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JacobGalt

Is it immoral to keep getting refunds for books you've bought?

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I would say it's certainly not illegal, because it's, in my case, in the contract of the sale that you can return the book after 30 days. However, is it wrong for me to do it? I don't think I'm sacrificing reality; I'm just taking advantage of the store's foolish policy. Your take?

Edited by JacobGalt

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Jacob, you know what actually moral - to do ones own thinking and figure things out on own.

You love to give non-answers like this, don't you? I've given my opinion in the post, but I'm wondering what the other people on this forum think.

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I've given my opinion in the post, but I'm wondering what the other people on this forum think.
I think this well-characterizes your misunderstanding of Objectivism. Objectivism is a philosophy, whereby one applies logic to knowledge of facts and reaches conclusions. But you seem to see Objectivism as a collection of emotions. You have stated your opinion as though it is a self-evident truth that has some relevance to morality -- it does not. Your opinion is of no importance. What would be important is a statement of the facts and logic that lead you to a particular conclusion.

It is also irrelevant what our opinion is on the matter. You will learn absolutely nothing about Objectivism if you persist in asking people's opinions. You need to learn how to reason, so that you will not be totally dependent on the voices of others so that you can survive in the world.

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I would say it's certainly not illegal, because it's, in my case, in the contract of the sale that you can return the book after 30 days. However, is it wrong for me to do it? I don't think I'm sacrificing reality; I'm just taking advantage of the store's foolish policy. Your take?

The store doesn't set those policies, the law does.

It would be like trying to organize a union under the premise that the law gives you that right. In reality laws cannot give you rights they can only protect ones that already exist.

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The store doesn't set those policies, the law does.
I suggest that that claim is utter bullshit, fabricated out of whole cloth whether it is woven in the US or Brazil. I invite you to refute my suggestion, by using facts.

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Yes, you are. You are evading and lying. So stop it.

If a store used lax return policies as a way to encourage people to buy products that the store owner presumes are likely to be returned (e.g. a really crappy romance novel), in order to get some quick cash, would that also be considered immoral? The store owner is presenting the transaction as a trade of value for value, but really he just wants the cash to buy a stock he hopes will go up enough to make a profit and still refund the customer.

Stores often do this will mail-in rebates - promising people large rebates in six months, in order to get their cash now to make investments. How do you judge if such actions are moral or immoral? Does it all have to do with the true intent versus the way it is presented to the customer?

Edited by brian0918

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David Odden can't handle counter-argumentation. If Ayn Rand said it's immoral, then it's immoral!

That is inappropriate. And Rand never covered refunding books, so that doesn't even make sense.

Anyway, my thoughts on the matter, and my reasoning:

In purchasing the book, you enter into a contract with the store to give them money and they will give you a book, and in that contract it also states you may return the book within 30 days for a full refund, presumably with "no questions asked" or "for any reason."

By putting that in the contract, the store owner acknowledges the possibility that you will return the book, and has factored that in to the price of the books. Are you stealing anything from anyone? No, as they agreed to the contract of their own free will. Also, if they notice you have spent a net 0 dollars in the last 12 months but have purchased 30 books, they can ban you from the store (or at least stop you from getting refunds, the movie theater I work at has done that with repeat offenders). So, you aren't violating anyone's rights. The question then is whether it is in your interests. Well, that depends on if you think the book is valuable enough to keep; whether you want to support that particular store because you find it valuable, or just don't care where you get your books; and probably most importantly is if you feel you are being honest. Honesty seems to be the key here. Are you pretending that you won't return the books? Or is it fairly obvious, for example, by you saying, when you return the books "I didn't like it," or "I love your return policy, I get to see if I like a book, and if I don't, I return it!" Or do you lie to the cashier and say "I never read it, I swear." Or do you just say nothing and say "I would like to return this book please." If you are being honest, and not trying to hide your intentions or the nature of your actions, and it is in your interest (didn't care for the book, don't want to keep it, etc.), then I can't see a problem with returning the books.

