An Ethical Dilemma???

So I'm on a bit of a "walk-about" yesterday in the great state of Illinois, visiting some clients.  I stopped off at a Starbucks for my morning fix (decaf…you don't want to see me on caffeine).  As I'm standing in line, I hear the cashier say to the next customer…as he's attempting to pay for his Hazelnut Kona…and I quote, "It's OK, it was my mistake" as she waves her hand at his attempt to pay.  He immediately puts his $3 on the counter with a "no…that's alright" response.

So far…no big deal.  Probably happens every day in a gadzillion ways.

I then watched the clerk, a twenty-something with some obvious intelligence, pick up the $3.  Where did it go?  Not in the cash register.  Nope…it went directly into the tip jar on the counter. 

Now remember what she said…"it was my mistake."   She didn't say it was Starbuck's mistake.   

This young woman made the mistake and Starbucks is out $3 in revenue while she and her fellow employees gain $3.  Oh, and Starbucks paid for the coffee to boot.

Seems like a small thing, doesn't it?  But, my math mind is kicking in here.  There are 15,000 Starbucks locations.  If this happens just once a day in every location, that's $45,000 a day; That's a $16 million a year scam…right off the bottom line!  Just for Starbucks.  And what of the million other over-the-counter retail locations that allow their employees to accept tips.  The potential loss isn't chump change.  No wonder Starbuck's stock is in the cellar. 

Being a former restaurant owner,I know this kind of stuff goes on all day long.  And I was once the victim of a $100k embezzlement that took place right under my nose; by someone whom I trusted implicitly.  And I see and hear of theft almost daily from my clients.  So I'm no babe in the woods.  But, alas, sometimes I am an idealist.

As I drove away, I wondered where we've gone wrong as a society.  What have we taught our kids?  What is the cost to all of us, both ethically and monetarily, when these kinds of seemingly small thefts take place? 

Is it happening to you?

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