Broken eyeglass etiquette - who should pay?
October 12, 2010 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Who is at fault and who should pay for the expensive broken eyeglasses to be fixed?

Person A and B live together and share a bed.

Person B uses the closet located on person A's side of the bed.
Person A uses the closet in the spare bedroom.

Person A often takes their reading glasses off and leaves them on the floor beside the bed in the 1.5 foot space between the bed and the entrance to the closet that person B uses.

Person B claims to have asked that person A not do this because it is a bad idea and the glasses will get stepped on when person B is using their closet.

Person A continued to leave their glasses there on and off for about 12 months and was asked by Person B roughly 4 or 5 times over the course of the year not to do so.

Eventually person B steps on person A's glasses and breaks them.

Person A believes that since they have kept their glasses there for a year it is not their fault and person B should pay. They don't recall being asked to leave their glasses elsewhere.

Person B believes that it person A's fault for leaving expensive glasses on the floor in front of the closet beside the bed.

Who is at fault and who should pay to have the eyeglasses fixed?
posted by stealabove to Human Relations (55 answers total)
Best answer: The floor is not a good storage location for anything that's at risk of breaking if stepped on, especially if the floor is used by more than one person.

The person who is benightedly ignorant and continued to put glasses down on the floor in an area that is used by others, after being warned that this was not a good spot, is 200% at fault for their being broken.
posted by splice at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2010 [28 favorites]

I'm gonna guess you're person B.

If you've been living together and sharing a bed for the past 12 months, I can't help but think you're beyond strict insurance-level definitions of "fault". It sounds to me like both A and B need to decide if this is the particular hill they want to make their stand on.
posted by muddgirl at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2010 [51 favorites]

People who share a bed should also be able to share responsibilities. Broken reading glasses is one of the more minor things that can result from people sharing a bed. Split the cost and buy a nightstand while you're at it.
posted by phunniemee at 10:40 AM on October 12, 2010 [10 favorites]

Person A's fault, Person A should pay. It doesn't matter if they were asked or not, if you leave an unprotected almost-invisible fragile thing somewhere where you know people are required to walk, and there are obvious alternatives (because there are: if nothing else, put the glasses under the bed, or on a little shelf, or in a hard case) you accept the risk of it being damaged. Person A was negligent with their belongings and can't blame Person B for that.
posted by brainmouse at 10:41 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

Pay for your person A's eyeglasses. Stop worrying about who is at fault, you're both at fault. I probably would normally say that the person leaving them on the floor should suck it up, but sometimes being right is just not worth the cost.
posted by mrs. taters at 10:41 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Person B knows it is often better to be happy than to be 'right' and has offered to pay to have the glasses fixed and will not be standing on any hills.
posted by stealabove at 10:42 AM on October 12, 2010 [9 favorites]

If Person B has, in fact, told Person A repeatedly to get their glasses out of their footpath, Person A is at fault. Leaving glasses in an obvious footpath is just a stupid thing to do whether or not they've been asked to move them. Do endtables, desks or coffee tables not exist in this house?
posted by griphus at 10:42 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you store things on the floor and they get broken, you pretty much surrender your claim. It's sort of like parking your fancy car on the shoulder of the road directly around a hairpin turn.

I agree with people saying that if you're in a relationship (and not sharing a bed for, say, the sake of convenience) you should probably find a way to share the expense.

But tell your bedmate that you're not helping to replace them with similarly expensive glasses unless he/she finds somewhere else to keep them. Cheap glasses can live on the floor, pricey ones can't. That's part of being a responsible grownup.
posted by hermitosis at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

The person who would like the relationship to remain intact should pay for the glasses.

But I think person A should pay. The floor is for walking not for storing glasses. Person B is used the floor for its intended purpose and Person A did not. Person A accepted the risk when they used the floor as a storage space for their glasses.

