Minor Ethical Dilemma November 15, 2008

Minor Ethical Dilemma

I went to visit my sister in Arizona recently. When I arrived at Midway Airport on a Friday afternoon, I parked my car in the economy parking lot — it cost $14/day. My flight arrived back in Chicago that Sunday night. The way the rates worked out, I owed a full three days worth of parking costs — $42.

When I pulled up to the parking lot cashier, I grabbed my ticket from the nearby cup holder and reached for my wallet.

That’s when I saw a sign on the booth.

It said that anyone who did not have a ticket would be charged for a full day’s worth of parking.

So if I gave them my ticket, I would owe $42. If I lied and said I couldn’t find my ticket, I would owe $14.

What was the right thing to do?


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  • jersey

    Pay the $42. You parked there for 3 days. Don’t be cheap.

    Yvie

  • Seth Pollack

    Submit this to The Ethicist!

    Alternately: No one is deprived of anything if you lie. You are deprived of $28 bucks if you don’t. In our society, that is a fairly negligible amount of money, but less so for you than for the lot’s proprietors.

    The question here boils down to whether you’d lie for $30. I don’t think you would.

    Perhaps another commenter could explain to me a circumstance in which this policy is sensible?

  • Throw your ticket out the window. Then you can honestly tell them that you don’t have the ticket. They’re the ones in charge. They’re the ones who decide how the sign is worded. Any ambiguity should benefit the customer.

  • Yoo

    There might be other considerations. Is it one of those parking lots that track license plates automatically or manually? Conveniently “losing” the ticket might not decrease costs.

    Personally, I’m too lethargic to bother lying or try to live with the tiny pinprick on my conscience. 😉

  • Tarrkid

    Pay the $42.

    You bought the service for $42, you owe the $42.

    Trying to skip out on $28 of service you received is no different than shoving a frozen pizza down your pants but still paying for the rest of your groceries.

    If we want to get into a discussion about whether it’s WORTH $14/day — that’s another discussion, but the ethical way to deal with that issue is not stealing.

  • I gotta say, gaming a stupid system is, to me, a moral imperative. It’s like White Hat hackers. You’ve gotta break the system to bring attention to its vulnerabilities.

    From my school years on, I’ve always tried to bend the rules without breaking them to demonstrate how stupid the rules are. This rule? Stupid.

    I’d have said to the cashier: “Hey, this doesn’t make sense, have you noticed that? Huh? No, I don’t have my ticket.”

  • I agree with Tarrkid. There really is no ethical dilemma here, as the answer is crystal clear.

  • As temping as that was (that’s a giant loophole that most parking structures have, since they have no idea when you got there), it’s worth it to pay the $42. I view that as a karma thing. If you “couldn’t find the ticket” and only paid $14, that $28 you “saved” would find it’s way back to you somehow.

  • Matthew Townsend

    Alert them of the issue but don’t tell them they’ve just been charge $28 dollars for the service.

    😉

  • PMP

    Yup, pay the ticket. $28 dollar savings is not worth the mental angst.

  • Renacier

    Chuck the ticket, pay 14 to the lot, give 30 to a charity.

  • Pay what you agreed to pay for when you left your car there, which was 3 days worth of parking in their lot – $42.

    If you feel they are too expensive, then find another lot to park your car or an alternative means to get to and from the airport. If you were running late or in a hurry, know next time that you need to plan ahead.

  • If most people did what you did, Midway would lose money, and either stop offering the service, and come up with more restrictive ways to enforce parking. That hurts all of Chicago’s tax payers, as well as the people who actually use Midway.

    Pay the money, and maintain the level of trust Midway has with its customers. Otherwise you’ll have to deal with Parking Screeners, and that will be no fun. 😉

  • In our society, ($28) is a fairly negligible amount of money, but less so for you than for the lot’s proprietors.

    Um, $28 is one week’s worth of groceries for some of us, my wealthy friend.

    Is the parking lot a monopoly? Is it effectively so, as in, there are no overcharging lots around?

    If you had a choice to park for less but didn’t, you gotta pay. If not, you have the right to say “I’m not paying this much for service if I can help it.”

    ‘Course, I worship Loki, so I kind of have to encourage taking advantage of loopholes anyway. It’s against my religion not to take advantage of a loophole.

