I was raised by a host of people that taught me the value and virtue of being honest and doing the right thing.  Does it mean that I am always great at doing that?  Not exactly. Just ask my daughter when she hears me tell our youngest a “little white lie”. No, he doesn’t really need to know that we actually DO have more chocolate in the cabinet or suckers in my purse or that I may have skipped a couple of lines in the book that I am reading to him.

BUT.  For the really important things, I am a firm believer in doing the right thing.  I like to be able to sleep at night.

So, when I received a duplicate order recently, I tried to do just that.

Let’s set the stage here.  My husband and I received very nice dishware when we got married nearly ten years ago.  It has lasted through several long distance moves and a couple of clumsy kids, but recently started showing its age with chips around the edges.  We decided it was time to retire the marital stoneware, and thus began the search for new dishes.

I wanted something neutral, heavy duty, and inexpensive.  I’ll buy nice dishes again when the kids leave the nest.

DishesI found exactly what I was looking for online from a major retailer, which will remain unnamed.  When my order arrived, I was perplexed to find not three boxes with four place-settings apiece but rather six.  That translates to place-settings for 24.  Not quite what I needed, so the first thing I did was make sure that I hadn’t been charged twice. Nope.  They had shipped me a duplicate order by mistake.

So honest little me called and talked to a customer service rep and explained the problem.  He thanked me for my honesty – because they had no record that I had been sent a double order.  He sent me a return slip so that I could return the extras.

So I did.

And this past weekend I received an email informing me that the retailer had received my return and that they had processed my full refund for the cost of the goods that I had purchased. But I didn’t actually purchase the items that were returned.

So I called customer service again.

Their logic and solution?  Since my refund had already been processed back to me, they asked me to BOX UP the dishes that I had actually purchased and been using, SEND THEM BACK, and then re-order new ones for the same price – minus a 10% discount for my troubles.


Send back used dishes so that they could send me new ones??  All so that I could make the paperwork for them easy.  I made the argument that it was an unreasonable request when I was using the dishes that I had paid for – and that all I was trying to do was figure out how to return the refund for what I had NOT paid for.  I was trying to do the right thing by returning what was not mine.  I asked to speak to a supervisor.

When the CSR came back on the line, he informed me that he had spoken with his supervisor and it was determined that it was an error on their part and that I could keep the refund that had been given to me for the dishes that I didn’t even buy.  AND then reminded me to review the Returns Policy next time I ordered from them.  I quipped with him that their Returns Policy didn’t even begin to cover the problem that I was having and wished him farewell.

The Lesson

It pays to be honest.  I guess.  Minus the aggravation of phone calls to foreign customer service agents and being bounced around and put on hold and then shipping over-sized items around, I am $120 richer.   But am I?

I still don’t feel good about how this was handled.  How hard is it for someone to give back what was never rightfully theirs to begin with.  Willingly!?   It is a pretty sad testament to how companies are run when it is easier to write off a $120 mistake than to make it right.

I’m still glad that I did the right thing and returned the dishes.  And I’ll be shopping with that retailer again.  I’m just shaking my head wondering what logic was used to just let me keep what wasn’t mine in the first place all because of a shipping mistake.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that it is always better to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make much sense in the end.   I’ve also learned that logic and common sense are quickly fading away from our world, one click and automated system at a time.

Anything to add?


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