Author Topic: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...  (Read 2967 times)

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pickles50

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When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« on: July 21, 2013, 08:02:57 PM »
I'm curious how people would have handled this or a similar situation...

The other day at work a customer came to the reception (hotel) to check in. She set a huge bouquet of flowers down on the desk. The flowers had a plastic bag of water attached to the bottom to keep them hydrated. A few seconds after she set the flowers down water poured over the counter directly the computer's CPU. As soon as I realized the issue a jumped up and my coworker and I started mopping up the water as much as possible but it was too late the computer shorted out and died. Of course the bouquet owner knew what happened because I had to stop the transaction and try and minimize the damage and eventually we had to move to another computer to complete the transaction (so she was well aware the computer died). I was shocked that this lady offered no apology or anything other than an "oh, dear!" and walked off. I know the hotel would not have charged her but if it was me I would have offered.

So at what point when you make a mistake that results in damage are you obligated to correct/offer to fix your mistake? When you are a hotel or restaurant guest and you break or ruin something are you not obligated to offer compensation? How would you have handled this if it was you?

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2013, 08:19:38 PM »
I would have apologised profusely and asked what I could do, though if the hotel desk people told me not to worry about it, I'd let it go. 

If it's something in a store, I offer to buy it.  If it's something belonging to a friend/other person, I immediately offer to pay to repair or replace.
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bopper

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2013, 01:33:19 PM »
I think I would have at least said "Oh my gosh! Oh no!"

Pen^2

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 01:43:21 PM »
That's pretty unpleasant of her to not even apologise for destroying a computer.

If I damage or destroy something, I apologise profusely and consider it my immediate goal to fix/replace it as closely as possible, or help replace it if others are involved. Even if people said it was fine, I'd feel bad for not paying, at least, to cover the cost of replacement or something.

bloo

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2013, 01:51:51 PM »
I would have apologised profusely and asked what I could do, though if the hotel desk people told me not to worry about it, I'd let it go. 

If it's something in a store, I offer to buy it.  If it's something belonging to a friend/other person, I immediately offer to pay to repair or replace.

This. I'd be apologetic and asking what I could do to fix it. 

People nowadays have a 'big-box' mentality when it comes to the property of businesses. If some nameless corporation owns it, then who cares? You're not really taking money out of a 'person's' pocket. Unfortunately that thought has also filtered down to small business too.

BarensMom

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 01:55:20 PM »
Evil me would have added the cost of the computer to the customer's bill.

SleepyKitty

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 03:10:24 PM »
Evil me would have added the cost of the computer to the customer's bill.

I don't think that's evil at all. When I'm a guest in a hotel, if I ruin the sheets or steal towels, I would expect the price to be added to my bill. I also thought it was standard to charge unruly guests for damage to the room? Granted, the computer wasn't in her room, but she was still responsible for damage to hotel property.

Virg

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2013, 03:20:02 PM »
The way I see it, businesses are usually insured against accidental destruction of property, so I don't see this on the same level as stealing towels.  In the case of obvious accident (as opposed to purpose or negligence) I wouldn't expect the customer to pay for equipment damage.  In the case of a store, if I damage merchandise, I'd offer replacement cost, but for something like the hotel computer in the OP I'd find it odd if they put it on my bill just as I would if a restaurant billed me for accidentally tipping a glass on the floor and breaking it.  The woman should certainly have apologized for the spill, though.

Virg

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 05:51:24 PM »
I think that woman's actions were unseemly, cheap and negligent and she needs to see to it that the hotel is "made whole" in regards to replacing the equipment.  She was negligent in setting something down without making sure that there was nothing on the bottom of the vase that would be damaging to where it was placed.  If there was any doubt then the vase should have been set on the floor where nothing is going to be damaged, after all mopping up a spill is free.  She's cheap in that she did not offer compensation to fix the damage that she alone caused, which in turn makes her behavior unseemly.

I would have spoken to the manager, made certain that they kept my personal information on file and offered to make up the price difference between what insurance would pay and the actual replacement cost would be.  If there was no insurance then I would need to pay the full replacement cost.  I think most of the time this offer would be declined by the hotel, but the offer still needs to be made and the guilty party prepared to pay.

There is no free ride in life, you damage or break things then you get to replace them or comes to terms with the person whose property was damaged and work it out.  Yes it would be a very expensive lesson for the flower woman but perhaps paying the damages off over months on her credit card balance would cause her to operate with more care in the future.

There is absolutely no reason this accident needed to happen.
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NyaChan

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2013, 07:04:19 PM »
I'm guessing she booked it because she was embarrassed and worried that you would ask her to pay.

She should absolutely have apologized for the accident.

ThistleBird

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2013, 12:18:04 PM »
A woman in my church actually came to me for help after having broken the handle of the church vacuum cleaner. I put it back together temporarily with duct tape--it's still useable even now as long as you're careful to hold it just right, which most people aren't. Now this woman had told me herself that she and her husband were decently well-off compared to most of the rest of us in the church (she put it much more tactfully than that of course, I don't actually think she was bragging.) So I just assumed she was going to offer to replace the vacuum. If I'd broken it, I would simply have attempted a more permanent & solid repair job, being a bit broke myself--I think that would have been OK too, if successful--but I assumed her solution would probably be to replace it.