  • Sarah

    Pay the $42, but let the PTB know that they might want to either change the sign or cap all tickets at $14, regardless of length of stay. Paying the $28 buys you a couple days worth of smugness over your noble ethics in addition to the knowledge that you were smarter than the policy/sign writers who created the tempting loophole in the first place.

  • Stephen

    pay the full price. Profit is not the only figure going into that price. If everyone skips out on the proper price. It will just end up reducing the service or raising the prices even more.

    Bottom line it is theft. If you don’t want to pay it, take a cab or solicit a friend.

  • I don’t know about Midway, but typically, if they aren’t tracking license plates, and you loose the ticket, they’ll give you another opportunity to be unethical: They’ll ask you how long you were there.

    If you say three days, they’ll charge you for three.

    If you lie… well, do you have to ask it that’s ethical?

  • andyinsdca

    Lying in this case creates a theft of services.

  • Robl

    This is not much different than cheating on your taxes. The airport management knows that dishonest people will take advantage of the sign but it makes life easier for them when people really do lose their ticket. I find it disturbing that there are a significant number of people who think this is OK. A lot of our systems (like the tax system) rely on most people being honest. Sad that the overwhelming response is not “this is clearly dishonest”.

  • The Vicar

    I’d say you owe the money. The parking lot owners may be price gougers, but you parked in the lot knowing in advance how much it would cost, so there is an obligation there.

  • That’s funny. It’s their policy. I’d go for the $14 even though it’s probably the “wrong” choice. Everyone who says they would pay the $42 is probably lying. Or they make more money than I do.

  • You agreed to pay when you parked there. Pay what you owe, forget about the sign. Ethics is what you do when nobody’s looking. If you paid, you did the right thing. Smile, think of yourself as a good person, and move on.

    The fact that so many people look for loopholes, shortcuts, and freebies makes the owners of such places find more ways to restrict us. It’s why the courts are crammed with frivolous lawsuits, and why every move we make when shopping is videotaped.

  • I wouldn’t be able to lie about it because it would bother my conscious. If I were to lie say I lost it, I would have to lie again if they asked me how long I was there. One lie leads to another to maintain the illusion that no intrusion of falsehood is seated. So as much as I would not like paying more then I think it is worth, I would pay it to maintain my moral sanity.

  • Is it unethical to create a system that allows for unethical choices? The onus should not be on the buyer to determine what they owe – it’s on the seller. Consider:

    “Do you have your ticket?” asks the vendor

    “Yes,” I reply.

    “Please give it to me.”

    “No,” I respond.

    So, far, I’ve acted ethically.

    “Without your ticket, I will have to charge you for a full day!” warns the vendor.

    “That’s fine.”

    Nothing unethical here. The ticket is my property, I have no obligation to show it to them. Unlike ‘shoving the pizza in my pants’ I was given the ticket – it is my possession. If the vendor attempts to overcharge me (one week’s parking) I can produce my ticket to prove I owe only three days.

    Therefore, my actions are not unethical. Their system is wrong (and, arguably, unethical).

  • Miko

    This is not much different than cheating on your taxes.

    Except that in this case he voluntarily chose to enter into a contract with the lot, as opposed to the taxes example which works by having the government first make an arbitrary decision about how much of your money it wants to take (with no input from you) and then threatening to jail you if you don’t comply with what they decide.

    The “voluntary” bit is key: if you don’t think the service is worth the price charged, you won’t use it. If you do use it, you certainly have an obligation to honor your contract. (Although whether the lost ticket loophole counts as honoring the contract is a bit vaguer. I’d be inclined to say no.)

    On the other hand, with the government’s involuntary taxes, there’s not too much difference between dealing with them and buying “protection” from the Mafia. You can choose to voluntarily pay what they ask if you value the services they offer. You can choose to pay what they ask even if you don’t out of pragmatic concerns over the force they’ll use against you. But there is in no sense an ethical argument for paying your taxes (in the current form of the system, at least).

  • I don’t think you should have gone to Arizona in the first place. What with diverting the Colorado River and destabilizing the water table in Phoenix, it’s a state with a lot of cactus blood on its hands.

  • Ellen Eames

    Look! The parking attendant is advertising a sale for 67% off at the register! I know the original factory invoice price was $42, but the sale price is $14!

