What is my ethical duty if I drop a guitar in a store?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Max, Dec 14, 2003.

  1. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    Here's a question I where I would appreciate input from my fellow talkbassers. Saturday I am in a music store with my son picking up a part for his drum kit.

    While he is attending to that, I am looking at guitars and I pick off the higher rack, a re-issue Strat. I carefully go to hang it back up and let go of it, and alas, it swings out of the U-shaped bracket holding it and falls to the floor. It is a 57' US reissue strat with nitro finish which to me is very soft. The fall causes two nickel sized divots at the guitar on both sides. Down to the wood.

    Obviously I was not fooling around and had been careful to hang it back up. I feel terrible and leave my name, address and phone number. The owner is not there until Monday. The manager on duty is somewhat cool about it and assures me that something can be worked out to make everyone happy. I do not commit either way as to what I am going to do. I do ask 1. What's the invoice and 2. Do they have insurance and I get vague responses.

    Well, I go home, and still feeling terrible begin to figure out how to pay for it. The manager did tell me his cost is $900. As the weekend progresses and I talk to multiple friends, they tell me I should not even think about buying it, accidents happen, tough luck for them. There is a sign at the store that says "you break, you buy" which is not really legally enforceable.

    So what would you guys do?
  2. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I don't have any real advice for you, but I think you did the right thing by coming clean.

    If you have a friend who's an attorney, or knows one. They may give you an "over the phone" tip or two.
    I also don't think you should have to "foot the bill" for the guitar.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    my opinion: for whatever it's worth......

    you've already done more than most would have. it's seems up to them, if i understood you correctly, to make the next call. i would let it go and see what their next step is. i would imagine it would be nothing.... i can't see them having you pay for it, that wouldn't seem very ethical on their part. i'm SURE they must have some sort of return policy with fender, some way of dealing with that kind of stuff. it happens ALL the time, without people being as honest about it as you. perhaps you could email or call fender and ask them what they think about the situation?

    that's sooooooo rough though. in my case, i would be off the hook simply because i COULDN'T pay for it. blood cannot be sucked from this stone.

    good luck. i'm grateful to not be in your shoes at the moment.
  4. floydman

    floydman Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2002
    southeast CT
    I think what I would end up doing would depend on whether I knew the guys running the store or not and whether they were nice guys or not. If they were jerks I wouldn't feel quite as bad giving em a big screw you. I'd still feel really bad. I probably just would never end up going back to that place again. On the other hand, this could be a good opportunity to pick up the guitar super cheap. It will be hard to keep them from thinking that you dropped it on purpose in order to get it cheap, however. whatever you do, good luck. well done coming clean with the manager right off. that must have been hard.
  5. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Hmmmmm, I'd say, there's no need for you to pay for it, since it sounds like an honest-to-goodness accident. I mean, it's not like you were trying to throw it around your body! I think you're in the clear and although you may feel bad about what happened (I would too) and want to do the right thing by them, I don't think you're responsible for it and they shouldn't even attempt to make you pay for it. Good luck!

    EDIT: IMO, the "you break it, you buy it" thing is to discourage foolishness and horseplay in their store, I don't think it's to punish honest people like yourself.
  6. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    They have no legal recourse. There's no such thing as "you break it, you buy it". I have had this happen when I worked at a guitar store. Crap happens. Don't worry about it. Just be careful like you were. It happens. Just take an extra bit of business there.
  7. Wow...

    I wouldn't of left my name.

    If no one saw me drop it,I would have simply put it back up and ran the F out of there! my GC has many instruments with scratches,dents,divots,etc in them from poor handling.

    You tried your best to secure it,but it fell...Sh1t happens dude.
  8. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Your homeowners insurance will take care of this if they press the issue. The company may get pissy at your admission of guilt, but simply say you were protecting yourself by leaving your name.
  9. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
  10. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    way to go man......a lot of folks would never fess up to that......you don't know me, but i applaud you for taking responsibility for your actions.....it would have been so easy to hang it up and walk out without saying a word....however, the softest pillow is a clear conscience...just imagine how bad you would have felt everytime you went back in there if you had not said a word....

  11. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Maybe you dont have any kind of legal obligation, but do you want to leave that store $900 in the hole for your mistake.

    I know it was an accident and accidents do happen, but I say it would be wrong to not buy the guitar from them. Even if you are buying it at cost, they are still losing money since they arent selling it as new and making the $300 or so that they would have.

    Something else you could consider is paying them the $200-$300 profit that they could have made off the instrument if it didnt have that damage and let them sell it to a guitarist at cost.

    Personally, I'd buy it at their cost and sell it to someone else.

    Either way I think it would be wrong to leave them with a damaged guitar and no compensation.

  12. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I have a question. Is it repairable?
  13. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Even if it was that would cost money.

    Then would it be right for them to sell it as new?

    Im not sure if you were going in that direction with it, but Im just saying.

  14. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I was gonna suggest you offer to pay for the damage.

    If it is 100% repairable to the point where no-one would ever be able to tell it was ever damaged, a music store will sell it as new. I used to work for a music instument importer and one of their lines is a new product with a very unique design. As with many new designs they are having teething problems at the factory. They're getting better all the time but there are still a few guitars that get minor repairs by a local luthier before they even go to the retailers. They are then sold as new guitars and no-one even knows that repair work has been carried out.

    Is it ethical? I don't know. But I couldn't tell you if any of my basses had any repair work done before I owned them.
  15. Could there be a worse example of grammar ever seen?:D
  16. I think you have done the right thing.

    As already mentioned, your homeowner's insurance will pay for this, (well mine does), so wait and see what they ask of you.

    You'll make the right decision, you have already shown that.

  17. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Hold on! The store has insurance against just that kind of thing. That's retail, and you're under NO obligation to pay for it. The store will claim in on thier insurance, and then sell the guitar anyway as used. I wouldn't pay for it, especially not if was walking out without a guitar.

    edit: I see that you asked if they had insurance. They're required to have insurance by law.
  18. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Your honesty is noble and for that matter rare. But, that is the nature of retail. If they even suggest that you pay for it, I would never set foot in the place again.

    Any item in their store that they don't want subject to something like this should be displayed out of the reach of customers.

    My nextdoor neighbor sells Fords. I can't even count the number of stories he has shared of people backing a brand new this into a brand new that on the lot. They are never held accountable.
  19. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    This gives me an idea. You see there is this Spector bass that I have had my eyes on. But, my fiancee would kill me if I bought more equipment this year. So I will go in and "accidently" drop the bass. Then I can go home with it and tell my fiancee that I had no choice, I had to buy it because I dropped it! :D
  20. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Your letting your fiancee tell you what to buy, and you're not even married yet?! At age 35? Buy whatever you want and if she doesn't like it, too bad. Her name isn't on the checkbook ....yet

    Will she give you the ring back ....?

    Dude. take my car keys, Nuevo Laredo is famous for its Boys Town ...

    Back on topic, Max, you gotta stop ogling the girls in the gym, it is giving you shaky hands.

    Never touch a guitar in a store. Touch only high end basses. That way, when you drop it, you end up like Vegaas, taking home a Fodera or something.

    Congrats on you honesty, hope it works out ok.