Friday, August 19, 2005

A Case Study in Ethics

A Case Study in Ethics
Wednesday afternoon in preparation for a long auto trip we are planning, we were looking at suitcases in Macy’s. We found one on sale which was about what we wanted. Its major virtue was the ridiculous low price ($44.99). Problem was they only had one and we wanted two. We grabbed the one and the clerk gave us a list of other Macy’s branches in the area that might have more in stock. (Note, he didn’t offer to call them.)

Thursday morning early, we were in another Macy’s and sure enough there were three of the case we wanted. We even had our choice of colors. Now, have you ever wanted to buy something in a large department store in Florida, off-season and early in the day? It is possible that you could steal the item, get caught, serve your sentence and get out in less time than it would take to find a clerk. Nonetheless, I favored waiting, but my wife who has more experience than I with department stores, took off in search of a counter laughingly labeled “Consumer Service”. She activated the wheels on the suitcase and dragged it along. We came upon such a place with a gal waiting on someone while listening to a potential customer’s sad story of a credit card that wasn’t being accepted by store cash registers. The clerk took our credit card and rang up our purchase, then she rattled off the price, tax, etc and total. I had specifically noticed that the price label was $37.99 -- $7.00 less than we had paid the day before. What the clerk had just charged us was $31.99! As a Boy Scout emeritus, I pointed out her error. She looked at the 1500 feet or so back to the luggage department and muttered, “I’m not going all the way back there for that.” She handed us the paperwork and the suitcase and turned to the next customer.

How much remorse should we feel because we will have part of our vacation subsidized by Macy’s due to a clerk with sore feet?


east village idiot said...

What is it with department stores these days? They seem more and more like musuems. You walk from area to area without an employee in sight. I've given up and even buy my luggage on line (risky business - I know).

Marilyn said...

I found it remarkable that she actually waited on you. I usually managed to stumble upon the clerk who chooses to blithely ignore me while she continues her personal conversation with her girlfriend about last night's date...or her hopes for tonight's. :)