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John Daly: Ethically Speaking ... It Was the Right Thing to Do

I had an interesting exchange with a vendor today, and I wanted to share it with you. The vendor had performed services for me more than a month ago. I anticipated the bill to be close to $800.

The vendor had performed the same service for a neighbor of mine the day after he had worked at my house. This past weekend, I was having a casual conversation with my neighbor, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet received a bill from our mutual vendor. That thought prompted me to ask my neighbor if he’d received his bill for the work the vendor had done for us. He responded that he had received it on Monday of last week.

I scratched my head on that one and wondered why I hadn’t received the bill, which the vendor had indicated would be mailed at the end of the past month. So, this morning, I called the vendor and asked his assistant about the missing bill.

She did a computer search and couldn’t find any pending or recent billing for me. I asked her to check on it and let me know. I told her to feel free to just email me with the invoice, and I would make sure the bill was paid immediately.

The assistant paused on that one, and said, “Mr. Daly, I am amazed that you would call us to follow up on something that is clearly our error. If you hadn’t called, most likely you wouldn’t have been billed for our services. You are a very honest man.”

My immediate response? “I wouldn’t feel good about cheating someone out of money rightfully owed to him.”

Her comment? “That is rare indeed. Thank you for calling and bringing this to our attention.”

This leads me to the topic of ethics. Ethics and good manners go hand-in-hand. It really goes back to that good ole’ Golden Rule. If you had been that vendor, made a mistake in billing and ended up not getting paid, wouldn’t you want your customer to treat you honestly?

It saddens me that my vendor’s assistant felt it rare that people wouldn’t be honest about a billing mistake.

What are your thoughts? Would you have called the vendor and asked for a missing bill? Tell me via [email protected].

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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