The Decorators Kickback Case Study

The Decorators Kickback Case Study

On a message board, Ms. G. C. from Miami writes, Here’s the problem: an interior decorator’s bid is broken down into two parts- (A) the decorator’s services and (B) the cost of labor and supplies. Most customers think (B) is a fixed cost-they forget it’s not the decorator’s fault if cabinetmakers charge an arm and a leg. So, where do customers look the closest when they’re comparing costs? That’s right, (A)-the decorator’s fee. Well, decorators are creative people and for years they’ve been doing some very creative bidding. They’ve been lowballing (A) and padding (B), expecting the laborers to kick back a percentage of their inflated fees to the decorator. Surprised? Everyone’s doing it. Everyone, that is, except me. It’s deceptive. And as a Christian, I think it’s just plain wrong. The customer’s final cost is about the same either way you cut it, so most decorators don’t feel they’re doing anything wrong. Are they right? Needless to say, “blowing the whistle” on such a widespread and accepted practice would only damage my professional reputation. MS. G. C. from Miami, “The Case of the Casual Kickback,” Urbana.org.

Question to answer

Ethics can be weaponized—that is, used in your personal interest. Show how this could be the case here. Does the fact that she would benefit by getting these kickbacks eliminated somehow make her position less morally respectable? Why or why not?

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