Price of Friendship

Over the years, I have been approached by family and friends to loan money.  Being generous in nature, I usually have made the loan.  Typically there was a signed legal document. In rare circumstances, I relied solely on the personal integrity of the borrower.  To date, not a single one of those people has ever repaid the loan made.  

Most recently, and the prompt of this post, is the story of J’Amy Owens.  If you Google her name, you will find countless hits noting her as a “retail guru”, a “Diva of Retail” and currently a “Meat Activist” and the CEO of a publicly traded company, Bill the Butcher.  She once graced the cover of Inc. Magazine under the headline “Sales Guru to the Stars”.  Even such illustrious credentials does not preclude one from being a deadbeat.

With the same Google search you will also find numerous mentions of her name in association with lawsuits between business partners, former business partners and former spouses.  There is even a lengthy report on RipoffReport from a retail consulting customer who describes being “ripped off” by J’Amy Owens.

The fact that past and ongoing relationships with J’Amy Owens seem to result in some sort of legal action being taken against her should have been a warning to me.  However, my relationship and loan to J’Amy predates her string of legal troubles.  In fact, it was at the start of these many legal battles that she called me pleading for a loan to pay her attorneys.  I viewed her as both a friend and someone who has always managed to earn a good living and therefore likely to be able to repay the debt.  So I foolishly wrote 2 checks, each in the amount of $25,000 to her law firm for her benefit.

To be fair, she did repay a total of $10,000 of the $50,000 loaned.  She has never failed to acknowledge the debt, in fact, I have dozens of effusive emails with expressions of gratitude and indebtedness such as these:

Everyone got paid (783k!) before you, my gracious highness of patience.

I want you to make money on this loan, and not feel bad, so please do NOT think I am going to do anyrhing but pay you WHATEVER YOU WANT.”

“I am seriously past due with you on all accounts and would like to meet over a bottle of something wonderful (my treat) and give you an update.

Your investment (loan of grace and mercy) is ridiculously embarrassingly- in- the- rears at this point but you should know that even though it is diliquent, it is NOT something needing writng off…….as I am occassionally pitiful but NOT a diliquent.”

Yes, she lives in a lovely apartment according to this Jolkona article.  Yes, she is proudly the CEO of a publicly traded company, Bill the Butcher, as you can see in this YouTube video– yet despite these emails and many more in the same vein, she still owes me $40,000 plus reasonable interest totally about $66,000.  When I actively began contacting her to set up a repayment plan, her silence has been deafening.  Emails ignored.  Facebook messages ignored.  LinkedIn message ignored.  Phone calls to her cell phone ignored.  Snail mail letter ignored.  Letter hand delivered via a process server from my attorney also ignored.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy reason for sharing this is to serve as a warning to others – NEVER loan money to family or friends.  You are not doing them a favor, no matter how much it seems true in the immediate.  No matter how grateful they seem at the time, repaying a debt is never a high priority and from my experience – it doesn’t happen.  Even if you have a signed, legal agreement; do you want to be in the position of suing a loved one?  Even a good job and a so called ethical reputation are no guarantee of repayment.  If you feel moved to “loan” money to those you love and value, consider it a gift.  Make it clear up front that it is a gift and never mention it again.  That’s the only hope of preserving a relationship.

As for me, I’ve learned all too well the high price of friendship. 

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21 Responses to “Price of Friendship”

  1. Judi Brown Says:

    Thanks for addressing this topic.

    I’m curious what you think about all the GoFundMe and similar online “fundraising” vehicles seemingly growing in popularity. I’ve seen friends get money for rent – not just once, but many times, through these campaigns. I’ve also seen a few small businesses that had fallen behind in rent or vendor payments use it successfully.

  2. Gayle O'Donnell Says:

    You hear things like this all the time, but it still has me scratching my head. Is not one of the basic ground rules to FRIENDSHIP the commitment to keep one’s word? This woman should be hanging on a meat hook in Bill the Butcher’s cooler for stiffing you like this. Anything she touches is tainted beef in my opinion! NOT COOL!!!!

  3. Robin Ryan Says:

    SHAME ON YOU J’Amy Owens!!! I will boycott your company and its products. You asked Sunny for HELP and she gave you thousands of $$$s twice when no one else would. Now you’ve “made it” and you are refusing to pay back the $$$$ you got, used and that helped make you successful. DISGUSTING! YOU ARE A LOUSY DECEITFUL HUMAN BEING and I refuse to support your company and am telling everyone I know to avoid buying from “Bill the Butcher”.

  4. Nasreen Rehmat Says:

    I am so sorry Sunny. I remember the day you wrote those checks.

  5. Lana Ford Carpenter Says:

    There is a little thing called KARMA and I believe for all those “friends” who have forgotten the hand that helped them when they were about to lose their home, have their utilities cut off, cars repossessed, and could not feed their children, well they will get their just reward. There is also that little thing called schadenfreude and we should never ever rejoice when karma evens the score for the deadbeats. My mantra now is I am not a lending institution and if that ends our relationship, so be it.

