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Old 03-24-2004, 03:12 PM   #121 (Print)
whatever
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SpankWare, I agree with the following statement of yours:
Quote:
Originally posted by SpankWare
Before anybody insists that HBO and/or DirecTV has no intentions of this being acceptable, they should verify it with both parties.
If verification had been done, and it was determined that it was acceptable, then there is nothing wrong from an ethical standpoint. I have yet to see where anybody here has verified with either DirecTV or HBO if this is an acceptable practice. If somebody that is doing this would call DirecTV and ask them if this is acceptable, I wouldn't have a problem with it. My guess is that a call of that sort would put the brakes on it.
Quote:
Originally posted by SpankWare
Until HBO starts labeling their programming "not to be sold on a daily basis" or DirecTV starts putting a limit on the minimum subscription time this activity is legal, ethical and quite kosher.
So first you need verification, then it is OK as long as they don't disallow it? Which is it? Again, if there is verification that it is allowed, then I see nothing ethically wrong with it.

-Jim
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Old 03-24-2004, 06:08 PM   #122 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by whatever
While I do not work for DirecTV, I have worked as a programmer for a website that is comparable in size and scope of the DirecTV site. It was anything but a handful of people, and the investment was sizable. I'll agree that the DirecTV investment is probably not huge (compared to DTV's other capitol investments), but it still is there. I would think it would be safe to say that DirecTV didn't reduce the number of phone rep's it has once it's website went live.

-Jim
But what percentage of their costs are devoted to handling the prorated charges? Consider that their existing billing system is already set up to prorate the same way. I'd wager that to bill differently via the website would take more resources than the way they implemented the current system.

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Old 03-24-2004, 06:12 PM   #123 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by whatever
SpankWare, I agree with the following statement of yours:If verification had been done, and it was determined that it was acceptable, then there is nothing wrong from an ethical standpoint. I have yet to see where anybody here has verified with either DirecTV or HBO if this is an acceptable practice.
How do you verify that you can buy one item for 25 cents that's sold "4 for a dollar"? I go to the checkout counter and attempt to buy it. That's the same thing happening with the website. And if they stop allowing this, it will take extra resources to re-program their system, and it will mean they get less money from me.

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Old 03-24-2004, 06:30 PM   #124 (Print)
whatever
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrettStah
How do you verify that you can buy one item for 25 cents that's sold "4 for a dollar"? I go to the checkout counter and attempt to buy it. That's the same thing happening with the website. And if they stop allowing this, it will take extra resources to re-program their system, and it will mean they get less money from me.
To verify it is acceptable, call/email DirecTV and ask. I suggested that in an earlier response to this thread. Since nobody responded that they had verified that this is acceptable, I went ahead and emailed DirecTV customer service and asked. When and if I receive a response from DirecTV, I will post both the message I sent and the response I received.

-Jim
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Old 03-24-2004, 06:34 PM   #125 (Print)
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It's acceptable to them because the website is designed to do it. If it stops being acceptable to them, the website will cease functioning like it currently does. And they'll get less money each month from me and plenty of others. What's so hard to grasp about the concept that DirecTV's billing system prorates these charges? Via phone or web, the charges are prorated. I'm not allowed to add/drop NY/LA network feeds via the website, because it is designed to not allow that. So they do indeed decide what is and isn't possible via the website, on a case by case basis.

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Old 03-24-2004, 07:10 PM   #126 (Print)
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HBO's response would be a lot more interesting.

The NY/LA network feeds argument is apples and oranges. That's an FCC thing and has a lot more to do with law than ethics.

Spank - "By allowing me to do so by processing my transaction I am not doing anything wrong." - that's ridiculous. I'm sure you can figure out why.
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Old 03-24-2004, 08:41 PM   #127 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by whatever
While I do not work for DirecTV, I have worked as a programmer for a website that is comparable in size and scope of the DirecTV site. It was anything but a handful of people, and the investment was sizable.
Well, I've run a few web sites myself, and honestly, I think I could manage the DirecTV site by myself (albeit as a full-time job). It's really not that impressive or complex a site. It's pretty static, and such updates as it has are probably automated to a great extent.
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Old 03-25-2004, 12:25 AM   #128 (Print)
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brine

I don't really care too much about this part of the thread as the cost or lack thereof of running the site isn't really my point.

