I took my beloved ’91 Plymouth Laser to the mechanic a few weeks ago for an oil light check, and got a nasty surprise. It seems the engine’s head oil gasket had blown, ruining the seals and subsequently the engine itself. After grieving the sudden death of my car, I sold it to a mechanic at the shop (whom I’ll call Larry) for $100. It was more than I could’ve gotten from a junkyard.
Two weeks later, Larry called me up and said his boss had told him to either fix the car or move it off the parking lot. And since he couldn’t afford to fix the car, he had donated it in my name to the Salvation Army and sent me the tax forms so I could claim a deduction of its Blue Book value next year.
Yesterday, I took my new car to that same mechanic and gave Larry $50 for going through the trouble. He was happy to receive the money, but I got the sense he had expected a full $100 refund.
I have two questions: First, would refunding the full $100 be the ethical course of action? I’m of the opinion I didn’t -have- to give him anything, since it’s not my fault he had an impatient boss.
And second, is it unethical to me to claim a deduction for the car’s Blue Book value (which, by the way, is $1K more than -I- paid for the car), if it’s substantially more than what the car would fetch “on the street?”
Of course, he ain’t gonna change my mind anyway. But maybe some folks on here can help.