Well, I heard nothing from her, nada--neither replacement nor repair--and we all continued to take turns vacuuming the nursery and Sunday School rooms with a broken vacuum until the elders replaced it (with a pricier one that turned out to be horrible, of course. I still use the broken one by preference!) She left the church a few months later for greener pastures that agreed with her on important issues like Christmas being a pagan holiday we actually shouldn't be celebrating. (!) I always regretted that I hadn't followed through on my impulse to approach her a couple weeks after the incident and ask "So, when are you planning on doing something about the vacuum?" in a friendly voice that assumed that naturally she was planning to do the right thing. If a similar situation ever arises again, that's what I'm going to do. When you break something that isn't yours it is absolutely your job to do something about it, and people know that. They're usually trying to avoid or ignore the knowledge... so a reminder is (I think) usually powerful enough to do the job.

In your story, OP... well, I don't know what the repercussions to your job would have been if you'd said "So, ma'am, what are you going to do about this?" But I think that, those considerations aside, it would have been a perfectly OK thing to do. (It's also a phrasing that puts it on an ethical basis of "you know you should" rather than one of legal requirement, which I think is important.) I agree with NyaChan that she probably hurried away to avoid that very thing.

Shoo

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2013, 12:25:03 PM »
A woman in my church actually came to me for help after having broken the handle of the church vacuum cleaner. I put it back together temporarily with duct tape--it's still useable even now as long as you're careful to hold it just right, which most people aren't. Now this woman had told me herself that she and her husband were decently well-off compared to most of the rest of us in the church (she put it much more tactfully than that of course, I don't actually think she was bragging.) So I just assumed she was going to offer to replace the vacuum. If I'd broken it, I would simply have attempted a more permanent & solid repair job, being a bit broke myself--I think that would have been OK too, if successful--but I assumed her solution would probably be to replace it.

Well, I heard nothing from her, nada--neither replacement nor repair--and we all continued to take turns vacuuming the nursery and Sunday School rooms with a broken vacuum until the elders replaced it (with a pricier one that turned out to be horrible, of course. I still use the broken one by preference!) She left the church a few months later for greener pastures that agreed with her on important issues like Christmas being a pagan holiday we actually shouldn't be celebrating. (!) I always regretted that I hadn't followed through on my impulse to approach her a couple weeks after the incident and ask "So, when are you planning on doing something about the vacuum?" in a friendly voice that assumed that naturally she was planning to do the right thing. If a similar situation ever arises again, that's what I'm going to do. When you break something that isn't yours it is absolutely your job to do something about it, and people know that. They're usually trying to avoid or ignore the knowledge... so a reminder is (I think) usually powerful enough to do the job.

In your story, OP... well, I don't know what the repercussions to your job would have been if you'd said "So, ma'am, what are you going to do about this?" But I think that, those considerations aside, it would have been a perfectly OK thing to do. (It's also a phrasing that puts it on an ethical basis of "you know you should" rather than one of legal requirement, which I think is important.) I agree with NyaChan that she probably hurried away to avoid that very thing.

I wouldn't have expected the woman to replace the vacuum.  I presume she was a volunteer at the church?  If volunteers are made to replace things that are accidentally damaged or broken, you'd soon find yourself without volunteers.

Having to replace things that get broken is just a simple fact of life, for a church or any other business.

ettiquit

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2013, 01:12:30 PM »
I would apologize for ruining the computer, but I wouldn't have offered to replace it.  I agree with Virg that this is (likely) something covered by insurance and I also assume that hotels figure in the cost of damaged items in their rates, which is why we don't offer to replace glasses that we break in their restaurant.

It is certainly nice to offer to replace it, but I don't think it's necessary.

MariaE

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Re: When you break or damage something that isn't yours...
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2013, 02:59:23 PM »
A woman in my church actually came to me for help after having broken the handle of the church vacuum cleaner. I put it back together temporarily with duct tape--it's still useable even now as long as you're careful to hold it just right, which most people aren't. Now this woman had told me herself that she and her husband were decently well-off compared to most of the rest of us in the church (she put it much more tactfully than that of course, I don't actually think she was bragging.) So I just assumed she was going to offer to replace the vacuum. If I'd broken it, I would simply have attempted a more permanent & solid repair job, being a bit broke myself--I think that would have been OK too, if successful--but I assumed her solution would probably be to replace it.

Well, I heard nothing from her, nada--neither replacement nor repair--and we all continued to take turns vacuuming the nursery and Sunday School rooms with a broken vacuum until the elders replaced it (with a pricier one that turned out to be horrible, of course. I still use the broken one by preference!) She left the church a few months later for greener pastures that agreed with her on important issues like Christmas being a pagan holiday we actually shouldn't be celebrating. (!) I always regretted that I hadn't followed through on my impulse to approach her a couple weeks after the incident and ask "So, when are you planning on doing something about the vacuum?" in a friendly voice that assumed that naturally she was planning to do the right thing. If a similar situation ever arises again, that's what I'm going to do. When you break something that isn't yours it is absolutely your job to do something about it, and people know that. They're usually trying to avoid or ignore the knowledge... so a reminder is (I think) usually powerful enough to do the job.

In your story, OP... well, I don't know what the repercussions to your job would have been if you'd said "So, ma'am, what are you going to do about this?" But I think that, those considerations aside, it would have been a perfectly OK thing to do. (It's also a phrasing that puts it on an ethical basis of "you know you should" rather than one of legal requirement, which I think is important.) I agree with NyaChan that she probably hurried away to avoid that very thing.

I wouldn't have expected the woman to replace the vacuum.  I presume she was a volunteer at the church?  If volunteers are made to replace things that are accidentally damaged or broken, you'd soon find yourself without volunteers.

Having to replace things that get broken is just a simple fact of life, for a church or any other business.

I agree with Shoo. If I accidentally damaged somebody's personal belonging, I would offer to replace it. If I accidentally damaged something belonging to a business, then I wouldn't.
 
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