Individual Ethical Dilemma Analysis
My company is in the business to provide home products and services to home builders and property management companies. For our property management division, we obtain business through various marketing channels such as industry trade shows. Early on in our startup, we noticed that many of our competitors are not honest with their billing practices. A competitor may give one of our customers a price per square foot or square yard, but then they intentionally overestimate the amount of material that they use, thereby raising their overall price and profit margin. Since this is quite confusing to many customers, it is a widely used practice that many floor covering companies get away with. When we first realized that this was occurring, we had to make a decision: do we embrace this already accepted practice or do we try to “rock the boat,” working to convince our customer base that many of our competitors were not being honest with their billing practices? This makes this an ethical dilemma for me as now I have the decision of whether we will continue to follow the status quo, overbilling for goods and services, or am I going to change the way that the whole industry views yardage integrity.
The values that are in conflict are as follows: Competence. If we are competent in our ability to estimate, we can easily see that our competitors are over billing for their goods and services. We know this from many of our current customers sharing with us their previous measurements. We always are able to save our customers the amount of product used. So either our competitors are incompetent, or they are intentionally fudging their numbers just to earn a few extra margin points.
Customer Satisfaction. Our competitors were satisfying their customers in the sense that they installed a quality product at a fair price and delivered this in a timely manner. What the customer didn’t know is what hurt them, though. Due to the inherent confusion of estimating for carpet replacements, the customers were unaware of getting ripped off. We, on the other hand, who informed customers that they have been overpaying for goods and services for many years, are actually providing more benefit and service to our customers as we truly look out for their best interests. One of my main personal values is customer service. This makes this “value” one that hits home for me in many ways.
Fairness/ Justice. This value is in conflict as many of our competitors, although providing good customer service, are not being fair to their customers. Intentionally overbilling for a product or service does not equate a principle of fairness. This relates to my personal values as I try to be fair and just with anyone whom I come into contact with. I believe in “an eye for an eye” in a big way.
Honesty. This value is in conflict as the policy of intentional overbilling is completely dishonest. This is considered dishonesty by “pulling the wool” over their customers eyes. Just because a customer may never find out about a practice doesn’t make it right to withhold this information. This relates to my personal values as I see honesty as critical to a good character.
Integrity. This value is in conflict as many of our competitors are not practicing what they are preaching. Many of them say that they provide “honest quotes’ for work to be done, but the opposite is true. Integrity to me means doing the right thing when no one is watching. I try to follow this creed in all that I do. I am a husband and father. Setting this example for my wife and children is very important to me.
Responsibility. To me responsibility means taking the initiative to do what is needed to get something done right. Our competitors were irresponsible in the sense that they did not show the fortitude to do what is right. By showing our customers the real quantities that are needed, we are being responsible for our...
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