Thinking Out Loud

November 17, 2012

Is There Such a Thing as Auto Repair Ethics?

I’m probably the only person in North America who, during this summer’s intense warm weather in the middle of July, noticed that his car heater wasn’t working.

On a cool fall day, when the mechanic informed me the problem was simply a stuck “door” that sends the heat through to the fan and that it would involve “about half an hour,” I was pleased to avoid a major bill. But the owner of the business, who writes the invoices, didn’t see it that way.

The job is rated in the “blue book” as taking nine hours. Yes, nine hours. They are supposed to remove the dashboard, flush the system, baste regularly, adjust the mainspring and rustproof the cat. So he reasoned that by only charging me for four-and-a-half hours, he was doing me a major favor.

Problem is, the car wasn’t being serviced for four-and-a-half hours. Assuming the mechanic misjudged when he guessed 30 minutes, I’m guessing 60-90 minutes, tops. I know they spent a few hours waiting for a part, and I know when the car was ready.

Well, actually, that’s not the problem at all. The problem is that the mechanic is my “Christian” mechanic. I say that reminded that “Christian” should never be an adjective, however… This is the guy I recommend to all my fellow-believer friends, plus a few people from the community at large. “You can trust _________,” I will say; “he goes to ___________ Church.”

Right now, I believe that no longer applies.

And yes, I did complain vigorously at the time I picked up the car, but of course _________ was officially on holidays; he had taken a break from his vacation just long enough to come in and write up my costs, overriding his mechanic’s probably more accurate assessment of the time involved. Ultimately, I probably will not return.

…I waited a month to write this. I also used this to re-examine some of the pricing policies we use in our own business, where we sometimes wrestle with similar, but different ethical quagmires. In the end, I am only responsible for me, and I have to remember to try to deal with instances where I sense Holy Spirit conviction, and try to live my own life by the highest ethical standard.

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June 28, 2010

Ethics: When to Make Something Issue and When Not To

I am a complainer by nature.   I’m the guy who makes the phone call, writes the letter to the editor, or is vocal about the thing that’s “not right.”

In the area where I live, the minimum wage increased on March 31st.  As a business owner, it didn’t hit us hard, since our employees receive regular increases every 12 weeks, plus merit increases for outstanding work.   They were already ahead of the minimum — some just barely — but we were covered.   It just rendered the increases they had earned a little less meaningful; especially when future staff will arrive on the scene starting at the new higher pay levels.

However, where my youngest son works, I guess his boss didn’t get the memo.   He’s still working at the old rate.  Because it’s my son, every instinct inside of me says to mention it.   Nobody wants to see their child ripped-off.

But I know this woman; I know how much their business is struggling; I consider her a friend.   I’m grateful that she hired my son at all.  The little feedback I get is that he is doing good work, so I don’t think it’s that.

I’m just trying to practice grace on a level that is quite uncommon to me.

She hires a number of other students, and I keep hoping that one of the others will (a) notice, and (b) decide to keep her better informed.  But now it’s been three months.

What would you do?

June 23, 2010

Wednesday Link Link

Got a blog post that deserves more attention?   Use the contact page to submit the item you want the world to read.   We promise you at least three or four extra readers!!!

