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How much compensation for damages due to faulty construction is fair?
November 10, 2010 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Hi all, My suit was wrecked by an improperly installed door at a recently constructed office building - how much compensation is fair in your opinion?

Located in Canada.

My entire company recently moved into a brand new office building that was constructed just for us.

This was a long time in the planning and we were not allowed to enter the building until it was completely finished and ready for us to be moved into.

On the second day in the new office building I had on a brand new suit on my way to an important meeting.

Walking out of the south door heading north into the elevator lobby and my pants were caught on a very sharp protruding piece of metal sticking out from the door frame.

It turns out that the locking mechanism was screwed in too tightly and this caused a sharp metal edge to protrude.

The edge tore a big L-shaped tear through the pants.

The door has was immediately fixed and apologies sent and requests were made for digital pictures and receipts for my purchase.

This was a $1800 three-piece suit for which I that I had only worn once before to a wedding a few months earlier.

Assume the pants can't be repaired - the construction company wants to know what I think is fair compensation.

Please share your thoughts.
posted by stealabove to Work & Money (65 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
How much would a replacement pair of pants cost?
posted by bitdamaged at 12:38 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Contact the store where you bought your suit and ask them how much it would cost to order a pair of replacement pants (along with any tailoring costs, if you needed the previous pair tailored), and you'll have your answer.
posted by amyms at 12:41 PM on November 10, 2010


I don't believe that is an option.

It was a matching 3-piece suit and I believe it would be impossible to buy just the matching pants separately.
posted by stealabove at 12:41 PM on November 10, 2010


Last suit of its kind. No more matching pants available.
posted by stealabove at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2010


An $1800 suit must've come from a full-service tailor. Is there any reason you couldn't take the pants to them, get a quote for a duplicate pair (or for making your current pair good-as-new again,) and send that along to the construction company? If they've accepted fault and offered compensation already, it seems like the fairest possible outcome is for them to pay the cost of retoring your property that was damaged by their error.

On preview: you paid $1800 for a suit and whoever made it can't get more of the fabric and make you new pants at any price? That seems strange.
posted by contraption at 12:45 PM on November 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


My initial reaction would be none - shit happens, you need to watch were you're going - but if the construction company is willing to provide compensation, I'd say you charge them for the price of custom-tailoring a matching pair of pants. IANA sharp dresser, but I'm guessing a competent tailor can come up with something acceptable.

I understand this may not be what you are looking for, but you are asking for people's opinions, and this is mine.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:46 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do you have a reciept for the purchase of the suit?

My feeling is that a suit is a two-piece item. You cannot wear the jacket without the trousers, and if you cannot replace the trousers, you cannot wear the jacket. I'd hit them for the full amount you paid, assuming you can prove that value.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:46 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is not a made-to-measure suit.

There is no duplicate pair of pants available.

They are unable to make them as 'good-as-new'.

I do have a receipt for $1400 for the jacket and pants and $400 for the vest.
posted by stealabove at 12:51 PM on November 10, 2010


The matching vest becomes basically useless in my opinion if I need to replace the jacket and pants with a completely different cloth.
posted by stealabove at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2010


Thanks for the responses so far!
posted by stealabove at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2010


Your updates, to me, sound like you are (subconsciously or otherwise) trying to steer the answers into pricing up a pair of trousers for a unique and one of a kind suit (ie justifying a lot of compensation), or justifying the charging of a completely new suit.

I find it difficult to imagine that there is no way a tailor (especially one who charges the price of a used car for a suit) is unable to repair or match the fabric to replace a set of trousers. Or an equivalent tailor if that one is unavailable. To my mind the level of liability is equal to the cost of a competent/equivalent tailor to repair or reproduce the trousers, whichever the tailor or you feel is appropriate. Send the bill direct to the construction company for reimbursement. To my set of morals/principles, you would only be eligible for the full price of the suit if the tailor could provide some kind of assurance (perhaps in writing) that repair or replacement of just the trousers was impossible.
posted by Brockles at 12:55 PM on November 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think it would cost a lot less than $1800 to have a made-to-measure pair of pants made to match the jacket and vest; can you get a quote from a bespoke tailor for that?

Or, seeing as you have the receipt for the jacket-and-pants unit, maybe get the $1400 to cover that and then you can get the pants made. Depends on how much legwork you're willing to do in order to save them money.

