No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Travel Edition

Filed Under: Travel


So we’re presently in New Zealand, and today did a full day tour of Milford Sound — that includes the four hour drive to Milford Sound, a cruise, and then the long drive back to the hotel.


Fast forward to the cruise. While the ship itself was a bit past its prime (arguably not the “Pride of Milford Sound,” as they call it), the views of Milford Sound were stunning. I enjoyed every minute of the cruise. Well, at least the first 30 minutes.


There was this adorable older couple, and they were taking pictures nonstop with their iPad. About half of the people on the boat seemed to be using iPads as their primary method of taking pictures, which I’ll never understand. I digress…

They were on the deck, and I noticed they kept taking pictures of one another with the scenery, though both of them were never in the picture together.

So I figured I’d be nice, and said “do you want a picture of you two?”

“Oh yes, please, thank you very much.”

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. The screen was totally shattered, and pieces of it were on the floor. Naturally I felt like total crap.

But here’s the thing. The iPad wasn’t at all secured in the case. Who on earth has a hard-shell, shallow case and doesn’t secure the iPad in it? It’s not that it wasn’t properly secured, but rather it wasn’t secured at all. She was just using the case as a loose thing to keep the iPad in, which makes no sense to me. I mean, that’s the equivalent of using a condom but cutting a big hole in the bottom.

So there’s nothing I would have done differently, in the sense that I was extremely careful when I grabbed her iPad, and intentionally grabbed it by the case so I was being extra cautious. But I still felt absolutely terrible, because it’s ultimately the result that counts.

I offered to pay for a new iPad or whatever it costs to fix it, and gave them my contact info. I explained to her she can keep taking pictures and that the pictures are safe and can be transferred, but I also got the sense she wasn’t very tech savvy, and was literally using the iPad as the device on which she was showing people the pictures, as she didn’t seem to understand what I was explaining.

And perhaps I feel worse about the fact that I assume they’re on a very special trip (most people don’t go to New Zealand with any frequency), and this seemed to be the only device on which they were taking pictures.

Grrrr! Like I said, I take responsibility and will pay for it to be fixed, but it sure makes me feel like crap that I possibly ruined part of their trip by trying to be helpful. And it sure doesn’t help make me feel any better that she seems to be telling all the staff about what happened. So now I’m just awkwardly sitting in the corner of the boat typing away this post on my laptop with my hat and sunglasses on. 😉


I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, to be honest — not to do nice things, to be even more careful (I was being super careful, I thought), or that there’s a cost to trying to do nice deeds?

Regardless, I’m so angry at myself for having ruined a part of their trip.

  1. S**t happens Lucky, and you were nice to offer to take their pictures and be responsible for it. Next time I would’ve confirmed that whatever gadget you use is properly secure.

  2. Very nice of you to offer to pay to get it fixed… Not sure I would have been so kind as ultimately it is their stupidity that caused the iPad to fall out of the case.

  3. Nothing else to do. It’s one of those freak things. I would have also offered to pay for the iPad and that won’t stop me from being “nice” and offering to help out to take pics. Maybe explain who you are and offer to book them a free ticket or free award booking? I’m sure they would appreciate it even more than a replacement iPad.

  4. Don’t worry man! As I was reading the story I was braced for somebody going overboard. But nobody died. Pictures safe – nothing lost – don’t feel bad.

  5. Are they staying in Queenstown as well? Find a place to get the screen fixed for them in Queenstown and pay for it.

  6. Oh dear, this is always my worst fear and why I tend not to offer to take photos!

    You haven’t ruined their trip, they can still use it. Just a shame that you potentially have the extra cost. (Very good of you to offer)

    Enjoy the rest of your stay.

  7. I don’t understand why you would offer to pay for the iPad that some old idiot forgot to secure properly.

  8. Just great, Lucky! Another score for you. Wonder how many trips can you and Fordy potentially ruin today?

  9. I think the lesson here is never offer to take pictures for someone else. You never know. They could be professional con-artists.

