Comment of The Day…And An Ethics Quiz, Too! : “Ethics Quiz: The United Airlines Give-Away”

"Oh, this piece of junk? Yeah, who knows who its supposed to be---some guy named Veal or Beale or something painted it, I think. It's been in the attic. Make me an offer!"

“Oh, this piece of junk? Yeah, who knows who it’s supposed to be—some guy named Veal or Beale or something painted it, I think. It’s been in the attic. Make me an offer!”

The Ethics Quiz regarding whether or not it was unethical to take full advantage of United Airlines’  accidental fire sale on tickets spawned several good hypotheticals, including this one, from Tyrone T., an occasional Ethics Alarms commenter who, I happen to know, thinks about these matters as his occupation. I know the answer to this one (I’ve seen it before), so I’ll hold off until you’ve thought about it a while.

Here is Tyrone T.’s Comment of the Day on the post “Ethics Quiz: The United Airlines Give-Away”:

“So, if you are hired by your client to find the cheapest fare, can you act ethically and refuse to take advantage of the error? Consider the following:

“Alexander Mundy is a lawyer and an acknowledged expert in American painting. He has several clients who regularly retain him to negotiate the purchase of museum quality art. Recently, a client hired Mundy to negotiate the purchase of a portrait of George Washington as a young man.

“The client explained, ‘I saw it on a house tour five years ago and tried to buy it then, but the woman who owned it said it was a family heirloom and wasn’t interested in selling. I heard that she died recently and her husband is having an Estate Sale. You have authority to purchase the painting for up to $500,000.’

“Mundy goes to visit the old widower and asks whether he would be willing to sell ‘that picture of the young man there.’ Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The United Airlines Give-Away

"Hey everybody! Free fights!!!"

“Hey everybody! Free fights!!!”

Via Forbes:

“For fifteen tense minutes on Thursday afternoon, United Airlines’ fare booking engine was operating at full steam. Someone, likely a Flyertalk user, noticed that fares between Washington DC and Minneapolis were pricing at $10 and posted his finding onto the forum. Attention grew rapidly, with over 100 replies in just an hour, and the news spread to Twitter. The glitch in the system appeared to offer $0 fares plus $5 in tax for many domestic flights, and was apparently caused by human error. Some forum readers reported finding $10 flights between Washington DC and Hawaii, while others scooped up over a dozen tickets to destinations all over the country.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Week,

(as if you couldn’t guess), is:

Was it ethical for people to take advantage of this computer glitch and purchase tickets at an impossible discount?

I bet you also know what my answer is. Continue reading