Fair price of old TV
August 27, 2012 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Hi I am responsible for compensating a two year old TV bought for $900 then. (A guest in my party broke and no one is owning up...ex-landlord is behind me now) Similar model (brand new) is $600 now all included and being demanded 600, citing the higher price paid then. What is a fair price that I should pay? How do I make a convincing reply ? ....please help....
posted by daveg02 to Law & Government (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you took this to People's Court, you would only be responsible for the value of the item at the time of the loss.

So check out ebay or whatever, and find out how much the make and model of the TV you broke goes for.

If you buy a new TV the person is in a BETTER position because the TV is two years newer.

So go to a pawn shop and see if you can buy the exact same TV. Or offer $400 or $300, or whatever the two year old one goes for.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Don't admit or pay anything - They cannot hold you liable. At all. Never mind trying to get money from you.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I respect that you're taking responsibility for this, since it was your party and your guest. Sometimes being honorable is better than following the letter of the law. How about finding a used replacement and installing it yourself. It would be cheaper than a comparable brand new TV and a fair way to settle this.

or, what the bunny said...
posted by HuronBob at 9:58 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you decide to take responsibility-- about which I offer no judgment or advice-- offer a fraction of the $600-- you're replacing a 2-year-old-TV, not making it new again. The depreciation of a TV is something the owner must take on, because a TV is not an investment. Likewise, you are not an insurance company that offers replacement value. (If they do have insurance, they need to make a claim and stop bothering you for money. If they don't have insurance, they should be prepared to settle for less than total replacement.)

I would offer $250 with the intention of paying something closer to $300, and never go over $400.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:03 AM on August 27, 2012

IANAL, but you're only responsible for replacement value. I mean, the original price paid isn't even necessarily the same as its original value, let alone its current value. Even if someone paid $10k for that TV, that doesn't mean it was ever worth $10k. Far from it.

To spite the landlord -- and, incidentally, to reimburse the landlord in the most fair manner possible -- replace it with the exact same TV, preferably in the exact same condition (or slightly better, to be safe). Check around at pawn shops or on Craigslist. Do not give cash. Then, let your reply be the delivery of the TV. Nothing more, nothing less.

Whatever you do, don't get into some longwinded back-and-forth. If they continue to hassle you after you've replaced the item, request that they direct all future inquiries to the local police station. Tell them that if they refuse to stop hassling you, you'll be contacting the police on their behalf (i.e., that you'll file a police report for harassment). They'll most likely get the hint.
posted by matlock expressway at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2012

I find it amazing that so many people are claiming that the $600 TV will be a huge victory fot the property owner.

The property owner has the inconvenience of sourcing and installing a new tv, disposing of the old tv, and his reward is a TV that is essentially the same as what he already had. 2 years newer, but that's not worth much because TVs have a long life, and now he's at risk of buying a lemon (whereas the 2 year old TV was guaranteed not to have infant mortality problems.)

I'd also be wary of replacing it with a used unit, because if somebody is selling a 0-2 year old TV, it's likely because it has problems.

I'd pay $600.

Legally, I might not have to do that, but if I was in the owner's shoes, I'd want to be made whole, and I'd consider $600 whole, so I'd pay $600. If somebody did this to your TV, what would you want from them?
posted by grudgebgon at 10:25 AM on August 27, 2012 [14 favorites]

Unless you are completely flat broke I would just buy the brand-new $600 TV. That way you save yourself the hassle of finding another one identical to the old one, and don't wind up looking petty by quibbling over $200 (which IMHO is not a lot of money but YMMV). Putting the landlord in a slightly better position means you salvage the relationship somewhat as well.

Meanwhile grill your friends and find out how it got damaged - someone should really be owning up and offering to pay and to me they are (sorry but) a bit shitty friends if they don't.
posted by EatMyHat at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so far folks! We offered to replace or pay $ 250-350 the value of similar(used) one.

I am being told "why should I spend another 300 to make this whole?"

I got to explain all about original price, original value, depreciation etc.

oh vey!
posted by daveg02 at 11:03 AM on August 27, 2012

You owe the guy a TV that's at least comparable to what got broken. I think the landlord's being entirely reasonable.
posted by ambient2 at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

The $300 less than the $900 original price is a major part of the depreciation. I'm not sure why others think it's fair to double depreciate the TV and subtract another $300 for simply being 2 years old. That seems negligible (especially considering grudgebgon's argument that the owner's TV is known to not be a lemon which itself has some value), and I'd say since a TV usually lasts about 10 years, maybe subtract 20-30% from the $600, but that is being petty.