  10. Jackie, that’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.

  11. A person who genuinely felt responsible for the damage wouldn’t have “offered” 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.

  12. Wow, lots of cynical people on here. Lucky made a nice gesture in offering to take a photo but unfortunately it went awry. He’s again doing the right thing by trying to make amends, which hopefully works out for all parties. Don’t let a little misfortune and embarrassment make you hesitant to do other good deeds in the future, Lucky, and enjoy the rest of your trip.

  13. @ Dom — I had 50NZD on me, not more cash (almost everywhere in NZ accepts credit cards nowadays). So not sure what you’re claiming?

  14. I would just pay $300 or whatever it is. I mean, it’s coins for you, and it’ll make both parties happy. Who wants to be stressed out on a vacation, they’ll be happy an you’ll be happy. End of story 🙂

  15. Your title is rather negative. This is just one unfortunate thing that has happened to you (that I recall) in years of reading.

    Be glad that you can afford to replace her iPad and that she is lucky to be dealing with someone who actually *will* be honorable and replace her ipad for her. Beyond that, not much you can do, unless you get her hotel info and they have Amazon Prime Now down there!

  16. @Lucky, why didn’t you wait until the bus ride back to type this up and ENJOY the scenery of Milford Sound?? By the way, best way to do this is pay the extra $200 per person and take the small plane ride out to Milford Sound, a 90 min cruise, then flight back to Glenorchy for the Dart River Fast Boat Experience (so much fun), and a quick bus back to Queenstown. Glenorchy is branded an “international” airport, and it’s a grass strip. lol!

  17. Lucky,
    You did the right thing and should continue doing so. “It can always be worse…”, my grandma used to say.
    Enjoy your trip!

  18. Lucky, nice gesture of you but really, did they accept the new iPad? I would never, ever, blame it on the person that was actually trying to do a nice thing. As someone already said, sh*t happens.

  19. Lucky seems to be out of cash, really? A reality check perhaps – cash is indeed always more valuable than those points.

  20. “About half of the people on the boat seemed to be using iPads as their primary method of taking pictures, which I’ll never understand.”

    The only people who do this are old people who struggle with technology…like my mom.. and the woman whos ipad you broke. The fact she couldn’t even put it properly into the case proves this. I would totally feel bad and embarrassed about it, but if its actually as you described then its not your fault and they should have even warned you that it was not secure. I think its very nice you offered to pay but I’m leaning towards it not being your responsibility. The people saying you owe them $300-500, get real.
    1. The device is not destroyed. Only the screen. They don’t need to buy a new one, repair the screen.
    2. Not sure about ipads but screen repair on an iPhone is ~$150 from apple and less than $100 if you go to the kid at the mall. If you feel obligated to pay them $100 is fair.

    If they contact you and say they had to replace the whole device its either they aren’t tech saavy enough to know they can fix just the screen (not your problem, you even explained it) or they just want a shiny new iPad to replace their 5 year old iPad 2.

  21. I feel super bad for you. That must have been very awkward for everyone concerned. I’m always a bit nervous when people offer to take pics of us so we have a lot with one person missing. (small price to pay I guess!) Hopefully, they just take the high road and let it go. (Not that you couldn’t send them home in style to make it better though!) 😉

  22. next time (sure there will one) try a overnight doubtful sound cruise – less tourists, as stunning if not more and sometimes there is a blind passenger aka pinguin on board!

    PS: i don’t get the whole taking pictures with ipad aswell not

  23. Don’t feel bad since it was their fault for not securing the iPad on the case (and to be using an iPad to take pictures). Nice gesture to offer to pay for the damage.

