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"Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

Last post Thu, Jul 22 2010 11:00 AM by haverwench. 20 replies.
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  • Wed, Jul 7 2010 5:57 PM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    The title brings different things to mind for me. When my local grocery has an advertised loss leader with a limit of two, I choose to take advantage of that only once during the week, not every time one of us is in town, because that is ethical for me. I do not load up on condiments at fast food restaurants for use at home, but I don't feel odd about taking the occasional salt, sugar or catsup packet. I use the salt and sugar packets in my overnight bag, salt to gargle for a sore throat, sugar for a cough. The catsup can serve my very rare use for such. All of what I take is well within what I might be expected to consume with the purchase at the time.  AM

  • Sun, Jul 11 2010 9:30 AM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    Ethics may well be like pregnancy--either you have them or you don't.  Things frugal people don't do:  wear the bathing suit for the entire season, then bring it back to the store which accepts any returns (per my late, great-aunt, who worked the return desk), buy several different dresses from several different stores, wear them in rotation, and take them back (my former dept manager, always well dressed, always a "B"), having a friend at the loan shark's use an identically-named person's credit history to get cards, charging them to the limit, then declaring bankruptcy in her own name (Cuz's aunt), buy the car, then file the chapter (former co-worker), file every seven years and claim Biblical precedent (a certain Adventist-in-name-only), tag switching (I worked for a store which would give employees an extra discount for catching these beasts)...the list goes on and on.  Every one of these actions eventually costs one or more jobs for honest people who will be laid off because of business expenses or losses, and real frugality and economic concern dictates that we take the ethical high road, to prevent or forestall further recession/depression.

  • Sun, Jul 11 2010 9:27 PM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    I am now feeling inspired to resurrect the Tightwad Ethics Survey that ran in the Tightwad Gazette.  This is a series of ten questions that Amy Dacyczyn posed to her readers about the ethics of frugality.  She didn't say which answer she thought was right, though she noted that in most cases she agreed with the majority view.  (Perhaps I am being a little unethical myself by reproducing this copyrighted material without permission--but I feel that it's serving a greater good.)

     So, here are the ten questions.  The answer choices for each one are "Yes," "No," "Yes, but I wouldn't do it," and "No, but I would do it anyway."

    Is it ethical to:

    1. Secretly switch your spouse's favorite, expensive name brand with a store brand to see if they would notice the difference, providing that you eventually let them in on it?

    2. Substitute another receipt to get a rebate if you lost the original receipt?  The possible justification here is that you did in fact purchase the product and satisfy the manufacturer's intention.

    3. Take all of the unused soap and shampoo from your hotel room?

    4. Offer half of the asking price and show a wad of cash to encourage the sale when you are making a large purchase from a private individual?  This assumes that the seller does not appear needy.

    5. Buy something from a pawn shop, knowing it is likely that someone under economic duress sold the item for a fraction of its real value?

    6. Return a 10-year-old coat to L.L. Bean, to take advantage of the company's unconditional satisfaction guarantee?

    7. Buy toys for a fraction of their original price from a 10-year-old at a family yard sale?

    8. Take labels off thrift shop designer clothes and sew them onto new no-name clothes for your kids to wear?  This assumes your kids know about it.

    9. Get Radio Shack's free battery card, and get a once-a-month free battery even though you never plan to buy anything from them?

    10. Shop at a thrift shop if you have an average or above average income?  The possible objection is that you would be buying items that poorer people need.

    (I would have tried to set this up as a poll, but I'm not sure how...and I don't know if you can do one with multiple questions.)

    My Ecofrugal Living blog: ecofrugality.blogspot.com
  • Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:12 PM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    how about returns on clothing at stores the first wear it then return it how tacky can that gets and another thing saying at a deli this food is bad then I replaced it with something better to please the custamer but they said no andd I just let them out the door they lied to me while I got ripped off now thats really tacky.

    chrissanne
  • Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:34 PM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    Is it ethical to:

    1. Secretly switch your spouse's favorite, expensive name brand with a store brand to see if they would notice the difference, providing that you eventually let them in on it?

    Yes, but for me, "eventually" is right after he had a bit of it.

    2. Substitute another receipt to get a rebate if you lost the original receipt?  The possible justification here is that you did in fact purchase the product and satisfy the manufacturer's intention.

    No.

    3. Take all of the unused soap and shampoo from your hotel room?

    Yes.

    4. Offer half of the asking price and show a wad of cash to encourage the sale when you are making a large purchase from a private individual?  This assumes that the seller does not appear needy.

    Yes.  The seller still has the right to say no regardless of how much cash I have.

    5. Buy something from a pawn shop, knowing it is likely that someone under economic duress sold the item for a fraction of its real value?