I would be surprised if they compensated you for the vest, which is still presumably wearable.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:55 PM on November 10, 2010


I don't think you'd be out of line asking for full price here, but if you are feeling like compromising, maybe ask for $1200 or so instead of $1800, since you are out a full suit but realistically the jacket survived and can still be worked into your wardrobe
posted by slow graffiti at 12:56 PM on November 10, 2010


The matching vest becomes basically useless in my opinion if I need to replace the jacket and pants with a completely different cloth.

Is this suit some kind of weird color or weave that is impossible to match? I'm finding it hard to follow what's going on here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2010


Sidhedevil - yes.
posted by stealabove at 1:01 PM on November 10, 2010


Even though I realize it's a pricey suit, I would ask for the full amount.

I'm assuming your company paid this construction company a lot for your brand new office building? On top of that they gave you the all clear. A sharp protruding piece of metal could have really injured someone, in my opinion they are getting off easy with paying for an expensive suit and not a gigantic gash in someone's leg. I disagree with Dr Dracator, you should be able to walk through a door without worrying about large sharp pieces of metal being there. This isn't "shit happens" this is construction company "screwed up big time" and now you are out a lot of money for a really expensive suit. If a ceiling tile fell out and crushed a $2,000 laptop, I don't think most people would hesitate to say that the construction company should pay for the laptop. I don't see this as being any different.

IANYL and this is not legal advice.
posted by whoaali at 1:02 PM on November 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you want my opinion of what is "fair", it's nothing. You walked into a metal spike.

But you sound like you have an answer in mind, and you're waiting for someone to give it to you. So here you go: given what you're saying about the totally irreplaceable trousers, if this were an insurance claim, you would be filing a claim for $1800 right now, and maybe you'd get it. So ask for that. Maybe they'll pay it.

And if that works, take your $1800 compensation and buy a made-to-measure suit (or two!). Spending $1800 on an off-the-peg suit is insane, unless it's made of gold thread and woven on the thighs of a virgin.
posted by caek at 1:03 PM on November 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


In my mind fair compensation is the average cost of repairing or replacing a pair of pants comparable to what you were wearing. I have to think it is normal to expect a very minor amount of wear and tear even in an office environment and that you shoulder some of the risk by choosing to wear something expensive and unrepairable.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:09 PM on November 10, 2010


Ask for the full amount. If they balk, back off. Do as much as you can with what they eventually offer to pay-- custom-made matching pants, new less-expensive suit, almost-as-good-as-new repairs.

Also: I hope you said something to the effect of "COME ON!" when it happened.
posted by supercres at 1:15 PM on November 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Just enough to cover the repair of the pants, or a new pair of pants.

If I were in your shoes, I'd think the construction company behaved responsibly and fairly with their prompt apology and offer for compensation. It'd be nice to return the favor.
posted by sprezzy at 1:17 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


For heaven's sake. The construction company is successfully trying to get you to negotiate with yourself. You give them a bill for the full cost of the suit for all the reasons you mentioned, and let them come back with a counter-offer if they think it is unreasonable. This is how you will get the most money out of them.
posted by unSane at 1:21 PM on November 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


The construction company has insurance money to cover the cost of the suit. You can make the claim for the full suit and if the insurance company offers you less then you can deal with that when the time comes.
posted by JJ86 at 1:21 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ask for $1,800.00...they should be happy they are not also paying for an E.R. visit.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assuming you can't replace just the pants, as you've said (are you sure? They don't sell that suit in any other stores near where you live? Or on the internet?), then explain the special circumstances and ask for the full cost of the suit, since the suit is useless without the pants. Is it possible to have a tailor order the cloth that the suit is made from, and make you just the pants? Probably not, if it's an off-the-rack suit.

If you happen to be in Toronto and get the full cost of the suit back, memail me if you want a recommendation for a great tailor who will do a bespoke three-piece suit for the same price.
posted by Dasein at 1:30 PM on November 10, 2010


Ask fo 100% of the replacement cost.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:30 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Submit copies of your receipts. You can expect to be compensated in that amount. That's how insurance works, and that's what's going to be implicated here. The property owner will be submitting a claim to their insurer.
posted by valkyryn at 1:32 PM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, if it's an irreplaceable suit, then bill them for the cost of the suit which was destroyed by their faulty equipment.