Of course, if they refuse you a refund, or ban you from the store, don't complain about it, it is their right.

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Not illegal, but yes, it's immoral.

You are taking a new book, giving the payment due, then using the honour-system policy to make them buy a used book for the same price, thus demonstrating your dis-honorable nature.

I would suggest that being honorable and honest, which involves trading value for value, would be a rational value to hold. If you act against this value, or you do not hold it as a value, you are immoral.

If you were acting morally, you would act by the code of a trader and not a looter. By not offering a value to the store, you are declaring yourself a looter.

Furthermore, no where in Rand's work or philosophy does it say that one man should take advantage of another man's weakness just because you can.

A trader or a looter. You can't be both. I think this is an example of why Rand disliked people who try and act in the grey area of an issue. They are attempting to deny that reality is presenting them a choice....

The store's money comes from? Blank out.

The store's policy is designed to? Blank out.

Doing this means I am? Blank out.

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If a store used lax return policies as a way to encourage people to buy products that the store owner presumes are likely to be returned (e.g. a really crappy romance novel), in order to get some quick cash, would that also be considered immoral? The store owner is presenting the transaction as a trade of value for value, but really he just wants the cash to buy a stock he hopes will go up enough to make a profit and still refund the customer.
If that were the case, then you would be engaged in an honest trade, though one where the other guy has irrational values. But there's a big "if that were the case" there. A refund policy is based on the premise that the customer intends to keep the book, but finds that he can't. In the present instance, the guy has no intention of keeping the book, so he engages in fraud to obtain a value without an exchange of values.

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Let's get some facts here. I don't think that there is a "no questions asked" policy by any store. Usually, the item must be in the same condition as when you bought it, and a read book will be obviously used. Plus, you need the original receipt. So, where is the "no questions asked policy?

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If that were the case, then you would be engaged in an honest trade, though one where the other guy has irrational values. But there's a big "if that were the case" there. A refund policy is based on the premise that the customer intends to keep the book, but finds that he can't. In the present instance, the guy has no intention of keeping the book, so he engages in fraud to obtain a value without an exchange of values.

Yes, I do agree with that. What if the customer is upfront at the time of the transaction, and flatly says, "I will be returning this book after I am done reading it." And what if the store owner still agrees to the transaction? Is the customer now being fully honest and non-evasive, and therefore moral? The store owner has knowingly agreed to buy back a used book for the same price it was sold.

If so, then I would say that is Jacob's solution - simply let the store clerks know his intentions upfront.

Jacob - I suggest as an alternative that you take advantage of the public library's interlibrary loan system. If you have no intention of keeping a book, it makes no sense to go out buying new books in the first place. (Of course, you should still acknowledge that libraries should not be funded with government money or taxes, and should not be owned by the government.)

Edited by brian0918

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What if the customer is upfront at the time of the transaction, and flatly says, "I will be returning this book after I am done reading it." And what if the store owner still agrees to the transaction? Is the customer now being fully honest and non-evasive, and therefore moral?
Now we have an honest trade. The customer is not pretending to have an intent to own the book, and the owner knows it but is still willing to sell the book. Lying and evasion is the teaspoon of sewage that made that barrel of wine be a barrel of sewage.

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Whatever happened to the idea of consenting adults?

As long as you don't fudge on their explicit policy for returns, go for it. You wrote, "return the book after thirty days..." did you mean within thirty days?

Mindy

p.s. The book clearly didn't last long enough. :)

Edited by Mindy

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Whatever happened to the idea of consenting adults?

As long as you don't fudge on their explicit policy for returns, go for it.

You're espousing the libertarian ethics, not the Objectivist ethics.

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Whatever happened to the idea of consenting adults?

As long as you don't fudge on their explicit policy for returns, go for it. You wrote, "return the book after thirty days..." did you mean within thirty days?

