Maybe I Should Compensate The Store Owner…?

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  • #593449

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I went into an ice cream shop today to get a cake. While I was waiting for my cake to be made up, a worker in the store called me over and asked me for help.

    He had a customer on the phone who had a question about certain products and allergies. However, not being a native speaker, he did not understand what the person was telling him. He asked if I would speak to the customer. I agreed and he handed me the phone.

    The woman was trying to purchase some pre-prepared iced cream cones for her daughter’s class. However, one of her classmates has a gluten allergy. I quickly checked the ingredients of the pre-packaged cones and saw that there was flour in the cones. Since most flour contains gluten, I told her that it was probably a bad idea to purchase the cones. I suggested that she purchase something else instead. I gave the phone back to the worker and he hung up shortly thereafter — presumably with no sale made.

    Now, I *know* I did the right thing with regard to the advice. While it is possible that the flour used in the cones was gluten-free, my guess it that that was unlikely. Better to be safe than sorry is usually my motto. So I have no regrets regarding the advice I gave to the potential customer.

    However, I’m curious if I might still owe the store-owner some compensation for the lost sale. After all, even if I did save a life with my advice (doubtful, but let’s say I did for the sake of argument), there is no reason that this had to come at the store-owner’s expense. I know that if I had to, I’d be halachically within my rights to outright steal something from the store to save a life — but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have to pay it back once the danger was over.

    Did I (in effect) “steal” from the store-owner to save a life (and if I didn’t save a life then I *certainly* had no right to convince the woman not to complete the sale)? And if so, do I owe the store-owner compensation for the lost sale?

    (Yeah, I know… ask YLOR. I’m just looking for discussion.)

    The Wolf

    #727099

    aries2756
    Participant

    Wolf, had the worker been able to understand and explain to the woman on the phone he would have given her the same response so I don’t see how you could feel responsible. The woman of course has the option of calling that child’s mother and discussing how to handle the situation and if the mother buys the child a cone she can use, or tells the her that the child can have the ice cream without the cone, the mother can always call the store back and place the order. You have no control over that.

    #727100

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    he would have given her the same response

    Perhaps, perhaps not. But as an employee of the store, he is presumably authorized by the owner to advise customers to purchase or not based on such factors — just as he can, presumably, use the store’s equipment.

    I, on the other hand, had no such authorization. Again, I know I did the right thing — I’m just curious if, even despite doing the right thing, I still owe something to the store owner.

    The Wolf

    #727101

    real-brisker
    Member

    wolf – If somonoe is abot to rob a bank and you stop the thief before he has a chance, do you think you have to reimburse the thief?

    #727102

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I want an ice cream cake.

    #727103

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    wolf – If somonoe is abot to rob a bank and you stop the thief before he has a chance, do you think you have to reimburse the thief?

    Surely you’re not equating potential legitimate profits with potential illegitimate gains?

    The store owner is entitled to try to make a profit on the sale — which I deprived him of. The thief is not entitled to rob the bank.

    The Wolf

    #727104

    dunno
    Member

    Wow! Mi K’amcha Yisrael! Imagine a non-Jew asking such a question!

    #727105

    2qwerty
    Participant

    In such cases the easiest way for you to get to the truth is to discuss it with the owner.

    #727106

    aries2756
    Participant

    The worker gave you the authorization when he asked you to take the call and answer the lady’s questions.

    #727107

    Wolf–

    Not that this exactly pertains to your question, but just so you know, it definitely would not be gluten free unless it says so on the packaging, or unless the bakery specifically caters to GF people. Our family has celiac disease and my wife would be in bed sick for a few days if she was “glutened”. You usually have to go to health food stores to find GF products… or wait for Pesach! 🙂

    Sean Ben Noach

    #727108

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    The worker gave you the authorization

    That assumes the worker had authorization to give authorization. He may have, but he may not have.

    but just so you know, it definitely would not be gluten free unless it says so on the packaging

    That’s what I figured, which is why I answered as I did.

    The Wolf

    #727109

    real-brisker
    Member

    wolf – We try our hardest to be honest in buisness thus; the store owner would not sell somone something on the tzad it would be harmful, same thing by the bank one would not owe the thief because it would not have been the thiefs money.

    #727110

    amichai
    Participant

    you are fine and did the right thing. the store knows it also.

    #727111

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    We try our hardest to be honest in buisness thus; the store owner would not sell somone something on the tzad it would be harmful, same thing by the bank one would not owe the thief because it would not have been the thiefs money.

    I understand that. But just because the store would not have pushed the item doesn’t mean that I might not owe them for a lost sale. The worker has the authorization to advise a customer on a sale. I do not.

    did the right thing

    I have no doubt that I did the right thing. But sometimes you incur expenses even when you do the right thing. *That’s* the basis of my question — not whether I was right or wrong (I’m pretty sure I was right), but whether in doing so, I owe money (much as one who takes damages another’s property while in the course of saving a life, if that’s indeed the halacha).