I can't imagine buying an irreplaceable suit myself, but the principle seems pretty clear here. And when you get the $1400, buy yourself a suit made out of more conventional fabric so that if you snag the pants on your own you won't be out $1400.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:34 PM on November 10, 2010


I betcha they won't want to pay for the vest, which was an optional accessory. But it depends on how much the insurance company wants to haggle over $400.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:35 PM on November 10, 2010


A basic rule of good design, and I think it should apply to fashion, is if you can't match it exactly, make it very different. Unless you can find the exact same fabric in the exact same dye lot, you have to replace the whole suit. And you are never going to be able to find this fabric. I would want to replace the whole suit. Think of how stupid it would look if you were wearing a grey jacket and vest and the new grey pants have a slight blue tinge to them. Next to one another, that blue tinge will scream "I don't belong."

Hit them with the whole bill. Make them decide if it is too much, don't make the decision for them.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:39 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


For those who blame the OP for "walking into a metal spike", there is a reasonable assumption that, when you enter or exit a public building, there are no sharp metal spikes protruding, likely to shred your clothing.

We make silly assumptions like this all day, instead of staying hypervigilant at all times. The construction company is clearly at fault, not the OP.

They are liable for the replacement cost of the pants. If they can prove that the exact pants can be replaced for less than $1800, they can replace them - exactly - and fulfill their responsibility. You should submit the $1800 bill.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:39 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Submit the receipt for the suit, minus the vest, because that's a separate item. If they don't want to pay the whole amount, that's when you decide if you're willing to settle for less or press the issue.
posted by xingcat at 1:43 PM on November 10, 2010


You keep repeating that the suit was 'the last of its kind' like it was an extinct man-bear-pig or something.

Let me say this slowly:

A tailor... somewhere... can make... those pants.

Probably for way less than what you paid for the suit.

That being said, I think asking for the entire MSRP of the suit is being unfair and that you should ask for ~1/2 of the cost and/or get a quote from a very nice tailor for a set of custom britches.

... Yes I used the word britches ...
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:45 PM on November 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's perfectly reasonable to ask for the entire cost of replacing an item that was destroyed by faulty equipment in a public building. I think we were all a bit confused by the idea of irreplaceable pants, but I imagine that if the store told you that, OP, they will tell the same to the insurer's adjuster when/if they call.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:46 PM on November 10, 2010


A tailor... somewhere... can make... those pants.

Not if they were made out of an unusual fabric that has is no longer available. Again, I have no idea why anyone would buy a three-piece suit made out of such a fabric, but that ship has sailed already. If the store where the suit was purchased can and will verify that the fabric in question is no longer available, I can't imagine the insurer wasting their time on pursuing the matter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2010


Somewhere in the world there is a bolt of the cloth used to make the suit. The question is: Would it cost less than $1800 to find that bolt of cloth and have new pants made? If the answer is "yes," then that's what you do. If the answer is "no," then you ask for $1800.

And, in the future, don't spend large sums of money on irreplaceable things unless you have so much money that you won't care when those things are destroyed/lost/damaged. The reason I don't own a Ferrari isn't that I can't afford to buy one. It's that I can't afford to break one.
posted by The World Famous at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Again, I have no idea why anyone would buy a three-piece suit made out of such a fabric

Can we stop blaming the OP for this? He found a great suit, the fabric wasn't being made by the company anymore, and he got the last one in his size. That's neither hard to understand nor a dumb decision on his part. Neither is not inspecting the door frame for thin pieces of protruding metal before walking through it. And, no, if the fabric is not being made anymore then it's not true that

A tailor... somewhere... can make... those pants.

Lose the attitude, people.
posted by Dasein at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Thanks everyone.

By the way - I just found this discussion which speaks to the difficulty of finding replacement suit pants - although not really an identical situation.

http://ask.metafilter.com/132964/Replace-my-pants
posted by stealabove at 1:53 PM on November 10, 2010


For whatever it's worth, I totally agree that once the pants are ruined, the whole suit is ruined. When someone says "my suit is ruined!" they don't mean "each of the separate components of my suit has been separately and equally destroyed." Get the whole suit replaced at full price. Then take the $1800 and buy two $900 suits.
posted by The World Famous at 1:57 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, this entire loss can be easily quantified.

The jacket and vest retain value on the secondary market, even if the pants are utterly irreparable and only fit for rags and doll costumes.

If it was legitimately an 1800 suit to start with, then that secondary value is probably still considerable.

Talk to a consignment shop, look things up on ebay. What can you sell the orphan jacket and the vest for?

$1800 - X = compensation.