    Yes.

    6. Return a 10-year-old coat to L.L. Bean, to take advantage of the company's unconditional satisfaction guarantee?

    No.

    7. Buy toys for a fraction of their original price from a 10-year-old at a family yard sale?

    Yes.

    8. Take labels off thrift shop designer clothes and sew them onto new no-name clothe for your kids to wear?  This assumes your kids know about it.

    I guess so.  You own the designer clothes and you own the non-designer clothes.  I don't see this as any different than sewing an organization's patch (ie. Marines or Fire Department) patch on one of their jackets. But if this question means taking labels off of clothes at the thrift store without actually buying the clothes first, then no.

    9. Get Radio Shack's free battery card, and get a once-a-month free battery even though you never plan to buy anything from them?

    Yes. 

    10. Shop at a thrift shop if you have an average or above average income?  The possible objection is tha you would be buying items that poorer people need.

    Yes.

  • Mon, Jul 12 2010 8:55 AM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    1-Yes.  The store brand may be identical to the higher-priced brand, or may have a percent or two of water added.  Men are like children, fearful of anything new.

    2-Yes.  You bought it twice, didn't you?

    3-Yes.  You purchased it with the room (I clean for a motel.  It's OK, honest.  Some motels actually throw the stuff away if it's been left in a room.)

    4-Yes.  I hate it, though, having been a flea market vendor..  You, the buyer, are allowed to ask.  I, the seller, am allowed to refuse.  

    5-Yes.  Poor folks need loans and sometimes convert goods to cash, sacrificing part of the purchase price for a speedy transaction.  Often as not, something is out of order on electrical items sold to pawn shops, so the shop owner is being rooked.  If the shop is shady and purchases stolen goods, I'd change this to No.

    6-No.  Legal and ethical are not always the same thing.

    7-Yes.  The child is a willing seller, his mama probably priced them, and he is learning a thing or two about financial transactions.  You are always welcome to tell the young'un that he is underpricing, and give him a little extra. 

    8-A qualified yes. You didn''t purchase them as counterfeits, but you did purchase the designer-tagged items.  Therefore, the tags are yours.  I believe that the bullying of children by the spawn of pretentious social climbers makes this legitimate as defense of your minor children.  Do it for yourself, and it's fraud.

    9-It's really not right...but I know our local Radio Shack owner bought his franchise with money made from illegal wiretapping.  I don't do it, don't shop there since I found out,  but would encourage customers of that particular store to do it.

    10-Thrift shop has opened its doors to everyone.  Some charities have a closed day when the indigent are allowed to come in and have first choice.  The rule otherwise is first come, first served, and the poorer customers may be coming in when the desirable items are put on the shelf; the middle-class may be doing the same.  Luck of the draw makes this legit, especially in areas where the Goodwill is in the center of a middle-class neighborhood (south side of Jacksonville, FL, or business district locations, for  real-life examples). 

  • Mon, Jul 12 2010 11:25 AM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    Here are my answers to the tightwad ethics quiz:

    haverwench:
    1. Secretly switch your spouse's favorite, expensive name brand with a store brand to see if they would notice the difference, providing that you eventually let them in on it?
    Yes, but I probably wouldn't do it.  I'd most likely let him in on the switch from the beginning.  My husband is no more brand loyal than I am and is generally happy to accept a store-brand substitute if it meets his needs.

    2. Substitute another receipt to get a rebate if you lost the original receipt?  The possible justification here is that you did in fact purchase the product and satisfy the manufacturer's intention.
    Yes, although I've never actually done it because I am meticulous about keeping *everything* when sending in rebates.  But as long as I actually bought the item, I'm not cheating anyone by taking the rebate.

    3. Take all of the unused soap and shampoo from your hotel room?
    This one's actually complicated for me.  I would have no problem taking the leftovers if I had opened the package and used part of it, because in that case I would assume that the hotel is just going to throw it out otherwise.  So I'm just preventing waste.  If the package is still unopened and sealed, then I would be inclined to think that if I leave it, the hotel will pass it on to the next guest, while if I take it, they'll have to substitute a new one.  So even if I am legally entitled to take it, I'm still promoting waste by doing so.  But if the hotel is actually going to discard the package whether it's been opened or not, then obviously it's wasteful to leave it.  So I guess that if I didn't know the hotel's policy, I would go ahead and take it.  (I stay in hotels so seldom that it's not much of an issue anyway.)

    4. Offer half of the asking price and show a wad of cash to encourage the sale when you are making a large purchase from a private individual?  This assumes that the seller does not appear needy.
    Sure, why not?  The seller is under no obligation to take the offer, but if cash on the nail is a big enough incentive to him, isn't that a win for both of us?

