Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

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

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 187
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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 Objectiv

Which is why companies don't go around advertising the fact that they're gaining value even when you buy a product and then return it 28 days later after slightly using it. They don't mind that people

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?

Ask yourself what the purpose of the return policy is.

Ask yourself why the owner has it in place.

Ask yourself if the way you are using (abusing) the policy is in accord with the purpose it was intended for.

Considering that you have already admitted that you are "taking advantage of the store's foolish policy" I'm sure that you already know the answer.

If a restaurant has a 100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back policy would it be moral to ask for your money back after having a perfectly good meal because you are only taking advantage of their foolish policy?

Or are you committing a form of theft because the business owner's good will leaves him unfortunately open to immoral people?

Are you not also screwing yourself because when people realise how often they get taken advantage of in this manner they eventually get rid of these policies which you could someday have a legitimate use for?

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

The business is not MAKING them work for less than they deserve, but rather exploiting the fact that they do not know what is at stake and what their labor is really worth. In the very same way, the bookstore does not know that it is not worth it to have a 30-day return policy and they do not know that the buyer intends to read it and return it, but the buyer here is exploiting them nonetheless.

Edited by TuringAI
Link to post
Share on other sites

The business is not MAKING them work for less than they deserve, but rather exploiting the fact that they do not know what is at stake and what their labor is really worth.

First - assumption on your part - you assume to know what the laborer knows.

Secondly - I disagree with the entire premise. Even if the laborer doesn't know that the employer is making money off his labor (unlikely), while the employee's work generates more potential value for the employer than it costs the employer, the value of the employee's labor is determined not by what he produces, but by the quantity of other workers willing to do the same work for less. The employee is a resource, and there are lots of employees out there looking for work. The job, not the employee, is the scarce resource. The laborer is getting exactly what he's worth in a competitive employer's market - and if the laborer wants more, he - not the employer - is responsible for making his abilities worth more to the employer.

In the very same way, the bookstore does not know that it is not worth it to have a 30-day return policy and they do not know that the buyer intends to read it and return it, but the buyer here is exploiting them nonetheless.

Again, assumption - and a much bigger one - since the book store is *IN THE BUSINESS OF SALES* - it is silly to assume that a major chain book seller is unaware that some buyers intend to act dishonestly. Fraud loss is built into their pricing model, just like in my rentals, I build in rent loss, assuming I'll lose some rent to deadbeats who don't pay what they owe me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The business is not MAKING them work for less than they deserve, but rather exploiting the fact that they do not know what is at stake and what their labor is really worth. In the very same way, the bookstore does not know that it is not worth it to have a 30-day return policy and they do not know that the buyer intends to read it and return it, but the buyer here is exploiting them nonetheless.

As Greebo pointed out, you are stating as fact a couple of big assumptions. In addition to Greebo's comments, by using the term "exploiting" you are assuming that the employer knows the contents of the workers mind and is offering less than what that worker thinks he should receive. Labor is subject to market value and it is not exploiting anyone to offer wages at the lowest value that market will bear.

What a person "deserves" is what he is honestly offered and chooses to accept - there is no deception involved. There is only a problem if the employer offers one value but then delivers a different value. In the instances of the bookseller, it is more likely that deception is involved - the buyer is not being honest about the circumstances for returning the book.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The business is not MAKING them work for less than they deserve, but rather exploiting the fact that they do not know what is at stake and what their labor is really worth.
You're mistaken about what their labor is "really worth". There is no intrinsic value to labor, and the value of a man's labor is certainly not determined by some mysterious external force. A laborer has something to offer -- his labor meaning among other things his time and his effort, and he know what value that has to him. He know whether the cash offered in exchange by the employer is sufficient that he is willing to participate in an exchange of values. That wage is what his labor is worth.

The store know the negative effect of a liberal returns policy, and as the immoral exploiters seeking to suck the life blood out of businesses through their dishonesty drain the life from commerce, they will accept that a strict no-returns policy is necessary. This is unfortunate for the rest of us honest citizens who on rare occasions discover that our purchase was an error and hope to cancel the sale.

"A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. "

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're mistaken about what their labor is "really worth". There is no intrinsic value to labor, and the value of a man's labor is certainly not determined by some mysterious external force. A laborer has something to offer -- his labor meaning among other things his time and his effort, and he know what value that has to him. He know whether the cash offered in exchange by the employer is sufficient that he is willing to participate in an exchange of values. That wage is what his labor is worth.

The store know the negative effect of a liberal returns policy, and as the immoral exploiters seeking to suck the life blood out of businesses through their dishonesty drain the life from commerce, they will accept that a strict no-returns policy is necessary. This is unfortunate for the rest of us honest citizens who on rare occasions discover that our purchase was an error and hope to cancel the sale.

"A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. "

I was drawing an analogy, and it was a perfectly good one too. If as you say the worth of the labor is determined by the laborer in that respect, I say that the seller does value something more than the money paid to him or her for books otherwise he or she would not have such a policy in the first place.

