I’m sure this post will ruffle some feathers so let me state upfront that my goal is not to shame or call anyone out. A nice thing about having your own blog is that you get to express personal opinions. Sometimes it’s important to take a public stand on issues. So here I am, taking a stand.
If you’ve been around this hobby for a few years, you probably know that many deals fall into grey area when it comes to ethics. I do my best not to impose my views on others and occasionally mention targeted offers and loopholes. The idea is to let readers decide for themselves if they feel comfortable pursuing it.
I’ve written about Amex airline gift card reimbursement as well as targeted offer on CitiGold checking account. In fact, I even participated in the last one, albeit without success. My opinion on this matter is that banks and companies are partially to blame when they end up paying out on a deal not intended for that specific individual. Surely, they can implement some sort of IT fix, but simply don’t feel like investing in it.
Sometimes companies will honor a targeted offer as a goodwill gesture. My point is, there is a way for them to verify eligibility. Of course, I’m not saying that you should take advantage of every deal that falls into grey area. Not at all. In fact, after a few mishaps, I’m more determined than ever to play by the rules. But at least I don’t feel icky when I mention them on my blog.
And then there are issues that are clearly black and white. Occasionally, hotel programs will offer elite status match if you send them a screenshot with proof of your existing status in another chain. Sometimes, there are similar promotions with airlines.
While many take advantage of these promos legitimately, some resort to other, less classy means. I won’t go into specifics, but it involves misrepresenting your status, amount of points you have etc. Basically, we are talking good ol’ fraud. Yes, let’s not kid ourselves, that’s exactly what it is. Other descriptions: lying, cheating, forgery. It’s very hard for most reps to spot a fake statement because they are not trained in that area.
I’ve seen folks admit to doing it (without shame) in the comment sections of blog posts. I found rationalization process absolutely fascinating. One lady said that she didn’t feel bad because she was planning to shift her business to this particular company.
So, basically, if I decided to switch my grocery shopping to another store, I could just come in and steal something on my first visit. After all, they will more than make up for their losses through my future patronage. I wonder how the manager of the store would view this sort of thinking?
Recently, a lucrative opportunity came out (read between the lines here). I’ve seen open discussions in forums and Twitter, as well hints on several blogs, pointing to committing fraud in order to take advantage of it. Apparently, many are doing it. It’s likely that you came across this information as well. Perhaps you are not sure if this is something you should participate in.
Obviously, I’m not your momma and you don’t have to listen to me. But I will give my two cents anyway. Just because many are doing something doesn’t automatically make it right. Many atrocities in the history of mankind were committed because the majority felt it was OK. So, this argument doesn’t hold water.
For those of you with kids, there is another important thing to consider. We teach our children to be honest (hopefully) and not steal. I wrote a post on this topic before and here is what I said at the end, apologies for quoting myself:
“I think it’s possible to stay honest and ethical while simultaneously taking advantage of lucrative opportunities along the way. Of course, everyone will have to define the word “ethical” for themselves. But will the definition differ from that you would give to your child?”