But the security issues alone on a public site like that are massive. It's got to interface with database upon database and work correctly every time they make a change to the software. Can you imagine the load testing they have to do whenever they make a change? Think about all the QA they have to do. I bet they have 5 or 6 FTEs on it constantly and 50 or more testing at least 50 days out of the year.

I work for a company that does B2B medical software. We implement many sites for medical practices/hospitals - far smaller user base, and they all have two people maintaining their sites. We work on updates constantly. 4 programmers, 3 QA, plus management, plus a tech writer. Then half the rest of the company has to help test for weeks, off and on, before a new release. DirecTV is probably doing this all in house, and if they're not, they're paying somebody else a s***pile to do it for them.

Based on my experience, I just really don't think one guy could do it.

Last edited by avermeer : 03-25-2004 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 03-25-2004, 12:23 PM   #129 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by whatever
SpankWare, I agree with the following statement of yours:If verification had been done, and it was determined that it was acceptable, then there is nothing wrong from an ethical standpoint. I have yet to see where anybody here has verified with either DirecTV or HBO if this is an acceptable practice. If somebody that is doing this would call DirecTV and ask them if this is acceptable, I wouldn't have a problem with it. My guess is that a call of that sort would put the brakes on it.
So first you need verification, then it is OK as long as they don't disallow it? Which is it? Again, if there is verification that it is allowed, then I see nothing ethically wrong with it.

-Jim


You missed my point entirely. YOU can't say this is unacceptable behavior because you have absolutely NO evidence of that fact. On the contrary, those customers participating in the practice have proof that it's acceptable because DirecTV is processing their transactions without any issues. To suggest THEY have to verify the validity of transactions they are making without issue is silly.

My suggestion isn't that a customer doing this practice needs to confirm anything. They have confirmation through successful transactions. For you to question otherwise would require confirmation in my mind.

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Old 03-25-2004, 12:28 PM   #130 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by avermeer
Spank - "By allowing me to do so by processing my transaction I am not doing anything wrong." - that's ridiculous. I'm sure you can figure out why.


So are you suggesting that a company that willingly completes a transaction with a customer can say that the transaction was wrong? How do you come up with that? At what point can you logically say that a company has any right to complain about a transaction they agreed to? Despite what you might think, DirecTV has authorized this website and this software powering the website to handle transactions for them. If at any point the software completes a transaction they do not desire, they themselves are at fault and responsible for correcting any issue they may have. At no point is the customer in the wrong for making a transaction they were allowed to do. To suggest otherwise makes no sense at all. What if you bought a book from Amazon, do you think they can come back after a completed transaction and say "you know what, we didn't like that transaction and you were wrong for doing it. Yes, we realize our software sold you the book for $0.01 and we shipped it to you and it's now in your possession." Give me a break.

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Old 03-25-2004, 01:36 PM   #131 (Print)
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Even though I do not participate in the premium channel=40c a day thing I do not feel it is wrong or unethical.
Direct TV allows it to happen, they know it happens, they have spreadsheets 'I am sure' that compute what happens in sales from their web-site on a daily basis.
They are condoning/allowing/welcoming this practice.
If.....in their opinion it proves expensive for them to let this happen then they will stop it and the only people hurt will be the people that do it.

I used to be with Dish and I never did have premiums because of the downgrading fees....they made it prohibitive to sign up because it didnt matter how long you kept that subscription up you were still penalised for downgrading from it.

I would much rather have the on/off Directtv way with no costs involved.
I think if Directtv didnt like this practise they would stop it or at least make you sign up for prorated costs which add up to more than the $12 per month.

I reiterate....I cannot imagine that DirectTV is not aware of this practise.

Mandy
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Old 03-25-2004, 03:07 PM   #132 (Print)
whatever
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Quote:
Originally posted by SpankWare
You missed my point entirely. YOU can't say this is unacceptable behavior because you have absolutely NO evidence of that fact. On the contrary, those customers participating in the practice have proof that it's acceptable because DirecTV is processing their transactions without any issues. To suggest THEY have to verify the validity of transactions they are making without issue is silly.

