Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dubious Morality

A few days ago I righted a wrong that has been standing for a while. Just before I left Australia, I ordered a t-shirt from a website, and when it arrived at my uncles place, there were actually two t-shirts. Since it was a website I liked, I didn't want to rip them off, but at the same time, I had a huge credit card debt and was settling into Japan and living off less than my full wage, and then I was saving up for a computer, and so on. So anyway, since a few days ago was payday, and I'm now hassle free finance wise (other than working out how to send some money back to Oz to finish off paying the credit card off) I contacted the website to let them know of the mistake and rectify it. So, in short order the debt was paid, and life goes on.

I think I'm writing because I expected to feel a bit better about finally resolving the situation. Perhaps I've watched a little to much of My Name is Earl, but the main feeling I've gotten from this is the sense I should have done it sooner. It's not like US$24 is that huge an amount. The most correct thing to do would be to have notified them as soon as possible and pay the money then. However, I put things like buying a computer and eating food fancier than instant noodles ahead of that. I guess the thing I'm concerned about is where does this put me on the morality scales. Is my soul lighter than a feather, or is it tarnished by this and other misplaced priorities?

Maybe people will comment and I'll be able to get a bit of holier than thou righteousness on, or maybe I'll be shown as the scumbag I am.

End Post
Writing time: 15 minutes
Time since last post: 8 days
Current media: None


Chris_the_Blogger said...

I suppose I am less moral than you. I would have returned the shirt if at all possible but I would not have payed for something that I didn't order. It was their mistake so I don't think I should be put out at all by it.

On top of this is the law of diminishing returns, I already have one shirt that costs US$24 so the convenience obtained from a second shirt that is exactly the same is certainly less than US$24, thus compounding my incentive not to pay for the second shirt.

Aggie said...

In addition to Chris' comment, I think you also need to consider how much the shirt is really worth. If the shirt cost them $2 and they are charging you $26 for it then it isn't really that big a deal that they made the mistake.

"It was their mistake so I don't think I should be put out at all by it."

This, I don't necessarily agree with, ie. If a chashier made the mistake of giving me $55 in change rather than $25, I would give that back because that $30 is worth the same to both of us (they are loosing the cash rather than a product which is not worth much to them), but in the case that was described in the post, I don't think it is necessary to pay them for the item they lost. If you really wanted to be moral, you could have sold the shirt on ebay and given the proceeds to charity :)

Chris_the_Blogger said...

"It was their mistake so I don't think I should be put out at all by it."

I take your point, I suppose I should have put 'much' instead of 'at all'. Nothing beyond returning the item in question. I don't want to lose more money that I otherwise would for someone else's mistake.

SpacePup said...

Let me weigh in on this debate:

Any "My Name is Earl" is too much "My Name is Earl"...

Chris_the_Blogger said...

Thanks Ty, insightful as always. The inanity of your comment still can't help me from agreeing though.