    It’s like asking whether taking the “free” firewood with the sign saying that it is free is actually theft, and trespassing to boot. Or like going to a garage sale with a young child in tow, and trying to purchase a used toy for them with a sticker that says $4, but the garage seller takes a look at the cute 2 year old girl you’ve got with you and insists that you only pay $1 instead of the $4 listed price. Is that theft? Or like the advertisement that said that a particular car was worth “500 bananas”, and somebody actualy showed up with 500 bananas to buy it. Is that theft? I would say that it is a legitimate published offer to change an existing offer’s price.

    If lots of people game the system, they will merely up the price of losing your ticket so that it covers the shortfall. By taking up their offer, you are encouraging the system to be more honest in their dealings with you in the future by putting the onus on them to make their offer more clear. And it employs more lawyers and signmakers. Don’t you know there’s an employment slump? All of which is to say, it’s not as clear cut a moral choice as it may look at first glance, but riddled with unintended and unforeseeable consequences which makes for lots of shades of gray.

  • Strange–they would reward your for losing your ticket? That is one strange system.

    I still say it is most ethical to pay the $42.

  • Robl

    Is it unethical to create a system that allows for unethical choices? The onus should not be on the buyer to determine what they owe – it’s on the seller.

    Using that logic we should all be cheating on our income taxes and it would be OK. I’m curious to know what would be a fair way to deal with lost tickets? Personally I would rather not be stuck behind someone in the line who has lost their ticket and is having to answer 20 questions about when they actually arrived. People who say it is OK to cheat on this because it is a bad system are advocating larceny proof systems that will inconvenience the majority of people who are honest. Maybe if you lose your ticket you should be forced to pay for a month of parking? This is so simple and black and white. You pull into a public parking lot and there is a rate sign. Intentionally doing something to avoid paying for the services you have knowingly used is DISHONEST.

  • QuestionMark

    Do you consider yourself an honest person? How much is it worth to you to maintain your honesty and integrity? Not to the lot owner but to yourself. How much would make you abandon your principles?

    28 dollars seems kinda cheap.

  • Richard Wade

    What a pack of sophomoric, rationalizing pirates some of you people are. The fact that the system has a flaw that makes it easy to cheat and commit fraud, does not make it ethical to do so. It is always your personal responsibility to keep your agreements, whether or not it is easy to break them.

    This is nothing but a question of theft.

    When you parked there you were making an agreement to rent that space for $14 dollars for each day you occupied that space. That was a space that the parking lot owners could have charged others for the agreed amount. If you do not pay the $42 dollars that you agreed to pay, then you stealing $28.

    Would you be able to rationalize stealing $28 out of someone’s purse or wallet? Would the victim’s negligence of leaving their purse or wallet within easy reach of you make you any less a thief?

    What a sad waste of good brain power to use it for rationalizing such despicable behavior. To those who think theft is okay, grow up.

  • Morally, it’s a theft of services if you do not pay for what you received.

    I can understand the temptation to take advantage of a poorly-written rule. And legally, I think you’d be within your rights to evade the higher fee. But you asked an ethical question, not a legal one.

  • thatch3d

    The reason there is a dilemma is because there are two rules for the same thing based on different criteria. One rule is based on time in the lot. The other is based on presentation of a ticket. Both criteria are equally as arbitrary. That means that, all else being equal, both rules are equal. That means that paying the $42 covers you for both. Paying the $42, also, frees you to complain about the ambiguous rules to the company for two reasons: you may have unjustly paid $28 dollars you didn’t owe if you took advantage of one rule and you are not worried about getting found out for paying less than you owe.

  • pip

    Imagine your 10 year old son or daughter is in the car with you, watching your every move. Pretty easy decision in that case isn’t it?

    If you don’t pay the full price because you’re not going to get caught, aren’t you confirming the religious argument that ethical conduct is not innate, and that people will act immorally unless there is a higher power to reward and punish them for their conduct?

  • Dan C.

    This thread of comments could serve as an informal survey of whether or not atheists do in fact have morals. Overwhelmingly it looks like we do. I’m glad =)

  • Shane

    You’re not stealing. The rules are clearly stated: anyone who doesn’t have a ticket is charged $14 for a full day. Clearly, it’s in your benefit to throw your ticket away (The rule also makes no distinction between intentional and non-intentional loss). It is in the rule set mutually accepted contract for the service. It isn’t like cheating on your taxes because it isn’t cheating. The rule is clearly and obviously stated.