  6. Sunny Kobe Cook Says:

    wisdom is learning from others mistakes.
    Thank you.
    Lynda H. Clayton
    Document Control and Telecommunications Specialist
    Puget Sound Blood Center
    blood services | medicine | research
    921 Terry Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104

  7. Sunny Kobe Cook Says:

    Date: September 26, 2014 2:20:54 PM
    Subject: Re: Sunny Kobe Cook Blog: Price of Friendship
    Wow! It takes a lot of cojones to rip off Sunny Kobe Cook. Great article; thank you for sharing it.


  8. Sunny Kobe Cook Says:

    I’m sharing this with you because just last weekend I had a discussion with a friend about loaning money. My friend reminded me of my advice to her several years ago when she asked my opinion about loaning a friend a large sum of money. I asked her “Do you want to give your friend the money?”. Her reply was “No”. Then my advice — don’t loan it to her. I’m not saying don’t loan money to family or friends — I’m just saying don’t expect repayment — consider it a gift. Sunny’s story reiterates my advice.

    Marcia Brixey

  9. Sunny Kobe Cook Says:

    From: Lori Durham
    Date: September 26, 2014 1:54:14 PM
    Subject: RE: Sunny Kobe Cook Blog: Price of Friendship
    My Father-in-law always said Neither a borrower or lender be meaning never borrow or loan money from family or friends. You need money, go to a bank!

    So I hope this doesnt mean we cant loan each other latte money if we forget our wallet at home lol

  10. Bill the Butcher, Big Meat, and Bad Karma Says:

    […] Well, she gave another local entrepreneur, Ms. J’Amy Owens, CEO of publicly-traded Bill the Butcher, a loan. It was a loan, with papers in the amount of $50,ooo. It was a loan, NOT a donation. Except Sunny never got paid. You can find all of the details in Sunny’s blog post from yesterday, Price of Friendship. […]

  11. Sunny Kobe Cook Says:

    I’ve never heard of J’Amy Owens, or the “Bill the Butcher” franchise. But I DO know Sunny Kobe Murphy, (for more years than I’d like to admit) and she’s the real-deal!
    Sunny’s intervention through pubic media forced the hand of an unscrupulous Florida car dealer who had ripped me off for several thousand dollars, and forced him to replace a defective vehicle. She is generous and caring and works very hard to make the world around her a better place to be.
    Please do not do business with J’Amy Owens or “Bill the Butcher” and, if you feel led, please repost this article to warn others. One upside of Social Media is that deadbeats and crooks do not have the luxury of hiding behind anonymity.

  12. Sally Hardenberg Says:

    I have been friends with Sunny for many years. We met through our business connection and our friendship grew year by year so I am well aware of Sunny’s integrity and the value she places on friendship. I’m sickened that someone would take advantage of Sunny’s generosity knowing how she would always be there for her friends. J’Amy Owens isn’t anyone I would want to meet and likewise I will not frequent Bill the Butcher if she is anyway connected to that business. Sally Hardenberg

  13. Laura Says:

    Sunny, this is not only unethical, but truly appalling. For someone, hell for anyone such as J’ Amy Owens to ask such a favor, money in this case with such a significant amount is over and beyond comprehension. I for one will never give them my business, nor will I recommend such a place of business, Bill the Butcher. I will start with my family, my sister who is a restaurant owner, then pass the word along to my friends, co workers, and every client I see.

    Their meat IS NOT the only meat to eat.

    What I have for you Sunny is…
    God has three answers for us,
    Not now
    And I have something better planned.

  14. TH Says:

    Sunny I assume you saw this…

  15. Con Panna Says:

    As an owner of a local business with 3 Seattle locations, and sales of almost 1MM I’m shocked at this lavish lifestyle. I rent a room in a house! Like you Sunny, I only give money as a gift, I wouldn’t want anything to come between friends and family especially money.

  16. Someone who is pissed Says:

    The real story on J’amy Owens not written. Prior to Bill the butcher she operated a company named J’amy Owens Group. What group? What company? According to all my research the J’amy Owens group is not registered in the state of Seattle. She is not registered with the Department of Revenue, The city of Seattle, There is no legal registration of any kind within the state of Washington. No better business bureau, No chamber of commerce. NO NOTHING… Yet she has operated for over 13 years as the J’amy Owens Group. There is however a Owens group in NV…. That lists her father as the head of this corporation and living in Seattle… Which according to an article has him living in Hawaii and I wonder if she has faked that as well.

    Maybe she paid you with the money she stole from me.

    • Sunny Kobe Cook Says:

      If only she had paid me…which of course, she did not. You are one of many who came forward to tell stories of shams and misdeeds.

      • Someone who is pissed Says:

        It seems to me that she has had more than enough money to be able to repay us for what she took. My legal letters were also ignored, and emails, phone calls, and messages. While I feel like she should be forced to pay back what she took with interest and damages no lawyer wanted to agree with me. I was forced to give up………… I do remember a funny conversation talking to her about “GOD” and I knew things were going to go sour when she tried to convince me that “GOD” had nothing to do with it. I did get a phone call from her people threatening legal action against me however and I still have the recording along with print out of all research on J’amy Owens that I could find. I tried the Attorneys General Office for consumer fraud to make a complaint but they also said they would not help and I was on my own.

  17. Mike Says:

    I learned long ago, the hard way, never a borrower or lender be. If they need the money, gift it to them. The joke goes, “If you loan your brother in-law $ 100.00 and he never pays you back and never speaks to you again, was it worth it?”


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