eating whatever of it she has left at home, honestly. 

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I can't believe this would hurt your friend's feelings. It's not like you're telling her that the shirt is ugly or ill-made or even itchy. You're letting her know that there is a weird issue that she could not possibly have predicted, so now she is aware of it. Send her a picture with a caption "LOL! I thought we liked this shirt, seems ants like it even more! Whatever your supplier is using for the vinyl is like catnip to them, I guess. Never seen anything like this, but since ants are such a huge problem here I thought you might like to know."

(That's my phrasing, but honestly, you could be blunt af and it shouldn't be a problem. "Yo, seems your ants like the taste of that vinyl! Pick a different product next time.")

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3 hours ago, MaBelle said:

Um, how about just tell her?  I don't see what the big deal is?

Well, she's just this super sweet, super kind, super non-confrontational, "Oh, gosh, I can't believe that! I'm soooo sorry! Oh no, I'll fix it for you, no, you totally cannot pay me...." kind of person. That's basically how I think she'd reply if I am not super careful in how I word this; it's just who she is. She's an absolute gem. She will be *horrified* that this happened, even though it was absolutely NOT something that she could have known, predicted, expected, is NOT in her control, etc. Just her personality. 

Not so much that she'll have her feelings hurt, but more.....feel oddly responsible (even though she is absolutely NOT). 

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Does she sell these shirts commercially?  If she does, I would definitely let her know ASAP.   Better hear it from you than a paying customer that doesn't know her. 

If she doesn't sell them, I'd just let her know next time you see her very casually show her the picture.  

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Give her the cash first. Then tell her the bad news and refuse to take the money back. "I know you feel bad, but if I didn't pay you then *I* would feel bad. If you don't want the money, give it to Unicef."

Edited by Tanaqui

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Remind her that her time and materials cost was already spent in doing this and then what you said above about how sweet she is, and don’t let her give money back. This was just some really freak thing she had no control over.

My mom sounds like your friend...really sweet and kind, but also a bit of an anxious people pleaser who will self-sacrifice to make the other person happy. 

 

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1 hour ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Does she sell these shirts commercially?  If she does, I would definitely let her know ASAP.   Better hear it from you than a paying customer that doesn't know her. 

If she doesn't sell them, I'd just let her know next time you see her very casually show her the picture.  

It's her side hustle, more or less. She isn't selling them in a shop or anything, but yes, she makes/sells shirts for people, mainly via FB and such. 

28 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Give her the cash first. Then tell her the bad news and refuse to take the money back. "I know you feel bad, but if I didn't pay you then *I* would feel bad. If you don't want the money, give it to Unicef."

 

23 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Remind her that her time and materials cost was already spent in doing this and then what you said above about how sweet she is, and don’t let her give money back. This was just some really freak thing she had no control over.

My mom sounds like your friend...really sweet and kind, but also a bit of an anxious people pleaser who will self-sacrifice to make the other person happy. 

 

Money won't come into play again until we (at some later time, not right now probably) ask her to remake them, or at least remake mine, b/c of this issue. But yes, paying her for them is non-negotiable, and I'll insist. 

I could just see her, when I tell her of this freak thing, *offering* to remake them free of charge. Which I won't let her do......but which she'll possibly try to do. 

Yes, prairiewindmomma, that sounds exactly like her. 

Thanks, everyone; I'll talk with her this weekend sometime; I do think it's going to be better in person, b/c of how strange the whole thing is; she'll need to see my face/hear my voice to understand I just find it freakishly odd, and to believe that I don't fault her at all. 

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