If you break/lose something, how much should you pay?

Let’s say a friend buys a new iPod for $250. You borrow it to check it out. Unfortunately, you drop it & break it (if iPods are sturdy enough, substitute with some other product). Now it’s time to recompensate your friend and you have this dealer contact who can get her the same iPod (in mint, new packaging) for $200.

On the one hand, when she bought the iPod, those $250 went out of her hands, and in came an iPod. Hence instead of looking at the iPod as a $250 value, look at it as an iPod. So, $200 is the fair reparation.

On the other hand, she had to save & let go of $250 to avail herself of the iPod, which she decided to buy, among other things on her wishlist, at the last minute. So, you should “restore” the original power that she had and bartered.

Should you pay her $250 or $200? Among businesses, there is probably a clear way to deal with this. Should it be the same among friends?

Note: You don’t have the option of buying a new iPod for her. Reparations in currency only.

$200–assuming that there is nothing shady about the new iPod. Actually, make that $200 if she can go get it almost anywhere for that price; she shouldn’t have to use your seller, and shouldn’t be greatly inconvenienced.

You should pay her whatever it costs to replace her iPod with an identical one in the shortest time possible. Which means if it costs $300 to get a replacement today, cough up the $300.

If you wanted to be particularly nice, you could do that, but that would be offering something over and above simple reparation, because you’d be restoring things to a state prior to actions you personally didn’t cause (you didn’t make her buy the thing in the first place).

Ah, but while you’re spending $50 less, you’re getting her a *newer * iPod (in terms of life span, not model). Considering the propensity of the things to wind up scratched or damaged or whatever, I think she’d be pleased enough to get a new one, even if it’s for a bit less than she paid herself.

I say you should get them the nearest possible equivalent to the damaged item. However, that may not be the same item. If it was, say, an iPod Mini 4 gig, now, you should get them the Nano 4 gig, as you can’t get the Mini anymore.

I have a similar situation, which is more interesting as time is involved. A friend of mine took my camera. It was a new, $150 digital camera. He refuses to give it back, as his mother has fallen in love with it.

It is now a full year later. He has promised, as soon as he got a job (which he did about three months ago), to buy me a replacement camera.

Does he owe me the same camera, which has fallen in price considerably, or does he owe me a $150 camera, to compensate me for the aggrivation of not having one for a year? (I have lost some significant personal events thanks to not having a camera.)

In fact, Ideally, I think cash should only change hands between yourself and the dealer in this case - the situation outlined in the last sentence of the OP is unacceptable; if you break something, you replace it; don’t give the cash to the owner and leave them to replace it - too many things can go wrong, such as:
-They lose the cash and blame it on you (“I wouldn’t have lost my iPod, because I’ve got a belt pouch for it, but you knew I didn’t have a wallet to keep the cash safe!”
-They spend the cash on something else and blame it on you (“I wouldn’t have been able to buy this if it weren’t for that cash you gave me, now I can’t replace my iPod!”
-They forget you gave them the cash.

If you break the iPod, you owe an iPod, not the dollar equivalent of an iPod 1 year ago. By breaking the iPod, you have not made the person lose $250. That money is gone. You made the person lose an iPod, and if you replace it, things are as they were. The same goes for something that increases in value. You need to replace the thing (at whatever cost), not just re-imburse the money.

Money doesn’t enter into it, I think.

1st scenario - the iPod.

You owe your friend a new iPod. If they don’t make that model anymore, you owe her the best equivalent available. You might ask her if she’d prefer a mini from ebay or a nano brand new but you owe her the item.

If you can save a bit on the price, that’s cool. If it cost you extra, tough luck.

2nd scenario - the camera.

Your friend owes you a camera of that make and style. (Actually, your friend owes you your camera even if it inconveniences his mother.)

What your friend pays to replace your camera is his business. It shouldn’t even come up.

Tangent: If your friend doesn’t replace your camera this very month, then you’d be justified in filing charges for a stolen camera, imo. He’s had plenty of time to replace the item he “took.” And if it was me, he wouldn’t ever again be in a postition to take things.

That’s how I see it.

For the iPod, you owe your friend a replacement iPod of comparable or better capacity and features.