    If the person who drafted the rules couldn’t foresee this use of the rule, then they obviously don’t deserve to collect the extra $28. The person obviously agreed, presumably with full cognizance, to this set of rules when they were writing them. It only makes sense to take them up on their generous offer.

  • Richard Wade

    Shane, you are announcing to the world that you think if anyone is foolish enough to trust you without an iron-clad contract for every agreement, then they deserve to be victimized by you. Thanks for the warning. We’ll keep that in mind.

    The spirit of the agreement is clear, and your lawyerizing (Sorry, Transplanted Lawyer) over nit-picky wording is violating the trust that makes it possible for the parking lot business to exist and to run smoothly. Society works on trust. Your rationale is anti-social. The next time some Christian says that atheists are immoral, you’ll have nothing to argue back with but your own hypocrisy.

  • Dan

    The moral thing to do would be to fulfill your initial obligation, turn over the ticket, and cough up the $42. Being an atheist makes it interesting, though, as there is no hellish consequence for cheating the parking attendant out of $28.

    So, being an atheist, I would probably smile, pay the proper $42 amount, and drive away. Regardless of religion, it is the right thing to do. One does not need the threat of punishment to have morals.

    Of course, after leaving the airport, I’d bitch about the traffic on the Stevenson.

  • Michael

    If you didn’t want to pay for parking, you should have taken the bus.

    A better question could be “should I take drive a car to anywhere a bus could get me?” Even if you can afford a car and the gas, does that give one license to drive? (ha ha)

  • Soitfoes

    Thank you Mr. Wade.

  • Cass

    I totally agree with you Richard. Really I cannot believe this is even a question. You use the service, you pay the agreed price. Some atheists rant about people using religion to justify their unethical actions. Apparently this not something only the religious do.

  • I think it’s interesting that this is not actually a minor ethical dilemma. It’s a major ethical character definition issue. It truly is the little things that matter.

    If the airport gives you a choice about where to park and you choose a spot that costs $14 a day, then you owe $14 a day. If you were to choose such an obligation and then deliberately avoid it, bad on you.

    However I still maintain the position that a monopoly transfers the right to price services to the buyer. If there’s no choice about where to park and I believe I’m being overcharged I have the right to not pay what’s asked.

  • Awesomesauce

    Here people don’t think atheists have a higher power. I certainly see societal scorn for immoral behavior going on here.

    More interesting to me, however, are the types of reasoning that people use (regardless of pro/con). I’m learning how to appeal to some of you shall we ever find ourselves in a discussion on ethics.

  • Alastair

    Lose the ticket. This is assuming that the car park is owned by a reasonable sized corporation as opposed to an individual. I have no qualms in corporations being kept short of a few bucks. I absolutely would have no problems sleeping at night knowing a corporation has $28 less of my money. Not EVERYONE is going to do this, I’d wager very few people would do this and so “if everyone did this…” is not a reasonable argument.

  • Alastair

    And my atheism is completely unrelated to my ethics. I don’t pay train fares whenever the opportunity to not pay train fares makes itself known. I wouldn’t shoplift because the likelihood is I’d get caught but this kind of scenario? Absolutely.

  • Sock

    These comments have read like a fifth grade math problem in some places.

    My answer is no. In no way is it ethical. Also, as Tarrkid said. This isn’t a question about if it’s worth it to pay $14/day, but if it’s ethical to pay that ammount, even if you’ve found a way to lie/cheat to avoid it.

  • HollywoodBob

    Firstly, would someone saying this is a theft of services situation please explain what “services” are being stolen? And do you believe that said “services” are a value consistent with the price they charge?

    Did they wash his car? Did they have an armed security patrol? Or do they just have a spot of tarmac with a sign that says “not responsible for loss or damage” like every other long term parking lot? Like others who have said that airport parking represents monopoly pricing, I would agree that tossing your ticket and paying the single day’s fee is a more fair price for the value of said “service”.

    I would posit this analogy, if you were to hire someone to mow your lawn. And you agreed to their fee of 60$ prior to them doing the job, and then they do a lousy job, are you within your right as the purchaser of the service to refuse (full)payment?

    I would say that paying the minimum amount is a form of “right pricing” whereas the value of the service is not worth the cost and therefore their pricing need be adjusted so that the value meets that of the cost, at which point no one need consider exploiting their pricing scheme. I would be tempted to say that unless completely stupid, the management of the lot understands that their system is subject to this exploitation, and by that knowledge their continued use of the system represents acceptance and subsequent approval of this practice.