  24. Tough break – mate- you deserve a good turn back
    Shout you a beer if you drop into Devonport Auckland on your way out of NZ –

  25. Please show some compassion to the “older couple” who probably aren’t as tech savvy as some of you. Think of your parents for god sake or your grandparents, who probably don’t even know how to put an iPad into a case and turn to you for help.
    Thank you to the rest of you for acknowledging some kindness in humanity.

  26. I think (no, I imagine) that I would have explained how the accident occurred and offered to split the cost of the replacement.

    Actually, I’d give 2-1 odds that they’ll never contact you again and you’ll be $0 out of pocket.

  27. You did the noble and honorable thing. It was an innocent set-up on their part; older folks sometimes ‘assume’, ‘believe’ that tech savvy younger folks know a lot more than they do so they forget the little details they use as work-arounds. They figure there is not much to tell you don’t already know. Bet you they probably don’t even shop on the Internet.

  28. I’m an “old” person who is a lot more tech savvy than all most all of my friends. I have seen young and old people taking photos with their iPad. If it works for them, why not. People suggesting this was a scam I’m sure are way off base. You did the right thing offering to take their picture and offering to replace the iPad. Life is full of accidents. In the scheme of things, this wasn’t terrible. The couple can still have a great vacation and you should do the same.

  29. How awful you must have felt at the moment the iPad slipped and fell! It wasn’t your fault, but your are very decent to offer to pay for repairs/replacement, and you behaved better than many people would have. If the couple are as tech-challenged as you think, they may honestly be too ignorant to even realize it was their fault. After all, they kept their iPad loose in a hardshell case and didn’t think to warn you when they passed it over. But I must say I’m surprised at the cynicism and negative comments here. Don’t stop being helpful – just check the case next time

  30. Lesson? Don’t sop being nice to people on the off chance that something bad may happen. Sometimes it does. In those case just deal with it nicely too. This time you did. Cheer up.

  31. For all those saying it’s a scam…. what kind of world do you live in? First shoot then ask?

    As for this accident, being your fault or not… (and I guess it’s 50-50), if you can, and I guess you can, afford it, Google a repair shop, once off the ship bring the device to the shop, add extra 20 to be done immediately, take the old couple for a drink while its done. I am sure people will have one more great memory from the trip…. as someone wrote s*** happens, but there is always a way to make it right….

  32. Man you caught milford on a sunny day! that’s awesome. We had a few bright skies but it was pretty grey for the most part. Apparently it’s grey 85% of the time or something.

  33. Yeah. Kind gesture to offer taking a picture. I do it often. But I would not go as far as offering to pay for a replacement. After all, it was no fault of yours. But nice of you anyway. I wouldn’t have taken your payment offer either – no nice person would take it up.

  34. Always have a backup camera and extra batteries and memory cards on a significant vacation. Cameras get dropped or stolen. Batteries and memory cards do fail suddenly. Stuff happens – by the time you reach a certain age you generally have this figured out, but do bother to point this out to your friends & relatives of any age who don’t travel often.

  35. Many older folks have vision problems and Ipads/tablets are simply easier to take and view pictures with.

    PS: I really don’t get the weird vitriol that so many commenters seem to have for Lucky. Where does it come from? Envy seems to be the vice for our times, so I’ll go with that.

  36. Lucky, I have already booked this tour and was wondering about the ability to get something to eat on this long tour. I was going to add the option to eat on the boat during the fjord excursion but I read reviews of it and decided against. The tour I’m taking also has a stop on the way to Milford sound but I’ve read that there’s not a lot of time there to get something to eat. What did you do? I’m really looking forward to the tour except for this one aspect of it.

  37. Not sure what the moral of this tale is either – it’s a bit passive aggressive in it’s sting. Seems more about you being embarrassed by smashing the iPad, but trying to highlight it’s all the silly old woman’s fault really.

    Maybe just accept it’s an accident (on both your parts) and not make a mountain out of a molehill. I certainly wouldn’t use it as an excuse to avoid doing nice things for strangers in future.

    At least you’ve ensured that old couple will never forget you lol.

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