Last month, I published Frugality And Ethics – When Is It Stealing? The post was very popular and everyone had an opinion on what was stealing and what was not. Also, many of you gave me new ideas, and I wanted to hear everyone's input on the situations below. So, I, of course, wanted to publish a Part 2 to the post!
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with saving money (this is a personal finance blog after all), but I do wonder how far people will go to save money – whether it be $1 or $2 or a few hundred dollars.
No one is perfect, and I definitely am not. However, when does frugality or cheapness cross the line and turn into stealing?
Using another person's wi-fi.
This is something that probably a lot of people are guilty of, or have been guilty of in the past. This is where you use someone else's wi-fi so that you can get on the internet for free.
Some of you said that if there is no password to the internet account, that it's free range for anyone to use.
However, I think that you should always pay for your own wi-fi. You might be slowing down the internet for someone else, and they might not even realize that their wi-fi isn't password protected.
Always protect your wi-fi account! – I also remember discussing a case when I was in college about someone who had unprotected wi-fi and it turned out that their neighbor was searching something illegal. The SWAT team showed up at their door, created a huge scene, took the computers, and destroyed the person's house all because the neighbor was searching something illegal.
Sharing accounts with others.
This is where someone has an account and multiple people/households share that one account so that only one person is actually paying for the service or product. I have heard of many people doing this with Netflix…
Netflix and other companies have specifically stated that it's stealing, so yes, I believe it is stealing.
Drinks at a restaurant.
There are three different situations that I would like to share with this one…
1. Paying for one drink and sharing it between two people. The first person might order a soda and the second person orders a water. However, the second person never actually touches the water and only drinks the soda. – I think this is stealing.
2. Asking for a water cup but filling it up with something besides water (such as a soda). – I think this is stealing.
3. Asking for water, a bowl of lemons (I'm talking 4 or 5 whole lemons), and sugar so that you can make your own lemonade. – I think this is being cheap/frugal. I wouldn't do this though… I know waiters and waitresses hate it when customers do this.
Signing up for something to get something for free.
There are a couple of situations that this applies to. This is when you sign up for something knowing that you won't buy anything, so that you can get a product or service for free for trying something out. Since Wes used to work in sales, I wouldn't do either of the situations below just because I don't like to waste people's time…
My first example applies to timeshares. Many people listen to timeshare presentations even though they know they will not buy a timeshare, so that they can get whatever it is for free that the timeshare workers are pitching (free movie tickets, free vacation, etc.).
My second example applies to getting professional makeup done. Usually makeup counters/companies at the mall and/or department store will offer free makeup applications as long as you buy something for from them. Some require that you pay upfront, whereas others give you the “option” to pay at the end. I have heard of some people getting a free makeup application knowing full well that they do not plan on buying any makeup afterwards.
This is where you go to a restaurant and take a bunch of condiment packs so that you can bring it home and put it in your fridge.
I have received extra packs before (such as from a takeout order), but I have never gone out of my way to take condiments.
Disputing items on your credit card.
In many cases, you can dispute a transaction on your credit card bill that is less than $25 and your credit card company will just automatically refund you because it's not worth their time to investigate the problem.
I have heard of people who dispute many transactions each year and take advantage of this…
I don't do this. I believe it is stealing. I have only ever disputed one item on my credit card bill before, and that was because a restaurant accidentally charged me twice for the same meal.
Have you ever done any of the above? What do you think of these situations?
What other examples can you think of?
Photo via Flickr by Britta Frahm