The projector is destroyed - what next?
November 21, 2008 2:04 PM   Subscribe

My friend destroyed my video projector, truly by accident. What to do?

I loaned a VERY close friend my video projector. While he was using it, the bulb blew. Replacement cost of the bulb? $400. The projector itself - with a working bulb - sells used for a similar price. We both view the cost as prohibitive for the bulb. Obtaining a new projector for $400-ish is not out of the question. Neither he nor I have the budget or need to replace the projector in the short term. He's suggested splitting the cost on that theoretical $400 projector and sharing ownership. I am inclined to turn this offer down, although it does have the advantage of fiscal feasibility.

There are two complicating factors:

- I originally dumpstered the projector, which was in as-new condition and reported less than 10 hours on the bulb. Thus both he and I are reluctant to enforce full cost against the loss of the projector - I'm not out the money, but I am out the projector.

- The projector seems to have a design flaw which causes bulbs to blow at 200-250 hours, about 10% of the design life of the bulb, 2000 hours. Thus, it's probably just an act of fate that he happened to be using it when the bulb blew.

Additionally, he called me as he initially worked on getting the projector set up and needed to be walked through getting a signal to it. After the bulb blew, he mentioned to me that he had 'screwed around with the bulb.' When I recieved the projector back from him, the rubber ring around the lens had a bunch of weird scratches, as though someone had attempted to get to the bulb by peeling the rubber collar away from the lens. As far as I know, this would have been entirely fruitless, but would have required some untoward activity for the projector. He has not mentioned the scratches and I have not followed up the remark about the bulb per se. I do intend to do this, and to ask about the scratches, which I know were not there when I loaned him the unit.

He is a dear friend, who I do not wish to lose. I am very much disinclined to share ownership of a replacement projector, and certainly will NOT loan him one in the future. Insisting on a full-cost replacement would likely end our friendship, as he simply does not have the funds to do so in the short term.

What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Swallow it. A video projector that costs $400 is nowhere near as valuable as a "a dear friend, who [you] do not wish to lose." He had no ill intent. It was very noble and responsible of him to offer to split the cost. It could have happened on your watch just as easily as it did on his. Again, swallow it.

If the projector is a real necessity, something you need on a regular basis, make your next AskMe question should be about cheaper projection alternatives.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2008 [7 favorites]

If you believe it was an act of fate, why would he owe you anything? It just Happened, nothing to do with him.
posted by soma lkzx at 2:12 PM on November 21, 2008

The lamp (a consumable part) blew on a projector you found in a dumpster, and you are considering billing your dear friend because he happened to be using it at the time? Put it back in the the bin from whence it came (or better, recycle it properly) and forget about it. Easy come, easy go.
posted by contraption at 2:12 PM on November 21, 2008 [13 favorites]

It seems like you loaned him an old defective projector, the bulb of which could have just as easily blown on your watch.

It's not clear to me that he did anything wrong... aside from some scratches around the bulb. Do the scratches impact the functionality (or non-functionality) of the projector? Or are they just cosmetic?

My advice to you is to eat it, and buy yourself a new projector. Your friend was VERY generous in offering to split the cost of a new one. He didn't have to do that, and you should accept his kind suggestion.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:15 PM on November 21, 2008

First off, if 10% have the bulb blow after this time, I'd say write the projector company and see about an in-warranty or even out-of-warranty repair/replacement.

Aside from that, the money issue...with the primary goal of keeping a friend.

Ask yourself, would you loan a projector to him again? If the answer is "yes" then go ahead and split the cost since his use of it will likely be the same, and he will probably feel better about having paid for the replacement.

If you wouldn't loan it to him again, which CAN be done and salvage the friendship (I would do a friendly " have bad luck with these things") then just say that you would rather wait and get one that has X feature (make up some little excuse), or that you are afraid you two may need it at the same time.

Finally, what's done is done. If the primary goal is truly to salvage the friendship, don't bother asking about the scratches. Does it really matter if the primary goal is friendship salvation?

