Ethics Alarms is blessed with an unusually wise, articulate, philosophically diverse and often cantankerous readership. One of the luxuries this affords me as that I do not have to raise every single relevant issue in an ethics commentary, because I can be reasonable certain that a commenter will raise it, often with a perspective that I had not considered. Among benefits, this keeps my posts from being even longer than they already are. An example of this phenomenon is this comment from Mike Martin, on yesterday’s post regarding the family that bullied US Air into refunding non-refundable tickets because the mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. My first draft of the post had discussed the important issue Mike raises, but I decided to stick to the main topic, the conduct of the Compassion Bullies.
Here is his Comment of the Day, on “The Compassion Bullies Strike Again”:
“The question now is: how does US Air like its position on the proverbial slippery slope?
“The debate of whether or not the original enforcement of the non-refundable agreement was a good business decision, ethical considerations aside, will rage on no doubt, but what kind of Pandora’s Box has been opened? Stage 4 breast cancer is certainly a serious situation and probably grounds for aborting a vacation trip, but where is the line now? Should the refund on the non-refundable ticket be granted for stage 2? Carpel tunnel flare-up? Plantar warts? No matter where the line is drawn today, tomorrow will give us someone with their own version of a “serious” medical reason not previously addressed for which they feel entitled to relief from their contract. One can only imagine what “social emergencies” will be presented as a basis for waiving the contract.”
“There had to be a business advantage to offering a discounted, non-refundable ticket. If the non-refund aspect becomes moot so, most likely, will the discount. In the long run the flying public will be paying full fare.”