Money and Morality – How Much is Yours Worth?
I wanted to tell a little story today and give you an insight into the world of e-commerce. Now you are probably wondering what the title has to do with e-commerce, but I will bring it all together. As some of you know, I ran my own online electronics company for about 4 years. I learned most of it by doing and just having drive to succeed. I stopped doing it for personal reasons, not because it wasn’t profitable, but that is a different story for a different day.
My Moral Compass
When I started my company, I did so because I wanted to provide a service to my little college town. We could only rely on Walmart for electronics and I wasn’t OK with that. I was also a business major and had been bitten the the entrepreneur bug. My main goal was to provide a service, not to make money. The thought of making money came as I moved quickly into the reins of owning a business.
You are probably aware that there are some businesses out there that don’t treat customers right, charge people outrageous prices, and do whatever they can in order to make a profit. This was not me. I didn’t want to be that person or business. I made it my mission to treat customers correctly, charge the prices that were on par with the top electronics stores, and profits were not my main motivation. I made sure my moral compass was pointed in the right direction. After many years stepped away from the business, I still feel that I did the best I could in order to service my customers.
The Power is in my hands
Since I had an online store, I had to accept credit cards. This is the life blood of any online business. There are many different ways to handle the collection and security of credit cards. I made a decision to do the best I could in order to secure my credit cards. In all the years of my business, I never had a security breach, but there were many attempts. Hackers will try anything to steal credit card numbers. I never realized how much power I had with regards to personal security. I made it my mission to protect every customer that made a purchase on my store. The power was in my hands and I didn’t take that lightly.
Money versus Morality
There was one day about 3 years in that I received a live chat request. With my software, I could see exactly where a customer was located and what page they were requesting the chat from along with many other tidbits. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this customer, so I approached it as a normal customer service chat.
I was dead wrong!
This customer started chatting with my and then asked me a question that I would never forget:
How much will you charge me for all of your credit card records?
Wait…What? Yes, you are seeing this correctly. This “customer” was asking to buy my credit card records. My instant reply was “They are not for sale.” That response didn’t stop him from providing more feedback about the situation. He then offered me at least $200,000 for full access to all of the credit card numbers, security codes, and address. I was astonished. I was blown away. I didn’t even know what to say.
Well, actually, it was simple for me. I replied with a big, fat, NO! I told this person that what he was asking me was illegal, but of course he already knew that. He was attempted to make his life easier by just coming out and asking me for the credit card numbers. He then told me that if I don’t provide them, then he will just hack my site and get them. I said, please go ahead and try. I noticed his attempt and shut it down quicker than he could finish his key stroke. This isn’t my first rodeo guy!
This proposition got me thinking….
As I stated, I created my business to help out customers and provide a great service. I was not in it to make millions of dollars. I made sure to keep my moral compass pointing in the right direction at all times. Having said this, this proposition got me thinking that what about other people. What about other small retailers that are struggling to survive or keep food on their table? What would they do if someone came to them and offered them $20o,000 for some people’s credit card numbers? Would they make the moral decision? I just don’t know.
So, I am reaching out to you, my readers, to see what you think about this situation. Just so you know, this was the first time I got this question, but it wasn’t the last. I probably got asked about 10 times before I finally shut down the business. Well, would you keep to your morals if you were propositioned in this way? How much is your morals worth to you? Can money affect your decision?
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