On a message board, Ms. G. C. from Miami writes,
Here’s the problem: an interior decorator’s bid is broken down into two parts-
(A) the decorator’s services and (B) the cost of labor and supplies. Most
customers think (B) is a fixed cost-they forget it’s not the decorator’s fault if
cabinetmakers charge an arm and a leg. So, where do customers look the
closest when they’re comparing costs? That’s right, (A)-the decorator’s fee.
Well, decorators are creative people and for years they’ve been doing some
very creative bidding. They’ve been lowballing (A) and padding (B), expecting
the laborers to kick back a percentage of their inflated fees to the decorator.
Surprised? Everyone’s doing it. Everyone, that is, except me. It’s deceptive. And
as a Christian, I think it’s just plain wrong.
The customer’s final cost is about the same either way you cut it, so most
decorators don’t feel they’re doing anything wrong. Are they right?
Needless to say, “blowing the whistle” on such a widespread and accepted
practice would only damage my professional reputation. MS. G. C. from Miami,
“The Case of the Casual Kickback,” Urbana.org.
Question to answer
Ethics can be weaponized—that is, used in your personal interest. Show
how this could be the case here. Does the fact that she would benefit by
getting these kickbacks eliminated somehow make her position less
morally respectable? Why or why not?