Ethical consumer advice needed....

‘Someone who isn’t me’ (SWIM) asked a store to hold a product worth £5 as it was last in stock.

They had a better product at £15 but SWIM decided for the cheaper option.

SWIM asks ‘someone who isn’t you’ (SWIY) if SWIY would be so kind as to drive SWIM to the area so SWIM could pick up the product.

SWIM arrives a little later at the store to find the staff bemused as “a lady” had come in only moments earlier to collect the product, describing it perfectly and explaining she was collecting on behalf of somebody who’d called it in to reserve the product only an hour or so earlier. SWIM assumed a major coincidence had occurred, as did the staff.

The staff had sold the product to “the lady” and apologised for their error; believing “the lady” would return with the £5 product after realising she had the wrong product, the staff were happy to offer the superior £15 product to SWIM for just £10.

SWIM accepted and returned home. SWIM then finds out that SWIY (a male btw) was actually “the lady” who had collected the last copy of the product placed on reserve in the store. It seems SWIY had misunderstood the request to simply drive to the area of the store and instead went to collect the product themselves on behalf of SWIM.


SWIM has both products (£20 worth for a total cost of £10).
SWIM was happy to spend up to £!0.

What is the ethical thing for SWIM to do here?

If SWIM returns either item it involves explaining the confusion to the staff, which is no problem for SWIM but would require SWIM to either keep the inferior product and pay only £5 (be refunded the rest) or pay the full £15 cost of the superior product.

Obviously SWIM wants to keep the superior product but feels rather strange about how this all went down (and still doesn’t want to pay more than £10).
SWIM has little concern for the large company behind the sale, but wouldn’t want even the smallest inconvenience to befall the staff over the issue with their employers.
SWIM doesn’t imagine the staff would have helped the way they did if they weren’t allowed to do so.

Right now, SWIM doesn’t know whether to open the £5 product, open the £15 product, or keep both despite now having no need for the inferior product.
SWIM has spend a total of £10 for £20 worth of games - if “the lady” does not rteturn (which obviously she won’t) the staff may feel something strange has happened, or even that they were duped by SWIM.
SWIM doesn’t expect many people to consider such a complicated ploy would be used against them, and instead would choose to simply forget about it without examining further.
SWIM fears no negative consequences of SWIM’s actions, but merely wants to do the right thing.
SWIM is anti-corporate, anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist.

What should SWIM do??? :slight_smile:

The store has ten pounds of your money, total? Then return the inferior item. They can’t force you to pay the extra money for the one you are keeping. At least i don’t see how they can.

Thanks Faust. :slight_smile:

Truth is SWIM isn’t so concerned about such practicalities - but rather is curious as to the ethical choice in this situation.

Return the inferior product. Assuming you paid your friend back (I’m going to use dollar signs) the $5 you owed him, and the store got $5 from your friend and $10 from you, the store has made $15 with the chance to earn $5 more if they can re-sell the inferior product. You’ve paid $15 for a $15 product; your friend was paid back the $5 he spent; the store earned $15 and may earn $5 more. Everything is even and, imm, ethical. :smiley:

Oh god please stop saying swim dude that won’t free you from any liability for your statements if it came down to it for gods sake swim is bs that’s common knowledge. In responsibe to the question, buyer beware. You know sellers are out to make money, that gives you and only you an obligation to watch your back.


SWIM was supposed to be amusing (at least for me), but if you think I’m using it to naively ‘cover my tracks’ as it were, then lol ye theres no reason whatsoever for me to do that - its not like I have done anything bad or shameful.
I’ll stop using it if you like but it wasn’t meant to be serious Smears so please try not to be rude about it.

darn! :slight_smile:

i was hoping nobody would say that hehe
I think i may be using my anti-corporate/consumerist stance to justify a decision to keep the superior product. :frowning:

Why are you against corporations and consumers? Don’t you use corporate products? Do you think the world would be better if everyone were just a bunch of subsistence farmers?

Anti-consumerism is the issue most close to my heart.

Because I have a seemingly infinite amount of things to say on the matter, I’ve never wanted to discuss it here yet as it would be quite an endeavour.
Please forgive me for not wishing to go into this any further


It’s a common view. You don’t have to elaborate.