Personal story: when going to a store with a friend that friend opened my door carelessly creating a huge dent in my car door. He offered to pay, an offer I accepted. However, the repair amount happened to be very close to an amount he had previously lent me, so we just called it even; but the fact that I didn't get the car repaired promptly made him mad, feeling that the money didn't go to the car. The friendship was damaged, though we both felt "in the right". In retrospect, for $300, I'd rather have the friend.
posted by arniec at 2:15 PM on November 21, 2008

If he has $200 to put towards a projector for himself, then he has $200 he can give you towards replacement of your projector. This projector would be yours. Since he's rendered yours useless, and all.

I would bring up the scratches. Good friend or not, he broke something of yours. You don't have to be a jerk about it--just be straightforward. "I understand if you don't have the full $400 to replace it, but I'd appreciate if you could give me whatever is feasible for you so I can start saving for a replacement. Half would be fine."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:15 PM on November 21, 2008

Also, if the original projector was dumpstered, see if he'd be willing to help you find a "new" freebie. In fact, I think that would be the fairest way to settle this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:17 PM on November 21, 2008

If he managed to get at the bulb somehow, he could be responsible for it exploding. Almost all high intensity/energy lights I've ever dealt with warn you to never touch the bulb. Usually the glass is pretty thin, and finger oils will cause uneven heating, which leads to the bulb exploding. If he touched it then that's probably what happened.

That said, $400 may seem like a lot to the monetarily challenged, but in the long run it's a very small price to pay for a friendship. Put the whole incident out of mind. When people ask what happened to the projector, just tell them the bulb blew without elaborating.
posted by sbutler at 2:18 PM on November 21, 2008

Yeah, swallow it. The analogy is the advice never to load money to friends, just give it to them. If they pay you back, great, but if not, well, it was a gift.

That said... when when loaning out expensive equipment that I can't easily replace, I stipulate that they have to self-insure it. It breaks, gets stolen, etc. they are on the hook to return what they borrowed. Not that this is iron-clad legal argument, but at least I feel that I've set expectations.

Sorry about the projector. Damn those bulbs.
posted by kamelhoecker at 2:21 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, if you "dumpstered" the projector, does that mean you paid nothing for it? If that's the case, it's particularly crappy for you to insist on being reimbursed for the full value of the projector. If you wouldn't have paid $400 for the projector in the first place, you have no business demanding money from him to begin with. Easy come, easy go.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:26 PM on November 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seconding contacting the projector company, though I wouldn't mention touching the bulb. If it's a very common issue, they'll probably have a streamlined no-questions manner of replacement. At the very least it costs you nothing to try, right?

Regarding the bulb itself, bulbs in projectors are prone to failure from thermal issues, so it's possible while your friend was "screwing around" with the bulb, it's possible he introduced some defect, or even just left some oil from his skin on the glass surface, which *may* have contributed to its early demise. Which, by the way, is why if you are running your projector and you disconnect its power by mistake, the WORST thing you can do is power it right up again. Wait 10 or 15 minutes until the bulb cools first.

And regarding the overall issue, you got it basically for free right? Anything I get for free as a happenstance (as in it wasn't a planned gift or similar) I tend to think of it as a bonus. If it works, great! If it stops working, well that's that. Certainly not worth losing a good friend over.
posted by barc0001 at 2:27 PM on November 21, 2008

You got a free projector with a bad design and when it finally broke it was in the hands of your friend?

Lets see you paid: 0 dollars.

Zero divided by two is still zero.

Your friend owes you zero dollars. Demanding payment from him is a dick move.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:34 PM on November 21, 2008 [30 favorites]

Cheap projectors (and $400 is a cheap one) are like cheap inkjet printers: they are sold at a heavy discount because the real profit is in the consumables. Lamp assemblies are rarely covered by any warranty, and often do fail before their time even under the best of conditions (permanently installed in a clean, well-ventilated place and properly maintained by a qualified person.) Did you clean the filter as often as manual said you should? Even if you did, what about the person who threw it in that dumpster? Do you have any way of knowing why it was tossed, or whether the lamp hour counter in the projector had any relation to the lamp assembly that was in it? They usually need to be reset manually, so there's really no telling. A functional, "as-new" projector is an enviable find. You should count yourself lucky for the use you got out of it.
posted by contraption at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

You loaned a person, relationship essentially does not matter, a projector. A projector with an expensive bulb which you knew or should have known would burn or blow out sooner or later.