    The Wolf

    #727112

    eclipse
    Member

    So Wolf is going to have a chelek in Olam Haba,after all.Hurray!:)

    #727113

    chesedname
    Participant

    wolf

    this is a non issue.

    the only thing you should do is buy gift certificates in our screen name. that would be cool, hi I’m WolfishMusings here for my free cone lol

    #727114

    deiyezooger
    Member

    There is a ?????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ?????

    #727115

    RuffRuff
    Member

    You don’t owe anything to the store for advising someone not to buy there. The store does not own the customer, nor would they be allowed to sell something harmful. If they would fool her, the sale would be halachicly void. Actually, you probably gained them a good reputation for being honest. But perhaps you owe the whole class ice cream cones:)

    #727116

    YW Moderator-42
    Moderator

    if anything its a grama so you would not halachicly owe anything though i doubt its even that. if you want to be really machmir you can go back and buy a whole bunch of ice cream cones.

    #727117

    smartcookie
    Member

    Why wouldn’t you discuss this with the owner?

    Anyway, I don’t see any issue here. The lady asked you a question and you answered innocently.

    #727118

    deiyezooger
    Member

    “if you want to be really machmir you can go back and buy a whole bunch of ice cream cones.”

    Can I join the ice cream party?

    #727119

    mosherose
    Member

    What next? A question on how to give maser from salt?

    #727122

    DISCLAIMER I am not addressing this to anybody in particular!!

    There is a quote from one of the Belzer Rebbes who loathed “Frummies” ???? ????? ?????? ?????

    Lots of????? very little Mitzvos

    #727125

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    What next? A question on how to give maser from salt?

    Yes. You made your point that I’m no better than Esau. Congratulations. Happy?

    The Wolf

    #727126

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    DISCLAIMER I am not addressing this to anybody in particular!!

    If you say so… although then I wonder why you make this point davka in this thread as opposed to another or starting a new thread.

    The Wolf

    #727127

    I wonder why you make this point davka in this thread as opposed to another or starting a new thread.

    In retrospect I cant figure it out myself!

    Must have been a reaction to the salt Maaser Q

    #727128

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I’ve been giving this some thought and perhaps the best thing to do is to just send a money order anonymously to the store for the price of the cones.

    True, it’s not a perfect solution. A perfect solution would have me going to the store owner and personally apologizing for ruining the sale (even though it was the right thing to do). But (a) I’m too cowardly for that and too non-confrontational to do that and (b) I’m afraid to open myself up to further liability (perhaps he might claim that because of the loss of those few dollars he suffered additional losses for which I should now be responsible…).

    Yeah, it’s nothing more than a meaningless salve for my conscience and not truly meaningful in any way, but it’s better than nothing I suppose.

    The Wolf

    #727129

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I have a better idea. Burn down the store and let the guy collect insurance on the whole thing.

    #727130

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I have a better idea. Burn down the store and let the guy collect insurance on the whole thing.

    Why are you suggesting that I intentionally commit arson?

    I’ve maintained all along that I made the right decision in my actions. The only question that I had was whether I’m responsible for the financial loss that that decision created.

    I never said that I did anything illegal (such as arson) or even suggested that I should.

    The Wolf

    #727131

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    One man’s arson is another mans freedom fight.

    #727132

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    One man’s arson is another mans freedom fight.

    If you say so. Nonetheless, I’ll pass on your suggestion. While I’m sure I’m OK halachically with my suggestion (even if I don’t have to send him money, there’s nothing that says that I can’t.) while I’m pretty sure that I’m not with yours.

    The Wolf

    #727133

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Why, who are you stealing from?

    The owner will be reimbursed, and the insurance company was contemplating this exact risk when they wrote the policy.

    #727134

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Forget stealing… how about putting people’s lives in danger? Even if the store is deserted, the firemen who come to put out the fire will be put in unnecessary danger.

    In any event, I don’t believe you seriously mean that I should burn down his store. You’re just playing devil’s advocate.

    The Wolf

    #727135

    ronrsr
    Member

    perhaps the store owner’s insurance company should send you some money, for avoiding the lawsuit that would inevitably have resulted from that woman buying the gluten-laden ice cream cones.

    #727136

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    You could call the fire department and warn them not to go inside because there is a fire.

    Wolf: I don’t really think you should burn it down. But neither do I think you should let yourself feel guilty for doing the right thing.

    #727137

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf: I don’t really think you should burn it down. But neither do I think you should let yourself feel guilty for doing the right thing.

    I don’t feel guilty. I KNOW I made the right decision. But that doesn’t necessarily absolve me of responsibility for costing him a sale.

    The Wolf

    #727138

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    ronsr: That is a good idea. On that note, you can probably negotiate with the fire insurance company for them to pay you to not burn it down.