    I think it’s funny how a group of atheists, who hate when believers act superior because of their belief system, can fall right into the same attitude of “I’m better than you” (Mr Wade, I’m looking at you). Maybe it seems that religion isn’t the only means for someone to claim a false moral superiority and thereby hold contempt over others.

  • Jen

    Let me just start by saying I would probably not read the sign in the first place and hand over the money. Actually, I would probably ask someone to drive me to the airport, or take public transportation- the Metra to the El is a pain, but cheaper than $42.

    That said, I am human enough to admit I would tempted to cheat the system. There, I said it. Richard Wade, flog me for my sins. I am not saying I think it would be moral- it would not be- but it would be tempting. $28 is a lot of money to a fair percentage of people.

    I think there is a temptation to cheat what is perceived as a “large company” because, regardless of how the garage is actually run. I see this at work all the time, because people who wouldn’t probably take money out of my purse are fine with cheating my large company in a variety of increasingly creative ways. In a way, the money the company loses does affect my paycheck, but it isn’t directly pulling money out of my purse. Stealing $28 from my company won’t affect me right away, but dozens of customers a day at all the locations raises prices which decreases profits which raises prices which decreases customers which means they are going to raise the cost of my benefits and decrease my hours in the long run. Still, I am sure people feel less guilty about it than they should because Jen’s Big Company is BIG and somehow different than Jen’s Purse.

    If I just got off a plane, where I paid all sorts of silly fees, and no longer got a snack, and I sat next to a screaming baby, and I forgot my paperback in the airport bathroom and had to sit next to the baby with no book and nothing to do- I might be tempted. I wouldn’t think of Joe who works part time at the garage, I would think, DIE AIRPORT and I might want to make my money back somehow.

  • Tarrkid

    I would posit this analogy, if you were to hire someone to mow your lawn. And you agreed to their fee of 60$ prior to them doing the job, and then they do a lousy job, are you within your right as the purchaser of the service to refuse (full)payment?

    Your analogy doesn’t work. The parking lot did not do a lousy job. His car sat there just fine.

    This is not a monopoly – there are other options. Get a ride, hire a taxi/limo, take the train, use a remote lot…

    But if you park there for $14 a day, then you owe $14 a day. The fact that a mechanism exists to circumvent the system does nothing to make it unethical to do so.

    Let me put a different analogy from my personal experience.

    Going through the drive-thru at a local fast food joint a few years back, I had an order that came to $11.17. I gave the girl $21.25 in cash. Well, the register wasn’t working, and so three high schoolers got together and talked for several minutes, and did math on a napkin, and finally gave me back $14.68.

    I decided that if three high-school students can’t do basic subtraction, they deserve to have their drawer screwed up at the end of the night, so I drove off with my little windfall.

    Did they deserve it? Yeah.

    But was it unethical of me? You bet it was.

    So let’s make sure that we’re clear — the airport lot may be overpriced, and they may give you a loophole where you can get away with paying less, but that’s the point of ethics.

  • No… don’t steal…
    If it were me, I’d point out the flaw in the system to the parking lot person.

  • Richard Wade

    HollywoodBob:

    I think it’s funny how a group of atheists, who hate when believers act superior because of their belief system, can fall right into the same attitude of “I’m better than you” (Mr Wade, I’m looking at you). Maybe it seems that religion isn’t the only means for someone to claim a false moral superiority and thereby hold contempt over others.

    Trying to characterize me as some kind of pious, conceited moralist with a “false moral superiority” is a straw man tactic that wouldn’t fool a smart eleven year-old, less so an adult. I’m not saying I’m “better than you,” that’s perhaps a projection on your part, but I’m certainly in a better position to work with people in relationships of trust. Your stance just does not work well when you must deal with others. Based solely on your statement and my statements here, which of us do you think people would trust in an important agreement? As for contempt, I do hold such feelings for contemptible behaviors such as theft and especially making intellectualized excuses for theft. No apologies there. If you live up to a bad reputation, then you have the consequences coming to you.

    All these rationalizations are most easily defeated by applying a simple principle of reciprocity: You would not be agreeing with these transparent excuses if you were the one being cheated. If it’s not okay for it to be done to you, then it’s not okay for you to do it.

