Conclusion To New Zealand iPad-Gate

Filed Under: Travel, Travel Technology

A couple of weeksĀ ago when I was in New Zealand I shared what was probably the worst part of my trip. I was on a cruise in gorgeous Milford Sound, and saw an older couple taking pictures of one another with their iPad. I wanted to be proactive and nice, and asked if they wanted me to take a picture of them together. One of the reasons I’ve historically offered this is because it encourages not getting selfie sticks, which I tend to think is a good deed for society as a whole. šŸ˜‰


And then this happened:

She hands me the iPad in a hard-shell case, and I handle it carefully, as I always do. I hold it with both hands, and when I go to take a picture (I have both hands holding the case, my left thumb holding the actual iPad, and my right thumb ready to push the button to take the picture), the iPad falls out of the case and onto the floor.Ā The screen was totally shattered, and pieces of it were on the floor. Naturally I felt like total crap.

As I explained in the post, the iPad wasn’t actually secured in the case, so she was literally holding the iPad inside the case… which sort of eliminates the point of the case. It’s the equivalent of having shoelaces but not tying them. While there’s nothing I would have done differently (other than maybe not offering to take the picture), I still felt terribly, since they clearly looked devastated.

I offered to pay for whatever it costs to fix an iPad, and also explained their pictures weren’t gone, so they have nothing to worry about (which seemed to be their biggest concern, since she thought she lost all their memories). I gave them my contact info, and told them to send me an email with how much it costs to fix.

One of the joys of blogging are the comments, both good and bad. Like this one:

A person who genuinely felt responsible for the damage wouldnā€™t have ā€œofferedā€ to pay for repair or replacement; he would have just given them cash. Especially in this case where all parties were away from home. $200 would have been sufficient.

Yes, clearly I didn’t feel bad, because I didn’t carry a lot of cash with me and also didn’t know how much it would cost to repair (I figured I might have to buy them a new one altogether). But it’s a useful lesson, I suppose. Always carry a lot of cash with you in case you ruin someone’s day while trying to do a good deed, so you can pay them on the spot, in cash. Because if you don’t your offer isn’t sincere.

Others (hilariously)Ā speculated that this was in fact a scam on their part, which I can understandĀ in theory, but clearly wasn’t the case here:

Jackie, thatā€™s what I was thinking. Sounds like a confidence scam. They present and obvious need to a friendly looking tourist, the tourist initiates contact (brilliant), they rig the probably non-functioning or barely-functional old iPad to fall out and then bamm. $500 bill.

Anyway, I’ve received a surprising number of follow-up questions from readers asking whether the people ever contacted me. And as of yesterday I finally have an update.

The people finally contacted me by email yesterday and asked me to pay for the damage. The good news is that they were apparently routing through Malaysia on the way back and managed to get it fixed in Kuala Lumpur for ~$50, so that’sĀ a lot less than I was expecting it to cost to fix an iPad.

So there you have it, that’s the conclusion to the iPad-gate story. I’m just happy they have a functioning iPad again, and that no pictures were lost.

  1. Glad it ended (sorta) well for both involved.

    Considering they’re not very tech savvy, how are you going to get them the money? I assume PayPal and similar services are out.

  2. I’m going to sound bad here, but they seriously want $50 from you?? They can afford a trip to NZ but $50 is too much for them to pay for fixing an iPad that was accidentally dropped? If that happened to me, I’d write it off as part of the experience. I’m honestly shocked they’ve asked for the money.

  3. I think it was good of you to offer and sort of the only choice really to avoid an awkward situation being more awkward.

    However, I don’t think they should have taken you up on it, it was just an unfortunate accident. Now i find out the cost is only $50 it is hardly worth contacting you to be reimbursed they must be total cheapskates or feel like they need to make you pay due to still holding a grudge.

    If it was me I would probably still have contacted you, told you I have had it fixed, it only cost $50 and all chalk it up to experience no need to reimburse.

  4. Are you really really really sure it wasn’t a scam? That IS one of the scams going around. Are you assuming its not – just because YOU were the “aggressor?” If you think “sweet old couple” is any alibi – trust me – a lot of folks are traveling in retirement on tourist scams.

  5. Now, if they were total cheapstake/scammer. I would have straight off the bat lied and say “The ipad is beyond repairable.” And get a free $500 or so.


  6. Perhaps an additional $20 so they can buy a case that actually does it’s job?
    Kudos to you for being a good sport and helping them get it fixed.

  7. No good deed goes unpunished. Ben, You did the right thing ignore the trolls and they are partly to blame had that been me I would have stood there and given you the class on how to hold it etc. Not sure why they were using an ipad when an iphone or canon takes pics just as well. Now I am not the picture guru so dont everyone answer with the version of why ipad is better I dont care Ive never used mine to take photos

  8. I agree with Jen and others, can’t believe they’re chasing you for $50. Good thing they’re not charging you extra for days not in use (a la rental car companies.)

