General Question

casheroo's avatar

Need help: Are we in the "wrong" in this situation? -see details?

Asked by casheroo (18086points) May 2nd, 2010

Okay, lets say you have an almost 3 year old. You ask your parents to watch him while you run out for an hour.
You put a short movie on your laptop, so you can get dressed..all the while you are supervising your child.
You put the laptop in the living room, and tell your parents you are leaving. One parent comes upstairs (has to move a car so you can get your car out) So your child is left alone for only a couple minutes with laptop.
Said parent comes back inside and goes downstairs, leaving their grandchild with laptop.

They then come upstairs and discover the grandchild has ripped apart the keyboard to the laptop. They never made any mention of it to the parent of the child, until they came home and they were questioned.
Laptop has a warranty, and goes to get fixed. Turns out, it’s been fixed too many times, and legally they say it’s a lemon and refuse to return it. Were told when taking it to be fixed that it’d be an easy fix, no need to back up information.
So, laptop with all information is gone, but can possibly pay to get the hard drive back, it’d be a hefty amount.

Now, regardless of the fact that owners of the laptop should have backed the information up (even though they weren’t informed that they may never see their own laptop again…), if they have to pay a hefty amount just to get information off of the laptop (which might not even be possible, according to the fine print) Should the owners of the laptop (and “owners” of the child) who ruined the laptop, have to pay for it all? Or the ones responsible for the child when the destruction occurred?

Or, is this a “live and learn” sort of situation?

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42 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

You are solely responsible for backing up your data.
It’s not the grandparent’s fault the owners of the laptop didn’t back up their valuable data and left a 3 year old in front of it.

Also, leaving a laptop around a 3 year old is not a good way to keep your laptop new.

Lastly, I’ve discovered your average Best Buy technician is no more qualified to fix your computer than the guy bagging your groceries so never take their word as gospel.

Seaofclouds's avatar

The parent that left their 3 year old child with a laptop is responsible, not the grandparents. What if the child merely knocked it down and broke it? There is nothing the grandparents could have done. Next time, think more wisely about what you are leaving your 3 year old with.

lillycoyote's avatar

Your parents aren’t responsible for this, you left your child with your laptop. If you have a 3 year old you should know that they can cause an amazing amount of trouble in an incredibly short time… and who is it that has refused to return your laptop? I’ve never heard of anything like that. What right do they have to confiscate your private property? That’s outrageous.

casheroo's avatar

Parent left child alone for three minutes tops, never left child alone with laptop before (he knows how it works and has used it before)...grandparents were “watching” grandchild.
@lillycoyote apparently it’s in the “fine print” which I would definitely like to see for myself.

Trillian's avatar

Allowing a child near an expensive piece of anything is asking for trouble. So yes, who made the decision to leave a three year old with a laptop will hopefully learn from this experience.
The child has never done many things before. It does not follow that they won’t do them in the future.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Clearly the best way to go here is to hit up your child’s grandparents for the cost of your baby destroying your property.

I’m absolutely certain that won’t make Thanksgiving weird at all.

casheroo's avatar

so, this is boiling down to the “fact” that a parent is constantly responsible for their childs actions, no matter if they are present or not.
For example, if he had broken their laptop, while being watched by them, would it still be the parents responsibility?

HungryGuy's avatar

A computer can break down any time. While it was dumb to leave a 3-yo alone with a computer, it was an unfortunate accident, and nobody’s fault. If the store is giving you a new computer under warranty in exchange for the old one, that’s their prerogative. If the data is really critical, you COULD probably choose to keep the old computer and not get a new one, but is the data THAT important that you’d give up a new computer for it? Yet, I think the store is being ridiculous in not giving you back your hard drive temporarily so you can recover your data. So the lesson is: back up your data regularly! Huge external USB drives, and even multi-GB thumb drives, are cheap and perfect for backing up!

laureth's avatar

If the parent is willing to leave the child alone with the laptop, it seems like the grandparent can’t be faulted for leaving the child alone with the laptop.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@casheroo For the most part, yes. If my child destroyed someone else’s property (whether I was there or not) I would at least offer to replace it. I know if my son destroyed something of my mom’s while she was watching him, she would most likely tell me not to worry about it, but I would at least offer.
Majority of the time, parents are held responsible for their children’s actions, so get use to it now. If your child breaks a neighbors window while playing down the street at a friends, it’s your responsibility.

lillycoyote's avatar

@casheroo You absolutely should find out what gives them the right to refuse return your property. That seems to me, at least, the bigger issue.

