Monday, March 9, 2009

Frugality and Thievery: Let's Talk Ethics

I get emails from people asking all sorts of questions, and if I get enough of the same types I try to just write something about it so people won't have to quit asking. I figure questions are like spiders; if you hear/see one, you've got 50 of the same lurking around you.
And now I'm totally freaked out about spiders being all around me. Great.

Anyhow, so, let's go over some scenarios:

I was waaaay undercharged for a bunch of items, what do I do?

Call the store and tell them, or if you are close enough, go back. Odds are they will tell you not to worry about it, but if they don't, give them their money. I like to save a buck, but honestly is more important.

I returned something and was reimbursed for money that included coupons I used.

Okay, here is how I feel, if the cashier doesn't care, I don't care because they will be reimbursed for that. BUT, if you buy something with coupons just to get the money back that the coupons were worth, you are STEALING. The End. So, I guess, again, tell the cashier and let them make the call.

My coupons are expired by a day but I still want the deal. It's only a few, can't I sneak them in?

No. Let me repeat for emphasis. No. It is just plain wrong, it abuses the system and couponers everywhere could suffer one day for your dishonesty. Kind of like shoplifting, one person steals so we all suffer the consequenses. Please don't do it.

I want to buy 10 of an item on sale, but there are only 9. Do I take them all.

Okay, this one is tricky. I hear people gripe about "shelf clearers" all the time and I just have to say, "Wah." I say the early bird catches the worm. But... here is a way to go about it that I use. Say I want the 10 items and there are only 9. I go to a grocery person and tell them the situation. They will usually tell me to clear their shelf, but sometimes they have me do a raincheck. I do the raincheck, I don't clear the shelf and people are happy. So, I say ask your store, but if you clear the shelf, again, early bird...

I bought a clothing item and learned how to make it and now I want to return it to the store.

I think that is a jerk move. You paid for the item to learn to make the item yourself, you should eat that cost. Sell it on ebay if you must, but returning is flat out unethical.

I learned to make it and now I want to sell it for less than the original.

I used to deal with this issue all the time with my business. Argh. Let me keep this to caveman talk in the interest of not writing 2 pages. (I'll cover this again I'm sure down the road.) Taking another person's ideas and selling it is stealing. Stealing bad. Might be illegal. Intellectual Property and Trade Dress issues. You get sued. Unethical for sure. Hurt other small business. Mean to do. Golden Rule good. Stealing (even ideas or patterns) bad.
Enough on that for now.

I don't want to pay full price for my kids movie tickets, can I fib?

No. If you want to save money on movies, wait until they are at the cheap house, or rent them instead.

Can I haggle at garage sales.

Sure! I do it all the time! Just take cash and be polite. Also, assess the situation. If it is obviously a garage sale of desperation, or it is little kids, I don't haggle.

My store changed it's policy and I don't like it. What do I do?

Been there. You can complain (politely), or suck it up and deal or take your money elsewhere. that is really all you can do. But, if you choose to complain, DON'T take it to the poor cashier or whoever the peon is there. Why ruin their day over something they have no control over?

I can get free food at resturaunts by complaining!

Yes, you can, but really? Too far. Now if you get a bad meal, that is fine, but complaining for the freebies isn't very cool. Karma always gets you for this one, my friend.

Okay, that is all I have for now. Hope that is useful to you.

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