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Ethical or not?
Not the most important of ethical issues!


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113 replies to this topic

#1 pitzinoodles

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:05 PM

If you received a $60 gift card for a large store in the mail addressed to a previous owner whose forwarding details you don't have, would you use it?

Further info:
- it's a reward type card from the store - you've spent x amount so company will reward you with this gift voucher
- addressed to someone who was 2 owners ago, no forwarding address left.
- have previously 'returned to sender' most mail, including from this company.
-DD (3.5yo) loves opening mail and got to it before me, so it was opened when usually in would have returned to sender it not knowing what was in there!

So should I put it in an envelope and send it back to the store or spend it? Which is the 'right' thing to do.

#2 Ange remplie

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:09 PM

To spend it would effectively be to steal from the store.  

Sorry, I know the bonus would be nice, but you didn't earn it.

#3 Jjbeanz

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:10 PM

The right thing to do is send it back

Edited by Jjbeanz, 10 November 2012 - 10:11 PM.


#4 Kwyjibo

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:10 PM

I would be very, very tempted to spend it  ph34r.gif

I am sure the EB moral collective will be here soon to steer you in the 'correct' direction.

#5 Guest_zeus359_*

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:15 PM

I would sent it back. Particularly as it is a you spent this much money type thing, that means the person is still spending at the stores, and using their card to get points or whatever. Perhaps they may try calling the owner of the gift voucher when you send it back.

#6 Fright bat

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:15 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 10/11/2012, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To spend it would effectively be to steal from the store.  

Sorry, I know the bonus would be nice, but you didn't earn it.



Do stores operate ethically and thereby require reciprocal respect from customers?

Coles/Safeway (for example) steal from farmers to give to CEOs/shareholders.

Does the $60 even mean anything to the store?

What do you have to do to 'earn' something - for example, the CEO of a company might make 1000x the annual wage of the factory floor worker; that doesn't mean the CEO 'earned' it, it just means that he is unequally rewarded by an unjust and arbitrary system.


Enjoy the $60 bonus. I see utterly not practical ethical reason why you have any moral obligation whatsoever to give even a millisecond of care about the poor old major corporation whose $60 you are 'stealing'.

If you had any way of giving it to the individual who used to live there, then I would say you were stealing if you didn't. The corporation doesn't get a vote in my personal moral compass.

#7 pitzinoodles

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:15 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 10/11/2012, 11:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To spend it would effectively be to steal from the store.  

Sorry, I know the bonus would be nice, but you didn't earn it.


Part of me feels that way, but I also know gift cards are considered like cash. And if someone sent a card birthday card with cash and no sender name on the back it wouldn't be stealing...or would you take it to the police to see if it is claimed?

#8 LoudMuffin

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:16 PM

QUOTE (Kwyjibo @ 10/11/2012, 10:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would be very, very tempted to spend it  ph34r.gif

I am sure the EB moral collective will be here soon to steer you in the 'correct' direction.


Ditto, apparently I'm not part of the EB collective lol

#9 LambChop

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:17 PM

2 owners ago... man how long does it take for them to sort their mail !!

I'd spend it, and not consider it stealing.

#10 treefalls

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:18 PM

Not sure about the ethics of shopping OP... it's clear that the money is now in your hands wink.gif

It's an interesting question. As PPs have pointed out, you could think of it in terms of stealing and return it to the store. If that doesn't really resonate with you, then I'd have to go with pointing out 'the evils of consumerism'  biggrin.gif

So I think maybe the question you could ask yourself would be: What is the best use of this money/credit? Is it better if the money is not in the hands of the store, but in your own? If so, can it spent in a way that does more good in the world than harm? ... or is it better not to spend it at all? ....

#11 I*Love*Christmas

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:19 PM

A similar thing happened to us last year. A card came in the mail and my DS ripped it open thinking it was another first birthday card for DD... except it was a birthday card for a previous resident of our house and there was $100 in it. No return address but there was New Zealand stamped over the stamps and kiwi stamps. My DH decided to do the right thing and take it to the police station and they told him not to worry about it and keep it!?

#12 Angelina Ballerina

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:20 PM

Send it back if you want to stay on Santa's good list.
Keep it if you don't mind being on the naughty list.

#13 Gumbette

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:20 PM

I'd probably buy something for charity.

#14 tibs

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:21 PM

QUOTE (pitzinoodles @ 10/11/2012, 11:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Part of me feels that way, but I also know gift cards are considered like cash. And if someone sent a card birthday card with cash and no sender name on the back it wouldn't be stealing...or would you take it to the police to see if it is claimed?


If the birthday card was addressed to someone else how could taking the cash out of it not be stealing?  If I really couldn't track down the recipient via the real estate agent etc I'd be donating the money to charity not spending it on myself.

#15 Guest_AllegraM_*

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:23 PM

Send it back. The store may be able to contact the customer by phone or email or recredit it to the customer's loyalty account.



#16 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:24 PM

Of course keeping it is not even remotely ethical.

Situational ethics are a different matter though.

#17 lizzzard

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:25 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 10/11/2012, 11:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Do stores operate ethically and thereby require reciprocal respect from customers?

Call me a sucker, but I believe in the old 'two wrongs don't make a right'. Whether stores act ethically or not doesn't impact my personal obligation to act ethically. I would return it.

Edited by lizzzard, 10 November 2012 - 10:25 PM.


#18 Flimsy*But*Fun

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:26 PM

I'd spend it.

#19 anotherid

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:27 PM

Was it Flybuys or something similar?

Perhaps you could spend the money at K-Mart and put what you bought under the K-Mart Christmas Tree?

That would be ethical.

#20 #YKG

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:29 PM

Using or taking something that wasn't intended for you is stealing regardless who the item is from.

I dont see it as steal from the company but from the indivual that it was intended for. I get mail all the time for previous tenant. I dont open the mail and have had collection notices for them and a card of some sort not sure exactly what is was whether it was a credit card or gift card but I have returned them all to sender with " Has not lived at this address for x amount of years future correspondence will be desposed of". Most companies and places have gotten the hint and am slowly no longer receiving mail for the old tenants.

Send it back with something to that effect and they should do something about it or track down the owners/recipents who it was intended for.

#21 HurryUpAlready

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:29 PM

I'd totally spend it!!!

#22 bluedragon

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:29 PM

I wouldn't see it as stealing from the store, they factor the rewards into their finances and it would have been spent the the intended recipient if it had reached them.

It's more like stealing from the person it was sent to. They earned the points or whatever to earn the reward.

I would make an effort to find the previous owner and if I couldn't would enjoy the shopping spree.

#23 Chaos in stereo

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:30 PM

Unlikely ,but what if they query your identity at the point of sale?

What if he was expecting the reward and looks into why he hasn't received it and the paper trail leads to you?

There is a chance you will be called on it. Mortifying!

#24 pitzinoodles

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:33 PM

I'm not worried about the store - for a myriad of reasons.

I am a bit worried about the intended recipient who is clearly still spending at this store. But I have 'returned to sender' hundreds of bits of mail, many from this store, possibly containing gift cards, yet the address hasn't been changed.

I quite like the idea of purchasing something for someone in need, but what I do with the 'profits' of the card doesn't make doing the 'wrong' thing 'right', if in fact spending the card 'wrong'!

Edited by pitzinoodles, 10 November 2012 - 10:36 PM.


#25 lorze

Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:35 PM

Consider the voucher as yours.

The previous owner has had plenty of time to notify the store of her new address and you, yourself, have advised the store of the error in their database.

I would regard the $60 as compensation for the inconvenience of having to deal with someone else's mail.




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