This is not legal advice and I am not your attorney or couples counselor.
posted by whoaali at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes this is all in the spirit of a good-natured argument for ribbing purposes only after having already decided that the glasses would be fixed by the person who stepped on them. :)
posted by stealabove at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2010

Then I'm going to say that both Person A and Person B are jointly at fault - Person B because s/he foresaw that someone was eventually going to step on the eyeglasses, and instead of doing something to fix it (re-arranging the bedroom, buying a bed-side table, switching who slept on which side of the bed, building a shelf between the bed and the closet, etc. etc. etc.), just nagged their partner about fixing it.
posted by muddgirl at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm a little worried by this dry, dispassionate description of what I assume is a romantic relationship, and the implied arguing over the ticky-tack details of who's at "fault" and who should be the one to shell out the cash.

Assuming I'm correct in thinking this is a fairly committed romantic relationship, just split the cost. Maybe as part of a compromise, get less expensive frames. Don't let a relatively small amount of money (we're not talking about a wrecked car) drive a wedge of resentment into your relationship.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I know countries where broken glasses are included in the stuff-in-your-house-insurance. Check that out. So you can split whatever amount goes under "own risk" , and forget about the rest and the argument (until new glasses get broken).
Also, it's silly to put glasses on the floor, but its also silly to step on them. Swap closets, of course.
posted by Namlit at 10:49 AM on October 12, 2010

In this scenario, I would be Person B and my husband would be Person A.

Person B puts the glasses in a logical place and informs Person A where the glasses are.

Person A may be puzzled, confused, or freaked when scrambling blindly for glasses for a few moments until Person B says, "They're on the [logical place] because I didn't want them to get broken."

Person A grumbles a bit but gets over it.

(Also, as Person A and Person B in my scenario have joint finances, it is in the interest of both not to have to pay for new glasses for Person A. But if it happened that they had to, it'd probably come out of the joint savings account.)
posted by zizzle at 10:50 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

If this is what happens over a relatively inexpensive item like reading glasses when Person A is clearly at fault but refuses to take responsibility... I wonder what happens in similar circumstances with bigger ticket items. Also, I wonder why Person B thinks this is equitable, respectful, appropriate, or funny in any way.

Specifically, this: "Yes this is all in the spirit of a good-natured argument for ribbing purposes only after having already decided that the glasses would be fixed by the person who stepped on them. :)"

emaphasis mine.

OP, you can engage in good-natured ribbing w/out the support of a pile-on via AskMe. What's your real point here?
posted by jbenben at 10:57 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

Maybe Person A and Person B should switch sides of the bed?
posted by booknerd at 10:59 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

Person A should've taken care of his/her belongings. That's all. A table is a reasonable place to expect that a pair of glasses would be safe, the floor, ANY part of the floor, is not.
posted by coupdefoudre at 11:05 AM on October 12, 2010

If this has been going on for around 12 months, Person A might very well be due for an eye exam, updated prescription, and new pair of glasses; new glasses that they (or their insurance) should pay for.
posted by ellenaim at 11:07 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

This isn't an etiquette question so much as it is an economics question. I recommend reading Ronald Coase's "The Problem of Social Cost." The theory is basically this: in a world of zero transaction costs, the outcome of a situation will be the same no matter where the property right is assigned. In other words, you and your partner should bargain for the most efficient outcome. Here, A wants to use the floor as a glasses storage unit, and B wants to use it as walking around space. There's no easy answer to the question of who has the right to use that space as they see fit. However, A incurs a much larger monetary loss if B attempts to use the space A is using. A is also the "least cost avoider," the person who can most easily prevent the problem by taking precautions ahead of time. (I'm assuming here that it's easier for A to put the glasses on a small table or shelf or headboard than it is for B to maneuver around the glasses in a tight space while A is sleeping.) Therefore, A should either move his glasses or should "pay" B to recognize A's property right in the floor. The "payment" could be any good or service that is worth less than the cost of replacing the glasses.
posted by decathecting at 11:09 AM on October 12, 2010 [8 favorites]

This is person A's fault. I've been wearing glasses for as long as I can remember, and I would never, ever leave them on the floor. That's just asking for them to be broken.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since person B has already agreed to pay, I would stipulate as a followup that person A invest in some sort of case they can hang on a bedpost or windowsill or some other glasses-management device, because otherwise person B is gonna keep breaking glasses and paying for them and picking glass splinters out of their feet before they've had their coffee.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2010

My sister leaves her contact lenses in glasses of drinking water. They get drunk regularly, because even when she warns people that this specific glass in the den or kitchen has her contact lenses in them, who remembers? (There are often glasses of water sitting around, and people will drink out of them if they are thirsty.) Other times they are thrown in the dishwasher.

