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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Does it make me a jerk to require someone I know to sign a four-page contract before borrowing my bicycle?

(Specifically: they're liable for any damage to the bike, as measured by how much it costs Performance to fix or replace it, whichever is cheaper. It took four pages to clearly say this. And to say that I'm not liable if they bust their head open on the pavement by riding stupid. And, in a paragraph at the end, to apologize for requiring a four-page contract just to borrow something from me. But I've been screwed over before on my goodwill, and it makes it much easier to handle if I've clearly written who is responsible for what.)

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I've been screwed out of things before myself. I think the real question you have to ask yourself is whether you both trust each other. If you or the person do not, then he will probably not care enough to honor it (Even if you can pursue legal action). If you do trust each other then a contract is sort of redundant.

It doesn't really make you a jerk though XD. Just interested in protecting your own property.

It's sort of an enforcement of trust, though. I hope to never need to use one of these contracts- the contract being in force should make it less tempting to try to take advantage of me in the first place.

I think I'd do this even for someone I know well and trust (this is a friend's mate whom I've only recently met; they're moving apartments, and my bike is way better than walking); it's an anti-argument measure, to agree on how to handle unfortunate circumstances before they happen.

If you can be pithy and cogent, you can make your contract about as long as your LJ post. I see three prevailing themes of the agreement:
"You break it, you buy it."
"You break you, you buy you."
"In all cases of disagreement, always remember that you can be crunchy and are tasty with Tobasco."

I wanted something that'd honestly stand up in small claims court, though. I spent half a page describing how damage would be appraised: exactly which bike shop I'd be consulting for repairs, and brief notes on why a substitution isn't permissible; noting that I'd be using the same shop for parts, but I'd be open to shopping around for identical components.

I'd rather not argue over whether retuning a gearset should be $35 or $20, or whether retruing both wheels costs $40 or $30. So I had to give exactly where the price quotes would come from.

Another half page went to describing exactly what was being lent out, and an additional third of a page went to when I needed it back, as I wanted to leave ample space for clear handwriting.

The final paragraph was an apology for needing a contract at all for something that, in a perfect world, would just be a "sure, you can use my bike" but isn't.

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Draw up a contract for it next time and see if you don't get people paying more attention to property rights...

Does it make me a jerk to require someone I know to sign a four-page contract before borrowing my bicycle?

Yes.

If you're so worried that you've created a four-page contract... then don't loan out your bicycle.

Some people won't take care of other peoples' stuff. I don't think that signing a four-page contract will make them careful enough that they will start taking care of your bicycle. Don't loan it out to those people.

It's not just my bike, though- I'd draw up a near-identical contract for anything more than $200 or so. (My bike, with its accessories, is $650.) But I think that's because I ordinarily wouldn't want to loan out anything that expensive, and I ordinarily wouldn't want to loan out anything as important to me as my only primary mode of transportation.

At the same time, it really doesn't feel good to let a friend's mate walk five miles, repeatedly, to try to get a move between residences complete, when my bike (with its high-capacity panniers, front headlight, and helmet) can make the job so much easier.

Is it worse to formally hold people accountable to my property because I've had times in the past when it's been disrespected, or is it worse to refuse to help at all out of a chronic sort of distrust?

Eeep. I didn't know that your bike was worth $650.

Never mind.

Your point stands, though: if I'm writing a four-page contract about it (in a 12-point font, with lines skipped between sections, and wide paragraph breaks) to protect it (and me, with regards to the half a page about "yes, I'm lending you a helmet, but no, I'm not liable if you hurt yourself"), is it really a good idea for me to be sharing at all?

I obviously wouldn't under normal circumstances. I just felt these were extenuating enough. I suppose I'll always wonder where I'd draw the line.

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This was $550; the extra $100 is for the panniers, headlight, and bell. (The rack was included with the bike.) Yes, it's a road bike- with no shock absorbers. Unfortunately, most of the places I go don't have bike lanes, so it becomes a sidewalk bike, which reduces its performance considerably- but I'm nowhere near confident enough to bike in the road, with cars.

If you're curious, it's a Schwinn World Avenue I.

You know.. if people weren't so concerned about getting back things they had lent out, we wouldn't be having a financial crisis right now.

Of course, if people didn't ruin things they borrowed we wouldn't be having a financial crisis either. I guess it goes both ways.

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