    You are what you do. All the bullshit that people say to justify, mitigate, excuse, euphemize or spin their actions make no difference to their self-defining by the way they live.

    It doesn’t matter if the cost is too high. It doesn’t matter if the service is minimal. It doesn’t matter if you are poor. It doesn’t matter if the parking lot company is rich. You agreed to pay the fee per day with the conditions you could see when you parked there. If you don’t like it, get a ride next time.

    It doesn’t matter if they have a monopoly or are exploitive. Get a ride and agitate to the local government for allowing competition, or start a parking lot business yourself and make a bundle. Then when people try to cheat you, you won’t be spouting all that crap about justified larceny.

    And most importantly of all:

    It doesn’t matter if the person you are cheating is stupid or somehow unethical or just not a nice person. Your ethics are entirely your responsibility. The strength of your ethics are not determined by the strength or weakness of someone else’s ethics with whom you are dealing. It is determined by your individual character. You are a person of principles only if you follow your principles with everyone, regardless.

  • I say pay the $42… that is unless you believe that the sign saying you must pay $14 if you loose your ticket is a sign from God. We all know Jesus helps those who believe.

  • Ethics is overrated. I say follow the rules but exploit loopholes whenever possible.

  • DSimon

    Alternate choice: Exploit the loophole and pay only the $14. Then, donate the difference ($28) to Doctors Without Borders.

    … Would this be morally better or worse than paying all $42 to the parking lot?

  • Richard Wade

    DSimon,

    Alternate choice: Exploit the loophole and pay only the $14. Then, donate the difference ($28) to Doctors Without Borders.

    … Would this be more or less moral than paying all $42 to the parking lot?

    To determine its ethicality, apply reciprocity:
    Would it be ethical for me to steal $28 dollars from your wallet and then donate that to my favorite charity, without consulting you about it beforehand? Forcing you to be charitable according to my preferences is certainly not ethical. Donating stolen money to a charity does not make it not stealing.

  • Tao Jones

    No dilemma here.. pay what you owe.

    First of all, are you sure they’re not recording license plates and what they mean is they’re charging you $14 extra for not having your ticket?

    Also, regardless of what you may think about the price ($14/day doesn’t sound that bad to me) there are costs associated with running a parking lot. There are attendants’ salaries, security (I hope), lighting, insurance, property taxes, etc, etc… If you are taking up a spot of someone who otherwise would be paying full price, you’re causing the company to lose money. The result is that they will raise the price for everyone.

  • Of course you pay what you owe. This shouldn’t even be a question.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    There is a poster from Despair.com that reads “Irresponsibility: No single raindrop believes that it is to blame for the flood.”

  • Epistaxis

    Come on, they’re not that stupid. They run a lot with a daily rate – how could the lost-ticket fee possibly be that low?

    The question isn’t ethics, but curmudgeonry: how much do you want to argue with them about why their sign’s unclear?

    Even if the sign had been accurate, I still don’t see what the issue is. To rob a stranger of $28 or not to? That shouldn’t be an ethical quandary.

  • Richard Wade

    Epistaxis and others here are correct, this isn’t technically an ethical dilemma, just a choice of following temptation vs. practicing honesty.

    An ethical dilemma is a situation where two principles of ethics can apply to one’s response but they conflict and there may be no way to accommodate both. For instance, an honest man whose children are starving has an opportunity to steal a loaf of bread, and legal means of obtaining food are unavailable. He has a duty to be honest but also a duty to keep his children alive.

  • stephanie

    Only you know what is the right thing to do in any given quandry. I’m not privvy to your exact ethics and morals and I’m not about to preach how you should follow mine.

    Personally, I’d make a joke or two about how I was going to hide the ticket and pay the $14. Then I’d pay the true rate anyway.

  • Pseudonym

    Tao Jones said:

    Also, regardless of what you may think about the price ($14/day doesn’t sound that bad to me) there are costs associated with running a parking lot.

    And it’s worse at airports. Airport operators have a monopoly, and they know it, and they consequently charge a premium for every business who rents space there. However exorbitant it sounds, the car park operator is being gouged too.

    Some of the responsese here amuse me no end. I’ve spent a huge amount of time arguing against the fundies’ wrong-headed belief that without God, people would be amoral. I sincerely hope they never find this thread.

    Be good for goodness’ sake.

