Unexpected check – but it wasn't mine to keep
One of the various ways I earn income here on Gather Little by Little is through affiliate offers*. I made the decision early on before I even monetized this blog to only recommend products I use. If I don’t use or like them, you won’t see them recommended here through affiliate offers (i.e. reviews and articles).
One software package that I really like and recommend here on Gather Little by Little is You Need A Budget. YNAB not only helps me personally manage my budget, but is also one of my top performing affiliate programs.
An extra check
Last week, I received an affiliate payment check in the mail from the great folks over at You Need A Budget. Whoo-hoo! more income for me right? Opening the check and adding it into my “to be deposited” bin, I had a feeling I had already deposited a check from them this month.
Fortunately, at the beginning of this year I began tracking my blog accounting at a very detailed level. I opened up my blog accounting software and looked at my YNAB income account. Sure enough, earlier in the month I had received a payment, but for a higher amount. Looking back in the history, I noted that I had received a payment in the same amount as the check I just received. Looks like someone made a mistake.
At this point, I had two options: 1) Deposit the check and move on, knowing that the good folks at You Need A Budget would probably never even notice or 2) Contact them and make them aware of the problem.
In reality, for me there was only one option, #2. If someone made a mistake, regardless of whether I have the money in my hand, it’s not my money and I didn’t earn it. Taking that money and depositing it into my account without earning it to me is the same as stealing, especially considering I was pretty confident it was an error.
What would you have done? Would you have seen this scenario the same way?
Contacted You Need A Budget
I sent a note to the You Need a Budget support team that read (financial data changed):
I received a check in the mail today for an affiliate payment in the amount of $xx.xx. The check is dated 3/2/2009 and numbered 1234.
I am not always the best bookkeeper, but pretty confident I deposited a check I received from you last week in the amount of $xx.xx which was the affiliate payment I expected to receive.
I am unclear on what the most recent check is for. Certainly not complaining, but didn’t want benefit at your expense.
Owner, Gather Little by Little
Later that day, I received the following reply from Jesse, the owner of You Need A Budget:
I appreciate your honesty. It looks like we doubled up on your payment! If you could please destroy that second check, I’d appreciate it. I’ll void it out in our system.
Thank you so much!
On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 6:59 PM, YNAB Support wrote:
You have to love honesty though. :)
Note, the reply actually contains two emails. One is from the support rep to Jesse and the one at the top from Jesse to me. Two key things stand out for me: “You have to love honesty” and “I appreciate your honesty.”
There are a few things my parents instilled in me at a very young age, and the key one being honesty and integrity. This world and particularly people in it can take away many many things from you, but they can’t take away your integrity.
Interesting enough, Clever Dude had a similar “ethical quandry” last week at the Washington DC metro station. Head over and read about the decision he made. I’m sure you’ve been faced with similar scenarios, I know I have: Being undercharged at restaurants, noticing that a cashier didn’t missed an item when scanning, and even contractors billing me for less money than we had agreed to initially.
1 Timothy 1:19 – “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.”
Note sure about you, but I have enough troubles in my life without having my faith shipwrecked.
What would you have done? Ever violate your conscience? What kinds of things would have gone through your mind when this occurred? Have a similar story? Share yours by adding a comment!
* Affiliate offers are purchase services or products that you can buy or subscribe to. When you click through those affiliate links on Gather Little by Little, the merchant or service providers shares a percentage of the sale with me.