My suggestion isn't that a customer doing this practice needs to confirm anything. They have confirmation through successful transactions. For you to question otherwise would require confirmation in my mind.
Just because you CAN do something doesn't make it ethical. My evidence that it is unacceptable is the way the website describes the cost structure of the premium packages. Your evidence that counters my argument is the way the website process your transactions.

So we have a disconnect here. The way the site words the pay structure is different from the way that the website process transactions. Obviously this leads to two different viewpoints. Some people would say that not participating in this practice is akin to taking the high road. Others could care less. Whoever started this thread had some seeds of doubt about the ethics of it, otherwise they would not have posted the question.

In my mind, the ethical way to resolve this is to ask DirecTV. That way, there is no confusion. So that is what I did. Here is what I emailed to DirecTV customer service:
Quote:
Subject: Premium Services

Details: My question is related to your premium services. On one of the
websites I frequent (www.tivocommunity.com) there has been a debate
about weather or not a certain practice is allowed with respect to
premium services. I must add that I do not do what I am describing, but
am aware that others are.

Somebody adds a premium service (HBO for example) via the website on a
Monday via the website and then watches/records a series of shows.
After they watch the show(s), they login to the website and cancel the
premium service. They do this every Monday night, in effect getting
that service for only one day a week. While I have not done this, I
know that it is possible. While this practice is possible, I would like
some clarification if it is allowable within the DirecTV terms of
service.

Thank you,

-Jim
If the way I phrased my question to DirecTV seems biased, I'll accept that criticism. I did my best to be neutral. Here is the response I received from DirecTV customer service:
Quote:
Dear James,

Thank you for writing. DIRECTV allows you to change your programming at
your convenience on our website. You can add HBO for one day and then
disconnect it if you wish. We hope you found this information useful.

Sincerely,


DIRECTV Customer Service
So this response tells me it is kosher for this to happen. Was that too difficult? Honestly, I think some people thought that by asking, DirecTV might have stopped this practice. Now I won't feel like I'm gaming the system if I ever decide to order a premium channel for a day in order to get some special program.

There is a practical benefit for this also. IF I ever do this, and somebody at DirecTV tells me I'm wrong and attempts to bill me for it, I have an email confirmation that this is an acceptable practice.

-Jim
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Old 03-25-2004, 03:31 PM   #133 (Print)
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Jim, you have ruined a perfectly good debate by getting a definitive answer.

Seriously though thanks for proving us right who have said that DirecTV set up the system exactly the way they wanted it and therefore it is perfectly fine and ethical.

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Old 03-25-2004, 03:43 PM   #134 (Print)
whatever
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally posted by bigpuma
Jim, you have ruined a perfectly good debate by getting a definitive answer.
! I'm sure there will be plenty of other debates around here!

Quote:
Originally posted by bigpuma
Seriously though thanks for proving us right who have said that DirecTV set up the system exactly the way they wanted it and therefore it is perfectly fine and ethical.
I wasn't trying to prove anybody right. I felt that the way to resolve this was to ask the question. Before I received this answer, I didn't think it was ethical to participate.

Let the debate rage on.....

-Jim
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Old 03-25-2004, 04:41 PM   #135 (Print)
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Just an FYI, but your email to DirecTV came across as a schoolchild who is tattling on others.

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Old 03-25-2004, 04:45 PM   #136 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by whatever
Just because you CAN do something doesn't make it ethical.

-Jim


In this case, yes it does. In no way could purchasing a product being sold be considered an unethical activity. DirecTV allows (as proved by your email) people to purchase/cancel premium programming on a daily basis. It can not be in any way viewed as unethical to do what a company allows you to do. If at some point something was being done to create this possibility then yes, you would have an ethical dilemma. However, the only activity being done is that which has been provided directly by DirecTV. What they offer as a package has no ethical effect on purchasing parts of that package in other ways. Let's face it, it's not wrong to buy individual potatoes from a grocery store that might only advertise potatoes sold in a bundle.

