Also posted on my home blog: Finkorswim.com
Unless you live under a rock, you know that El Al made a big mistake and allowed people to buy round trip tickets to Tel Aviv from New York for under $400. This was not a promotion or a sale. It was a mistake.
When the mistake was corrected the fares disappeared.
El Al is honoring the tickets.
If you scored some of these tickets what is the proper thing to do?
In Moment Magazine, the Ethicist Emeritus, Randy Cohen, weighs in and says:
El Al should offer to honor all those tickets, and the customers should decline the offer.
El Al, like other companies, has a duty to honor the advertised price. If it is a third party mistake, then El Al should seek compensation from that third party that actually made the error...
However, even if El Al offers to make good on the tickets, we are not supposed to exploit someone.I agree.
It may be a very bitter pill to swallow if you "lucked out" but your luck actually is causing someone else's loss. While it is true that the loss is self inflicted by their mistake, that does not give one the right to take advantage of someone else. (Corporations are people too?)
I am fond of repeating what my rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Tendler said about decided whether a business deal was ethical or not. He said the deciding factor should be the answer to the question "would I do this deal to my brother?" If the answer is no, you shouldn't do the deal with someone else.
If my brother accidentally advertised a product worth $1000 for $400 I would alert him to his error. I wouldn't exploit his error.
Now this may be a lofty, unrealistic ideal. I admit as much. But I am only writing what I believe is the "right thing to do" not the "easy or acceptable thing to do". Also, we are talking about a trip to the Holy Land here. Wouldn't you want to visit Israel with a clear and clean conscience? I would.
I don't believe in "finders keepers". I believe in doing the right thing. I think the right thing to do here is for El Al to honor the tickets. It was their mistake. But people who got the tickets should ask El Al for their money back. If El Al is feeling generous, it might the nice if they would offer some incentive for not using the tickets, like elite status or free upgrades, or something like that.
Think about the Kiddush Hashem that would be created if we all agreed not to use the tickets. That has to be worth at least as much as a trip to Israel.
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