EXTENDED: You've got another week to add your travel & holiday deals questions for expert MSE Oli as part of the latest Ask An Expert event.

Money Moral Dilemma: Should my friend pay his ex back for the phone she got him as a gift?

edited 27 September 2022 at 2:30PM in Marriage, relationships & families
42 replies 24.3K views
MSE_KelvinMSE_Kelvin MSE Staff
293 Posts
Fifth Anniversary 10 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
MSE Staff
edited 27 September 2022 at 2:30PM in Marriage, relationships & families
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

A good friend of mine just broke up with his girlfriend. A few months back, she insisted on buying him a new smartphone for his birthday that cost almost £600. Now they've broken up, she's demanding he give her the money for it. He offered to give her the phone, but she says she wants cash. He says he's struggling to save up the money but is going to pay it back as he feels it's the right thing to do, but I think she's being unreasonable. Who's right?

Unfortunately the MSE team can't answer Money Moral Dilemma questions as contributions are emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be a point of debate and discussed at face value. Remember that behind each dilemma there is a real person so, as the forum rules say, please keep it kind and keep it clean.

B) If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.
:/ Got a Money Moral Dilemma of your own? Suggest an MMD.


  • edited 11 October 2022 at 6:51AM
    HampshireHHampshireH Forumite
    4.1K Posts
    Fifth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    edited 11 October 2022 at 6:51AM
    She is being unreasonable based on the info given. As. Gift is a gift

    ......... Of course she found out he actually has been cheating on her the whole time then you could actually see her reasoning being far more valid and why she feels hard done by

    Turns the tables somewhat from her being "an unreasonable cow" to him being somewhat..... (Edit - the comment I quoted here has now been removed)

    But we could all write our own narrative with little info :)
  • HRH_MUngoHRH_MUngo Forumite
    877 Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    he should not pay her back, it was a gift.
    I used to be seven-day-weekend
  • Ed264Ed264 Forumite
    67 Posts
    10 Posts First Anniversary
    Who ended the relationship? Feelings will be raw and often there is a lot of 'bitchiness' following a break-up. This was a gift. It is ridiculous to demand its value back in cash. 
  • pinkdragonpinkdragon Forumite
    42 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    I feel it would be wrong to ask for the money back as it was a gift.

    But if he did pay her the money back, perhaps she could also pay him back for all the things he's bought for HER over the years too!!
  • dirtmotherdirtmother Forumite
    134 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    Birthday gift.
    Her choice of gift and not anything clearly predicated on a continued relationship (cf some sort of joint pass/membership for something) 
    Where would this stop?
    If she's saying "I'm in financial difficulties" and he chooses to help her (perhaps recognising that he has benefitted from her imprudence) because he's more comfortably off that's a totally different matter. (And he's not 'comfortable off' is he if he doesn't have that amount in savings?)
  • edited 28 September 2022 at 8:44AM
    Bendy_HouseBendy_House Forumite
    4.8K Posts
    1,000 Posts Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited 28 September 2022 at 8:44AM
    It was a gift. It therefore now belongs to him. He does not need to return it, and certainly does not need to pay for it.
    So what he does - if anything - has to be his judgement, and that will likely depend on a number of factors, such as whether any party treated the other more unfairly, or whether she's well off and he not (and the gift was obviously made to help him out as much as it was a token of their relationship), and she's therefore clearly just 'using' its return as a stick to bash him with, especially if it's coupled with her having been a generally manipulative person.
    But, if this was 'good while it lasted', and a fairly even split decision, then surely some kindness & generosity comes into it, from one side if not the other; she shouldn't have asked, but he should have offered.
    I have to say, I doubt very much that the guy needs a £600 phone either, so his ultimate offer to return it was reasonable and right of him, and that's still his call to make (fnurrr...) - he can buy himself a cheapie to tide him over (my £35 Pixel 3 does more than I want.)
    So I think the gallant thing to do would be to offer to return it, in fact to insist she accepts it - post it back if needed. It was a generous gift, and presumably at least one person felt the relationship was going somewhere. To accept such a gift has a bit of ditto about it too.
    For her to ask for payment for it is a cheap move, tho', and for him to do so would be ditto. Cheap ain't a good look.
    So, for max dignity, and to finalise the breakup, I think my advice to such a friend would be to wipe it, return it, and move on.

    (If he doesn't either pay up or return it, then he can expect some diss'ing amongst her friends, and her using this as an example of 'his mean treatment towards her'. That should not be a reason, in itself, to return it; if she wants to 'use' this against him, that reflects on her, not him. But half the listeners will wonder, "why the hell didn't you just give it back?!")

  • Jerome_TFBJerome_TFB Forumite
    68 Posts
    Sixth Anniversary 10 Posts
    london21 said:
    She should move on.

    The value of the phone would have depreciated all those months ago, so if she does not want the phone back that's it then.

    A gift is a gift. 
    Totally agree with this.
    He gives her the phone back, she can sell it on. 
    It was a gift, and it was half a year ago. He certainly shouldn't pay her anything. 
    Take the phone back, do whatever you want with it we're done.
    Don't want the phone, bye then!

    That's the fairest thing to do (actually he was being very nice to offer to return the gift)
Sign In or Register to comment.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Energy Price Cap change

Martin Lewis on what it means for you

MSE News

Best £1 you've ever spent?

Share your most impressive bargains

MSE Forum