American society is preoccupied with rights. Judaism is preoccupied with obligations.
On his radio show yesterday, Dennis Prager talked about consumer obligations. He mentioned a woman who went into Sammy’s Camera and took 30 minutes of a salesman’s time selecting a camera. Then she asked him, “Do you know where on the internet I can get this cheapest?”
“We all want to save money. Does feeling good about yourself on a moral basis, is that worth $20? Does leaving the store saying I did the right thing, I helped keep a local store in business, does that count for anything?”
And a few of you consumers — we won’t name names — may be committing outright fraud.
Let’s start with airlines, one of the most regularly complained-about sectors of the service economy, according to the Haggler’s highly unscientific findings. John Lampl, a spokesman for British Airways, gave an overview of the kind of shenanigans that fliers routinely try. When all of those European flights were grounded by that volcano in April, for instance, the airline offered to give every passenger $125 a person, per night, to cover hotel costs.
“So we had a lot of people who apparently just stayed with friends and then wrote out receipts, ‘Three nights at the Waldorf-Astoria: $2,000,’ ” he says. (For the record, the airline stuck to its limit.)
The airline also sees a wide assortment of luggage-related scams; it seems that an uncannily high percentage of people whose bags are lost claim that their bags were filled with furs, computers, and maybe lots of couture clothing.