You "dumpstered" the projector? As in got it for free? As in had no idea what the previous owners subjected this delicate machine to? Plus, your research shows it had a design flaw, that when treated with the best care is likely to kill the expensive bulb when it really has almost 90% of it's life left?

Suck it up.

You spent nothing on a used machine, who's class is widely known to have insanely expensive bulbs, plus this specific model has an essentially fatal design flaw, and this particular unit has a potentially unknown past? The friend owes you nothing, not even an apology or a description of what happened. No question.
posted by Science! at 2:50 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thus, it's probably just an act of fate that he happened to be using it when the bulb blew.

This implies it is not your friend's responsibility. Act accordingly.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:27 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Give him a hard slap on the back and say "HAHAHA you fucked around with my projector and broke it didn't you you piece of shit? HAHAHA". Then go out for beers.
posted by falameufilho at 3:39 PM on November 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

Honey, your friend didn't destroy anything, and there was no accident. A consumable bit of a piece of technology was consumed. If your boyfriend flicks the kitchen light switch and the bulb goes out, do you charge him for the replacement bulb? If your printer runs out of ink when your girlfriend is printing her resume, do you split the cost of new toner?

No, of course you don't. And that's because you're not a hosebag.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:40 PM on November 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

Projectors, especially cheap projectors, are flaky. We replace several a year because it's often more cost effective to replace the projector (often with iffy power, fans, iffy lcd or other defects) than buy bulbs. The higher end ones in key areas get more care and money.

It was binned in the first place for a reason, quite possibly because it failed power safety checks or another 'invisible' flaw. It's a model known for early bulb failure. It could just as easily have died in your house as his. If he 'fesses up guilt and offers you money, feel free to accept it. Chasing him over it though leads nowhere good. Then you'll be out a friend AND a free projector.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2008

Also, just because it reports 10 hours on the bulb, there's no guarantee whatsoever that it's true. The counter is in the projector, not the bulb. Some need to be reset manually, some are reset when you remove the bulb. Even if you put the same bulb straight back in...
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:46 PM on November 21, 2008

I also assume you know that the bulb is a slot in cartridge-type affair kept in a sealed compartment inside the body of the projector; messing with the rubber seal of the lens on the outside will not cause the bulb to blow at all. Only opening up the compartment, taking out the bulb, smearing fingerprints on the inner glass, and then putting it back would cause problems.

My guess would be, he was trying to figure out how to get into it to see if it could be fixed after it had already gone bang, and he didn't know the above.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:00 PM on November 21, 2008

Like many here, I'm stunned that you would even consider charging your friend because a bulb randomly blew on his watch rather than yours. I know how painful it is when the objects you depend upon let you down and you're casting around for someone to make responsible for it, but he didn't break your projector. He didn't break your projector. You know that already, but try to assimilate it fully.

Bellow and weep for a while about how we live in a physical world in which everything around us, everything we see and touch and know, will eventually fail and decay. The projector bulb isn't the half of it.

Then take your friend out for a beer, coffee or your preferred beverage, and have a laugh together about it all.
posted by Acheman at 4:05 PM on November 21, 2008

If he came over to print a 30-page document and your printer ran out of ink during the job, would you require him to replace the entire ink cartridge? Pay for half?

Add to that, you got the projector for free.

Sucks that it doesn't work anymore, but it was bound to go eventually.

Also, n'thing the suggestion to contact the manufacturer. If the bulbs have a known flaw, they might have a replacement program in place.
posted by paperzach at 4:07 PM on November 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Nthing the "forget it", especially since you know that the model had a flaw that caused this to happen regardless of who was using it at the time.

