A WWYD dilemma involving damaged property and compensation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 06:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Mamas:

 

Here is the situation:

 

An acquaintance organized a very structured playgroup for moms & kids in the small military community where I live. I joined the playgroup back in April.  I attended a few play dates with my three youngest DSs, but felt that the structured nature of the group and it's rules (mandatory attendance at a given number of play dates) were not a good fit for me and my kids, so I left the group after a month.  

 

About a week after the last play date that we attended, the group leader approached me while I was in a group of other moms, and stated that my 5 yr old DS damaged her camera by spilling soap bubbles on it during a bubble exploration play date two weeks prior.  I was caught off guard by the accusation, so I quickly acquiesced when she insisted that I pay for 100% of the camera repair bill.  However, I did mention at the time of the confrontation that I didn't recall seeing my DS spill the bubbles.  When I mentioned the situation to my DH, he stated that he didn't believe we should have to pay any of the repair bill because the camera owner couldn't prove that my DS damaged the camera.  DH and I eventually agreed that we would offer to pay for 1/2 of the repair cost because I never saw my DS spill anything on her camera and couldn't verify any damage myself.  I personally thought it was unwise to bring a nice camera to a bubble playdate and leave it on a table where kids were using bubbles, but I'm not sure that leaving the camera on the table constitutes any negligence on her part.  Camera owner responded back to me that I was responsible for 100% of the damages (according to the playgroup agreement that I read and acknowledged). 

 

So.. I'm unsure of what to do at this point.  Should I just suck it up and pay the entire cost of the repair ($160), hold to my $80 offer (1/2 of the repair cost), or tell her to shove off?  FWIW - I will run into this person on a regular basis because she lives nearby, and we have mutual friends.  I don't want my reputation to be damaged and I also feel it is important to keep my word.  However, I also have six kids, which means that even the $80 is a sacrifice for us.  I don't want to shell out money unnecessarily in order to keep the peace.

 

Thoughts or advice?

 

TIA!


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#2 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 07:03 AM
 
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Wow... Where was she when her camera was damaged and why didn't she say anything then? You are confronted about this a week after it supposedly happened? I mean, what's wrong with people????

Paying for half is a big effort to keep the peace. You have been put in a really awkward situation and you are being very generous. At a play date with small children, you are responsible for your things. Young children cannot be expected to keep an expensive camera safe. I don't care what you signed and agreed to. If she really wants to go that route she can take you to court, where her case will pop like a bubble before her eyes.

You are being quite kind in your offer. I would hold to it. What a yucky situation. Good luck!!!
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#3 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 07:08 AM
 
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Also, she needs to provide a receipt with dates and info on the actual damage.

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#4 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 07:38 AM
 
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I agree that first of all she shouldn't have left the camera on the table and should have brought it up right away if something happened. How do you know your child was responsible. This is so strange. Honestly I think adults are responsible for keeping their things safe.
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#5 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 07:44 AM
 
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It IS strange. Makes me think don't pay a dime till you see a receipt.

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#6 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your replies, Dalia and Springshowers.  I feel so much better just knowing that others see it my way, and that I'm probably not an irresponsible jerk ;).  That said, the camera owner e-mailed me a few minutes ago to indicate that she has a witness who saw my DS "accidentally open the bubbles and spill them on the camera" and that said witness "helped clean up too."  I'm now somewhat curious as to whether or not this cleaning effort was the actual cause of the damage rather than any bubbles allegedly spilled by my DS.  I'm of the opinion that, if I value something, I shouldn't leave it where little children might get ahold of it.  If they break it, accidental or otherwise, I bear some responsibility.  


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#7 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 07:57 AM
 
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This woman sounds a little... nutty. Very strange. Does she name the witness?? Can you speak to the witness yourself?

At the point that someone calls witnesses to a child's accidental "crime" I started to feel like they are a little wacko!!

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#8 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 08:01 AM
 
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I also want to add that my son has a nanny and she accidentally ruined one of my favorite pans by washing it incorrectly. The pan was $100. Then our housekeeper broke my salt and pepper shakers. I am laughing as I write this. Does human error account for nothing? Of course I'm not gonna ask them to pay when it happened in my house on accident!!! I could understand if they threw a ball threw my car window but this seems so over the top!!!

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#9 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 08:14 AM
 
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Wow, she sounds like a piece of work. So in the contract it says something like, "You will be held financially responsible for any damage you or your child cause to the property of another playgroup member"?? (And while we're at it, a freaking *contract* for a playgroup, seriously?) And the property owner bears zero responsibility for keeping their own stuff safe? So I could leave my expensive sunglasses on the ground, and when little Johnny inevitably stepped on them, I could just charge his mom for some new ones?

