How much does the store owe this PC buyer?

Gone for good is seven years worth of correspondence between three generations of the buyer's family, as well as 2,000 e-mail addresses and all the administrative files for a fledgling news site. The stuff was on a drive that the store - not one of the big chains - tossed out instead of copying over to a new PC it sold a colleague of mine. (Yes, we beat him mercilessly for not backing it up.)

Your assignment here is to help determine proper compensation for this loss.

I'm not naming the store - Its motto: "Service you can count on, people you can trust!" - because my colleague and his wife are still in negotiations with its management over what constitutes fair restitution and I'd rather not complicate that process by generating ill will toward the merchant. And besides, this is an academic exercise.

Here's the lowdown from an e-mail sent to me by my co-worker:

I'd like some feedback about an issue I'm having with (a local computer store.):

I bought a new PC there this month. I left specific directions to transfer all data from the two hard drives of my old PC to the new. My requests were not followed. They transferred data from one drive (an older one) but did not transfer data from the new drive. In fact, they threw it out, and it cannot be recovered.

Yes, an argument for always backing up data somewhere else, but ...

We paid $1,000 for the new PC. The store owner is offering us a $250 store credit and knocking $100 off the price of Office 2007.

My wife thinks we should get $500 cash back and reject the store credit.

What do you think?

Thanks for your help.

His appreciation was premature because I'm lousy at this kind of thing. Yes, I may be a professional arguer by day, but off hours I generally avoid confrontation like a retail store avoids responsibility.

That's why we need your help.

What should my friend and his wife be demanding of the "people you can trust?"

What should the store be willing to do to make good?

What's fair here?

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