  9. I’m also pretty shocked. Politeness dictates that Ben offer to pay to have it fixed, but anyone who is not supremely socially incompetent knows that the proper response to “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry, let me pay to have that fixed” is “Oh, well, these things happen, don’t worry about it”. Who actually asks for the money? And even worse, we are talking about $50 for people who are literally on a multicontinent international vacation. They are bonkers.

  10. If they got this fixed for $50 they should just let it go. Asking you for compensation because of an honest mistake when you were being helpful is extremely petty.

    However, I’d still send the $50, hopefully they’ll be able to move on with their lives at that point. If they are contacting you over a $50 repair bill you can be assured that they are not the type of people who will ever let it go until they feel they’ve been justly compensated.

  11. Had they purchased it using a credit card that offers purchase protection, it would’ve been just fine. Anyways, you can tell the couple to join Zenbanx – You can join using my link and we each get $25. You can then send them your link. Zenbanx allows you to open a multi-currency account using an app and is super convenient to use! They have some great promos on right now:

  12. Situation well handled, Lucky.

    It makes me sad to read some of the comments here, trashing the other party for having sent the bill. Who knows, maybe they thought that Lucky would feel more comfortable if he has a chance to provide some form of compensation rather than walking around with a guilty feeling for the mishap. And 50$ to fix an iPad screen is very cheap. Maybe it was in fact a hundred bucks, and they thought is is best to split the bill. Of course you can solve this situation differently, but I don’t think that the other party was acting unreasonably here.

    And for the people who still think this is a scam: You should get your paranoia treated. What kind of scam is it to go on a cruise with several people, have a functioning iPad destroyed, and all that to grift the incredible amount of 50$?

  13. Goodness. Accidents happen, and if the iPad was not secured in the case as the owner of said device I would’ve begged you not to worry about paying for the repair. It was nice of you to offer to take the pic!

  14. Know this feeling too well. Husband was approached by a couple in Vegas to take their photo (with a beautiful digital camera) he stumbled when handing it back, the camera smashed into a thousand pieces and the couple went away in quiet disbelief. We offered to pay, but they said no. That actually made us feel worse.
    No moral to this story – it’s just a bunch of stuff that happens as Homer would say……

  15. Send them a $50 giftcard to McDonalds. Since they need the $$ so bad, they obviously frequent the establishment.

  16. @Claus – “Who knows, maybe they thought that Lucky would feel more comfortable if he has a chance to provide some form of compensation rather than walking around with a guilty feeling for the mishap.”

    I think there’s a name for this behavior, deciding that you are selflessly doing someone a favor by giving them a chance to recognize/compensate/reward/celebrate you…because allowing them to do that is simply the most comfortable thing for all involved. It’s the same veiled narcissistic behavior that causes people to have $75,000 weddings and invite 600 “close” friends and relatives. If they were concerned about Ben’s conscience all they need to do is send a note that says:

    “Nice meeting you in NZ – good news, we got the iPad fixed for almost nothing. Best wishes in your future travels.”

  17. @Bill: Your comment is way more shabby than anything that happened in this story. Look at Lyn’s comment. There can be different views on what is the most polite way to handle such a situation. Providing a very reasonable (inexpensive) opportunity to compensate for a mishap can be a polite gesture as well.

  18. I’d caution about sending a personal check, since it will have your bank account number and info on it.

  19. SMH at folks saying the couple is cheap. Whatever Lucky’s intentions, he broke their stuff. He was right to offer to pay and they were right to accept.

  20. Glad all came out relatively well. I’m sure $50 is a decent price for Ben to pay to get a sense of closure and relief. I do agree that it was somewhat odd to actually ask for the $50.

    I travel solo quite a bit, and usually turn down offers from others to take a photo for me. I’ve gotten pretty good at selfies (without a selfie stick), and I always worry about that slight possibility somebody will run off with my iPhone.

  21. @Ben – folks , here is my 0.2 cents, what Lucky aka Ben did, drives home the fact why we as human beings exist – to spontaneously help others without reason, not choosing to see color, race or anything that can tint our shades ..we reach out as people of faith, united in one God (yes one God) just because another human being needs help. help us God. Amen
    God help humanity, if we stop this simple act of faith.

  22. When I used to use a compact digital camera, and handed to someone else to take a picture, I always asked to first put the strap around their hand to avoid it dropping if it slipped out of their hands.

    iPods have a strap, iPhones and iPads do not – maybe they should.

  23. Perhaps it’s American culture that $50 isn’t enough to justify Ben paying. But in other cultures if you break something, it is your responsibility to help recover it back to its original condition, whether it be $5 or $500. It’s a matter of principle. In addition, they also helped Ben get rid of some of the guilt so I actually think they did him a favor. If it was me, I would want to pay for it rather for them to write it off just so I could get some closure — plus, I would want others to do the same for me.

  24. That was nice of you Ben. You were a real gentlemen.
    Story closed – no need to feel frustrated / bad / stupid any more.

