A Moral Dilemma: What Would You Do?

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Let’s say you order something from an online store. A few days later a package arrives in the mail containing the three items you ordered. In this case two shirts and sweater. Total retail value is approximately $100.

Two days later a second package arrives on your doorstep from the same company. You open the box and find the exact same three items have been delivered to your door. You check the invoice and notice that it contains the exact same order number as the package that arrived two days prior.

You check your credit card charges and find that you were only billed once. For some reason it seems the company accidentally sent you the second package. You did not pay for the duplicate set of items you received.

Do you contact the company and let them know that they’ve made a mistake or do you keep the items and never say a word? Does the value of the package make a difference in your decision? If the products were worth $10 would you act differently than if the items were worth $100?

This very scenario happened to me a few weeks ago. I’ll let people weigh in with comments and then I’ll leave a comment explaining what I did.

9 thoughts on “A Moral Dilemma: What Would You Do?”

  1. This happened to me twice during Christmas. Ordered a new remote from Newegg.com, two came. ($250 each) My wife ordered a pair of shoes from Nordstom and her correct pair arrived and some other pair.

    In both cases, I returned the goods. It is very hard to explain to these companies the situation, but all worked out well.

  2. Something like this happened when we bought our home gym. We bought an Olympic bar for the weights. It was over $300 with tax. When we were at the store (yes, I didn’t even leave yet), I told the cashier that the total was a lot less than what I thought it should be. With the power cage, weights and Olympic bar, it should have been around $1,300, but instead our total was around $900.

    I pointed it out to him right then that the Olympic bar was NOT rung up, and he said it was. So when I left I checked the receipt, and it was not on there. I then went back in and he said he was sure he rung it up. My fiance thinks that he probably didn’t ring it up and didn’t notice it until the second time that I went in, but didn’t want to get in trouble for letting us leave after I had asked him the first time when we were still in the store.

    So I guess it all just depends. At what point do you give up and just keep it? We gave up in our case. I pointed it out to 2 cashiers that it wasn’t rung up but they didn’t seem to care.

  3. Oh the moral dilemma! I don’t think I’m part of the ‘norm’ here, but I would call the company and tell them. I have been involved in instances that when I called, they have told me to keep the merchandise (about $100 or so value) instead of shipping it back. I feel that honesty is the best policy. I would always call first b/c if you just send it without calling them, they may think that you refused the order, and reimburse you for what you were charged (which opens another can of worms), or they may re-send it again, thinking something happened during shipping. Other times, they instruct you how to send it back (what return label to use, etc). I would ALWAYS return it. My husband on the other hand, would just keep it and not say anything, so would a lot of my friends. But I’m the same girl who once got an extra $1 back in change from Shop Rite, and I turned right back around when I noticed it and returned it. I don’t want someone losing a job over a human error.

  4. I’d be tempted to return the surplus stuff, and therefore basically keep one set for free. But, honestly, I wouldn’t. The thought would cross my mind, but then I would call and tell them about the mistake.

    I’ve never had this happen to me, but I was at Target where a woman was trying to explain this same issue to the customer service person.

  5. I’ve had the same experience as Beth. Whenever I called the company to tell them about it, they just let me keep it. Honestly, it’s easier for them in the short-term and they gain customer loyalty in the long-term.

  6. I had this happen to me last year and I contacted the company about returning the item and they never replied to me with an answer.

    So now I have 2 phone chargers šŸ™‚


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