It is 100% her fault when people drink her contact lenses.

My sister should buy more contact lens containers, and person A should buy a bedside table and replace their own glasses.
posted by jeather at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2010 [9 favorites]

Both Mr. Shoes and I wear glasses. We were both taught by frugal parents that if you break your glasses you'll be in a world of trouble. We are especially careful with our glasses (even though they were inexpensive from Zenni) and even careful with each other's glasses. If I happen to fall asleep on the floor, maybe camping with the kids, Hubby will pick my glasses up for me. If Hubby falls asleep on the couch I'll move his glasses somewhere safe. There have been times when we've woken up and had to ask "Where are my glasses?"

As a person who wears glasses, if I was the one who left my glasses in a known walkway I would feel like an idiot and replace my own glasses.

However if I was the one who did the damaging I'd still feel bad and at least offer to pay for part.

Since you've already agreed to pay for the glasses I think you should insure that investment by getting A a bedside table to put those glasses on. (If A already has a nightstand and still put the glasses on the floor then you have no liability for the glasses.) If there isn't room for a bedside table maybe on of those pockets that goes between the mattress and box spring for remotes.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

Person A should suck it up and pay. Keeping eyeglasses on the floor is reckless—what if Person B had stepped on the glasses barefoot? Person A should thank his or her lucky stars that no one was hurt and that he or she didn't have to pay medical bills.

Person A is entirely at fault here. ENTIRELY. I try not to behave like Person A, and I'm glad I don't share a bed with someone who behaves like Person A.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:26 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

A is at fault.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:29 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I totally think it's something closer to 50/50 fault.

I mean, if you person B knows that eyeglasses are going to be on the floor there, shouldn't person B have at least a little bit of duty to be careful around that place? How hard is it to scan 1.5 feet of space before walking in the area?

I understand that person A is on notice that the behavior is dumb and dangerous. In fact, it may be dumber and more dangerous. But person B knows about person A's dumb behavior.

Let's say that person B didn't break the glasses, but the glasses cut person B's foot. Who is at fault now? Person A who always leaves the glasses there, or person B who knows that person A always leaves the glasses there?

In any case, invest in a nightstand or a wall shelf.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:30 AM on October 12, 2010

I also came in to suggest that Person B might want to lovingly present the replacement glasses in a handy dandy bed caddy, accompanied by note stating that if reading glasses are ever found on the floor again that Person B reserves the right to tap dance on them, accidentally or not.
posted by peagood at 11:31 AM on October 12, 2010

Best answer: OP, you can engage in good-natured ribbing w/out the support of a pile-on via AskMe. What's your real point here?

You obviously have never lived with a glasses-floor-putter. These people, whatever good qualities they might otherwise possess, are insane when it comes to putting glasses on the floor. And like other insane people -- those who insist that leaving the cheese slicer out on the counter is unforgivable, for example, or those pathologically unable to pin their socks together and put them in the wash instead of rolling them up and leaving them in little bundles scattered around the floor -- can be utterly insistent on their twisted view of reality to the point that even the sanest and most balanced co-resident (nonchalant about the cheese slicer, punctilious about socks) can begin to doubt his or her grip on the reality of the situation.

In these situations, it is often useful to throw open the question to the wider society of one's peers, if only to reassure oneself that up is up and the sky is still blue. This also serves to further the painful path of restoring one's beloved bedmate to sanity, by refusing to indulge their delusion.

