How do I deal with a friend's lost object?
November 4, 2009 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Friend said I lost something of his, asked me to replace it. What should I do now?

The other night, several friends and I went out on the town. We then met up with another friend -- let’s call him Friend A – who drove us to another (and the last stop) bar.

Preface: I was on my way to becoming very drunk.

Friend A said he found his iphone charger in my belongings. I think that I might have grabbed it accidentally, mistaking his charger for my cell phone charger. He took it back; all was well.

Later, my friend reported that he lost his iphone. He asked me to search my apartment, etcetera. I searched my apartment high and low. I called the bar we were at and asked them to check the lost and found to no avail. I reported my findings to him.

Friend A then responded that he believes when I got out of the car to go to bar, he thought I dropped something. He assumed it was my phone and that I picked it up but he thinks now that it must’ve been his iphone.

I do not believe I dropped anything as I got out of his car. I was drunk at that point, but not annihilated. I feel that I would have noticed and/or retrieved said fallen object.

To figure things out, I asked my other friend (a third party – let’s call him Friend B) if he saw anything slip out with me. Friend B said he was getting out on the same side of the car as me and no, he did not see or hear anything fall out. He said if he had, he would have helped me out. Friend B also stated he never saw me with the iphone in my possession.

This all leads to my question. Friend A asked me to replace his iphone. I am not in a financial position to do so. I was pretty passive/helpful at first, doubting myself, and thinking it might have possibly been my fault, but at this point, I’m a little salty about the allegation.

I do not steal things. I have never stolen anything (except a piece of candy in a department store when I was seven) nor do I think it’s funny or mischievous to steal things when I am drunk. I have never been that type of person. I’ve heard about people who do that type of thing when loaded and I’ve always wondered where the humor or logic is.

Our friendship is important to me but there is no feasible way I can pay him. What is the right thing to do? How would you handle this situation?
posted by fiasco to Human Relations (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I think the right thing to do is to say "I never had your iPhone, Friend B will confirm that I never had your iPhone, I think it's weird that you're asking me to replace the iPhone I never used."

If you did use his iPhone during the course of the evening, that might be different.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:10 PM on November 4, 2009 [12 favorites]

Maybe something like:

"Dude, I'm really sorry that you can't find your phone, but I don't remember ever having it, and even if i did have it, and if i somehow did manage to lose it there's no way i would be able to pay you for it. i'm really sorry. why don't i buy you a beer?"
posted by kylej at 2:11 PM on November 4, 2009

Has anybody tried calling the phone? Maybe somebody found it and would give it back.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:12 PM on November 4, 2009

Best answer: So this guy thinks you took not just his charger but his iphone as well, and that you lost it? How long was the time between him discovering his charger in your possession to him discovering that he no longer had his phone on him?

Either he is accusing you of taking his phone, or he himself lost it and is trying to pin you into replacing it b/c of the mix up with the charger. Just because you were drunk does not mean you should have to replace anything that he himself was not careful about.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2009

Response by poster: Okay, uh.. it's an iThing not an iPhone. I used iPhone to pathetically mask the situation. It doesn't ring but it can sing. Sorry about that.
posted by fiasco at 2:14 PM on November 4, 2009

Your friend should know that you're not in a financial position to replace his phone, and really his request is unreasonable. His possessions are his responsibility. You did what you could to help him find it - and it's not on you to replace it.

Doesn't he have insurance on the iphone?
posted by patheral at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Friend A said he found his iphone charger in my belongings.
And exactly how did this happen? Here's hoping he didn't go through your stuff. Here's hoping this isn't a clever story to make his baseless allegations seem more plausible.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

Why not get him to question himself? Try asking simply:

"What evidence do you have that I ever had or might have lost your phone?"

Perhaps getting him to think of it in those terms might make him realize how dumb it is to try and hold people financially responsible based on sheer suspicions.
posted by hermitosis at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2009 [7 favorites]

No way should you replace this phone for him. He lost it. Not you.
posted by boyinmiami at 2:24 PM on November 4, 2009

I would say, "Sorry, I at no point had your iPhone or dropped your iPhone" and just leave it at that. As for the friendship, hell, I wouldn't want to be friends with anyone who accused me of something with zero evidence and then hit me up for $300.
posted by meerkatty at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

My daughter used to have a friend who tried to randomly make others take responsibility for her own carelessness. She'd accuse others of breaking and/or losing things that she clearly had broken/lost herself. It sounds like this is what's happening to you. Whatever you do, do NOT accept responsibility (not even in a passive way) if you are absolutely sure you are not at fault. Doing so will just encourage your friend to continue to do things like this in the future.
posted by amyms at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Even the way you write the question sounds fishy a/k/a - doesn't track as truthful.

I don't believe friend A "found" his ipod charger in your possession. This whole aspect of the story stinks, but I'm not sure I want to call your friend a liar (yes, yes I do!)

