December 19, 2004 2:54 AM Subscribe
Ethics question: obligated to pay up or not? More Inside.
posted by crack to human relations (45 answers total)
Suppose you decided to use a "mom and pop" run classifieds website to post a classified ad. You post the ad via a form and it is displayed on the site immediately. The fee is $30.00 (it's a thirty day ad) and is supposed to be sent via snail mail. Before posting your ad, you read the following conditions:
1) Please do not post ad if you do not intend to send payment. This is a pay for service business
2) Don't post if you're unsure about having the information online
3) Once ad is posted, there will be no refunds.
4) If the payment is not received within thirty-six hours, the ad will be removed.
You go ahead and post your ad. A day later, you find a buyer for what you were trying to sell via your online listing. You decide not to send payment since the item has been sold. You expect your ad will be removed within a couple of days and think no further about it.
Eight months later you get an email from the owner/webmaster requesting $30 payment for the listing.
You write back and tell him you ended up not needing the ad, and that you expected it would simply be removed as per #4 above. He responds with an apology about the delayed notification saying he somehow overlooked your ad and that it was not taken off. Only now, eight months later did he discover that payment was never received. He contends however, that statements 1 to 3 clearly obligate you to make payment (Aside: he removed statement 4 several months ago as he found that other folks were posting ads and not paying for them). He notes that he can't force you to pay, but hopes you will fulfill your moral obligation.
Are you morally obligated to pay?