Thank you, AskMefi answerers. In your way, you are all heroes.
posted by Dreadnought at 11:41 AM on October 12, 2010 [26 favorites]

I put my glasses on the floor, and support Dreadnought's statement 100%.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think, if Person B is really bothered by this, Person B should speak up and propose a solution before it becomes a problem, even if it's a nail on the wall on which to hang the glasses. Person B should warn Person A that Person A is on the hook (haha) to replace the glasses if this should continue.

I'm kind of disappointed that this isn't about the ruined-scarf lady. I'm curious to see what else is up with that.
posted by SillyShepherd at 11:59 AM on October 12, 2010

In the spirit of Dreadnought's reply: those who leave their glasses on the floor are crazypants.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:01 PM on October 12, 2010

...or don't have anywhere else to put them and don't see why they can't be avoided if everyone knows they are there.
posted by muddgirl at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2010

Part of the equation in my mind would be the bedroom owner. If you fail to provide a suitable nightstand for your long term companion, you'd certainly take some of the blame for them placing glasses on the floor.
posted by politikitty at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2010

Who is at fault

Person A.

and who should pay to have the eyeglasses fixed?

Whomever loves the other more. Or, whomever has more money. Or, whomever did something else dumb and hurtful most recently and is already in the doghouse.

It's a relationship, not a business.
posted by nicwolff at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2010

...or don't have anywhere else to put them and don't see why they can't be avoided if everyone knows they are there.

The problem with eyeglasses is that they're difficult to see, being largely transparent. Especially when one's brain is cloudy with sleep.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:07 PM on October 12, 2010

What if you keep a brightly-colored bowl or box on the floor that Person A can stick their glasses under? They'll be visible AND protected. Win win.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2010

I didn't say Person A was right - I just think I understand their perspective pretty well, being "crazypants" myself.
posted by muddgirl at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2010

Sigh. For what it's worth, Mr. WanKenobi plays for the crazypants team. I regularly pick his glasses up off the floor, and other bad storage places such as in bed directly in my sleeping spot. He does so because he's forgetful, but he has no delusions that storing transparent, expensive items where they can be easily and accidentally destroyed by people who aren't totally awake is a good idea. In fact, when I hand them back to him, his stock response is, "See? This is why I can't have nice things!"

Really, pointing out something like that isn't due dillegence, because you're expecting an awful lot out of someone not likely totally yet-conscious, and who is also going about a daily routine. Most people's daily routines do not involve a bleary-eyed search for eyeglasses on the floor so that they can avoid them.

Here's an extra solution on top of all those calls for nightstands: use a hard shell eyeglass case.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:17 PM on October 12, 2010

Person A should pay to replace their own glasses because they shouldn't have left fragile glasses on the floor.

Person B should buy person A a bedside table to put the glasses on.
posted by mandanza at 12:40 PM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: If person A is leaving their glasses anywhere and not in a case then it's totally their fault when the glasses get broken. I've been wearing glasses since I was ten, and even back then I was able to understand that they are something to be looked after and that putting them in the case is my responsibility. If a clumsy ten year old can get them into a case when not wearing them then someone old enough to share a bed can do so to.
posted by shelleycat at 1:24 PM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The owner of the glasses is responsible for their care. Leaving nice things in a place where feet commonly walk means that they have accepted the possibility that someone might step on them.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:28 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Person B is gonna be in deep shit after Person A finds this on MeFi. :-)
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:51 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

And unless the prescription is something exotic, I suggest paying around $25 at for a handy cheap spare pair of glasses.

I like being able to try out different shades of tint in my prescription glasses, and at worst, if I don't like a particular color, I'm out $25 (my *shipped* cost).
posted by mrbill at 1:57 PM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I haven't left glasses on the floor since I was a kid; I was taking a bath, you know, had a pretty good expectation of privacy and that I'd be all alone and that when I got out of the tub, I could grab my glasses and stick them right on my face without any flailing.