Considering that your party broke the landlord's TV, and now they have to deal with the inconvenience of a broken TV plus deal with you, I'd say $600 is fair for both parties (and I'd say that you should even go as to help the landlord recycle the broken TV and install the new TV).
posted by tasty at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

The $300 less than the $900 original price is a major part of the depreciation. I'm not sure why others think it's fair to double depreciate the TV and subtract another $300 for simply being 2 years old.

Actually, it isn't. A brand new, two-year BETTER TV is now $600. That's not depreciated. Now, if I had a spare $600, I might buy a new TV simply to keep the peace. BUT. It's not fair for the landlord to get a newer, better TV, simply because one of my asshole 'friends' broke his older TV.

All things being equal, if I can replace the TV for $300 with the same brand, model and vintage TV, that's all I'm required to do.

OP, for grins, please provide the make, model and size of the TV and we can go online to see what the Fair Market Value of the TV is.

The landlord is incorrect, he doesn't have to spend $300 "to make this whole" if the TV was only worth $300.

If you come in with the same thing and mount it for him, there should be no issue.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:52 AM on August 27, 2012

I think the distinction in opinions here is between what you are legally obligated to do and what (some people) think you should ethically do.

Your legal obligation is to compensate him for the value of the item with depreciation taken into consideration (consider this compared to a car accident - even though my car cost me a lot when I bought it, I won't be compensated for that amount if it is totaled). I am not an insurance estimator, but I think a 50% depreciation for an item that is 2 years old is a bit aggressive since I don't think many people replace their TVs on a 4 year cycle. That said, 30-40% depreciation sounds reasonable, which puts your obligation at $360 - $440 (for $600 value).

I think you would earn quite a bit of karma by paying your landlord the full $600 value of the TV, since that's what I'd want someone to do if I was in your landlord's position. In particular, there is quite a bit in hassle in selecting an equivalent TV, purchasing it, and installing it. You should take that comment as a personal opinion, not as something that you necessarily must do.

If you want to get this matter behind you for the least cost, you could consider mailing him a check for the amount you decide on, stop talking to him at all (ignore all phone calls and emails), and let him either accept the money or sue you. For an amount of money like that, most people wouldn't go through with the suit. That said, I might, because I don't like people breaking things I own.
posted by saeculorum at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would replace the TV with one better than was there in the first place, because it's the classy thing to do. Your legal obligations have very little to do with the situation.
posted by w0mbat at 12:10 PM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]

I can add that this guy is your landlord. If you want to take a hard-edged, unsympathetic approach with him, what do you reasonably expect in return?
posted by ambient2 at 12:25 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

The thing is, as Ruthless Bunny notes, the price of flat-screen TVs keeps falling as they become more of a mass-market item. Your legal obligation may be the value of the depreciated item; the same amount of cash could probably buy a new, better model right now.

I'm assuming this is a deal where you've moved out ("ex-landlord") and you're responsible according to your lease for items in a furnished apartment, or part of a roommate/sublease situation. Agreement on a value is thus important for either replacing the item or having it replaced out of your security deposit -- I assume. If this, unpaid, means a deficiency then he has the option of taking you to small claims court.

Given the amount it is just possibly worth hiring an attorney to negotiate a settlement, not so much on a dollar amount basis as versus the risk of having a court case and/or judgment on your record.

I note I'm taking this more seriously than you've depicted the situation; if wrong, I apologize, but I think you may be looking at this as something between acquaintances rather than a potential legal liability.
posted by dhartung at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2012

Before you shell out $600, check out the Sears Outlet. You can get something very similar to what was in the apartment and it should satisfy your landlord.

The good thing is that they offer a 12-month warrantee, and the prices are very good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:50 PM on August 27, 2012

This is why landlords demand large deposits. Despite some idiotic advice to the contrary, you are responsible for the behaviour of your guests who damage the landlord's property. The landlord is entitled expect any damage to be made right (equivalent condition, quality, age) without quibble, he is also entitled to consequential costs incurred.

Behave like a jerk and he can always get another tenant. Sucks for you that your friends are also seem to be jerks as they should do the decent thing and cover the costs collectively.
posted by epo at 3:08 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not fair for the landlord to get a newer, better TV, simply because one of my asshole 'friends' broke his older TV.
Life is not fair.

The landlord should see a new TV of equal or greater capacity in the place of the broken TV, and it should not cost them time or money to replace it. If someone staying at my place snapped my $2000 laptop in half and then gave me $1000 because, well that's what you can get it for on craigslist nowadays, I would be... disappointed. (and I would make sure that they would be too...)
posted by smidgen at 4:50 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's not fair for the landlord to get a newer, better TV, simply because one of my asshole 'friends' broke his older TV.

Yes it is. Your guests are your responsibility.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

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