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Ethical dilema, what would you do?
Old 02-25-2009, 03:38 PM   #1
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Ethical dilema, what would you do?

My wife said I should shop for an item I wanted for my birthday. I shopped around town, and on the web, and found the item in a local store, offering 0% financing for a year. Since we always make mutual decisions on purchases above a certain amount, this one amounting to roughly $700, I told the salesman Iíd return later in the week with my wife. When we returned, on my birthday, we found a note on the door, saying that the store had temporarily closed, but that we could obtain the item at a store 20 miles away.

We drove to the other location together, filled out the financing form, (through a major bank,) and were told the item would be delivered free and set up the next day. It was and we have been happy with the product since then.

A few weeks later, the bank card arrived with the storeís logo imprinted across the top, and a promise that the bill would arrive in within a couple of weeks. After another month without receiving the bill, I called the card companyís number on the card, and was told that they had not received the invoice for the item, and I needed to call the store. I called the store and the number was out of service, as was the one for the original store we had tried. A follow up call to the card company resulted in the same result. They told me to contact the store directly. Again the same disconnected message.

It has been six months now, no bill, both stores are empty, all signage removed. No one has tried to contact me, the card company hasnít either, although I did receive a follow-up letter from them saying I needed to contact the store directly for information.

I searched for the company on line and found out that the local franchisee had declared bankruptcy. No one has attempted to contact me yet. Apparently the bank isnít out any money or it would be billing me. I can, and would, pay, either under the original terms, or up front, any bill sent to me for the whole amount. But I feel no obligation to expend any money or time trying to track down anyone currently due the original amount.

How do you think this will play out? What is my liability? What would you do? Iím inclined to do nothing and tell my wife she still owes me a birthday present.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:45 PM   #2
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It sounds like you have made an honest effort to do the right thing. There's not much else you can do at this point. Happy birthday! Enjoy your gift.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:48 PM   #3
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Wait for the Bankruptcy administrator to contact you about the bill. I doubt they will, especially since you say it has been six months. I suspect they just "wrote off" the last couple of days of operations. You could contact the Bankruptcy Court CLERK and ask them for the DIP contact data, then call them and have them look up your invoice or account data to see if there is and outstanding monies owed. Wait another 5.5 months THEN tell the DW she owes you another birthday present.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:49 PM   #4
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You went a few steps beyond what I would do. Consider it a gift.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:49 PM   #5
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It sounds like you have made an honest effort to do the right thing. There's not much else you can do at this point. Happy birthday! Enjoy your gift.
I would agree assuming it's fallen through the cracks, but these "no interest for a year" deals generally start charging interest retroactively -- and at a high rate -- on the 366th day.

My fear, then, would be that someone would eventually present the OP with a bill after more than a year has passed, and they had to pay the $700 plus 15% interest. I'm assuming someone out there has purchased the right to collect on this debt.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:52 PM   #6
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Since many of these zero % offers have to be paid by a certain date or you'll pay 25% or more I'd follow up from time to time with the credit card company. Try to get something from the credit card company that there is a zero balance.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:03 PM   #7
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I would agree assuming it's fallen through the cracks, but these "no interest for a year" deals generally start charging interest retroactively -- and at a high rate -- on the 366th day.

My fear, then, would be that someone would eventually present the OP with a bill after more than a year has passed, and they had to pay the $700 plus 15% interest. I'm assuming someone out there has purchased the right to collect on this debt.
Yes, that would be my fear, but since I haven't received any bill, or invoice, and have made several attempts to contact the store and the card company. I think it truely has fallen through the cracks, but in any event, since payment has been impossible up to this point, I can't see how I would be responsible for interest.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:07 PM   #8
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Have you considered sending the CC company a letter via certified mail asking them to confirm you have a 0 balance on the card? That could serve as evidence of a good faith effort to insure you owe nothing in case they come back on you at some time in the future.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:12 PM   #9
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Have you considered sending the CC company a letter via certified mail asking them to confirm you have a 0 balance on the card? That could serve as evidence of a good faith effort to insure you owe nothing in case they come back on you at some time in the future.
I think that is an excellent suggestion for my final followup on month eleven.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:30 PM   #10
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I think you are ethically obligated to tell us what the item is.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:33 PM   #11
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I think you are ethically obligated to tell us what the item is.
I don't see why. This is the CC company, they either have a charge to his account or they don't.