    5. Buy something from a pawn shop, knowing it is likely that someone under economic duress sold the item for a fraction of its real value?
    Yes.  If I refuse to patronize the pawn shop and it goes out of business, how does that help anyone?  The owner is out of a job and people who need cash in a hurry will no longer have a safe and legal way to get it.

    6. Return a 10-year-old coat to L.L. Bean, to take advantage of the company's unconditional satisfaction guarantee?
    No.  Ten years is a reasonable lifetime for a coat, so I have no grounds for dissatisfaction.  However, I would (and have) returned a pair of pants that wore out within one year, because I think pants should last longer than that.

    7. Buy toys for a fraction of their original price from a 10-year-old at a family yard sale?
    Yes.  I don't see why anyone would find this objectionable.  If the kid is selling the toys, he/she presumably would rather have the money.  And "a fraction of their original price" is what you should expect to pay at a yard sale.  Unless they're collectibles, they are overpriced at more than 20 or 25 percent of their original value.

    8. Take labels off thrift shop designer clothes and sew them onto new no-name clothe for your kids to wear?  This assumes your kids know about it.
    No.  First of all, I think label obsession is just plain stupid, and if I had kids, I would rather try to teach them how to be smart shoppers and pick clothing based on real value.  And more than that, I wouldn't want to teach them to be deceptive in their dealings with others.  And finally, I think that there's a serious risk that snobbish classmates might be able to spot the sewed-on label, and then their teasing would not only increase, it would actually be justified (because the kid was not just wearing cheap clothes but also being dishonest about it).

    9. Get Radio Shack's free battery card, and get a once-a-month free battery even though you never plan to buy anything from them?
    Yes.  Stores offer promotions like this to get you in the door in the hopes that you'll buy something else once you're there.  They know that it won't work on everyone who accepts the offer.  There's nothing morally wrong with being the fish that slips the hook.

    10. Shop at a thrift shop if you have an average or above average income?  The possible objection is that you would be buying items that poorer people need.
    Yes, of course.  By shopping there, I am supporting the store, which in turn supports a worthy cause.  And I'm also helping the environment by buying stuff secondhand.  This is a win-win, as far as I'm concerned.

    After we've had a few more responses, I'll share the results from the Tightwad Gazette readers.

    My Ecofrugal Living blog: ecofrugality.blogspot.com
  • Mon, Jul 12 2010 9:21 PM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    I think I need an example of #2.( Substitute another receipt to get a rebate if you lost the original receipt?  The possible justification here is that you did in fact purchase the product and satisfy the manufacturer's intention.)

    Where would this other receipt come from? Purchasing the same item a second time or using a receipt from a similar (but not exact same) item made by the same company?

    I don't generally do rebates because I usually think that "rebate" is just Latin for "already overpriced to begin with". There are some that really do seem to be a great deal, but it's usually on stuff I'm not going to buy.

  • Tue, Jul 13 2010 7:00 AM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    Lisa in OK:
    I think I need an example of #2.( Substitute another receipt to get a rebate if you lost the original receipt?  The possible justification here is that you did in fact purchase the product and satisfy the manufacturer's intention.)

    Where would this other receipt come from? Purchasing the same item a second time or using a receipt from a similar (but not exact same) item made by the same company?

    I think the idea is that someone else you know bought it but didn't plan to collect the rebate.  It did strike me as a rather unlikely scenario.

    Lisa in OK:
    I don't generally do rebates because I usually think that "rebate" is just Latin for "already overpriced to begin with". There are some that really do seem to be a great deal, but it's usually on stuff I'm not going to buy. 
    I treat them the same as coupons: I'll only buy the product if 1) it's something I would buy anyway (or, in the cast of free or near-free items, something I might not normally buy but can definitely use), and 2) the price after rebate (factoring in the cost of postage) is lower than the price for any equivalent product.  I bought a case of motor oil this way once because it came out to something like a dollar a quart after all rebates, which was way better than any other brand (although as it turned out, I did have to pester the company quite a bit before they gave me the rebate).  Also, you can sometimes get products that are free after rebate—with the Single Check Rebates program at Rite-Aid, for instance.  And of course, when you're buying a big item, like a major appliance, a rebate can have a major impact on the total cost.

    My Ecofrugal Living blog: ecofrugality.blogspot.com
  • Tue, Jul 13 2010 7:19 PM In reply to

    Re: "Frugal Ethics," 6/28/10

    Oh, I forgot about rebates on big appliances - I can definitely see how that would come in handy.  Most of the rebates I see are for items that I already own and don't need more of, like laptops. 

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