Sighhhhhh. Why do ethical dilemmas seem to fall into my lap so often?

Over the weekend I went online to order some Life Is Good stuff – a couple pairs of flannel pj bottoms and some cute t-shirts to wear with them (oops, now I’ve shattered the illusion that I sleep in sizzling lace-and-mesh teddies). I searched around for inventory with the best pricing and shipping, and settled on a place out of Newport (my feelings about RI notwithstanding). The stuff showed up yesterday by USPS in a squishy mailing envelope, which I finally got around to opening last night. Inside was a plastic bag from the store filled with my purchases, and sticking up through the top of the bag was what I could see was a license plate frame. I left all the clothing in the bag so I could take it upstairs to unpack, but I immediately pulled out the frame and smiled, assuming it was a free promotional gift sent by the store. It was chrome and in addition to the Life Is Good logo with the smileyface, it said, “Do what you like. Like what you do.” Cute!

Now if you know me well, you know that I have a thang for license plate frames, although I almost always have something PINK surrounding my tag. If there’s a way for me to personalize my stuff, I usually do it, and having a fun frame is my way of distinguishing my little white SUV from all the others zooming about town.

Matthew promptly snatched the frame from my hands and headed out to the garage with a screwdriver, eager to replace the pink-and-white polka dot frame holding my rear plate. I grabbed the bag and headed upstairs, and eventually I unpacked the contents. What I found was that while my stuff was all there, so was other people’s stuff.

Aha! The license plate frame was not, in fact, a complementary gift, but rather had been ordered and paid for by someone else. There were also three extra t-shirts in the bag—two in my size and one slightly smaller. After quick consideration, I decided that I would keep the stuff that some dumbass had obviously been so careless and incompetent to send to me. I mean, had it had been from a local store, I wouldnt’ve batted an eyelash about bringing the stuff back when I was out and about (c’mon, say it with a Canadian accent: “oat ’n aboat”). But the thought of buying appropriate packing materials, going to the UPS store and paying the shipping for someone else’s oh-shit seemed fairly inconvenient and like an awful lot to ask. Hey honey: You snooze, you lose.

I went to bed and didn’t dream about my license plate being eaten by a big furry green monster or wearing one of the illicit t-shirts in a parade and having it magically disappear and leave me naked, so I knew my decision wasn’t troubling my conscience in the least.

This morning I went to move the pile of stuff and put it away in my closet, and noticed that there were invoices separating each order. What must’ve happened is that whoever picked the orders stacked them all up and stuck the whole pile into my envelope. The invoices each contained the customer’s name, address, phone #, email address and the last four digits of the credit card used. Except for one customer. Her initial credit card had been declined, so someone from the store had handwritten her entire Master Card number on the invoice, along with the expiration date.

And that’s when I went ballistic.

How inexcusably careless. How awful for the poor lady in Daytona Beach whose credit card I could now go on a shopping spree with. And what, I thought, if the store is owned by some really nice guy who has a dumb bimbo doing his shipping? Shouldn’t he know? Yeah, I know. Deep down, I’m a good doobie.

So because it was early, I marched into my office and emailed the guy, telling him what had happened. Within minutes my phone rang, and it was the very lady who had done the packing. She cursorily thanked me for letting them know, and then had the audacity to ask if I would just pack everything up and ship it back, and they’d refund me the shipping when they got it.

Excuse me? I was positively horrified that the lady on the other end of the phone wasn’t tripping over herself with gratitude that I would be so honest on all accounts! Had I just kept the stuff, they would’ve gotten calls from three customers who never received their orders, and they would’ve had a shipping mystery on their hands. Plus, I could’ve bought airfare for my family to St. Barts over Christmas and brand-new iPods for all my blog readers using Celine’s Master Card!

I was so taken aback, I was nearly speechless. Finally I blurted out that I could sent it back, but that I didn’t know when I’d be able to get around to it. I mean, screw you, lady. You messed up, and now you expect me to save your stooopid ass?

She put me on hold, and when she came back, I thought I’d have some fun playing with her, so I told her that I hoped my housekeeper hadn’t taken the shirts and stuck them all in the washing machine.

Again, on hold.

She came back and said that they would send me a shipping envelope with a prepaid label. My, how gracious of you! I told her that I had caught the shirts just in time before hitting the laundry, but reminded her that the license plate frame, as I had explained in the email, was already on my car. They couldn’t exactly send it out as new.

Please hold. Oh, hi again. I could keep the frame. Isn’t that swell? She reiterated that I could just stick everything in the envelope they were sending and put it into my mailbox so my mailman could take it. Golly gee, so convenient!

I paused. I waited. I gave her the opportunity to “tell her what she’s won, Johnny!” but nothing. No gift certificate, no credit against some of my purchase, nothing. Again, I was incredulous. So before she hung up, I managed to casually slip in that this would be making a great story for my blog. I wished I could’ve seen her face because that comment, at least, elicited a nervous chuckle.

A few minutes later, I got an email from the owner that said:

Andrea, Thank you very much for being so honest-not too many people would have done what you did. Enjoy the License Plate and have a very happy holiday season. Thx Rob

End of story, though there’s still a little piece of me (as if any piece of me is little these days!) that wants to email Celine in Daytona Beach and tell her about the breach with her credit card. I just wasn’t feelin’ enough contrition from the folks at Jakes Good Newport.

Which is all a groovy counterpoint to my order from Zappos that I placed late Sunday morning and arrived at my door early Monday morning, less than 24 hours later. I don’t know how they do it, but that’s why Zappos has had my repeat business for 10 years, and why Jakes Good Newport can, frankly, bite me.

Leave a Reply