In Massachusetts, David Leavitt found that Target had mislabelled an electric toothbrush as costing $0.01 rather than $100. When he eagerly rushed to take advantage of the obvious error, a Target checkout employee refused to sell the item at that price, and the store manager backed up the employee.
This set Mr. Leavitt, who says he is a journalist (he appears to be a gaming writer), off into a full-scale social media attack on Target. “This [Target] manager Tori is not honoring the price of their items per Massachusetts law,” tweeted Leavitt, including the young manager’s photo. He then indignantly announced that he had called the police on the Target manager, and said he was prepared to take her and the store to court.
This being social media in the United States of America, where everything, even toothbrushes, is political and a provocation to go to battle, Leavitt’s vendetta was seen as an unjust progressive vilification of business, so conservatives rallied to Tori’s defense. The #TargetTori hashtag was born, and a GoFundMe page raised $28,000 to send her on a well deserved vacation.
- Ethics Alarms has dealt with this issue before. It is unethical to try to take financial advantage of an obvious mistake by anyone, businesses and banks included. Sometimes a court will rule that a business is stuck when it goofs, usually courts do not. For example, people who try to hold on to money mistakenly deposited in their bank accounts, or cash they get when an ATM goes nuts, invariably fail, as they should. They are being greedy, attempting to take money that doesn’t belong to them, and their conduct is ethically indefensible by any standard, including the Golden Rule.
This situation is no different.
- Leavitt is being an asshole, in technical terms. He knows the price posted was a mistake. A decent, fair, rational citizen would accept that, alert the store that it needs to fix the label, and stop at that. Maybe such a citizen will get some kind a reward from the store (this once happened to me). Instead, this epic jerk goes, in the immortal words of Marsellus Wallace in “Pulp Fiction,” “Medieval on Target’s ass,” and its poor manager too.
His rationalization for his appalling behavior, and this is rich, is that he can’t afford to go to the dentist, so, presumably, he believes this entitles him to steal an electric toothbrush from Target. Or perhaps in a recent rant Bernie Sanders or AOC has announced that an electric toothbrush is a basic human right—-I’m a little behind.
- Leavitt claims that Target and Tori are violating a Massachusetts law that requires stores to sell items at the posted price. There are few things more humiliating than throwing a self-righteous fit based on your own mistake. I don’t know if Leavitt is really a journalist, but he sure isn’t a lawyer.
The law he thinks backs him up doesn’t. It clearly says that an obvious pricing error, one that qualifies as “gross,” and this was a gross error by ant standard, isn’t enforceable. Now I’m almost feeling sorry for David. He’s made a national fool of himself, and will be mercilessly targeted (heh, heh) out of all proportion by the Social Media Furies. He will likely lose his job (if he has one), and become a pariah until the latest hapless miscreant comes along.
That will be almost as unfair as what he is doing to Tori.
- It turns out that Leavitt has enraged social media twice before. In 2016, responding to the hashtag, “CalmMeDownIn3Wods,” Leavitt tweeted “Trump died sleeping.” In 2017, he tweeted a joke about the the May 22 bombing attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, England. The bobs killed19 people and injured more than 50. Leavitt tweeted in the “MULTIPLE CONFIRMED FATALITIES at Manchester Arena. The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too.”
Which brings us back to the second bulletpoint above, doesn’t it?
Pointer: J.R. Marr
Here’s the Twitter link if you want to post the tale above to Facebook without being told that Ethics Alarms violates “Facebook community values”: https://twitter.com/CaptCompliance/status/1219236280682340353