(and btw - this charger - was it attached to the ipod at the time ipod went missing or dropped out of the car? if so, that means all 3 of you would have missed the ipod+charger with cord dropping to the ground or getting mixed up in your belongings?? Doubtful. very very doubtful.)


It is OK for your friend to ask you to check around for the item.

It is NOT OK for him to ask you to replace the item unless he directly loaned it to you/handed it to you/put it in your freakin' hand himself and then you lost the item.

Do you see the difference?
posted by jbenben at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

it's an iThing not an iPhone

Um, as far as I can tell, an "iThing" is not actually, y'know, a thing. What exactly is this lost object we're discussing here?
posted by dersins at 2:54 PM on November 4, 2009

"Assuming" you had had his iWhatever in your possession isn't enough. He didn't see you with it, you don't remember having it, and no other reliable source saw that you had it. Honestly, (in my opinion) even if someone had seen it in your hand at some point, that's still not enough to ask you to replace it. Gadgets are getting too expensive to loose track of; It's his responsibility to make sure it's protected. He lost it, he replaces it.
posted by Sufi at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2009

Response by poster: In response to jbenben and Foci for Analysis:

To clarify, Friend A saw some cords sticking out of my open purse. The cords were lying on top. He then untangled the cords and discovered that tangled in my charger was in fact his charger. This is what he told me. I was not present when he discovered said charger in my belongings. I had asked him to watch my stuff when I got up momentarily.

In response to Dersins:

The actual object is an iPod. I just wanted to change the details around to disguise the story just in case but I forgot about the whole, "Well, did you try calling the phone?" or, "Did you try checking with the phone company?" bit.
posted by fiasco at 3:05 PM on November 4, 2009

Even if his charger was in your possession, it's still a stretch to say that you dropped his iPod. Tell him the internet thinks you don't owe him anything, and when he goes "Wtf kind of logic is that?" you can go "Exactly!" Or since you want to keep the friendship, I second Sidhedevil's suggestion.
posted by moonshine at 3:10 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

"I was not present when he discovered said charger in my belongings. I had asked him to watch my stuff when I got up momentarily."

Uh huh. Sure. Sure he did.

Humor me. The ipod is pretty much the same size as the iphone. Go ahead and borrow a friend's iphone with cord (charger) attached, swing it a round a bit.... now, do you really think you'd miss that going into your purse?

FYI - The ipod car charger also acts as the usb connector between the car and the ipod. You would know better than me if that is relevant to the conversation. But I think I already covered it, even before the follow-up.

Unless he put it in your hand, you never had it.
posted by jbenben at 3:13 PM on November 4, 2009

After you tell him that you did not take his phone - offer him this resource to find it.
posted by watercarrier at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2009

Why do you want to be friends with someone who accuses you of stealing or losing his iPod for no reason (or because you picked up his charger by mistake, or something)?

This is a fucked-up person, and if your not bowing to his demands means an end to the friendship, I would suggest that you'll be better off without it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2009

I still find it weird that he'd conveniently find his charager in your purse. If I was watching a friend's things and saw some stuff sticking out, I'd just shove them back in, or wait for my friend to come back and let them know stuff is all hanging out of their bag. I wouldn't just grab stuff out of someone else's bag and meticulously untangle it with suspicion that it could be mine unless I had given it to them at some point in the evening. Also, even if I was suspicious of it being my posession, I'd at least bring it up with them, like, "Oh, dude, seeing those cords dangling reminds me, I can't find my charger, but I left it near yours when I was charging my iPod at your house before we left (or whatever the situation). Could you make sure I didn't get it all tangled up in yours by accident?" I don't know, that's just ten different shades of shady to me. Even giving the benefit of the doubt of saying maybe you're friend is just super extra mischevious and curious or whatever, I personally would not appreciate anybody going through my bag without my permission.

You're not at fault unless you were expressly given this iPod at some point or had it in your posession. Even on the off chance the iPod was in your purse still attached to the charger, who's to say he wasn't the one who lost it when pulling the chargers out and untangling it anyway? I think he's just conveniently pinning the loss on you based on some tenuous circumstances.
posted by kkokkodalk at 3:49 PM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

Oh, forgot to add. If he keeps bugging you just say, "Seriously, I never had your iPod, and I never lost it," and leave it at that. Even if you could afford to replace this item, what would it really accomplish? I'd be wary of hanging out with friends who lose things then expect someone else to reimburse them for shit all the time, let alone have the gall to play it off like I stole it. And if he seriously suspects you of stealing it and it isn't just some scam, the friendship is kind of damaged already anyway.
posted by kkokkodalk at 3:57 PM on November 4, 2009

Yeah this sounds like a case of "there's no way me, the only sober one among a group of drunken idiots, lost my ipod. It must have been them who accidentally took/stole my ipod in their drunken stupor while I patiently drove them around." And has now come up with an elaborate and unlikely chain of events that would lead to you stealing the ipod.

