Advice sought re situation with friend

Can I get an idea of what people think about this situation? Yes, one of these guys is me.

Let’s say Larry owns two pieces of the same musical equipment. He agrees to lend one to his friend John pretty much indefinitely on the basis that Larry was not using them at the time and had no foreseeable need for them. John indicated he would take care of any necessary maintenance of the item. Larry knew John would treat the item with care and was just happy to see it get some use, so happily offered it to John who was going to make use of it. It is an old piece that is inclined to break down from time to time. Say both John and Larry are well aware of this.

After John has been using the item for about two years, it breaks down. It requires repairs to it costing about $600, about a third of its value. There is no suggestion of any mistreatment of the item by John; it is just a component that expired through age or whatever.

The question is whether Larry should contribute to the cost of the repairs. I suppose it might be relevant that John has just loaned Larry a piece of musical equipment on an indefinite basis and with a view to buying the piece. That is an instrument that would be worth around $1200-$1500. The item that Larry has loaned to John is one he may eventually sell to John if John is into buying it, but otherwise John will just go on using it anyway.

I missed the cut-off time to edit. Assume that a half-share of $300 isn’t going to really break the bank for either of us.

This is only looking at what friends would do, not what makes finacial sense.

John needs to decide if he wants to buy the piece: if he does, he needs to go ahead and do it now, offering Larry $900-$1000. Larry should counter that broken, it’s not worth more than $600, and only take that.

If John doesn’t want to buy it, he should return the piece and $300 for half the repairs.

Repairing it means it needs to be decided who really owns it, if for no onther reason than that this will happen again.

I would think that John should pony up the cash to purchase the item outright or to pay for the repairs and go on using it, if that’s cool with Larry. If I was John, I’d consider it “rent” or a “usage fee” or simply “fixin’ what I broke”. I understand it didn’t break through misuse, but it broke through use, right? It wouldn’t have broken if Larry had it sitting in a storage locker somewhere untouched? Then, due to John’s use, it broke, and therefore John should pay for the repairs.

If it was going to harm either one financially, I might answer differently, based on the risk Larry assumed when loaning out the item, but since they both have the cash, I think John should pay for his use.

Of course, in the end, it’s not about the instrument or what’s right. The person who values the friendship more than the instrument will pay for the repairs. I hope for your sake you’re falling over each other trying to pay, not trying to get the other guy to pay.

John said he would maintain it. It broke down after two years of use. John needs to pay the repair costs. What did he think maintenance meant, if not that?

I think that John should just pay for the repairs. You do say in the OP “John indicated he would take care of any necessary maintenance of the item”. Yeah, the breakdown happened through “normal use” of the item, not misuse, but it was John’s normal use, therefore he gets the bill. Also he has had two years’ free use of an expensive item, even if one Larry had no actual use for it.

Of course, in a situation between friends, Larry might decide to go “above and beyond” and offer to split the cost. But that would be a generous offer, not a moral obligation, IMO.

I don’t think he needs to buy the piece off Larry if he doesn’t want to, but he does need to be able to offer it back to Larry in moreorless the same state as he got it (that is, not broken)

If I were the one who had borrowed the piece, I would pay at least half.

If I were the one who loaned the piece, I think I would probably say: dude, sorry it has broken. If you want to keep using it, go ahead and get it fixed. Else return it. I’m under no obligation to keep something that I have loaned out for free in good working order.

I would say that Aspidistra has a more correct and complete answer than mine. There might be a stronger case for Larry having more responsibility if it broke within a month or so of the loan – but two years? That puts it all on John, IMHO.

I need clarification–is the problem with the piece something you would expect to happen after every few years of normal use or after every 20 years of normal use?

Thanks for these replies. I just realised post #2 should read “a half-share of $600”.

To be honest, I’m not sure what it was that went wrong other than that it was something reasonably serious (based on the cost of the repairs) and so I don’t know how often this particular problem would arise for this particular piece of equipment.

I also could’ve mentioned that John had paid for the repairs which had already been completed by the time he told Larry there was a problem - not that he was wrong to do that. And no, the item would almost certainly be alright had it been sitting my spare room the last couple of years.

I’m inclined to agree with Aspidistra and Boyo Jim, but then I would say that since I am Larry in this tale (not my real name). I’m also mindful of creating a precedent regarding any other maintenance in the future. But I may still contribute to the cost because I did say to John words to the effect of “we’ll work something out” when he told me about it. Later, the tight-fist gene kicked in and I thought better of it. Anyway, a contribution to the cost is probably a good investment in not having bad blood between me and John who is a good guy and a friend.

I’m going to go against the grain here. If I lend out an item to a friend, and it breaks while they have it, through normal use not through abuse, I don’t expect them to pay for it. It’s mine. It was loaned out with no strings attached. They didn’t do anything to it I wouldn’t. Therefore, it’s my bill. If they offer to pay part of it, I’d probably accept, but it’s not expected.

It’s happened to me. I long-term loaned out an electric lawnmower. The charger for it broke, so the mower was useless. It wasn’t neglect, it was bad product design. Sucks to own something like that, but I bought it, I fixed it.

Yes they did, they used it for 2 years. The instruments weren’t being used before being lent out. I vote that John should offer to repair the full cost, if Larry wants to relieve him of some of the cost that’s fine too.

Well did John already have to pay for new strings so he could use the thing in the first place? :smiley: :smack:

I think Manda JO’s question, and related information, are quite relevant here. Did Larry use it for 18 years, getting 90% of the benefit and providing 90% of the wear and tear? If so, it was rather like a “time bomb” and I don’t think it’s fair to expect John to pay 50% or more just because it was in his hands when it went off. Conversely, if Larry only used it for 2 years, I think it would be reasonable for John to pay the whole bill with Larry retaining ownership.

Chances are it lies somewhere in between, and of course there’s consideration of John’s benefit of use, whether John is inclined to buy it, and the ongoing relationship (including lending each other stuff). Further, I see a fix in the price range mentioned as a major repair, not routine maintenance. But I’d want to know the history and age of the item before deciding what constitutes a fair split.

But in the OP’s case, there WERE strings attached. There was a discussion that included John saying he would pay for “any necessary maintenance”. He then used it for 2 years until something broke. Since this was apparently an old instrument that had seen good service over years, it wouldn’t seem a design flaw would be an issue here.

Being an old thing, it tends to need more maintenance than a new thing. John could have got a new thing and got himself a warranty, but chose what appeared to be a cheaper alternative. Except it wasn’t. Thems the breaks.