What it comes down to is that the book store owner getting the perceived worse end of the bargain is the same as the laborer getting the perceived worse end of the bargain at least with respect to the principles of justice since there is nothing more moral about being a book store owner than a laborer, at least not universally.

Edited by TuringAI
Link to post
Share on other sites

I looked online to see the return policies of Barnes and Nobel, and Borders Books. One says you can return NEW books... the other says you can return "if you are unsatisfied." In either of those cases, returning a book just because you read it quickly is fraudulent.

Mindy

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

You're right. We debated an ambiguity, which is pointless. We should have required the OP to state the complete return policy, as written. That would have determined the issue right there.

Mindy

Link to post
Share on other sites

What it comes down to is that the book store owner getting the perceived worse end of the bargain is the same as the laborer getting the perceived worse end of the bargain at least with respect to the principles of justice since there is nothing more moral about being a book store owner than a laborer, at least not universally.

Your analogy is only valid if we assume that the employer truly is evading - ie, trying to get the employee to work for less money than the employer believes he should get based on the employee's performance.

By just saying the employee "deserves" more, as you did, you are being needlessly vague, since there is no Divine Wage Determiner who decides how much someone deserves to be paid.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What ambiguity? The OP was unambiguous, and except for those people who are stuck in libertarian-ethics mode and think that only initiation of force is immoral, it's completely clear that his actions are immoral.

Would you outline the argument that shows his returns are immoral?

Mindy

Link to post
Share on other sites
Would you outline the argument that shows his returns are immoral?
Sure. A trader engages in an honest exchange of values -- a transfer of property, giving one thing on exchange for another. Fraud is knowingly making a false declaration or omitting a material fact which is significant to the other party's willingness to engage in an exchange. It would be an obviously material fact that the buyer had no intention of permanently exchanging property. Thus going into a store with the intent to acquire, use, and return without making known that intention is fraudulent. The store owner's willingness to accept returns is based on the premise that the customer is willing to keep the book (thus, the store owner will gain some value -- money). JacobGalt knows that he is engaged in fraud, that he seeks the unearned, and that if he were to make an honest declaration "I have no intention to keep the book, I'm just going to return it and get my money back after I've read it", the owner would refuse to sell the book to him. I could finish this up and explicitly show why this is immoral, but hopefully that is not necessary.
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure. A trader engages in an honest exchange of values -- a transfer of property, giving one thing on exchange for another. Fraud is knowingly making a false declaration or omitting a material fact which is significant to the other party's willingness to engage in an exchange.

Why is this obvious? Are you relying on the general difference between contracts to rent vs. sell?

Mindy

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. Bookstores sell books, they don't rent them.

An explicit return policy is a legal condition on the otherwise permanent exchange, no? And it makes the criteria for a legitimate return obvious, no? So if the store has left it unsaid that returns after reading the book and finding it insufficiently valuable that you are compelled to keep it at hand are not acceptable, they would not be cheated by such an exchange. (In some contexts this is called "wardrobing.")

I would wish every book I bought was worth keeping and re-reading, instead of turning out to be disappointing. I'm not talking about reference works, either. Fiction. There are products that claim to be able to prove satisfactory throughout the product's life, and stores that will take a return at any time if the product proves unsatisfactory. Their very liberal return policy is a warrant on their worth.

It is possible to cheat a return policy, and it is possible to use it according to one's standards, though they be unusual. I've never asked a bookseller, what if I read it and it is disappointing, so I regret buying it it, regret wasting my time reading it, and don't want to keep it--can I return it, assuming it still looks new? Are you sure they'd all say no? What if the blurbs on the cover are misleading? Every book is something of a pig-in-a-poke, no matter what the cover and dust-jacket and reviewers, and introduction say.

These are not considerations the OP presented to us. It seems to me he claimed, though, that he was fully within the explicit return policy. If he is within it, what conclusion do you draw?

Mindy

Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps we need a separate FAQ section on why "libertarian morality" is not morality. Dishonesty is immoral, and that is what you need to understand, a propos this case.

Next time, don't let her pull you down the path of debating legality. :D That merely assumes the libertarian ethics from the get-go.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jesus people if we cannot figure out if returning books in a certain context is immoral without 3 pages of conversation then how do we expect to figure out anything??? This is not that hard of a concept.

Who is this "we"? Some people have figured that out just fine. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is this obvious? Are you relying on the general difference between contracts to rent vs. sell?

Mindy

i think he's relying on the general difference between honest and fraudulent exchanges of value. That is what is obvious about the context described by the OP.

Link to post
Share on other sites

i think he's relying on the general difference between honest and fraudulent exchanges of value. That is what is obvious about the context described by the OP.

My problem is that the OP claims--at least implicitly--that he is not violating the explicit return policy. Given that hypothesis, are you saying you can determine that he is cheating the store?

Mindy

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...