That makes no sense. The camera shouldn't have been in an accessible place -- she bears at least half the responsibility.
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#10 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 08:28 AM
 
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And this is why you don't leave your expensive equipment around when children are playing with bubbles. 

 

I just don't see how you're responsible for this.  She should've kept her camera out of reach, she was negligent.  If she's pushy and entitled with you, she's probably shown herself to be that way with other people so I wouldn't really worry about your reputation.  Just tell her you don't feel responsible but wanted to keep the peace; however, if she's not willing to meet you half way then she can pay for it herself.

 

But that's me.
 

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#11 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 08:32 AM
 
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I would not even admit that your son spilled bubbles on the camera. You don't know for sure that he did. You don't know whether this witness really saw it happen, or anything.

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#12 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 08:36 AM
 
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No.  Just no.  

 

You don't leave your camera on a table in a room full of 5 year olds with bubbles.  If you do and something happens you say "wow, that was really stupid of me" and go on with your life.  

 

"I'm sorry, I won't be paying for the alleged damage to your camera."  Full stop, end of conversation.

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#13 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 08:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

And this is why you don't leave your expensive equipment around when children are playing with bubbles. 

I just don't see how you're responsible for this.  She should've kept her camera out of reach, she was negligent.  If she's pushy and entitled with you, she's probably shown herself to be that way with other people so I wouldn't really worry about your reputation.  Just tell her you don't feel responsible but wanted to keep the peace; however, if she's not willing to meet you half way then she can pay for it herself.

But that's me.

 

This ^^^
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#14 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:08 AM
 
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At this point I would pay 100% because this is the offer your made. I have a feeling this controlling woman can make life really hard for you and you kids in the community.

 

However, only pay if

 

1) The receipt clearly state that it as a damage from bubbles

 

2) The cost

 

3) Have her sign a receipt with you confirming that she received compensation from you and that she will have no future claims.

 

 

Send your request via email.  I am pretty sure she will not be able to provide you with a receipt like that.

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#15 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:08 AM
 
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We all keep saying the same thing! I can't stop thinking about this. The rule should be to cover if kids broke a window or something. Not for someone to leave an expensive item where kids can spill things on it. If it was me I wouldn't even ask for half.
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#16 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:18 AM
 
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Honestly, if I was worried about "people thinking bad about me" I'd start telling everyone I knew the story first.  

 

"She left her camera on the table on BUBBLE DAY!!  Can you believe it?  I never saw anything spilled but she seems to think ds spilled on her camera.  But really, why on earth would you leave your camera on the table near open bubbles!!  Then she expects ME to pay for it!!"

 

 

I'd start looking for new friends that aren't crazy too.

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#17 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:27 AM
 
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However, only pay if

1) The receipt clearly state that it as a damage from bubbles

2) The cost

3) Have her sign a receipt with you confirming that she received compensation from you and that she will have no future claims.

Send your request via email.  I am pretty sure she will not be able to provide you with a receipt like that.

Exactly what I was thinking!!

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#18 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:36 AM
 
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Honestly the fact that the issue wasn't addressed right away and she waited two weeks to bring it up would make me pretty hesitant to pay. The "witness" wouldn't change anything for me. If you are new to the playgroup can her friend even say with confidence it was your DS. Around here all the kids are small, white, and blonde as is my own child. I'm unsure somedays at activities if I could pick my own kid out of a line-up. Unless I knew the family I couldn't tell you for sure what kid did what were. For all I know the delay was so that she could find someone she could bully into "remembering" who spilled the bubbles.

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#19 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You guys are great!  I wish I had consulted all of you before I ever agreed to give this woman a dime!

 

I will give her a pass on some of the weird behavior because her DH is currently deployed, and goodness knows I didn't always have my head on straight when my DH was deployed.  Thankfully there are other, more sane mamas whom I've befriended in the meanwhile.  There are definite benefits and serious drawbacks to living on a military post, and one of the main drawbacks is having to interact regularly with people like this woman.


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#20 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Honestly the fact that the issue wasn't addressed right away and she waited two weeks to bring it up would make me pretty hesitant to pay. The "witness" wouldn't change anything for me. If you are new to the playgroup can her friend even say with confidence it was your DS. Around here all the kids are small, white, and blonde as is my own child. I'm unsure somedays at activities if I could pick my own kid out of a line-up. Unless I knew the family I couldn't tell you for sure what kid did what were. For all I know the delay was so that she could find someone she could bully into "remembering" who spilled the bubbles.

