The One-Cent Ethical Dilemma Interpersonal Relations
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Interpersonal Relations Case 15.1
The One-Cent Ethical Dilemma
Rajah majored in business administration and marketing at college, and looked forward to a career in retail management. While attending community college, he worked an average of 30 hours per week at retail stores, thereby taking him an additional year and one half to attain his degree. Still only 23 years old, Rajah received a job offer as the manager of a branch of a discount general store. He thought this would be a fine opportunity to begin his career in retail management. Although the store was referred to as a dollar store, the prices of individual merchandise ran as high as $30.
About three months into the job, his regional manager Lauren explained that cashiers were from here on not to give customers back change of only one cent. For example, if a customer’s bill were $2.99 and he gave the cashier a $5.00 bill, the cashier was supposed to give the customer change of $2.00 and smile at the same time. Yet if the customer demanded the penny in change, the cashier should grant the request.
Rajah asked Lauren, “Why should our store do something that nasty? It’s like stealing pennies from customers.” Lauren replied, “We have approximately 1,200 stores across the country, and all our stores are busy. Few customers care about one penny, but if we add up all those pennies, the company’s profit for the years has a nice bump up.”
Rajah was not happy with the new policy, but agreed to go ahead and encourage his cashiers to withhold the penny change unless a customer objected. Yet after a week, this new policy began to disturb Rajah. He felt he was forcing his cashiers into unethical if not illegal behavior. He did not want to lose his job by complaining about or not complying with company policy.
- What actions do you recommend Rajah take about his concerns with respect to the new one-cent-in-change policy?
- Explain whether you think Rajah shuld blow the whistle on his employer?
- What is your opinion of the ethics of the new policy about withholding one-cent in change?
Interpersonal Relations Case 15.2
Am I Paid to Be My Manager’s TV Repair Technician?
Karen worked for a division of a pharmaceutical company as a member of the technical support team. Among her many responsibilities were keeping the division’s desktop computers, laptop computers, printers, and smartphones in working order. Gus, her manager, who had been with the company for about 10 years, had a general understanding of what the tech support staff was doing, but he was more of an administrator than a specialist in communication technology.
Several times in recent weeks, Gus complained to Karen and a few other team members about a problem he was having with a digital television set connected to an internal (rabbit ears) antenna. During a lunch break, he explained to Karen, “I’m going a little crazy. I have four television sets at home. The two big ones are satellite connected and they work just fine. I have a small set in the family room in the basement connected to rabbit ears, and the reception is reasonably good. I am picking up the digital signals with a few halts here and there, but I am getting the reception I need.”
“The problem I have is with a relatively new set connected in our upstairs bedroom. I did the channel scan about one year ago, and I was getting the network channels I needed. A few weeks ago, I stopped receiving the channels I needed. All that was left was HSN (Home Shopping Network). I must have done a channel scan twenty times to try to fix the problem. Plus, I rotated the antenna a few times. I called tech support at the manufacturer of my set, and the rep couldn’t help. He told me to telephone the FCC (Federal Communication Commission). I did that, followed the rep’s instructions, and still no signal.”
Karen agreed that Gus was facing a frustrating problem, but noted that many people using antennas on their TV sets have lost reception since the conversion from analog to digital in 2009.
A week later, Gus spoke to Karen again about his TV reception woes. He then asked Karen, “How about you coming over after work some night to help straighten out my TV problem? My wife and I would really appreciate your help. You’re a great tech fixer.”
Karen pondered for a moment, thinking that Gus was making an unreasonable demand. She replied, “Gus, let me think about your request. I really don’t know a lot about TV reception. Also, I am pretty much tied up after work for a couple of weeks.”
With a frown on his face, Gus said, “Karen, I know you can help. Please don’t let me down.”
- What do you see as any potential ethical issues in Gus’s request that Karen attempt to fix his TV set reception problem?
- What advice might you offer Karen for dealing with this problem?
- How do Gus’s demands fit into the category of expecting Karen to exhibit strong organizational citizenship behavior?