There are other forms of immorality besides rights violation. The fact that no rights are being violated does not itself imply that the action is moral. It only means that force was not initiated against the other party, and therefore the police should not get involved.

A trade can be legal, voluntary, consensual, contractually sound, and still be an immoral action to take on the part of one of the individuals, if that individual is attempting evasion or deception. For a crystal clear example:

Customer (to manager): "I would like to purchase this book, as a gift to my friend, however I am not sure if my friend already owns it. Will I be able to return it if I find out my friend already owns it?"

Manager: "Sure! I hope your friend likes it."

Customer: "Thanks! I think he will!"

Customer (inside head): "Actually I have no friends! I am going to read this myself...and then return it! I will have to find a way to justify this action later, though, so I don't lose sleep at night..."

Edited by brian0918

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I think a double standard is being presented here. If a business were exploiting its own employees, paying them well below what they deserved given the type of job they had and not giving them the benefits they did deserve, anyone here saying that it's immoral to do it even if they didn't claim it should be illegal would be cast out and branded as an anti-capitalist of sorts.

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I think a double standard is being presented here. If a business were exploiting its own employees, paying them well below what they deserved given the type of job they had and not giving them the benefits they did deserve, anyone here saying that it's immoral to do it even if they didn't claim it should be illegal would be cast out and branded as an anti-capitalist of sorts.
That is a baseless and false insult. The only people we cast out are ones who violate forum rules by disrupting the function of the forum.

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I think a double standard is being presented here. If a business were exploiting its own employees, paying them well below what they deserved given the type of job they had and not giving them the benefits they did deserve, anyone here saying that it's immoral to do it even if they didn't claim it should be illegal would be cast out and branded as an anti-capitalist of sorts.

That's a bad analogy, since we're to assume that the employer and employee were fully upfront during the interview and job agreement. If the employer was in fact hiding his true intentions from the employee (e.g. demanding he work longer hours, take pay cuts, or do activities outside his original job description), then that could be considered immoral.

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Besides, I think the fact that Jabob____ needs to ask the question, might be suggesting that he already knows the answer, but was just hoping it was not the case.

I wonder if this is how he came to read Atlas Shrugged? <_<

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Now we have an honest trade. The customer is not pretending to have an intent to own the book, and the owner knows it but is still willing to sell the book. Lying and evasion is the teaspoon of sewage that made that barrel of wine be a barrel of sewage.

Agreed. If Jacob really wanted to return all his books, then he should say something like "I'll probably be returning this book after I'm done with it."

Question Does it matter if he says it to the cashier of the bookstore (they are almost always not managers/owners of the store)? I don't think it would, as they are responsible for carrying out the policies of the store.

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Question Does it matter if he says it to the cashier of the bookstore (they are almost always not managers/owners of the store)? I don't think it would, as they are responsible for carrying out the policies of the store.
That's right, the cashier acts as the agent of the owner, who might never set foot in the store. The cashier's bad acts and promises are thus binding on the owner, and the cashier's word is as authoritative as the owner's.

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If a business were exploiting its own employees, paying them well below what they deserved given the type of job they had and not giving them the benefits they did deserve, anyone here saying that it's immoral to do it even if they didn't claim it should be illegal would be cast out and branded as an anti-capitalist of sorts.

Please tell, how is the business making a person work for less than they "deserve"? How are they not giving them benefits they "deserve"? By deserve, do you mean pay and benefits that they contracted for when the employee voluntarily took the job?

As has been pointed out, this analogy fails.

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I used to work for Barnes N Noble, and their return policy used to be very lax. Honestly, I don't know how they made money before they changed the return policy. This was also only about 10 years ago, maybe less. You could return any book at any time without a receipt for store credit, as long as the book was in salable condition and it was in the B&N system.

Now, I had no problem with people returning books in good condition. But some people would try to treat the store like a used book store. They would come in with shopping bags full of dog-eared paperbacks. I would reject anything that was obviously read.

Edited by Ragnar69

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