Oops. I thought you said "them", not "us"...

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Old 02-25-2009, 04:44 PM   #12
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I think you are ethically obligated to tell us what the item is.
I will only tell you that the item was also available at a large home improvement chain store for the same price without set up and delivery. And ethics does not allow me to disclose the name of the large home improvement chain.
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Old 02-25-2009, 04:45 PM   #13
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I don't see why. This is the CC company, they either have a charge to his account or they don't.

Oops. I thought you said "them", not "us"...

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Old 02-25-2009, 05:16 PM   #14
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A few weeks later, the bank card arrived with the store’s logo imprinted across the top, and a promise that the bill would arrive in within a couple of weeks. After another month without receiving the bill, I called the card company’s number on the card, and was told that they had not received the invoice for the item, and I needed to call the store. I called the store and the number was out of service, as was the one for the original store we had tried. A follow up call to the card company resulted in the same result. They told me to contact the store directly. Again the same disconnected message.

It has been six months now, no bill, both stores are empty, all signage removed. No one has tried to contact me, the card company hasn’t either, although I did receive a follow-up letter from them saying I needed to contact the store directly for information.
You put this in terms of an ethical question.
I think there are two parts to it.
1. You purchased something and you are obligated to pay for it.
2. You need to protect yourself so you don't get hit with interest, either from the bank or the store.

You have called the bank and the store but, verbal communication does not handle item two.
I would suggest a letter to both the bank and the store saying you want to pay as per your agreement - to the bank, but it was not billed so you can not pay.

If the card is a credit card; you could pay the $700 as per the agreement and also use the card and pay the monthly balance (700 less new purchases) - you will be paying the 700 but using the 700 credit for new purchases - then when the 700 is billed, you pay it. You've covered all the basis - from an ethical stand point.
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Old 02-25-2009, 05:51 PM   #15
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Given the follow up letter from the credit card company and given your attempts to contact the store, I would forget about it. It could be that your account will be sold but it sounds more like it fell through the cracks. They would have a hard time collecting interest as you never were billed.

Not legal advice, just thoughts.
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:51 PM   #16
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Given the follow up letter from the credit card company and given your attempts to contact the store, I would forget about it. It could be that your account will be sold but it sounds more like it fell through the cracks. They would have a hard time collecting interest as you never were billed.

Not legal advice, just thoughts.
Martha, I like your thoughts, and I agree that they would have a hard time collecting interest on a bill I never received. I will call again when my 12 month deadline approaches and send a certified letter as suggested earlier.

My ethics dilema now is can I hit my wife up for another gift since the last one cost her nothing?
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Old 02-25-2009, 06:55 PM   #17
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My ethics dilema now is can I hit my wife up for another gift since the last one cost her nothing?
Sounds more like a health and personal safety dilemma to me.
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:02 PM   #18
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Dex, Did I mention the store(s) no longer exists? No forwarding address is posted. Perhaps the Post Office has a forwarding address. I never thought about that. A certified letter saying, "please contact me concerning an uninvoiced purchase," including my address, and phone number.
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:15 PM   #19
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Sounds more like a health and personal safety dilemma to me.
Should it be moved to the Health and Early Retirement Forum?
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:17 PM   #20
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Dex, Did I mention the store(s) no longer exists? No forwarding address is posted. Perhaps the Post Office has a forwarding address. I never thought about that. A certified letter saying, "please contact me concerning an uninvoiced purchase," including my address, and phone number.
Don't bother.
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