I had what I hope is the final act of a drama play out today in a little theater called the bike shop.
About two weeks ago a 'customer' (I call him that even though the kid has no money and never buys anything) came into the shop and asked for an estimate on replacement parts for a BMX bike. This kid, about 16 or so, shows me a fork bent backwards, a frame with a good-sized ding in it, bars bent and dinged and a trashed brake lever. I asked what happened and he said that another kid (also a 'customer', but I'll get to that) stole it and intentionally threw his bike down an embankment to damage it. I also know the other kid.
The other kid is about 17 and spoiled. He came in with his Mom last Winter and picked out about $800 in snowboard gear. Mom paid for it all even though he's old enough to have a job. He's also been in a few times to order parts for his bike, he calls Mom on his cell with a snotty attitude, Mommy comes in and pays for it all.
The first kid asked for a detailed and written estimate to give to the police. I was busy and didn't get to it by the next day when his Dad comes in. After a phonecall to a distributor I gave the estimate to him and figured that was the end of it, not really expecting them to buy anything from us even if they recovered the funds.
Other kid's Mom comes by the shop today to "inspect the damage". She looks at the frame and says that since it's just a ding, her son shouldn't have to replace it. I tell her that not knowing what exactly occurred and that with a very stout BMX fork being bent back like it was, it was my opinion that the frame should be replaced and said that if I had told the owner it was OK to ride and then failed at a later date, the shop could be held liable.
After she left I couldn't do anything but shake my head. Her kid destroys another kid's bike in a bullying fashion, yet she is trying to negotiate down the price of compensation. Mom, this is what is called a "teachable moment". Make the kid pay the full replacement cost of the bike parts and work it off! Make sure it's as hard as possible since if this kid doesn't know what he did was WRONG at 17...it's only going to get worse.
Oh, wait...you were negotiating because it's you that will be paying for it.