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Receipt Deceit
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Q. Some businesses in my area are run on a “cash only” basis. Can I patronize these businesses, or is this encouraging tax evasion?  A. There are three possible answers to your question: Answer one: It’s fine — paying taxes is the proprietor’s responsibility, not yours. Answer two: You can patronize these businesses, but you […]
Pauper Presents
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Q. Clients at our social services agency often show their gratitude by giving presents to the social workers. It is alright to accept? A. I’m happy to hear that your agency is doing such wonderful work, and that the clients are satisfied and grateful for your efforts. But we should make sure that they express […]
Borrow Sorrow
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Q. I have a lot of debt, and my income is not really enough to make the monthly payments. I am trying to cut expenses and live more modestly. Do I need to take more drastic steps to satisfy my creditors? AW A. Right now a lot of people are finding themselves without the sources […]
Lax Lawyer
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Q. We recently hired an established lawyer to help us close on a house. Due to the pressures of other jobs, her work was so substandard that we were worried we might not make the deadline set by the sellers. We had to find a new lawyer in the middle of the process, which cost […]
Unwarranted Warranty
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Q. Markups on home appliances are not so high lately, so our employer is encouraging the salesmen to make up some of the slack by pushing “extended service warranties.” The problem is that these warranties are very expensive and most customers don’t really need them. A. The fact that something is very expensive and may […]
Cheating the Cheater
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Q. I agreed to a $500 estimate to have my apartment painted. When the job was done, the painter made a fuss about giving a receipt, claiming he gave me a “cash-only” estimate. I discovered that other house painters in my area also work on a “cash-only” basis. Should I agree to a compromise?  A. […]
Is Business Ethical
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Q. Is business really ethical at all? It seems to me that the Biblical ideal is “each man under his vine and under his fig tree” (I Kings 5:5) — each person engaging in productive activity. A. It’s true that the blessings of the Torah are usually directed to the individual farmer or herder, not […]
Offsetting Loss Through False Claims
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Q. I’m buying a house, and the seller has taken unfair advantage of me in many ways that I could never prove. The one case in which he did actually breach the contract by using an unapproved contractor did not actually cause me any loss. Is it ethical to claim that this breach resulted in […]
Fast Service
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Q. Because of my expertise as a technician, I’m often able to do complex repairs in a few minutes. But when I return the item so quickly my customer thinks he’s been cheated! Is it ethical to drag out the repairs if that makes the customer feel he is getting better service? Either way the […]
Edit Credit
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Q. A magazine recently asked me to write an article on a freelance basis. When the issue came out, I was surprised to see that my name was not mentioned, and my article appeared as a “generic” one. What should I do?  A. Giving proper credit is an important ethical principle in Jewish tradition. When […]