  • I’m on the side of the ‘fulfill your contractual obligation’ group. (If for nothing else than to prove atheists do have ethics apart from religion 😉 )

    The thing that confuses me, however, is this: You parked at Midway instead of taking the CTA??? Shame on you! Consider the extra $28 a carbon tax 😀

  • I would have just said that I lost my ticket. Sure, it isn’t the most moral thing, but it wouldn’t keep me awake at night either.

  • David

    What was the right thing to do?

    Take public transit to the airport and back!

    Trick question?

  • A similar scenario exists here in VA at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

  • Kwayera

    Completely (well sort of) unrelatedly, it’s heartening to see most of you obeying your genetic altruistic heritage of an utter hatred of cheats (which is really the genetic basis of this particular “moral/ethical” quandry).

    Oh, how I love evolution.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Kwayera: “it’s heartening to see most of you obeying your genetic altruistic heritage of an utter hatred of cheats”

    Hey, it’s largely helped keep us alive and allowed us to cooperate in larger groups so that we can better prosper. Why throw out something that works?

  • When in doubt, stick it to the man.

  • Almond

    Richard Wade, you are my hero!

  • Richard Wade

    Nero Null:
    To some people, you’re “the man.” Should they follow your advice?

  • leavesandbranches

    Ok, I realise you’ve already paid the $42 and all…

    1. Personally, I am extremely loyal to companies that treat me with respect, companies that treat me ethically. Providing me with an unsecured, overpriced slice of pavement to leave my vehicle in an area where there are no other choices does not qualify in my mind for any such fealty.

    2. Not taking advantage of opportunities for what is arguably a “victimless crime” (see 3) or not breaking rules in general seems a fairly dull and inflexible way to lead a life, and is not a lesson I would wish to pass on to my children.

    3. It is not stealing and certainly not the same as taking money from a purse. Unless the lot was at capacity and the vehicle’s presence denied the lot the chance to provide service to an additional customer (thereby depriving them of income), then although you have “used” a service you haven’t “taken” anything. Furthermore, you are not removing funds from the company, you are simply choosing to pay them based on your options.

    4. Where would the people arguing to pay the full amount draw the line? If the vehicle was left there (for whatever reason) for a week? A month? Two years? Would anyone honestly volounteer to pay $10,220 instead of $14?

    5. Do people feel it unethical to disobey any request made by a company, whether ‘agreed’ to beforehand or not? Or is the resistance here due to the fact that a quantifiable variable (money) is involved?

  • 5. Do people feel it unethical to disobey any request made by a company, whether ‘agreed’ to beforehand or not? Or is the resistance here due to the fact that a quantifiable variable (money) is involved?

    The point is that the price of parking at the lot should be clearly displayed at the entrance. If you don’t want to pay $14/day then there are other options (other parking lots, public transportation, taxi, etc). It’s unethical to be aware of the cost and yet decide later to pay a different amount when the service met your expectations.

  • Richard Wade

    If you’re going to be a cheat, a liar and a thief, just do it, but please skip all the elaborate, convoluted, transparent, naive, immature, unoriginal, predictable and oh so boring rationalizations trying to kid yourself into thinking that you are not actually a cheat, a liar and a thief. At least don’t add lying to yourself to your collection of fraudulence.

    Cheats are contemptible but self-deceiving cheats are insufferable.

  • Dan

    “Is the parking lot a monopoly? Is it effectively so, as in, there are no overcharging lots around?

    If you had a choice to park for less but didn’t, you gotta pay. If not, you have the right to say “I’m not paying this much for service if I can help it.”

    ‘Course, I worship Loki, so I kind of have to encourage taking advantage of loopholes anyway. It’s against my religion not to take advantage of a loophole.”

    This attitude that you think you’re smarter than anyone else and that due to your supreme intellect you can trick the booth operator and deservedly take your $28 from the man makes me sick! ooo go you, you bad ass! You exploited that loop hole! You’re so uniquely clever!

    By entering the garage and parking, you have agreed to the contract. Now pay your dues.

    I’m glad to see most of you would do the right thing, but I’m still appalled at the few who wouldn’t.

  • leavesandbranches

    Goodness, haven’t seen that many adjectives in a while!

    Thanks for the POV, Richard.

  • Maria

    I agree with Richard Wade. People keep yapping about how you don’t need religion to do the right thing. I don’t think you do, but some of the posts here might make people wonder.