Integrity or Stupidity?

I met a friend a while back. He was coming back after getting his watch repaired. Here’s the conversation we had:

Friend: the businessman was stupid?
Me: why?
Friend: when i went to the shop this guy said he would charge me 250 for the repair. Today he told me that it actually cost him 550 rupees but since he had committed 250, hence he would charge me only that much.
Me: (interrupting him) Wow!
Friend: wow? How stupid!!!

We didn’t pursue the conversation any further. While I was thinking, what great integrity, my friend must have been thinking what a stupid businessman. I think both of us are thinking right. Lets see how.

Stupid businessman: Ideally he should have said something like, “I am sorry, I underestimated the issue and the part that had to replaced was way expensive than what I had thought. It actually cost me 550 bucks so it would be nice if you could pay me the same.” My friend would have argued a little and maybe after some fuss he would have given 550 or maybe negotiated for 500 lets say. The business of a business is to do business. Which means he should not suffer a loss knowingly and should make every possible attempt to assure profitability for his business. Perfect business sense. But since he did not do so, hence a stupid businessman.

My opinion: By telling the truth and still not asking for the extra (actual) money, the businessman showed his integrity. For him his integrity mattered much more than 300 bucks! If I was there instead of my friend, I would have insisted and paid him the entire amount, not sure whether he would have accepted it. More importantly, I would have shared the incident with other friends and would have recommended in case they were looking for watch repair shops (in the same vicinity). Actually, I have still shared the story and would still recommend πŸ™‚ Eventually, it *might* get him more customers. However, I feel that’s not important. What’s important here is the self respect for the business owner. He would have had a good sleep that night, which, in my perspective, is far more important than anything else.

Like The Bhagwad Gita says, there are no right or wrong answers, there are only perspectives.

What’s your take? What would you have done?

7 thoughts on “Integrity or Stupidity? Add Yours?

  • Good post and a very valid question. Age old question of how to run the business with integrity. If I was the customer, I would have surely paid the 550 and made sure, someone did not make a loss cause of me. If I was the businessman, I would have mentioned the fact and left it to the customer on what he wants. Either way, I would not have lost anything.

  • Let me tell you a similar story. I bought my RE from Noida dealer, so I always went there to get service for my bike. One fine day, my battery started giving some trouble and also one of the front shocker was leaking. I went there and he gave me the worst news; battery had gone and also shocker needs repairing. Lump sum cost was 2500. I was saddened for obvious reasons. When in the evening I went to pick my bike, he surprised me with the good news that only battery connections were loosened and there was some water inside the shocker, it wasn’t leaking. I was happy again for obvious reasons but what touched me the most was that the service station refused to take a single rupee for all the trouble they had. I shifted to Gurgaon after some days but I still go to Noida for bike service. Just because a bunch of nice people there. πŸ™‚

    • Ok. So here is one more perspective which i could see, which might completely hit the integrity part. He might be trying to convince the customer that the work he had done is very good and fake the integrity thing to make the customer feel good. Emphasising on, the cost, where he mentioned that work costed him 550 instead of 250, and still charging the same, put a doubt in my mind about the quality of repair. If I run a business, i might not take extra out of someones pocket but would for sure take the cost which i invested. (Who run a show for a loss). Integrity is when you don’t cheat a customer,provide a valid slip and the spare parts used and their cost and inform the customer.

      Though this too is just a perspective, there is nothing right and wrong. Different individual, different brain! πŸ™‚

  • I would doubt the integrity in his nature if he actually decreased the price just to maintain the integrity of his words.

    • The only authentic thing you can give someone is your word. Not money. Not time. Not favours. Not objects. Your word is all that matters. And if you stay true to it, you have integrity.

      It doesn’t matter if you were cheating the customer and told him to give Rs. 250 when your actual cost was only Rs. 50. What matters is the customer can trust you to deliver and charge whatever has been promised and agreed upon.

  • What the businessman did is a very Japanese thing to do…even a taxi wallah in Japan once took less than ‘meter fare’ because he said he had by mistake taken a longer route!

    Business can’t be just about earning money. You spend 8-12 hrs a day on it. How do you want to live that part of your life??

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