Either way, the fact still remains this is acceptable per DirecTV. I do thank you for taking the time to prove to yourself that which I and many others already knew was right.

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Old 03-25-2004, 05:54 PM   #137 (Print)
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Interesting thread. A couple of thoughts here from someone without DirecTV.

Jim has already pointed out that DirecTV is OK with this, so its almost moot now. However, I think the argument against this practice is very similar to Network TVís argument against DVRís being able to skip commercials is ďstealingĒ. Just recently skipping commercials was considered fair use by the courts.

What this thread really makes me think is some of us donít really want a bunch of channels we donít need, weíd prefer to have the option of paying for what we really want to watch (either per show or per channel). No billing system that I know of could do this, but Iíd gladly pay $0.40 a show for a decent show or channel (price would vary of course) multiplied by the number of shows (or billed for channels) I actually watch vs. paying a monthly charge for 50 channels and I only really watch 10 of them.

Not realistic, I know, but I would prefer to pay a la carte. Its why I donít have HBO. I love Curb Your Enthusiam, but not willing to pay monthly fees to HBO just for it, and Comcast has no such 1 day switch, especially for lowly analog customers. If I had DirecTV, HBO & DirecTV would make more from me with this option than without it.

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Old 03-25-2004, 06:02 PM   #138 (Print)
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Bret -"Just an FYI, but your email to DirecTV came across as a schoolchild who is tattling on others." I hope you were trying to be funny here and not nasty. I would think you'd be a little more appreciative for his efforts especially when he got an answer that apparently validates your frugal practices.

Spank - I don't even know where to begin. But I'll try. Best Buy has a T.V. that's $200. It rings up at $100. The clueless checkout guy doesn't catch it and you pay $100 and walk out with it because you can. Yeah, that's unethical. I can also walk away with $20 change for something I paid for with a $10 bill. I can also cut people off in traffic. I can also use coarse language in front of young children. I can also use my mom's handicap plaque to park wherever I want. I can also set up offshore accounts so I don't have to pay taxes on my investment earnings. Etcetera.

Jim, good job. I still don't think it's ethical, but I've always seen it more from HBO's side, the rest of us carrying the weight of the cost of programming and such. It's good that most people take the high road. But so many people here feel so strongly about it and DirecTV doesn't seem to care, so whatever.
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Old 03-25-2004, 06:14 PM   #139 (Print)
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Not trying to be funny or nasty, just expressing how the email came across to me.

Your analogy with Best Buy and the TV is a poor one. The charges are exactly what they are supposed to be, prorated. So if you rented a TV for a month from Rent-A-Center, and brought it back before the month was up, and they prorated the charges, the analogy would be much more accurate. Your other analogies are also off... no one is being cheated - the charges are exactly the same as they'd be if you called and cancelled HBO over the phone, except that phone transactions also have a surcharge. DirecTV is aware of the practice, and has no problems with it. They designed their billing system to support prorating these charges.

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Old 03-25-2004, 08:48 PM   #140 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally posted by avermeer
The NY/LA network feeds argument is apples and oranges. .




I thought we were talking about peaches?





Stew


PS. I use this same technique for activating receivers. I have a receiver in a guest room that is only used when we have guests (hence the name for the room). When someone's spending the night, I activate it and then de-activate it the next day.

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Old 03-25-2004, 11:06 PM   #141 (Print)
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sigh - you're right Bret

It would be a poor analogy if the analogy was meant to be applied to the DirecTV issue, but if you'd read Spank's posts, you'd know that it wasn't.

Jim told Spank that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Spank's response indicated that it was ethical for him to do whatever a company allows him to do.