Thanks :slight_smile:

Im sure one day I will post about this as this is also the subject I most want to write on and i find debate bring out the best in me (in terms of articulation).

If you ever just want a ruthless debate, full of tricks and what have you, hit me up. I can do either side of almost anything.

Lol dont tell anyone but me too - would be fun if we were both given positions we didn’t support in the debate section.

I have a lot to do now cus im readying for a holiday/vacation but I’ll be back mid-July if you can remind me


You opted for the cheaper product. That one is yours the other one is not. Buying a product does not mean its yours, otherwise it would be legal to keep things sold to us that was stolen by the seller.
Ethically keeping the better product is theft.

Great point Kris :slight_smile:

Perhaps it is a case of strength on my part that I should follow your advice, but I’m torn because being anti-corporate I essentially believe there are crimes which are legal and crimes which are not.

In other words, would it be OK for a petty thief to steal from a thief who steals 30,000% more than he does? (in the name of balance and to hinder the giant thiefs attempt to acquire the world)

[Clearly I’m being hyperbolic, but only to amplify the point]

EDIT: Additonally, if I were to give the cheaper product away for free to someone who wanted it, would that make me less of a ‘Catburglar’ and more of a ‘Robin Hood’?

The corporations always have more blue collar than white collar employees. Would you steal a toy from a kid?? Well realize that your action does not affect white collar pay, it affects blue collar pay. Now they have to tell their kid no because 5$ was deducted from their pay. When Robinhood stole from the wealthy don’t you think that the wealthy would forgoe paying their employees any bonus or even deduct from their normal pay in order to make up the difference?
He may have helped some poor but, he most certainly harmed others.
Will you harm an innocent to salve your guilt or fulfill your hatred of wealthy?

I wouldn’t say I hate wealthy people - just wealth.

And the critical difference in the way I’m looking at this and your take on it, I believe, is the distribution of wealth within a corporation, eg. 50,000 strong workforce under an umbrella corporation - as you correctly say the vast majority are blue-collar but it’s not implausible to suggest that as much of 50% of the gains would go to the white collars.

Furthermore, I am not against stepping on a few eggshells to kill the chicken, as it were. So [clearly here I’m expanding the hypothetical once again as I realise how trivial my OP was in comparison, but…] I could live with myself if I were a corporate activist who had struck a major blow to LaRoche or Unilever causing job losses in the process.

This may seem harsh or bizarre but allow me to attempt a crude analogy…

A lot of Gap Inc clothes are produced in El Salvador, Nike in Indonesia etc… in sweat shops. Putting aside the draconian working conditions imposed by corporations HQs, the lack of employment opportunities in these poor countries makes a sweat-shop environment almost unavoidable. In these places the people (who do not deserve to work in sweat-shops) are in many cases grateful to their employers for the opportunity to make any money at all, but if I believe the employer & co is doubling as an obstacle to progress in that country - progress which would eventually lead to home-grown job opportunites - then in the long run it is not a good thing for those people.

In other words, people will invariably work in the system they are in and find contentment or disillusionment within that system. In order to change that system to one which is fairer to the people, job losses in the short-term is inevitable.
Our global economy is such a monster, in a sense, in that if every world citizen wanted a world without money it could not be achieved (with literally all the will in the world!) without millions going broke and lives being ruined etc…

The movie Speed comes to mind in fact lol :slight_smile: - would you shoot a friend with live ammunition in order to save his life?

EDIT: On a separate note, Kris i find myself relating strongly to your sig! :slight_smile:

Is there a pressing ethical need not to return the expensive product, get the fiver extra back and live with the deal that was agreed upon? It’s hardly “sticking it to the man”, it’s making a quick personal profit on the back of some confusion. It’s as ethical as keeping the money when you’re overchanged.

Arguing anti-consumerism is tough when ones anti-consumerist principles don’t even stretch to eschewing games for ethics’ sake. A more pointed anti-corporate/anti-capitalist point would be to steal the goods - and then perhaps return them, claiming to have lost the receipts, so you would have money that you could put to ethical use, as you judge it.