    Time for another premium class review šŸ™‚

  25. Why do people use iPads/tableta to take pictures anyway? The quality is terrible and they’re so unwieldy! Maybe this will teach them a lesson to get a reasonably priced digital camera for their round the world trips next time that have a wrist or neck strap!

    $50 though is a bit penny pinching, especially if they were stupid enough not to have put the case on properly,although probably a small price to pay to avoid any potential bad karma!

  26. Dreadful to ask Ben for that petty amount of cash. He was only trying to be nice to them in the first place – it was an ACCIDENT. You know, those things which by nature are unplanned and do happen; not a litigation opportunity. And why did they go on holiday without proper insurance? I’d pay it though to keep the moral high ground – and Ben you got a couple of posts out of it.

  27. Those hard cases for iPads can misfire. I had one that didn’t ever seem to quite fit and sure enough it slipped out and smashed the screen. The guy in my local repair shop told me he does 7 or 8 a week.
    Yes, you did the right thing by offering but it’s quite bizarre that they accepted.

  28. Wow. Some of the comments on here are just incredibly disheartening. I don’t think I’ve ever read such an exchange on here. Comments when discussing negative aspects of equipment, service, award availability, or elite status seem to be handled with more humanity than this episode. Yikes! (Keep at being you, Ben.)

  29. So let’s summarize the facts: Ben accidentally drops an older couple’s iPad. The screen scatters. This is a damage that Apple will charge $199 – $379 to repair (depending on model). For whatever reason, the couple asks Ben to pay $50 for the repair.

    Apparently, this makes them the worst scum on the planet, greedy cheapskates, at best idiots for traveling “without proper insurance”, if not scammers looking for a “litigation opportunity” or “supremely socially incompetent” “bonkers” who “still hold a grudge”. People are “shocked” and “aghast” by their “dreadful” actions.

    I am speechless, really.

  30. It’s a no blame situation (including not backhandedly blaming the couple!), and given the minor amount involved (and that this is an old couple that probably aren’t loaded, who may well have been on their one trip of a lifetime), I see no reason not to reimburse (given it was Lucky that offerred to pay – he wasn’t forced in any way to, and he’d be a bit of a cad to backtrack now).

    There is no need for anyone to get all passive-aggressive about it. Lot of ho-ha over nothing really.

  31. Seriously guys? You’re blaming the couple for asking Lucky $50? Seriously, news flash for Americans, for you $50 might not be much but for a lot of people in a lot of countries it means a lot. A friggin teacher in my country makes approx. $200~ per MONTH. Like seriously, put it down. We also don’t know the exact cost of the repair. Put it off guys, seriously.

  32. To everyone who said $50 was also a scam, I think a really insane couple would pretend they fixed it in Australia or something for ~US$1000, and ask for the money.

  33. Claus – Yes I’m sure that’s it. These kind hearted souls aren’t interested in the money, they are billing Ben for his own good. Why can everyone else not see that as well!

    John – Use some common sense before making a stupid rant…

    1. They owned an iPad – they are NOT poor.
    2. They were on a tourist-trap cruise – they are NOT poor.
    3. They were on holiday in New Zealand and Malaysia (at the very least) – they are NOT poor.
    4. They said the cost of the repair was $50, which seems about right for Malaysia. It’s just a piece of glass after all.

  34. I think we’re missing the real message here:
    Dear boomers, please stop using your iPads to take photos. Love, everyone. (This is a JOKE, so please just relax šŸ˜‰

  35. @Claus – I completely agree. It was not at all inappropriate for them to contact Ben – who freely provided his contact information – to recoup the damages – which Ben offered to pay for! If you were in Ben’s position, would you just tell them to suck it up as part of the experience? That they clearly have enough money, so just pay for it yourself? Or would you be that passive-aggressive jerk who offers to pay, but then is offended when they actually take you up on the offer?

    The irony, of course, is that many of the people saying they are shocked! that they “chased” Ben for a mere $50 are the same ones who would chase an airline to pay a dry cleaning bill for spilling whatever liquid on their suit.

  36. Are you planning on posting about your day trip to Milford Sound? I’m headed there later in the year and would be really interested in your thoughts about the best way to get there (bus ride or heli/plane).

  37. Agree with Claus and others who seemed to have a balanced mind and enough life experience to judge this the right way. From offering to pay to actually paying, this was handled perfectly. If they hadn’t contacted him, he would never have proper closure.

    Ben, you are absolutely right and here’s a hearty, ‘well done, young man’.

    Yet I would not send a check from my checking account. Perhaps a travelers check or similar would be apropos and much safer. Not saying the old couple may be grifters. Just that international mail can be intercepted. Unless they are Americans and you are mailing domestically. That should be fine.

  38. An iPad replacement iPad digitiser can be bought for just Ā£9 on Amazon or eBay complete kit and comes with all the tools required, takes 10 minutes todo once you’ve done one.

    I always keep a spare now the amount of times I drop my iPad.

    $50 in a shop especially in KL sounds about right.

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