Asking a friend to pay for what he "bought" - What will you do?
July 11, 2009 7:33am CST
This incidence took place some 25 years ago. It is somewhat tricky; it poses some moral questions about what is right and what is not right and the solution looks somewhat ambiguous to me. Read it and tell me what you would have done if you were in my position. I was a bachelor at that time and was staying in a "lodge" which rented out rooms on monthly basis to employed bachelors. I was commuting to my workplace with a bicycle. I switched to a new job and my new job location called for traveling by suburban train. I was also at the verge of getting married and hence I was about to vacate the lodge. My bicycle had no more use for me and it was lying in a corner inside the lodge, gathering dust. I wanted to sell it off and one school teacher, who was a lodge-mate and with whom I was reasonably friendly, offered to buy the bicycle. He was middle aged, a man of respectable demeanor, who supported his family living in a far off village through his salary. He inspected my bicycle, took a test ride and negotiated the price. I offered him at a price lower than the market rate; he said he is buying it but he will pay only by the first week of next month when he would get his salary. I agreed and told him that the deal was through, the sale made and the cycle then after was his. Though he had thus "bought" the cycle, he had no immediate use of the bicycle and it continued to lie in the corner as usual. Three days after the deal was struck, the bicycle was stolen! Both of us were shocked. Being a gentleman, the teacher said, though with lots of hesitation, that since he had orally committed himself, he would any way pay for my bicycle. By the time his next month salary came, I had vacated the lodge and shifted my residence to another suburban locality. Two months passed. My friend did not send any money. At that young age, when my personal fiances were not too comfortable, I felt very strongly that a deal made by oral commitments was a deal that must be honored. Morally, I felt I had the right to demand my payment. So, I wrote a strongly worded letter to him, admonishing his "forgetfulness" on his commitment. I offered him a twenty percent discount on the offered price and requested him to send the money immediately. Within a week, I promptly received the payment from him with a letter that expressed his hurt on my strongly worded statements. I felt really bad about the whole episode. I felt belatedly that it was not too correct on my part to have behaved like a money-lender on that matter. I thought over the whole thing and decided to do an act of charity. I donated half of the amount paid by him to a charity and asked the charity organization to issue the receipt in the teacher's name. Once the receipt reached me, I forwarded it to the teacher and expressed my apologies for hurting his feelings. Only afterwards, I gained some peace of mind. Now, tell me friends. What would you have done if you were in my position?
11 Jul 09
What a horrible situation ! I can understand your having been disturbed at that point of time.On a personal front, if you ask me, first of all I will not get into any transaction with a friend. Now, that the transaction has taken place though orally, I would have convinced myself that it was meant to be stolen and I was not fated to own the bicycle and the oney was not fated to be with me anymore.I would have further convinced myself saying that if it were not a roommate and it were an outsider with whom I had orally spoke, the transaction does not become complete without exchange of consideration and the product. I was just fated to lose that money and I would have not asked him for the money because the cycle had not been given.If the buyer were myself too[ meaning I was the teacher] I will not take the cycle beforehand.I would have said categorically in no uncertain terms that it would be mine only after I paid for it[if the seller /you, had said that the deal was struck] Anyhow, C.V.Rajan , since you have asked us I am sharing what I would have done..And hypotheitically I would have done only what I have written.In fact I hate to ask for anything and I hate to lose in a transaction also and that is why I NEVER would get into any transaction.
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11 Jul 09
A different perception. I wonder why a sales transaction cannot take place between friends. If I were the teacher too, I would have taken the same line as you - not accepting the bicycle till the payment is physically made. But at that time, both of us (Myself and the teacher) made the mistake of concluding the oral transaction and both of us were quite serious to honor our words. The teacher, though outwardly unhappy, did indeed want to honor his words. The only thing happened in him was when I went out of sight, the issue (conveniently) went out of mind in him!
12 Jul 09
I feel that transaction between close people is likely to spoil a relationship.When the deal is between outsiders it is a purely commercial transaction and the deal is over.If only you had agreed to deliver a cycle to a secondhand shop, the next day[and imagine that the shopkeeper had inspected it in your room earlier by chance], would you be able to tell him that the cyclle had been stolen? It is not possible. If it were some other product that you had inspected in a shop and agreed to buy and kept aside for half an hour to come back later and pick up, would you pay for it if it were missing? THis is indeed a tricky situation but this is precisely why I would never get into such transactions.[as such relationships are fragile and who needs additional complications of transactions?]