 

You know, that's a good point.  There weren't very many of us at the bubble playdate so I'm pretty sure she knew who was who; however, the camera owner doesn't seem to like my DS very much because, frankly, her kids are much younger, and as such, she doesn't really understand 5 yr old boys. I'm wondering if she just decided that my boy was the culprit because it fit into her paradigm, kwim?


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#21 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 09:49 AM
 
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You guys are great!  I wish I had consulted all of you before I ever agreed to give this woman a dime!

I will give her a pass on some of the weird behavior because her DH is currently deployed, and goodness knows I didn't always have my head on straight when my DH was deployed.  Thankfully there are other, more sane mamas whom I've befriended in the meanwhile.  There are definite benefits and serious drawbacks to living on a military post, and one of the main drawbacks is having to interact regularly with people like this woman.

Yeah, it seems like living in a smaller community such as this can get a little uncomfortable at times. But as a PP said, I doubt you are the only one she had been irrational towards.

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#22 of 29 Old 07-02-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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Honestly the fact that the issue wasn't addressed right away and she waited two weeks to bring it up would make me pretty hesitant to pay.

This seems odd. If she had talked to you right away I might think differently.  But it was two weeks and even then she didn't call you outright, only talked to you when she bumped into you?  Weird.

 

I understand wanting to make things right, if not with her, at least for your reputation.  Half feels generous considering.


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#23 of 29 Old 09-09-2013, 11:23 AM
 
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I also find it VERY convenient that she blames your son AFTER you've left the playgroup...

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#24 of 29 Old 09-09-2013, 12:25 PM
 
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Did your son have anything to say about it? I know at 5 the recollection might be hit or miss, and even if he did spill the burden of responsibility should be on the ADULT owner of the camera, but I'd be curious just the same.
The playgroup sounds like a nightmare anyway. Contracts and mandatory attendence?!? Way to suck the fun right out of a fun kids get together, crazy entitled camera lady!
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#25 of 29 Old 09-09-2013, 07:29 PM
 
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So here is my 2 cents - if a child breaks something of mine at playgroup, I would say something then.  I had one of DS's friends pick up my cell phone (out of my purse) and chuck it into a puddle.  It happened so quickly, there was no time to stop him, and it was zipped up in my purse (he climbed under the bench to get it.  As soon as it happened, I let his mom know what had happened.  Immediately, not 2 weeks later.  It turned out fine, but in this case I did feel the other child's mom had some responsibility mainly b/c a 4 yr old should no better than to go through someone's purse.

 

That being said, in your case I would not pay it.  She could take you to small claims court, but then she would have to provide proof that your child spilled the bubbles, and that all the damages were a result of that incident.  i still think it is odd that she had someone else help clean it up and no one said anything to you.


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#26 of 29 Old 09-11-2013, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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More replies! Thanks for your input, everyone. I did end up paying the camera lady $80, only because I felt it was a small price to pay in order to keep the peace. I gave her a personal check with "paid as agreed" on the memo line, and she cashed it, so I have proof that she accepted my terms. I don't expect to hear from her again.

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#27 of 29 Old 11-26-2013, 11:49 AM
 
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  Camera owner responded back to me that I was responsible for 100% of the damages (according to the playgroup agreement that I read and acknowledged). 

 

 

Does the agreement also say you are responsible for your own things? I would just quote that and say that and mention that your offer to pay 50% of the damages provided you get a copy of receipt and she signs that she claims no further damage. Even if it doesn't say so on the agreement, I'd say everybody is responsible for their own things and leaving a camera next to bubbles was not a responsible thing to do. 

 

She can talk all she wants, but no, I wouldn't pay her anymore. 


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#28 of 29 Old 12-09-2013, 09:32 PM
 
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More replies! Thanks for your input, everyone. I did end up paying the camera lady $80, only because I felt it was a small price to pay in order to keep the peace. I gave her a personal check with "paid as agreed" on the memo line, and she cashed it, so I have proof that she accepted my terms. I don't expect to hear from her again.

 

You are a much bigger person than me. 

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#29 of 29 Old 12-13-2013, 12:47 PM
 
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This seems really sketchy to me. If it happened at a play date and you were around why didn't she confront you then? I know you said you want to keep your word, but IMHO I wouldn't give her a cent especially because of how she is choosing to handle the situation.

 

If she has this nice, expensive camera that she is choosing to take to a place with lots of little kids running around (and playing with bubbles no less!) she should be more responsible about keeping track of her things or she shouldn't bring them at all.

 

You aren't responsible, your child (of course) isn't responsible, and you aren't even in the group anymore! Forget whatever you signed and tell her to "shove off." If this is how she treats people I'm sure you aren't the only one who will have tension with her in the future.

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