Some of Spank's statements: "So are you suggesting that a company that willingly completes a transaction with a customer can say that the transaction was wrong?...At no point is the customer in the wrong for making a transaction they were allowed to do...In no way could purchasing a product being sold be considered an unethical activity...It can not be in any way viewed as unethical to do what a company allows you to do. "

A lot of people are confusing legal (can do) and ethical (should do), thinking they are the same. I was responding to that mentality only and thought that Spank was being way too broad with his strokes. It was not meant correlate directly to the DirecTV situation.
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Old 03-25-2004, 11:46 PM   #142 (Print)
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I guess the disagreement was how aware DirecTV was of the prorated fees. Some felt that it was an unintentional loophole allowed due to poor website/database design. Others felt that DirecTV's billing system is consistent, and obviously designed purposefully to allow for the prorated charges. DirecTV's response quoted previously backs up the latter group's beliefs rather definitively, making any ethical/moral concerns moot to anyone who has read the response. Or at least I'd hope no one is still arguing that this is something DirecTV is somehow not aware of.

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Old 03-26-2004, 02:22 PM   #143 (Print)
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Re: sigh - you're right Bret

Quote:
Originally posted by avermeer
It would be a poor analogy if the analogy was meant to be applied to the DirecTV issue, but if you'd read Spank's posts, you'd know that it wasn't.

Jim told Spank that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Spank's response indicated that it was ethical for him to do whatever a company allows him to do.

...

A lot of people are confusing legal (can do) and ethical (should do), thinking they are the same. I was responding to that mentality only and thought that Spank was being way too broad with his strokes. It was not meant correlate directly to the DirecTV situation.


Let me try to better clarify my position. As was already pointed out, your previous suggestion about Best Buy and the TV are unrelated. However, I think that the Best Buy situation is also ethical. Should I as the consumer make the assumption that the TV shouldn't have rung up at $100? Or, should I have faith in Best Buy and their systems that it will fairly charge me the correct rate for the product? Should I question the validity of each and every item they ring up? Should I question the validity of the price listed on the product's label? At what point should I have faith and what point should I abandon that faith and question everything?

Having not spent much time in retail, the way I understand it is (generally speaking with any good company) that if a price differs between a marked price and the price an item rings up at, the price that favors the customer is used. So in the case of Best Buy, while it may be a mistake that caused the item to ring up at $100 rather than the marked price of $200, it's not at all unethical for me to purchase the TV for that price. Let's say the check out person noticed this wasn't right and got the manager. What will likely happen is the manager will honor the price and immediately fix it. To give you a specific example, I recently bought 2 suits that rang up higher than their marked price. As it turns out, the prices that were on the items were incorrect but because the fault lied with the company, they sold me those suits at the listed price. They immediately corrected their pricing mistake. At no point did I do anything unethical as I purchased items for the price they were marked for.

As you can see I'm not mistaking legal with ethical. I understand ethics and at no point is doing the business I described above or the "per day" purchase of HBO from DirecTV unethical. The DirecTV system is designed to work this way, and it works well. Just because it's not advertised does not make it unethical. Same thing goes for your Bust Buy TV. It is not unethical for me or anybody else to get a reasonable deal because of the mistakes of their systems. I wasn't seeking to take advantage of the incorrect ring up price, so doing so isn't unethical. What WOULD be unethical is turning around and trying to buy 5 more to resell by price matching using my receipt after they correct the price mistake. Now that's unethical.

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Old 03-26-2004, 04:16 PM   #144 (Print)
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Re: Re: sigh - you're right Bret

Quote:
Originally posted by SpankWare
Let me try to better clarify my position. As was already pointed out, your previous suggestion about Best Buy and the TV are unrelated. However, I think that the Best Buy situation is also ethical. Should I as the consumer make the assumption that the TV shouldn't have rung up at $100? Or, should I have faith in Best Buy and their systems that it will fairly charge me the correct rate for the product? Should I question the validity of each and every item they ring up? Should I question the validity of the price listed on the product's label? At what point should I have faith and what point should I abandon that faith and question everything?



In my opinion, if you know the price is $200 and you notice they ring it up at $100, it would be unethical not to point out the error. However the analogy is not the same as the direcTV case where the website is "ringing up" the purchase correctly and exactly as intended by DirecTV. That is the difference. I do see a problem with not mentioning the error if you explicitly notice it. That does not mean you have to question everything. It just means if you notice an error you should, ethically speaking, mention it. Whether they honor the price or not is their decision.