That sidesteps all the judgment about how ruined it really is, a tailor can fix that, a tailor can make those pants, who buys an $1800 suit off the rack, blah blah blah. If a tailor can replace those pants, then someone else will jump on the jacket and bring it to *their* tailor. If the vest is still worth the full $400, then someone will jump on it for $400.

I do think that, in reality, an $1800 suit is like a car -- it loses value when it comes off the rack, possibly considerable value.

As a practical matter, you should submit the full $1800 and let the insurance company argue you down for depreciation and the residual value of the vest and jacket.

My point, however, is that the residual value of the garments is not a matter of opinion -- it's an establishable fact.
posted by endless_forms at 2:16 PM on November 10, 2010


[few comments removed - this is not a debate about how to shop for pants, walk through a door or buy clothing, please keep your answers addressed towards the OP and the OPs problem, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:24 PM on November 10, 2010


Replacement value is what matters here. $1800, same as in town.
posted by unSane at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2010


I think this is a little backwards. The worst they can possibly tell you if you report for the full value of the suit is no. You clearly have enough justification: Unique fabric, can't be repaired or replaced, sorry. If you were asking for the fair replacement value because your best friend in the whole world had damaged your suit pants and you wanted to both settle it financially and stay friends, that would be a totally different story. This is a business you're dealing with, and you don't have to worry about whether they like you personally. If they don't want to pay that much, they'll tell you. Cross that bridge when you come to it.
posted by gracedissolved at 2:28 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ask for $1400, but don't accept less.

I don't think the OP should have to run around the houses looking for these trousers made out of unobtanium - I think that he should make reasonable enquiries (which appears to have happened), and no more. They've put him in this position, let them sort it out.
posted by djgh at 2:30 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way - I just found this discussion which speaks to the difficulty of finding replacement suit pants - although not really an identical situation.

The issue there seems to be that the jacket is worn more than the pants. You wore the suit once, so this shouldn't be an issue.

If the tailor is telling you that the pants are irreplaceable and the last of their kind anywhere etc etc, I'd be wary that the tailor is a shyster. I'd try calling up one or two different shops and seeing if either of them can do anything before I charge the insurance company the full cost of the suit.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:35 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The suit if from one of the top labels for fine luxury mens wear.

It is a cloth that is made 100% exclusively for this label and specifically for a suit which they no longer make or sell.
posted by stealabove at 2:47 PM on November 10, 2010


The suit if from one of the top labels for fine luxury mens wear.

While I don't doubt that's true, it's probably best not to phrase it that way when you explain it to the folks from whom you are seeking reimbursement. It doesn't sound great.
posted by The World Famous at 2:51 PM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


@worldfamous - I won't.

I'm just mentioning it here because I've received memails and comments from people who don't believe that I can't just 'find pants to replace them'.
posted by stealabove at 2:54 PM on November 10, 2010


Thanks everyone!
posted by stealabove at 3:05 PM on November 10, 2010


I would write a short letter explaining that the suit you bought was the last one of its kind and as such you can't just replace the pants and that you actually need a new suit. Go to the same store and find out how much it would cost to get a comparable suit. Give them that estimate along with a copy of the receipt for your 'old' suit.

If a new suit is more expensive (say $2k) than the old one you should expect to get something in between that and the cost of the old one ($1900 for example.) If a new (as similar as possible) suit is less, be honest and ask for that price and you'll most likely get it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:23 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really like TooFewShoes answer, but I would get the designer label's shop's Store Manager to put the situation down on their company's letterhead explaining that the original suit is not replaceable because it is no longer being manufactured, but that comparable suits run X amount of dollars.

Additional math about vest, jacket, resale shops etc. etc. is too much data - this is probably ultimately going to an insurance company, after all.

Original receipts + letter + estimate for replacement suit from the same label = FAIR.

Good Luck!
posted by jbenben at 3:57 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


A skilled reweaver, working with excess fabric in your pant's seat seam, inseam, cuffs and fly, could probably repair those pants, flawlessly, in a day or two, for a couple hundred dollars. Really, this is a simple common repair for reweavers, which I think you'd find very satisfactory over the life of the suit, as it is nearly on the likely warp/weft lines of the fabric.
posted by paulsc at 4:15 PM on November 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think you will find more help, sympathy, and knowledge at Style Forum.
posted by spec80 at 4:38 PM on November 10, 2010


[we don't call people stupid here, please answer the question and argue with other posters over MeMail or preferably not at all.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:21 PM on November 10, 2010


I don't this that this is really that complicated to the construction company. That this exact suit is literally irreplaceable is sad for you, but it is a red herring to the question of compensation.