Holding your friend responsible at all would be petty and ridiculous here.
posted by rokusan at 4:13 PM on November 21, 2008

The key point to keep in mind here is that the projector is not broken. The bulb in a projector is meant to be a consumable part, that requires regular replacement. It's like a printer running out of ink. Your friend doesn't owe you anything.
posted by wsp at 4:29 PM on November 21, 2008

Insisting on a full-cost replacement would likely end our friendship, as he simply does not have the funds to do so in the short term.

Let it go. It doesn't sound like he's particularly to blame, and you lost $0 on this. If the principle of the thing is so important to you have him buy you a beer.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:48 PM on November 21, 2008

#1: There would be no reason for him to screw around with the bulb before it blew...but when it blew, I can see where he might (foolishly) have tried removing the bulb and putting it back in to see if it would come back to live. So likely the "screwing around" didn't blow the bulb.

#2: It's not actually broken; if you loaned him your inkjet printer with very little ink left, and he printed some pages and the ink ran out, then he screwed around with the ink cartridge to see if more ink would come out but it wouldn't, and the cost of buying more ink matched the cost of the printer...well, then you'd be in exactly the same position. Bulbs are a consumable, like the ink.

#3: The propensity for blowing bulbs (the design flaw) is why that projector costs $400, and the bulbs cost $400 -- they sell the projector at a loss and make up for it on overpriced bulbs that blow often. This is likely a feature, not a bug.

#4: Before you loaned it to him, it already indicated the bulb was near end-of-life, but sometimes even bulbs with a lot of life will break, because they're fragile.

So you say "no worries, mate, it was at the end of its life anyway", forget about it having any impact on your friendship, and then you either toss the projector or buy a new bulb or walk away from the projector.
posted by davejay at 5:22 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Er, make that "toss the projector or buy a new bulb or buy a new projector."
posted by davejay at 5:28 PM on November 21, 2008

$0 seems to be the consensus, and for good reasons. If you want to be really "fair" to the detriment of being polite, you can request that your friend pay you for the bulb usage he wasted. So, if the bulb is supposed to last 250 hours and he used it for 5 hours, he owes you 1/25th of the cost of the bulb.

Anything else is just like lending someone your car to go to the grocery store with an almost-empty tank of gas and demanding a refill just because the low-gas-light happened to light up on his watch. Even the prorated request is a dickish move, since these kinds of arrangements should be figured out beforehand, and your friend may not have wanted to borrow the projector if he knew of the costs. Since he's offering to compensate you, declare it a moral victory, say 'it's OK, things happen' and move on with your life.
posted by bsdfish at 6:22 PM on November 21, 2008

Even if the bulb costs as much as a new projector, it still makes sense to just buy the bulb. The projector is not broken, and you won't be unnecessarily sending a big chunk of electronics to the landfill.
posted by odinsdream at 7:37 PM on November 21, 2008

I'm reading this as the OP having used the bulb for less than 10 hours total. Regardless, buying a used projector will result in buying a used bulb - thus, you are paying more for a bulb that won't last as long as a brand spanking new one, so you would buy the bulb.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 7:44 PM on November 21, 2008

You should suck it up and stop being greedy. Your friend should buy the first round when the two of you go for beers to laugh about how your suckass dumpster projector turned out to belong in the dumpster.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:14 PM on November 21, 2008

All right, everyone else on this thread convinced me I was wrong. Your friend doesn't owe you anything (though I still think offering to split a projector with you is a weird fix for this situation).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:25 PM on November 21, 2008

You are asking whether he should pay you back for something you got for free? Seriously?
posted by sid at 11:09 PM on November 21, 2008

falameufilho: "Give him a hard slap on the back and say "HAHAHA you fucked around with my projector and broke it didn't you you piece of shit? HAHAHA". Then go out for beers."

Let your friend buy you the beers. Then, call it even. This sounds like it was likely not the friend's fault.
posted by JMOZ at 7:30 AM on November 22, 2008

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