    Then, you can burn it down anyway. You get money, the owner gets money, the forensics people get business, the defense lawyers get business, the prosecutor gets airtime, everyone is happy.

    Should we really let the insurance company’s selfish interest get in the way of so many people’s happiness?

    #727139

    RuffRuff
    Member

    What kind of taking from the store did you do? As I said earlier, he doesn’t own customers. Besides, being that the woman thinks she was advised by the store not to purchase the cones, you only gave the place a good reputation.

    If you refuse to accept what I’m saying (Chas Vishalom) and you still feel like you owe him something, all you would owe him is a customer, or some business. So, go and buy yourself some very expensive and fattening ice cream, with a happy and fulfilled conscience. Perhaps you can post some leftovers in the coffee room.

    #727140

    RuffRuff
    Member

    ronrsr, the store’s insurance should send him money for not following popa’s advice.

    –Oops! Popa beat me to it.

    #727141

    Wow! It’s very impressive that you care so much. First of all, you said “I suggested that she purchase something else instead”, assuming you meant “something else” from that store, then you definitely did your duty. However, if you still feel that you owe the store money, you might want to think back to all the times that you (not necessarily you) may have told someone “go to this bakery, they have better challah or go to the other store this week they have (blank) on sale, etc, etc. How many times have we all innocently told someone about a better deal elsewhere, thereby causing another store the loss of a sale. Do we now owe money to these stores for the loss of sales?

    #727142

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Do we now owe money to these stores for the loss of sales?

    No. It’s not the same thing at all.

    It’s one thing to tell a friend that they can find a bargain at store X. The owner of store Y has no expectation of making a sale from my friend, and so I owe him no obligation for any sale he may lose.

    Here, however, the customer was already in the store (or on the phone, ready to make a purchase). At that point, the store owner would have had a valid expectation of making a sale — which I robbed him of.

    The Wolf

    #727143

    I was referring to a situation where someone is a regular customer of a bakery and for example is told that the other bakery has better or cheaper challah, not only was it a lost sale, they may have caused the permanant loss of a customer. Are we not allowed to tell regular customers of other stores our opinion? Had you told the lady to go to a better or cheaper ice cream store, I’d understand your guilt. Here you by no means “robbed” them. If you do end up compensating them, in my opinion, I wouldn’t call it restitution, I’d call it tzedakah. (not that there’s anything wrong with it)

    #727144

    anon for this
    Participant

    I agree with RuffRuff on this one. If anything, you helped the owner by giving the impression that he is concerned about his customers and meticulously honest about the contents of his products. Yes, the caller was looking for gluten-free cones now, but the next time she is considering purchasing bakery items she’ll remember that when she called this bakery she received an honest answer. And since she was looking for gluten-free items for her daughter’s classmate, chances are she generally is not concerned about gluten. (Even people with a gluten-free family member don’t necessarily serve only gluten-free products at home–we don’t).

    minor nitpick: it’s called gluten intolerance, not gluten allergy.

    #727145

    oomis
    Participant

    what if you had been standing outside the store and a passerby ask the same question? Stop worrying so much. The person asked a serious question and your answer was correct. But if you are worried, ask your rov.

    #727146

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    If anything, you helped the owner by giving the impression that he is concerned about his customers and meticulously honest about the contents of his products.

    I’m afraid not. While speaking to her on the phone I told her that I do not work there and that I was just a customer who happened to be in the store at the time. Anything good I did probably did not reflect on the store or its workers.

    minor nitpick: it’s called gluten intolerance, not gluten allergy.

    Thank you for the info. Noted for future use.

    The Wolf

    #727147

    RuffRuff
    Member

    Wolf, from where did you get the notion that a store owner owns his customers? While there is a Halacha of Ani Hamehapech Bacharara, that wouldn’t apply here since he wasn’t trying to reach anything.

    And, why do you speak of giving money instead of business, which is what you took from him, according to your Shaala?

    #727148

    anon for this
    Participant

    Thanks for clarifying that WM. I should’ve re-read your first post. But really anyone who knows about celiac would, or should, assume that ice cream cones, by default, contain gluten. So I don’t think you told her anything she shouldn’t have known anyway.

    #727149

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Wolf,

    If you were in the store and a customer asked you if a particular flavor was milchig (he was fleishig) and you answered in the affirmative, causing him to leave, would you have the same question?

    DY

    #727150

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    DY,

    Good question, but I think the case is different. By telling him that it’s milchig, I’m not telling him “don’t buy.” After all, he could take it home and eat it later. The fact that he does not want to do that is not my fault.

    However, here I *actively* advised this woman not to buy the cones.

    The Wolf

    #727151

    real-brisker
    Member

    Wolf – No you didn’t advise her not to buy them period, rather for the class she shouldn’t buy them, She could also have bought them and eaten them at home!

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