Supacase's avatar

If you left the child before one of the grandparents was ready to watch him, then I have to say it is your fault. The transfer of responsibility, IMO, happens when the sitter ‘arrives’ to begin their shift. So, if you are the one who left the child and then a grandparent came in 3 minutes later, the responsibility for the child during those 3 minutes is yours.

Why in hell won’t they give you your computer back?? That is insane.

casheroo's avatar

@Supacase I don’t understand it either!! They said it got fixed three times prior, so it is legally considered a lemon (and they are replacing it), but because they didn’t tell us that when we gave it to them..they said it was a simple keyboard swap-out, we didn’t do a big back up of the most recent stuff. So, we’re trying to get the laptop back, but it’s in some service center of Best Buys, and it might have been sent back to the manufacturer already.. I don’t really understand it at all :(

lynfromnm's avatar

Laptops aren’t toys and aren’t baby-minders.
Parents are responsible for their children until they reach adulthood.

With those two crucial elements in mind, the parent of the 3 year old is responsible for all damages as a result of the child’s actions.

HungryGuy's avatar

Hey @lynfromnm! Do I know you from somewhere :-p

Lightlyseared's avatar

I would have thought that they would have to return the laptop. Just because the company can’t fix it does not give them the right to steal the thing from you.

Trillian's avatar

“For example, if he had broken their laptop, while being watched by them, would it still be the parents responsibility?”
Not if the grandparent chose to let the kid have it then left the room.

lynfromnm's avatar

@hungryguy – I do believe so ;)

lynfromnm's avatar

When the grandparents are doing the parent(s) a favor by watching the kid for a bit, why would you presume to lay the responsibility on them? YOU brought the laptop, YOU left the kid there with it. YOU needed the grandparent to move a vehicle so YOU could leave. How is any of this the grandparents’ fault?

escapedone7's avatar

If you expected me to watch your child (probably for free) and left your child with your laptop, then blamed me for your child tearing it up, you might be able to convince me to pay for your laptop but I would never babysit your child again. Just saying.

Please remember people who don’t live with 3 year olds don’t know as much about your child as you do. I mean I don’t have a 3 year old. My house is not child proof. I have expensive items within reach. When a friend asked me to babysit once I stated I would do so at her house only for exactly that reason, and stated up front that she would have to thoroughly childproof her own home and I would not be responsible for damages if she failed to do so. Her child was very very destructive. She didn’t ask me to babysit after that. lol.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I love these stories full of red herrings. So… the child, the DVD, the grandparents, and who went where and when and why and for how long… is totally inconsequential.

A laptop has had its keyboard damaged and is being sent for a warranty repair. But the guarantor (warranter) says that he won’t repair it ‘this time’ because it’s been sent in too many times. That’s the scenario, right?

Have the keyboard repaired / replaced at your own expense. It’s not an expensive fix. The keyboard snaps in and out. Your cost would be the price of a new keyboard for your model laptop plus about five minutes’ worth of labor, and it’s not an expensive component. The time to make the repair would be less than the time to make out the invoice for the repair. (And it’s hardly fair to make a guy repair your keyboard when it was your child who damaged it due to your—collective—negligence.

Take it out of the kid’s allowance when he / she is old enough to get one. Then back up the computer more regularly and supervise young children (and cats, by the way) more carefully around it in the future.

Jeruba's avatar

Bravo, @CyanoticWasp.