For the 300 albums’ worth of .mp3 files that your friend doesn’t have backup copies of, on the other hand…


Just like if you borrow a share of stock, and just happen to sell it (short), you owe one share of stock, it doesn’t matter if it’s worth pennys now or 10X what you paid for it.

Now throw ‘friends’ into the mix, and I would give them the choice. Saying I broke your ipod, I can replace it w/ a identical model for X, do you want me to do that, or do you want the so you can use it to buy a upgraded model.

Now there is some issue that it was a used item, but when you factor in ‘friends’ I think you should replace it w/ new unless it was something with obviouse depreciation, like a SUV.

The gentleman is a friend, and his mother is a bit… ah, dotty. Which is why trying to get anything back from her is a bit inadvisable. She took it during a period of… trouble, when we all (he was my landlord at the point) lost our house/apartment. He just got the job three months ago, and has been paying off debts ever since, which is why I’ve been so patient.
(I’m not sure I want the original back at this point, I don’t want to think of the condition it’s in… it was brand new and unused up to that point.)

I agree that the best option is to buy the iPod yourself and don’t tell her how much it costs, since it should be a one-to-one transaction and money shouldn’t enter into it. But if you have to deal in money, I’d give her what she paid for it, even if you know a guy that sells them for less. The point is to return her as far as possible to the “original” state–either with a new iPod, or with a stack of money. If I had payed $250 for something and got $200 back from the person who broke it I’d be pretty upset, but I wouldn’t be if I got the same (or better) product, no matter how much it cost the other person. Don’t know why that is.

And you still refer to this person as a friend?? The fact that his mother likes the camera is no reason to keep it. He or she should have gone out and purchased their own, or just waited until they could afford it themselves rather than make you wait. It’s unfortunate you tolerated such awful behavior. Your friend should get you a better camera but I’m thinking you’ll get a similar and cheaper one, or none at all.

I see. There are extenuating circumstances. In that case whatever you and your friend agree to is all that matters. It’s up to you to decide if you want a current better model to compensate for time lost. It would bve a nice thing for your friend to offer and a good way to show sincere remorse for the situation.

I agree with those who say you should replace the item regardless of cost. I suppose you could replace the exact item from Ebay if you chose to do it that way but it would be tacky to replace your friends with someone elses used one.

O don’t think you owe your friend $250 but if your friend thinks you do then you should pay, since the loss is your responsibility. It’s important your friend* feels* fairly compensated. A newer better model that cost about the same would be a nice way of doing that.

So just fess up and be prepared to do the right thing.

Okay, if a friend took my camera and wouldn’t give it back because his MOM liked it, I’d kick him. Hard. That is a ridiculous reason to not return a borrowed item. I wouldn’t give a crap if his mom liked it, she can buy her own. And if she can’t, sorry. She basically stole it.

Anyways, if a friend borrowed my old school but still perfectly fuctioning 15 gig iPod and broke it, I would expect a new 20 gig in return, because the price paid for the 15 at the time is equivalent to the new 20 gig. Same thing if someone took my camera. I paid $350 for the camera and another $30 for a memory card, and if someone takes my camera (year old but immaculate condition), I am out $380. That particular camera no longer costs $350, but I would appreciate a $350 camera or close, as well as a 256 mb card.

But I am very protective of my things like this because I don’t want anyone to break them and me to have to feel mean for making someone cough up a bunch of money. And none of my friends have money, so I’d be crap out of luck anyway.

I think you should owe whatever the prevailing rate is for a new, equivalent model from a respected retailer. Not the bargain basement price from a guy operating out of a back room in Brooklyn. Not the jacked up price from an electronics store in Times Square. (I once priced out an iPod remote at one of those places, $35 everywhere, $160 there, though they would knock 50% off because they were such good guys.)

WRT the camera, he owes you $150, not the value of an equivalent camera today. Basically, when the camera went away, not to be returned, he owed you the prevailing rate for an equivalent camera, $150. That dollar amount is not going down because he drags his feet in repaying you.

Just in case it’s unclear, my OP is hypothetical. I haven’t borrowed any iPod.

Mine isn’t, but I’m not seeing that camera any time soon, so…

(And yes, despite that, still a friend.)