  • Blogger Dennis Muse notes the upcoming 50th Anniversary of Youth With a Mission, aka YWAM.  (Canada’s Brian Stiller once called YWAM, “The Evangelical Community’s best kept secret.”)
  • Cornerstone Television’s home page notes the loss of Ron Hembree.   Although I can’t get their signal, I paid tribute to their quality programming in this blog in March of 2008.
  • USAToday Religion notes the number of pastors in bi-vocational ministry adding fresh meaning to the phrase, “Keep your day job.”
  • A Christian bookstore in Helsinki holds an event where you can trade porn for Bibles.  (And the concept isn’t copyrighted!  You can do this, too.)
  • Justin Taylor gives me a chance to be introduced to the music of Trip Lee; I can enjoy hip-hop more when I can read the lyrics such as on Justin’s blog post and audio of this song, “The Invasion (Hero)“.
  • Jason Boyett reposts a proposal that the thing that’s really missing from your local Christian bookstore is Christian cosmetics.
  • The family that owns the chain of Hobby Lobby stores, according to the New York Times, wants to build a major Bible museum possibly in Dallas.
  • Encouraging Youth Dept.:  The blogger otherwise known as No Bull Noble, offers three apologetics videos on YouTube.
  • Tim Challies runs some analysis on the four available answer options to, “Why Does The Universe Look So Old?”
  • Part two of Matthew Warner’s “10 Types of Blog Comments” is about how to respond.  So once again, here’s part one, and here’s part two.  Which type of blog reader are you?
  • A 5-page CT special report looks at mission in light of technology, with an interview with Al Erisman.
  • Bonus link to Ethix: Business|Technology|Ethics – the online magazine (now in its 70th issue) which Erisman co-founded and edits.
  • New Blog of the Week:  As you know I admire transparency, and here is a blog proudly authored by someone dealing with clinical depression.  Check out ThePrayGround.
  • You’ll have to bookmark this one and return on Friday (25th) but this week’s Drew Marshall Show (19th) was quite a mix with folksinger Dan Hill, Fred Phelps estranged son Nate Phelps (discussed on this blog here and mentioned here) and Hoops for Hope’s teenage founder Austin Gutwein (discussed at my industry blog a few weeks ago.)  So once again you want this link starting mid-day Friday.  (Some people in other parts of the world get up at something like 3 AM Sunday to catch the live stream of the show at 1 PM EST Saturday in North America.)
  • How does a person convicted on child pornography charges, and not permitted to be anywhere there are children, exercise their right to go to church?  Apparently with some help from an unlikely source: the state’s Civil Liberties Union.
  • Macleans Magazine (Canada’s equivalent to Newsweek or Time) interviews Dr. Leonard Sax on the “empty world of teenage girls.”
  • Our cartoonist this week is fellow-Alltop-member Mark Anderson at andertoons.com.  He does a number of family-oriented items; here’s one that hopefully doesn’t take you too long…
  • Okay, Mark’s too good for just a single panel.   Here’s another one I really liked:

June 4, 2009

Economics Without Consequences

Truth or ConsequencesA couple of days ago I wrote about General Motors and suggested that if the government is stepping in to take over the operations of GM to save it from bankruptcy, surely it sets a precedent for other iconic companies. A comment posted wondered why the U.S. government didn’t do what it did with Bell, where it broke the company up into several Baby Bells. I also mentioned WalMart in passing.

What if something did happen to WalMart? Would the government simply let it die? Not if GM is any indication. But what if GM, and WalMart, and Mircosoft, and Coca Cola, and Major League Baseball, and Starbucks, and MacDonalds; what if they all were teetering on the edge and the government was having to step in to save them all? And what do you call it when the government owns a sizable portion of the industry taking place? Not capitalism, that’s for sure.

The problem is — as I stated already — we want to live in a world without consequences. The next generation to take over the world of business and commerce had its earliest interaction with the world of consequences around the topic of sex. Don’t want disease or pregnancy? Just use a condom. Already pregnant? Just have an abortion. In debt over your head? Declare bankruptcy. Don’t like your spouse? Get a divorce. Don’t like your job? Just quit, you can always go on welfare. Did something less than honest? Just get a good lawyer.

A world without consequences. But what if everything we ever did could come back to haunt us? Apparently this isn’t a new thought for me. Here’s what I posted on this blog exactly one year ago.

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The part of the world where I live has finally got around to banning the use of cosmetic pesticides and herbicides on commercial and residential lawns. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take effect until the current season of chemicalization ends. Anyway, you’d think that as an environmentalist I would be thrilled, but I’m not for two reasons.

First, there’s the phone call I got tonight from a telemarketer telling me what a terrible thing the government did, and hoping that I will join the people who are getting as much chemical spraying done in this, the final season.

Second, and more important, I think it could take twenty years before the true impact is known. This stuff is not filtered out in our drinking water (as it’s fully dissolved) and there are obviously going to be some — hopefully not many — long-term effects that are going to show up in today’s children; aside from the short-term effects (such as environmentally triggered asthma) that we’re already seeing.

Even if you never sprayed your own lawn, if you ever hung your sheets outside to dry, some experts say you possibly absorbed the same amount of toxic chemicals through your skin as you slept as though you had sprayed your own lawn.

What I’m wondering is, if twenty years down the road, the people who perpetrated these crimes against our air and water might be tried for their actions in a manner that some were tried for war crimes years after the war. I mean, who’s to say that as the “green” agenda moves forward, the things that were done in the last fifty years by the weed spray companies and their allies are not regarded as truly criminal? And would such an action be limited to those who actually applied the products, or could the aforementioned telemarketers be found as complicit in their actions?

I hope it doesn’t come to that. But if it does, I hope the guilty are appropriately punished. Because they did not act in ignorance… they knew the truth all along.

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Well, that was a year ago.   Consequences.   They’ll catch up to ya.   What did Jesus say about sowing and reaping?

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