On the issue of child supervision, I have to agree with those who say that you set the example. If it was all right for you to leave a child alone with a laptop, why should the grandparents (GP) be subject to a different standard? It doesn’t take more than a second for something to go wrong when a 3-year-old (“I can do it myself”) is left alone. No matter how attentive the GP are, it is the child’s parents who are sensitized to scanning every environment all the time for any possible hazards and liabilities. You want the GP to think the parents know best (and are thus entitled to judge the situation)—except when the parent thinks the GP ought to know better? Sorry, darlin’, no logic there.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

The parents will need to learn and live with it :)

lillycoyote's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Thank you. That’s kind of and more of what I’ve already tried to say a couple of times. But they refuse to return, claim they have a legal right to refuse to return, her computer. Which doesn’t seem to really bother @casheroo or anyone else. If I took something in for repair, anything, let alone a laptop, and they told me they couldn’t fix it and refused to return it to me I would have called the cops.

casheroo's avatar

@escapedone7 my parents live with him too.

@CyanoticWasp like I said, they won’t give it back. we took it in for repair because of a protection plan, bought so we don’t have to fix it..and also, because we have a toddler who might do such things like rip the keyboard apart.

HungryGuy's avatar

@casheroo – But is the store absolutely refusing to return it? Or are they giving you a choice: keep the old laptop, or surrender it for a new one? The old one may have been shipped of to Kalamazoo for repair, and there may be a cost involved in reassembling it and shipping back to the store that they don’t want to incur if they’re giving you a new computer. If that’s in the fine print of the contract, then you’re probably SOL. Otherwise, you may be able to get the old one back if you make enough noise. Then have it repaired at your own expense. And also consider if your data is worth giving up a brand new computer for. But be warned: working on laptops isn’t like working on a desktop box. Because the the miniaturization, it’s NOT just a 5-minute repair to open the laptop and replace the integrated keyboard. Another alternative, if you can get your laptop back, is to just buy a cheap external USB keyboard. I do that anyway because using a “real” keyboard and “real” mouse is so much easier than a laptop keyboard and touchpad.

Then, in the future, get an external USB hard drive. Not just for backups. For all my computers, I use the internal drive only for the OS and things that it came with. I put everything else (programs and data) on an external USB drive. That way, my data is portable, and if my computer dies or needs repair, I don’t lose my data and computer repair people can’t see my porn collection…

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@casheroo well obviously they have to give it back. If it was a lease, then they may be within their “rights” to not return it, I suppose—although that would be terrible customer service. But if you own it and it’s just an issue of whether or not the warranty applies, and they say it doesn’t, then it’s still your property. That’s perfectly obvious.

casheroo's avatar

@HungryGuy thanks for the advice..I really know nothing about computers, so I appreciate it.

@CyanoticWasp See, and I told the guy at Geek Squad that. I asked exactly, well it’s still MY laptop you guys have to give it back, right? And he said “I hate to do this, but in the fine print, when we ship it to the service center we can’t always guarantee it’ll come back. And apparently they’re saying this is allowed, which is ridiculous to me.
It’s not even about the data at this point, since I save memory cards of pictures and that’s the most important thing to me. I just can’t fathom how they can tell me I can’t have it back. I’m going to get a copy of whatever it is my husband signed.
I’m also wondering, if that’s’s my computer (bought with my credit card, and the service plan is mine..but they have it under his name for some reason).

casheroo's avatar

okay I’m actually really the agreement we have with them now, and it goes on a few times about them not responsible if we don’t back up information, but nothing about keeping the laptop and not giving it back..that’s only if we do not come and get it for 30 days (at which point they can dispose of it). I don’t know what this guy is talking about when it comes to not getting it back at all.

HungryGuy's avatar

It’s time for the lawyers to make some money…...

Seaofclouds's avatar

@casheroo I would ask to speak with the manager at Best Buy and ask them for the number to where they sent it and call them as well. I would tell them that if this isn’t resolved quickly and to your satisfaction that you are going to make a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as well. Good luck!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

When I had my laptop replaced, they gave me back my old hard drive with the new laptop.

I could understand them not wanting to give you back the whole laptop when they gave you a new one, but they should give you the hard drive, or they should charge you for a back-up of your data.

