Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Husband's Birthday Gift Disappoints Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: My birthday just passed, and my husband got me a “pricey” perfume that I wanted. I use quotations because upon opening it, I saw that it was a knockoff brand. I don’t think he knows this perfume is not the one I wanted at all because the outside packaging was nearly identical. Should I tell him or just throw the fake perfume out, hoping he won’t notice? -- Fake Gift, Real Sentiment, Detroit

DEAR FAKE GIFT, REAL SENTIMENT: Happy belated birthday! Thank goodness you asked before acting! In this case, it really is the thought that counts. Your husband went out of his way to buy you want you wanted. He may have gone to a place where many fragrances are sold -- at a discount. It is unlikely that he knew he was buying a phony fragrance. I suggest that you suck it up and just keep the fragrance without pointing out the mistake.

If, however, he pays attention to see if you use the fragrance -- and you don’t like its aroma -- you will have to come clean and let him know how much you appreciate his intention, but he got duped. If he buys you fragrance again and it’s a knockoff, you definitely have to tell him.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I accidentally emailed a client from my personal email, which sports a pretty embarrassing nickname as the username. I know this was a rookie mistake, and I plan to screen all of my emails before doing that again; however, I don’t know if I should apologize for how unprofessional it was for me to email the client from this email.

Should I apologize or ignore this mistake? I thought I should just move on, but my wife thinks I should apologize. -- You’ve Got Mail, Portland, Oregon

DEAR YOU’VE GOT MAIL: I’m with your wife on this one. If your client received the email, he definitely saw the email address. If he kept the email, that address will show up time and again whenever he goes back to see that communication.

Get in front of this by telling him that you are terribly sorry that you sent a communication to him via this email. Admit that you pushed “send” too quickly, and it attached to an old personal email account. You should be the first one to laugh at yourself and your silly nickname. Drawing your client on board in a way that bonds the two of you is a good idea. Just do not belabor the point. Address it and move on.

By the way, say this to your client in person or via phone call. Do not create an email trail by writing it down. Just tell him that you are sorry for the misfire, and it won’t happen again. The end.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)