Whichever choice is made, world capitalism will not be brought to its knees. I’m not sure how taking advantage of a misunderstanding for inconsequential personal gain can be argued to be the ethical choice, though.

Good post OH.
I understand and empathize where you are coming from, its a goodhearted ideal that many of us have had but, its flawed. You are not going to harm those that are making the money ifyou shut down their corporation/ company. They will start over again and in many cases have diversified assets. You will have only succeeded in causing unemployment, homelessness and probably some sick kid to die because his parents can no longer afford medication. Also many kids will have to try to find work rather than go to school. The wealthy will move away leaving behind destroyed communities.
Let me add one more thing. Gather 500$ dollars give 100$ to 5 poor homeless people. Then follow what they do with their new found wealth. It will disapoint you overall.
When people are given handouts rather than hand ups they tend to waste the gift.
Hmm one more thing, Would you put an Amazon tribesman or woman and dump them in NewYork City or London? You are intelligent, I think you can see where I am going.
Thanks about the sig, a cynical wolfish friend made it for me. We met here atILa

Does your green username mean you are a mod or admin?

Truthfully, the way I see it is you’ve only read my OP as i have twice referred to how trivial the OP question is in relation to the broader spectrum of things.

The discussion went from that to WHY I AM ANTI-CONSUMERIST.
I was asked about this and I gave a brief explanation.

If you think I am somehow perturbed by the piddly dilemna in the OP then you most definitely have the wrong end of the stick. I created this thread only because the incident happened today and is fresh in my mind.

But I have to say I must disagree if you think NOT creating this thread would have somehow been MORE ethical. Clearly by your critical response you would not have done the same, which gives me reason to infer your view of ethics is dependant on scale - which is akin to the way every evil idea begins.

Handouts? When did i say anything about handouts?
Also, the aim is not to bring one single corporation to account. But if there were no corporate activists the corporate world would quite clearly get away with even more injustice.
Hmm, I wonder how many families in Jefferson County, Colorado earn their crust by making ammunition and bombs? (Colorado being just an example)
If US troops shot at less people (eg. No war) many of those families would be out of work in the way you described - should we only care about THEIR wellbeing? What of the people getting shot?

The point about the homeless handout I find moot and slightly concerned for myself:
I’m concerned that I may be becoming unintelligible because I wouldn’t at all be disappointed, and so I’m scouring my posts here to see where I could have given that impression of myself because I wouldn’t
want to accuse you of presuming too much.
But i find the point moot because you are describing a series of events (which I too would expect btw, just so you are ABSOLUTELY clear I’m not as naive as you seem to think I am) which takes place
in a system I myself denounce and wish to see changed. Who are you to suggest (indirectly or otherwise) that in a world without big business the same would happen?

… Would you not think it rude of me to refuse to go into my politics with Smears only to then go into them with you? As I’m sure you can appreciate, when issues are close to your heart it is all too easy to be dragged into a
debate about them, which is exactly why I didn’t want to debate them at this time with Smears: it’ll go on forever and I dont yet have the time for such a task.
I notice now that this HAS begun, and I ask humbly that you notice the title and nature of the OP, which was friendly and jokey in tone and looking for advice on a trivial issue before you press on.

I don’t avoid serious discussion and the debate section and if you check my previous threads/posts you’ll see this very clearly lol, but just as most religious people are not willing to spend 24 hours a day thinking and talking about their beliefs, no matter how much they’d like to, this is an issue closer to my heart than any other so I’m afraid it can be only a lengthy discussion or no discussion at all.
In mid-July I’ll be available to debate this with you/Smears if you’d like?

I’m suddenly aware as I type this that I’ve had the ‘last say’ as it were, so I apologise and wish to assure you that the next point I was about to write I shall now hold from writing, out of my respect for the request I have just asked of the both of you. :slight_smile:

PS. You may have noticed the tone of this post begin harshly then taper off at the end - allow me to apologise. I was speaking from passion and I often find it hard to be polite sometimes because I’m not used to being around other people with different points of view (tis actually the reason I’m on ILP is to practice lol) - apologies once again, Ceri :slight_smile: