When Manhattan-based Michael Tommasiello, 31, and his girlfriend split three years ago, a few months later he received a random Venmo request for “stuff” to the tune of $760.
Under dispute: Items his ex said she had purchased for his apartment. “They were things I didn’t want that she felt we needed and she insisted on getting,” he says. They included some items of furniture and a clothing rack.
All it takes is one tap to pay a friend back for dinner, but you could offend them in the process.
They exchanged a few messages about it, but he finally decided to ignore the request. “The request just sat there until she deleted it on her end,” Tommasiello says. That awkward exchange is one of many reasons why Venmo is requesting better financial etiquette from users.
This week, the money transferring app released its first set of behavior guidelines. Venmo PYPL, +0.25% and other peer-to-peer payment apps like Xoom and Cash App have made sending and receiving money easier, but they’ve also raised questions about the polite way to do it.
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All it takes is a tap on a phone screen to pay a friend back for dinner — but you could also offend them in the process.
“Because these apps are convenient and quick, people forget to incorporate manners. When you’re requesting money for anything you need to be kind and ask politely,” Karen Thomas, an etiquette expert told MarketWatch. “Otherwise, a request without the right context can be interpreted as demanding or rude.”
‘Because these apps are convenient and quick, people forget to incorporate manners.’
Money transferring apps like Venmo are particularly popular among younger people. More than half (60%) of people under 35 use mobile apps to send money to another person, according to a report released this month by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Foundation. And they tend to be higher-income: 43% of people who use money transferring apps make more than $75,000 a year, the report found.
Here are some mistakes to avoid.
1. Stalling on payment
Waiting more than 48 hours to make a payment after it’s been requested is considered flaky. “When you receive a request, do your best to pay back the requested amount within a 24 hour time frame,” said Myka Meier, founder of the etiquette school Beaumont Etiquette.
If someone sends you a Venmo request with the wrong amount or you believe you’re being mischarged, point this out as soon as possible. “You can decline the request for the correct amount,” said Meier, who worked with Venmo to write the app’s new manners guidelines.
2. Financial ghosting
If you don’t respond to a payment request after that, it’s considered ghosting, another big personal-finance faux pas. “Settle up and avoid the stress of debt,” Meier urges, adding that users requesting the funds can use the app’s “remind” feature within four days of the original request.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. Devon Mungin, 26, a talent development analyst from Brooklyn, was ghosted by his former roommate, who he says still owes him $3,300 in rent money. (Ghosting is millennial and Generation Z speak for ignoring someone permanently.)
Mungin pays the entire rent himself, and then sends Venmo requests to his roommates to chip in their share. But when one roommate quit his job, he stopped completing Mungin’s Venmo requests for the rent money — a tab that hasn’t been settled in three months.
“After not paying rent and not paying utilities, we kicked him out. He still owes us money and hasn’t completed the Venmos even though he moved out, got a new job and now has a place to live,” Mungin says. “You live and you learn,” he says. “Don’t front people if they don’t have a job.”
Now, he says he won’t accept promises of large payments. And he won’t ask someone to Venmo him for anything more than a few hundred dollars — on a “good faith” basis anymore, and vows to have a written contract with his next roommate.
3. Don’t Venmo request someone after a date
On dates, 63% of Venmo users say the person who asks and picks the location is typically the one who should foot the bill, according to a survey the company conducted about Venmo manners. Still 30% of users agree the bill should be split, no matter what.
But whatever you do, decide on the payment plan ahead of time because requesting money from your date via Venmo after the fact is poor form. “Unless it’s something that’s discussed ahead of time, we do not recommend sending a post-date request,” Meier says.
4. Proofread your requests — people are spying on you
Venmo found that users are scrolling through the app up to three times per week looking at other people’s feed and what they’re spending on. So if you send money for something inappropriate or illegal, beware that an employer or someone in your professional network can see.
“Be aware that your friend’s mom or your boss may be watching your Venmo activity and your emojis or an inside joke in the payment note may not always come off as intended,” Meier says. If you’re paying for something personal, set the post to private not public.
5. All those Venmo payments add up, but don’t be cheap
It has not gone unnoticed that Venmo can make cheapskates out of people. Stories with headlines such as “Venmo is turning our friends into petty jerks,” and “Cheap bros have found a new way to get out of paying for dates” have only added to this perception.
Users are “charging” people for a half a bottle of wine they consumed after being invited over or pester a date to pay for their portion of dinner. Does Venmo make people stingy? On the contrary, behavioral scientists says it only exacerbates that trait in people who are already cheap.
You have been warned.
This post was originally posted at http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7BFCA8C322-96BB-11E9-9381-6D73613F525E%7D&siteid=rss&rss=1.