And my mom walked in (walked right in! I mean, walked right into the bathroom where I was taking a bath!) and I heard my poor glasses, my only connection to the rest of the world, my tool that allowed me to function without squinting, bumping into things, and sticking my whole face up to things until my nose touched just to try and figure out what they are...MY GLASSES!...just go crunch.

If glasses aren't even safe on the floor when I should be alone in a room and no one else should be walking around, then they're definitely not safe when other people are likely to be walking right by them. Person who stuck 'em on the ground is at fault.
posted by galadriel at 1:59 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

To me it comes down to the warnings. In general, I don't see the floor as single-use space wherein walkers have complete freedom and no duty to avoid. I would assert that walkers have a duty to watch where they are walking. (Would you step on the cat? Would you twist your ankle in a pothole? Do you stub your toe on the street curb? Would you scuff your partner's dress shoes when stored on the floor?) This is particularly true if A had been justified in assuming that A & B would wake up at the same time and therefore, the floor would be a non-walking area during the duration of storage. Had there been no warning, I'd say it was 50-50 responsibility.

That said, B had warned A that B could not be responsible for avoiding glasses stored there. That removes B's duty in my book. So, A should replace the glasses. There is a bit of gray area here because of the (s)he said / (s)he said around the warning, but I'd give the presumption to B, because it's more common to forget having heard something than to hallucinate having said something. If A's claims of not remembering ring at all true to B ("hmm, maybe I didn't..."), then it goes back to 50-50.
posted by salvia at 2:09 PM on October 12, 2010

i have put my glasses on the floor next to the bed and next the couch BUT i put them under the the edge of the bed or couch so that no one can step on them. my brother still stepped on them (next to the sofa) but i also knew the risk of putting them there.
posted by elle.jeezy at 2:23 PM on October 12, 2010

I can hear the voice of the fitter I dealt with last time: "On your face or in their case! The only exception is while washing and drying them. "
posted by Lexica at 2:32 PM on October 12, 2010

If A left them on a night stand and B stepped on them B would be at fault because night stands are not for stepping. If A leaves them on the floor and B steps on them A is an idiot.
posted by Carbolic at 2:42 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: From an etiquette standpoint rather than a People's Court one: A should apologize for leaving them out, make sure B's foot is okay, shoulder the cost of the new glasses, and promise not to leave the new ones on the floor. B should apologize for stepping on them, offer to replace the glasses (which A should politely decline), and refrain from any told-you-sos.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:55 PM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

Person B should call up Person A's parents and send them over to give Person A the lecture that all nerds got at the age of 5 about HOW TO NOT PUT YOUR GLASSES IN BREAKABLE AREAS.

Seriously?! I'm sorry, but what an idiot. If someone deliberately left them WHERE THEY ARE GOING TO GET STOMPED ON and then acted like it wasn't their fault... man, I'd lose it on them.

Also, Person B should ask Person A to reimburse them for any medical injuries that may have happened from stepping on glasses (if any).
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:24 PM on October 12, 2010

This happened to me last year. I was Person A. I paid for my new (actually even more expensive) glasses, though I was admittedly peeved about it. I would have insisted we split it, but I was in a better place financially in the first place (no joint finances here, yet).

Person B had repeatedly told me to stop leaving them on the floor, but hey, we didn't have a bedside table. And switching wouldn't work because the other side of the bed was against a wall. After I bought the new glasses I invested in a $10 beside table and haven't had another close call since (except for that one time that the cat Person B insisted upon getting almost chewed through the arm of my glasses, but that is another story....).
posted by CharlieSue at 4:49 PM on October 12, 2010

Leaving them on the floor sounds like one of those habits left over from being a teenager or single person. If they think changing THAT is an imposition, they're going to have a real wake-up call waiting for them over certain other issues...
posted by hermitosis at 5:06 PM on October 12, 2010

If you must leave your glasses on the floor beside the bed, for the love of Pete, tuck them UNDER the bed, where they cannot be stepped on.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:36 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

It was an accident, but you were both asking for it. Split the cost.
posted by desuetude at 5:41 PM on October 12, 2010

Buy a damn bedside table already, too! Geez.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:13 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

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