You there, Bricker? I’d like to hear what you think about this.
It is morally disgusting and you all would be saying the same thing, too, if it were anything other than gas. If the gold dental grill dealership downtown had the same problem you all would be going off about the moral degeneracy, etc. But since we all have some kind of entitlement complex about gas, gas prices have become some kind of “people versus ‘the man’” and we feel like we are owed cheap gas and apparently we are okay with people stealing it.
The kicker is going home and telling others, and returning with gas cans. This is simple theft and they knew it.
FWIW I do tell people when the prices are off. I bought some jeans from the Gap one day- they were the only jeans I ever found that fit me. I was flat broke, making little more than minimum wage, but I figured it was worth the $70.00 investment to actually have jeans that fit. Then, somehow they range up at $9.00. I was shocked and questioned the cashier twice. She shrugged and gave me the cheaper price.
Anyone who’s worked at a gas station will sooner or later screw up a price change. That’s why you’re supposed to go out an actually look at the price displayed on the pumps after changing the price in the computer. I’ve both set the price at 10% of what it should be and set it at 1000%. FYI the latter gets noticed alot sooner. Obviously if we overcharge a customer we’d apologize and give them a refund. However we’d never go ask a customer who was undercharged like that to pay the difference and we sure as hell wouldn’t try and track down a customer through who payed by card. I’m not sure we’d even be legally entitled too. Then againd we’re owened by a very large coporation, no a mom-and-pop.
But what if you don’t know? Nine times out of ten I don’t look a the price when I fill up. I have an Exxon/Mobil SpeedPass and just wave it in front of the sensor, fill up, grab receipt, and drive away. I don’t look at the price, and I don’t really care, either.
The gas station attendent was obviously stupid. “Duh, I don’t know why it got so busy all of a sudden.” Gee, wonder why everyone is filling up their SUVs for less than $10…
Doing the math, the station only lost about $1000 on their mistake–far from disgusting.
As far as I’m concerned, if someone fills their tank and pays with a 5 spot, and the clerk accepts it over and over and over again, the gas station has been adequately informed about the problem.
For those of you that hold this opinion or those that are similar to this one, I don’t ever want to see any of you have the unmitigated gall to call anything unethical ever again.
I agree with this. In the Target example, in my opinion, you could weigh the fact that you would have to go through the line again, or wait to see somebody at the service counter against the $2 undercharge, and decide it isn’t worth the time. To automatically condemn such an action as unethical places a higher value on the time of the store employees, who should have priced the item accurately in the first place, over your time, and I can’t see that they should “win” this. Furthermore, given such a range of error, you might not even notice that there is a problem. CDs and DVDs are sold at all sorts of different prices.
If the clerk is openly and repeatedly accepting a fiver for a tank of gas, then only thing one can assume is that, for whatever reason(a crazy radio or television promotion, some sort of gas station promotion, a “going out of business” blowout, etc) the price of gas is legitimately artificially low for an unknown period of time, and that I would be an idiot for not grabbing the chance to fill my tank. Unless the attendants never went out to watch the pumps and the clerks inside never bothered bothered to compare the amount pumped to the amount paid(via those handy dandy meters next to the cash registers), my opinion is that the gas is freely being sold at that price.
If you honestly didn’t know, it’s not theft. If you notice the mistake, call all of your friends and tell them and come back with a ten gallon jug to get more, it’s a different story.
My guess it that 99% of the people paid with credit or debit cards at the pump.
[li]The giant sign outside says otherwise and lists the normal price [/li][li]There is no signage promoting a discount[/li][li]Most people pay at the pump, and the attendant, if any, is probably assuming the pumps are saying the right thing and not looking closely[/li][/ul]
You can’t honestly say that you think this is a promotion. Any reasonable person ought to assume that a mistake was made. Taking advantage of that mistake may or may not be illegal, but it’s disingenuous to say that you’d think there was a legit reason for it.
This reminds me of the prankster who put a neighbor’s house and its belongings on craigslist, claiming he was giving everything away free. No reasonable person would believe it. The people that showed up to loot knew damn well what they were doing.
The Target thing is a bad comparison.
Items at Target and similar stores are often marked down, but the markdown never makes it onto the price tag. Furthermore, when prices are listed on a shelf or sign, the wrong merchandise is in the place. So the customer really doesn’t usually know what the price is supposed to be.
A reasonable person might assume that a “$15” DVD that rings up as $12 probably received a markdown.
A reasonable person would know that 35 cent gas is a mistake.
If a person filled up and then realized that he was only charged 35 cents, and said, “ooh, lucky me,” paid, and drove away, then that’s probably wrong, but in a gray area.
When that person calls his friends and family to tell them to come get the 35 cent gas, that’s just plain wrong.
I’m glad I read through the whole thread before responding, because Green Bean said exactly what I was going to say.
Reversal is a good way to think about it.
If the gas station had screwed up the other way, and many customers got charged $354 a gallon, should the customer have to take the hit if he signed the debit slip?
I think it would be pretty outrageous to suggest that they should.
If I notice a mistake, I mention it to the clerk, regardless of whose favor it’s in. If I notice after I get home that there was a mistake (either way), I’ll probably ignore it out of laziness.
If a listed price seems out of whack, I’ll ask if it’s correct. If the clerk confirms that it is, then I’ll take advantage of a bargain with a clear conscience. Absolutely nothing unethical about that, IMO.
That happened to me a few weeks ago. I stopped at a small stationary/toy store by my house and noticed that they were selling *Bioshock *(for the PC) for 60 shekels (around $17). That seemed odd, as I’ve never seen it sold for less than 3 times that. I took it to the register and asked the clerk how much the game cost; she looked at the price tag and said 60 shekels. I bought it with a clear conscience.
Great game, BTW.
A similar incident happened here in New Zealand 3 years ago; the pumps were set to NZ$0.144/litre instead of $1.44/litre. People paid at the pump so the staff didn’t realise straight away - and some people came back 2 or 3 times before the error was corrected.
A brief amnesty was offered where people could own up and pay the difference between what they paid and what they should have been charged. I can’t find the main article or a follow up, so I’m not sure whether the store owners did persist legally with trying to get money back from those who didn’t own up.
Personally, I agree with Green Bean.
This happened to me on the way back from a vacation. I noticed when I checked the receipt, but then I lost it that evening. I went right to the bank the next day to correct it. They were uninterested as I was not overcharged. I then sought to find the gas station with the internet, but that was a big city I was in and had no luck. I went back to the bank to plead my case to help but they still felt it was no problem and would be handled by the credit card company. I felt awful, but have not pursued it any firther.
Regardless of the legality of it, I find it morally disgusting that people would take advantage of what is obviously a mistake. The DVD for $12 might be an unannounced sale, but there’s no way that’s what happened with the gas.
On the contrary, there isn’t a law protecting shop owners from their own stupidity. You could have a malicious employee mark all of your gold plated widgets from $500 to $5.00 and the only person remotely liable for the owner selling out of gold plated widgets is the person who marked them down. IANAL, but I can tell you no one would be held criminally accountable for buying something for far cheaper than the market price.