These are totally different scenarios and different ethics apply.

edit: spelling

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Old 03-29-2004, 09:39 PM   #145 (Print)
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Whether it's kosher or not, my fiancee is extremely happy since we were able to record Brittney Spears for 40 cents.
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Old 03-29-2004, 11:17 PM   #146 (Print)
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Disclaimer: I don't have enough time or energy to read this whole thread, so forgive me if I missed something.

When I go to the supermarket, there are often things priced "4 for $1.00" or something similar. There is no requirement to purchase 4 of the item to get that price, and when I buy only 1 item, it shows up on my receipt as "1 @ 4/$1.00 = $0.25". Sometimes the supermarket advertises something as "buy one get one free", and in that case I know I can not buy just one for half price.

The advertised price of HBO on DirecTV is $12/month. That works out to $0.40/day. I don't see how buying one day of something is unethical just because it is advertised at a monthly price. (But if DirecTV decides to state that you must purchase at least a full month, then so be it. They have not done so to date.)

I agree with bigpuma (two posts up) about the Best Buy analogy being unethical, and the daily HBO pricing being ethical.

To me ethics is all about informed consent. In the Best Buy example, you are taking advantage of information that Best Buy (or at least the cashier) does not have: The price rung up is incorrect. If you intentionally withhold this information from the cashier, that is unethical.

I think the "What if everyone did it?" argument is not valid because 1) you are proposing a situation that does not exist and never will, and 2) if it *did*, they would simply change the rules. The reasoning behind the "What if everyone did it?" argument was that, if everyone did it, DirecTV and/or HBO would lose money. Too bad, it is not a customer's responsibility to make sure DirecTV and/or HBO are profitable. Many large corporations are not profitable, that does not mean that their entire customer base is behaving unethically.

There is no bug in the website - someone had to intentionally make the decision to prorate services which are not kept for a full month. That doesn't happen by accident. If DirecTV believes that people are abusing the system, it is very easy for them to modify the webpage to stop the 'abuse'. That this thread is two years old and the behavior is still possible tells me that either DirecTV is ok with it or it is just too insignificant for them to care/notice.
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Old 03-29-2004, 11:25 PM   #147 (Print)
gunzour
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Re: Re: sigh - you're right Bret

Quote:
Originally posted by SpankWare
Having not spent much time in retail, the way I understand it is (generally speaking with any good company) that if a price differs between a marked price and the price an item rings up at, the price that favors the customer is used. So in the case of Best Buy, while it may be a mistake that caused the item to ring up at $100 rather than the marked price of $200, it's not at all unethical for me to purchase the TV for that price. Let's say the check out person noticed this wasn't right and got the manager. What will likely happen is the manager will honor the price and immediately fix it. To give you a specific example, I recently bought 2 suits that rang up higher than their marked price. As it turns out, the prices that were on the items were incorrect but because the fault lied with the company, they sold me those suits at the listed price. They immediately corrected their pricing mistake. At no point did I do anything unethical as I purchased items for the price they were marked for.


I agree with everything you say, but I will point out that a company's pricing accuracy policy is generally based on good customer service, not on ethics. And, BTW, I have been in situations where an item rang up at a higher price, and the store refused to honor the advertised price. (I, in turn, refused to complete the purchase ) It was poor business for them to make that decision but it was not unethical. It would have only become unethical if they somehow led me to believe they were honoring the lower price, but in fact somehow forced me to pay the higher price.
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Old 03-30-2004, 11:44 AM   #148 (Print)
avermeer
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Best argument, by far, gunzour.

One of the only ones so far worthy of a true debate on ethics: "it is not a customer's responsibility to make sure DirecTV and/or HBO are profitable. Many large corporations are not profitable, that does not mean that their entire customer base is behaving unethically." I like that statement because it makes me think. I can't answer that argument as it's a little too complex for my abilities. It would require a thesis to explore thoroughly. I bet there have been theses and dissertations based on these questions but I'm not familiar with them.

This statement, however:

"I think the "What if everyone did it?" argument is not valid because 1) you are proposing a situation that does not exist and never will, and 2) if it *did*, they would simply change the rules."