I would just say, "I never had your ipod. No one else saw me with your ipod. You don't even claim you saw me with your ipod. I had nothing to do with you losing your ipod, I'm sorry, but I'm not paying for something I didn't lose."
posted by whoaali at 4:44 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Inform your friend that personal article insurance can be taken out on such items for as little as $1.25 per $100 of value per year.

Wish him luck next time.
posted by meadowlark lime at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2009

He assumed it was my phone and that I picked it up but he thinks now that it must’ve been his iphone.

So, he's telling you that he thought you'd lost your phone or whatever and didn't bother to say anything to you (like, say, "Hey, I think you dropped your phone"). But now that he can't find his iPod, you suddenly owe him several hundred bucks? Really? That's ridiculous.

You've made a good faith effort to look for the iPod and confirm with others that you didn't do anything to or with it. That was the right thing to do. You don't owe him any more than that.
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:37 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you were drunk and he was not, wouldn't it still be his responsibility not to allow the phone to be in the hands of drunk people? I don't see how this is not his responsibility.
posted by ishotjr at 6:00 PM on November 4, 2009

The onus is on him to prove you that you at least had his iPod in your possession at some point. He hasn't done so. Therefore you're not obligated to replace it.
posted by orange swan at 6:10 PM on November 4, 2009

Personally, I don't stay friends or hang out with people who accuse me of things, or make demands. This story is all kinds of crazy, and I can't figure out why he would have said or done anything that he said or did, and it smells funny, and I'm throwing my vote in with the "forget it" crowd.

Seriously, who needs it? YOU know that you didn't steal or lose his iPod. If he doesn't believe you, then he's not worth your time.
posted by ErikaB at 6:22 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ditto Meg_Murry. If I thought for a second that my ipod/phone/expensivegadget dropped out of a car I would look for it. If I thought a friend's ipod dropped I would tell them to look.
Also the purse thing sounds strange.
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 7:15 PM on November 4, 2009

Are you sure he even owned an iThing?
posted by anastasiav at 7:44 PM on November 4, 2009

Your friend is full of shit and even if the story of looking in your purse is true, it makes him seem like a total creep. Why would he have done that? Tell him firmly that you never had his iPod and it sucks that he lost it but you're not responsible.

And then find some friends who won't try to fuck you over for a few hundred bucks. He sounds like a Bukowski character.
posted by balls at 7:55 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

He lost his iPod and now wants to hold you responsible and attempt to guilt you into buying a new one. I had a friend do something similar to me once. She took some money out of the bank and used it to buy some stuff at the mall (and I think she forgot how much she spent). Later we went out to eat and each paid for ourselves. She had a few drinks - I had one. The next day she called me and said that she had paid for my dinner and I'd promised to pay her back, and she overdrafted her account because of the money she took out to cover my dinner, so not only did I owe her for dinner, but I owed her the overdraft fees too. We'd only been friends about 3-4 months and that ended it really fast. I never asked her for a cent and that was a crappy thing to do to someone when you overdrafted your own account.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:36 PM on November 4, 2009

You say you weren't drunk enough for you to forget things, but I'm confused as to how you believed him when he said he found his iPod charger in your purse. Were you carrying two USB cables on you?

I might not carry anything more than some lip balm, old receipts and a few pennies in my purse, but like hell if I'd even for one second not question someone who not only said they went through my purse but also found something of theirs.

Either this guy is a liar or he's a creeper trying to keep your attention for some reason.. maybe hoping that this dumb story gets you two closer somehow.

posted by june made him a gemini at 10:03 PM on November 4, 2009

All iThing cords look pretty much identical. The idea that his spotted "his" cord in your bag is odd. The concept that he went through your bag at all is bizarre. That he decided to go through your bag when you weren't there is f'd beyond words.

You're better off without this guy rifling through your stuff and trying to scam your for new iThings.
posted by 26.2 at 11:44 PM on November 4, 2009

Eh, I wouldn't make as a big deal of the whole cord thing as a lot of other posters are seeming to. My husband and I have a tangle of cords around a charging area, and specifically because the ichargers are just usb cords, it's pretty easy to take one away unintentionally, so when I see an extra one in the car, I tend to bring it inside on the assumption it migrated out there along with one of our phones/whatever. It's a bit irrational to tie the presence of a cord (easy to pick up) to the presence of an ipod (unless we're talking shuffle, not easy to pick up), but the "you had three cords hanging out of your purse, and since my charging station is a big tangled mess, I went to go check that my spaghetti hadn't attached you, and lo-and-behold it had, so I unwrapped my cord from your stuff" isn't entirely crazy. But yes, it's all about the phrasing.

And no, I would not buy my friend an ipod because he lost his on a night I was hanging out with him.
posted by aimedwander at 5:28 AM on November 5, 2009

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