What is the cost of a suit of comparable quality? Request that amount. Not a last-of-it's-kind suit that you love just as much as this suit. Just a suit of similar cloth, weight, quality, and style by the same label or a comparable label.
posted by desuetude at 7:04 PM on November 10, 2010


I think it's fair to ask for the full $1800. If they deny you, submit your letters/justification, if they still want to haggle then you go lower. But start at $1800.
posted by JenMarie at 7:19 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi! No joke, this just happened to me last week in the exact same manner you've described. Was my absolute favorite pair of pants from a line that's no longer produced. Tore an L-shaped hole near the top seem, but through the fabric (not the seam).

My tailor fixed it so that it is invisible for $15.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:53 PM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


So presumably this isn't all in the in the spirit of a good-natured argument for ribbing purposes only, right? These questions seem to be a theme with you.
Regardless, I can't determine whether you really love the suit and want it to be returned to the state prior to the incident or if you just want to make them pay for their mistake. If the former, then $400 or so, whatever a reweaver would charge. It will look exactly as before if done by a good professional. If the later, then I guess just show them the receipt for the suit.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:10 PM on November 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


And, in the future, don't spend large sums of money on irreplaceable things unless you have so much money that you won't care when those things are destroyed/lost/damaged.

I don't think this is reasonable - everyone owns something which they love but couldn't immediately afford to replace, and (I hate this phrase but) YMMV on what it is. I'd be annoyed if I lost my make-up bag, because some of that stuff is now discontinued - someone else would be aghast that I'd ever spent £9 on a pencil. I own clothing I wear rarely because I don't want to get them damaged, which I realise is probably very silly, but this suit may have been busted out for an important meeting, so.

This happens to me often - I have quite long legs, and the catches on doors are usually at the same height as my belt-loops, so I rip them all the time. I would ask for the full suit price given the fabric has to match - presumably the waistcoat is an optional extra, but by ruining the trousers, they have effectively made the whole outfit useless.
posted by mippy at 8:18 AM on November 11, 2010


And if that works, take your $1800 compensation and buy a made-to-measure suit (or two!). Spending $1800 on an off-the-peg suit is insane, unless it's made of gold thread and woven on the thighs of a virgin.

Please get over yourselves. Construction company has offered to pay for this. Without the exact same pair of pants, the suit per se is ruined. Your opinions on what a reasonable amount of money to pay for a suit mean fuck all. I would ask for 1800 with justification that there is no way to replace just part of the suit. See what they say from there.
posted by spicynuts at 8:40 AM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Chiming in late--I once ripped a pair of pants on a door jamb, told the assn't to the head of the production company, and the company gave me a gift cert. to Nordstrom. The door had been replaced, metal bits stuck out, my big ass got grabbed by metal bits, pants ripped. Everyone very sympathetic, no one was a jerk. I hope you get the satisfaction you seek.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:19 PM on November 11, 2010


Please get over yourselves. Construction company has offered to pay for this. Without the exact same pair of pants, the suit per se is ruined. Your opinions on what a reasonable amount of money to pay for a suit mean fuck all.
Um...
I would ask for 1800 with justification that there is no way to replace just part of the suit. See what they say from there.
That is literally what I say in the post you're quoting from.
posted by caek at 3:20 AM on November 12, 2010


Reweaving is not an option as the tear is a large L-shaped and also the fabric is a twill garbardine weave which does not lend itself to completely invisible results from reweaving.
posted by stealabove at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2010


You saw this post, right?
posted by caek at 11:10 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


No I hadn't seen that post thanks Caek. It is a pretty epic thread and made me laugh out loud more than once.

In response to one comment that was made about why I chose to mark best answer to responses that apparently "told me what I wanted to hear":

In fact, I informally spoke to a judge in alternate dispute resolutions who deals with these cases and was advised that I was entitled to the full amount pending my obligations to mitigate the damages.

I used this basis to mark the "best answer" and tried to favorite the others that were helpful.

Thanks again everyone for your contributions!
posted by stealabove at 1:10 PM on November 12, 2010


I can't be alone in wanting to see photos both of this suit and this spike. Just for curiosity's sake.
posted by awesomebrad at 6:16 PM on June 19, 2011


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