1. According to moral philosophers, especially Kant, it doesn't matter if the situation will never exist. Behaving ethically dictates only that you behave as if these "if everybody did it" situations could exist based soley on your own actions.
2. Putting the company in a situation that they had to change the rules means that they had to hurt first and ethics is all about not hurting people. The Utilitarian ideal would be that the most ethical situation is the one in which the most people are happy - customers and company.

Also, it was unethical for the business not to honor an advertised price if it was within the bounds of their conditions. It's tantamount to a lie. They advertised it, you came for it, they wouldn't honor it. It's a lie AND poor customer service.

We've already established that DirecTV consciously allows the daily-pay practice through the website. So please don't flame as this particular part of the discussion doesn't involve the rest of you or your practices.
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Old 03-30-2004, 01:11 PM   #149 (Print)
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Re: Best argument, by far, gunzour.

Quote:
Originally posted by avermeer

This statement, however:

"I think the "What if everyone did it?" argument is not valid because 1) you are proposing a situation that does not exist and never will, and 2) if it *did*, they would simply change the rules."

1. According to moral philosophers, especially Kant, it doesn't matter if the situation will never exist. Behaving ethically dictates only that you behave as if these "if everybody did it" situations could exist based soley on your own actions.


By that logic would it be unethical for people to use rebates. Rebates are profitable for companies because of the fact that only some of the buyers actually use them. If everyone filled out rebates exactly how they were supposed to and got their check the company would lose money but because only a percentage actually follow through they end up making money. This is the same reason that it is ethical to use direcTV's system the way they set it up, even though if everyone purchased premium channels a day here and there they would have to change it.
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Old 03-30-2004, 04:49 PM   #150 (Print)
gunzour
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Re: Best argument, by far, gunzour.

Quote:
Originally posted by avermeer

"I think the "What if everyone did it?" argument is not valid because 1) you are proposing a situation that does not exist and never will, and 2) if it *did*, they would simply change the rules."

1. According to moral philosophers, especially Kant, it doesn't matter if the situation will never exist. Behaving ethically dictates only that you behave as if these "if everybody did it" situations could exist based soley on your own actions.
2. Putting the company in a situation that they had to change the rules means that they had to hurt first and ethics is all about not hurting people. The Utilitarian ideal would be that the most ethical situation is the one in which the most people are happy - customers and company.

Also, it was unethical for the business not to honor an advertised price if it was within the bounds of their conditions. It's tantamount to a lie. They advertised it, you came for it, they wouldn't honor it. It's a lie AND poor customer service.


1. I'm not familiar with Kant, but I've always considered ethics to be more of a one-on-one deal. My actions are ethical or unethical based on how my actions affect others directly. Involving "everyone else" makes it a hypothetical situation and takes me a step away from reality. Apparently my interpretation of ethics is different from Kant's.

2. That's an interesting point. I tend to think of ethics more in terms of "are the affected parties giving informed consent" rather than "am i hurting anybody". If we go with the informed consent idea for a minute, I think it is very hard to determine if a corporation is truly giving "informed consent". Somebody at DirecTV deliberately set up the billing software to prorate monthly premium services. My guess is that there is someone else (maybe legal, maybe accounting, etc.) at DirecTV who doesn't realize this and would want it changed. So, is DirecTV the corporation truly giving informed consent? As a customer, I think I am only left with considering the questions "Am I taking advantage of information I know DirecTV doesn't have? Am I deceiving them in any way?" The answer to both of these questions in this case I would say is no. "Am I hurting them?" is tougher to answer either way for certain, but I would go back to the argument of responsibility: It is not my responsibility to decide if DirecTV is being "hurt", since DirecTV would have to define that for themselves.

3. To clarify, in the situation I described the "advertised price" was on a sign inside the store, so I was already at the store. You could argue that it was unethical because I used that incorrect information to make the choice to pick up the item and take it to the counter. Since I didn't feel the price discrepancy was intentional or willful, I wouldn't consider it unethical.

I think bigpuma's point about rebates is a good one. As a side issue, I think you could argue it is unethical of businesses to use rebates, because they are taking advantage of their knowledge that only a small percentage of people will actually complete the effort necessary to earn the rebate.
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