I accidentally snagged a dress when I tried it on in a store. It wasn't noticeable and the last one in my size. Is it acceptable to ask for a discount? Do I mention that I was the one who tore it? - Discount Dreamer, Auckland

It's completely acceptable to ask for a discount on a new garment with a rip in it, but not if you're confident you made the tear yourself. Even if it was a mistake, that's completely unethical.

It's also unethical to damage something in a store and not tell anybody about it if you don't plan on buying it anyway. Most shop assistants will not ask you to pay if it was a genuine mistake - say it snagged on the doorframe of the changing room, or the security tag got caught on a hanger - they'll simply write the item off. But, if you say nothing and put the garment back, the person who does end up paying full price for it (assuming they don't notice the rip and ask for a discount) isn't buying the unworn, brand-spanking new outfit they think they're buying.

Were you in that situation, you'd be pissed, right? It's hard to return a garment with a tear in it, because you have no proof the damage didn't occur in your possession.

The moral of the story? If it's the last in your size, buy the garment, don't ask for the discount, and repair it when you get home. If there are others in your size (or you don't want to buy it after all), just say something to a staffer. Unless it's a $10,000 Balenciaga you have nothing to worry about.


What are the rules of social etiquette when using Uber? Do I still sit in the back? It feels a bit impersonal. - Riding Restless, Auckland

Are the taxi rules different for Uber? Photo / Dean Purcell
Are the taxi rules different for Uber? Photo / Dean Purcell

While it's standard protocol to sit in the back seat when you get into a cab, Uber - being part of the disruptive sharing economy - abides by no such traditional guidelines.
When being picked up by an Uber driver you've never met before, it's still a good idea to sit in the back, however, for two reasons.

First is the driver's own personal comfort. Unlike in a taxi, Uber cars have no security cameras or preventative systems to ensure driver safety from their passengers. We must all assume it can be quite daunting to have you, a complete stranger with only a rating to your name, sit right in a driver's personal bubble.

This goes both ways, though. While Uber vets its drivers, there have been instances of them attacking passengers (equally, there are instances of taxi drivers attacking passengers too, and Uber doesn't deserve the bad rap it got last year.). To maintain your own personal safety - again, because there are no cameras, no barriers, nothing to protect you in someone else's car - it's smart to sit behind the driver to ensure trouble is out of hand's reach.

In saying all of this, Uber's rating system is reliable and once you've ridden with a driver once and feel comfortable with them (and they with you), there's no harm in jumping in the front seat next time. Unlike many taxi drivers, these men and women are cordial and usually have a great story to tell, and neither of you should mind feeling like "friends", despite the fact you're still paying for a service.

When giving a donation to a colleague or friend for a fundraiser, is it rude to ask for change from a note? - Charity Case, Auckland

Can you ask a charity for change? Photo / iStock
Can you ask a charity for change? Photo / iStock

If you're buying a $2 chocolate bar for your colleague's daughter's netball team with a $10 note, of course you're going to ask for change. The same goes for any other kind of donation with a fixed suggested fee: you're giving what is advertised, not less, not more.

Where the donation is open based on the need and your ability to give, whether you can ask for change really depends on the size of a note. If you have $5 and want to give $4, let your extra dollar go. If you only have a $20 or a $50 in your wallet, but the cause calls for a fiver, exclaim, "I only have big bills, do you have change?" before you reveal how much you're going to give.

If the answer is yes, go for it and ask for change. If the answer is no, it's up to you to give the whole amount, or nothing at all.