JLeslie's avatar

I did not read all of the above responses, but I find it inexcusable that the company you gave the laptop to decided on their own to not give a shit about all of the data on the computer. Who cares if it was a parent, grandparent, the owner, a 3 year old who caused the problem, the point to me is when you bring your computer in, the people fixing it should warn you data might be lost, whether they are fixing that computer or giving you a new one and transferring data. Of course you should back up data to be 100% safe, but the customer service at the place fixing your computer is awful and I find them at fault for being idiots. No golden rule was enacted, that pisses me off. If it were their computer they would want some warning on what was decided to do with the computer before someone wiped it clean of information.

I think it is a lesson to back up your data, but if there is some way to retrieve the data I don’t think they should be charging you an arm and a leg.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Lawyers shouldn’t be involved; common sense should prevail.

I can’t (won’t) believe that the contract is worded such that the warranter has the right to say what happens with the disposition of the asset if it can’t or won’t be fixed (in their opinion). If they won’t fix it because it’s a lemon, then they replace the machine and send you a new or comparable one… with your old hard drive. If they decide to terminate a business relationship with you, then the send back the asset. It still has some value, after all, and that value is YOURS.

Anything else defies logic, common sense and common law… regardless of contract language. Perhaps they see fit to charge you for transportation costs, service charge for looking at the thing and making their determination, backup charge (if they present that to you ahead of time and not after the fact) ... whatever… fine. But you own the asset, not them.

It’s not their call to decide how it should be disposed of, unless (as you say the contract wording—correctly—states) you “abandon” the asset. Then they would have to dispose of it in some way. If you request its return, then they have to give it to you.

A manager at Geek Squad or Best Buy would understand that implicitly, without having to “read the contract”. YOU OWN THE COMPUTER. If they won’t fix it under the warranty, that’s one thing, but it’s still your computer.

Draconess25's avatar

How does a 3 year old rip out the keyboard? How do they even grip the individual keys?

MacBean's avatar

@Draconess25 Three-year-olds can do ANYTHING.

beancrisp's avatar

They can not refuse to give back your laptop unless you do not pay the repair bill.
There may be a law that says it is a lemon, but that does not give them a right to keep the laptop so you could make a fool out of them by taking them to court.

anartist's avatar

Forget the issue of who is responsible for the laptop being broken. That seens to be irrelevant. Your problem is with the company. They can’t keep your laptop. Take it back and find someone else to get the data off.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Personally I think all the adults in this situation are to blame. Someone should have taken the initiative to take responsibility for the child so it wasn’t left alone. That’s just common sense. Ok, so one grandparent was moving the car, couldn’t the other grandparent watch the kid or couldn’t the parent watch the kid whilst the grandparent was moving the car (after all, until that’s done parent can’t go any where). It sounds like there were at least three adults in the house. I think this is a live and learn situation, kids break stuff (including themselves sometimes), keep an eye on them!


I think the broken laptop and the fact that you can’t get it back according to the companies rules are not “live and learn”. I definately think you should be able to fight against that although I am no expert when it comes to company law etc.

casheroo's avatar

@Leanne1986 I don’t know if it was clear, but the child did NOT break the keyboard until after the mother left and the grandparents were supposed to be watching him. They left him alone upstairs. When the cars were moved, the child was only alone for three minutes…and did not break the laptop during that time.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@casheroo My answer still stands that whoever was in the house at the time is responsible for making sure the child is not alone with anything he could possibly break. I don’t think it is fair for the grandparents to blame the mother for the damage of the laptop but I agree with others that they may have thought that, because the mother left the child alone with the laptop originally (for 3 minutes whilst the cars were moved) then it would be ok but seeing as the grandparents have raised their own child/ren one would assume that they would know better!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It sounds as if you’ve cooled down on the “who’s to blame” bit. Having a child is a license to destruction that takes a variety of forms…from my coloring in one of Mom’s books, to my nephew filling up his father’s car’s gas tank with the garden hose, to the boy up the street that started a forest fire.

And it sounds like you are moving in the right direction with regards to Best Buy. It’s a painful process, I know, but stick to your guns, and be patient and persistent. One suggestion…when you get a hold of someone at Best Buy that seems remotely helpful, how about asking them what they would do if they were in your shoes? It might open some doors.

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