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My 8yo knows he isn't allowed to cuss, but I do it with abandon. It's one of those things he knows adults do, but kids don't, like alcohol and R movies. It's good for him to see different perspectives even if he doesn't get to participate in them all, yet.

So, yeah, do as I say...!

Well, you didn't offer my answer in the first poll - which would be "I always watch the scanner - and if not charged, or undercharged, I point it out to the person, because I believe Karma is a bitch, and I'd probably be hit by a bus on the way home."

Soooooo...although my answer was 'keep it, and feel horribly guilty', I usually catch mistakes like that and cheerfully point them out.

My husband makes fun of me for being so honest when it comes to things like this. I really don't want to explain something so piddly as this at the pearly gates, since I will probably be too busy explaining my drunk years.

You are so freaking brilliant...using us as a research tool, I love it!

I didnt actually see the first poll, so didnt vote - but to be honest I never notice these things. I am horrendous at checking my receipts - I trust in the guys working in the stores to charge me right (so to be fair they could over charge me and i wouldnt notice either!)

re. the son stealing - that would be knowingly taking something. And whilst they are a youngster I think we have to teach them a little of the right and wrongs - how much they listen and learn is another matter!!

I think the key difference is the intention. This little boy was deliberate in his actions. He took the toy, thinking if he was sneaky enough he wouldn't have to pay for it. If a store had mistakenly tossed in an item without first charging me for it, it's their mistake. My intention all along would have been to pay for it. I'm not saying it shouldn't be reported or paid for, just that the responsibility is different.

Ha! You expect people who endorse the use of Fuckerama to actually follow directions? *tsk, tsk*

On to the discussing of the poles and the not so shocking results if you ask me (you did ask, didn't you). I happen to belive that double standards are all over in parenting land(and am most likely guilty of it quite frequently).
Of course you want your kids to drink milk with dinner, but what are you drinking? No candy between meals if you're under the age of 18......
But I'm sure many will argue that stealing and the store/cashier screwing up are 2 different things; will be interesting to see how this all plays out.....

Interestingly this exact scenario happened to my mom when I was four.Yes I was the little thief in training I guess.But my mom who had no car at the time,walked my butt right back to the grocery store and made me hand it over to the manager while i sobbed.Let me tell you I can still remember the feeling of shame.But,it worked I never stole again and you can bet your sweet ass both my boys will do the exact thing if and when this happens!!!

Difference = age. He's young and still learning. This would be a great lesson for his life. I'm older, know what is right and what is wrong but ALSO know that there are occasional throwbacks to the rules. It doesn't change my overall belief that stealing is wrong. (btw - missed the first poll and now am not sure what it was but am assuming is was similar to the second just with adult in the 'thief' role)

I think there are two things to be considered here: The intent, as some other people have said, and the experience and perspective of the person in each situation(the parent and child).

In the first scenario, you didn't intend to take anything from the store for free. It was a mistake. The child DID intentionally pocket the toy. And at age 8 usually KNOWS enough about how stores work (we pick things out and take them to the register BEFORE leaving the store)to just write it off as Oh, he's too young to understand. Hence, intent, it was different in the situations.

As far as perspective and experience, in the first scenario, you (as an adult) have the experience and reasoning to evaluate the situation. How much did the store lose? How much time and effort would you lose to take the item back? How important is that item to you or the store in the long run? Would the store manager likely look at you like you were crazy for driving all the way back to the store to point out a $1 mistake? How many times have you been overcharged and not gone back to demand your $1 back?

In the second scenario, there is a lesson to be learned, and an experience to be gained by that young child. At 8, he doesn't have the reasoning skills to evaluate what is worth the bother or not, he just needs to learn a basic life lesson: don't steal. And this is the perfect opportunity to teach them that. And I would certainly treat my child pocketing something in a store different from, for example, if my child brushed by something at the store, that got caught on his clothing and carried out of the store without either of us realizing it until we were home.

No fair - you tricked us! Here I though darling Adam had stolen a gum ball or something horrible like that.
In my mind I justify it as an accident if I don't get charged for something which is different then putting it in your pocket and stealing it. I didn't ask to not pay for it. Not that it is right, it isn't.
Damn, now you got me thinking. I am done work for the day so my brain was ready for snooze mode.

I only took the second poll and I have driven miles back to a store to pay for an item that I didn't get charged for and once to return an entire bag of groceries that somehow wound up in my possession. It wasn't LEGALLY mine.

My husband works for a grocery store, and their profit margins, at least in the USA, are not as large as you think. We're talking pennies. Doesn't matter if the clerk screws up: if you know about it, you are culpable.

One of my neighbors, with whom I no longer have dealings, said she'd been shopping at my husband's grocery store chain. She had a plant in her grocery cart that she knew cost $25 but there was no price tag. The clerk asked if she remembered what the price was, and she said $10. This woman works for the local public social services (welfare) department. What happens in her line of work if someone lies to her?

I caught my kid stealing those green Andes chocolate candies and I marched her right back to the store to return them and apologize.

Gotta live by that Golden Rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

But karma eventually deals with those who think they're above all of this - I've seen it happen time and time again.

Yes I like what Nic said about the intentions, I agree with that statement.

this is all very very interesting.

Hee! I didn't vote in the last one because I knew I would lie and say I would make him take it back when really I wouldn't.

Nice one, asshole!

I see this difference as this:

If I take something up to the register, lay it there, and the cashier does not ring it up (I don't notice - and this is key - if I notice on the spot I would say something), she puts it in the bag, and I slog back out to my car with kid in tow, sweating the whole way, get home, unwrap my purchases, happen to glance at the receipt and notice that she didn't charge me for one item, then I am not going to repeat the entire process because the CASHIER was careless. Not my problemo. Besides, I'm cynical. If I take it back, I assume the cashier would pocket the money I give her or pocket the item I return.

However, if I OR my child accidentally put something in my pocket (which I wouldn't do, duh, but child might have it in his hands and I didn't notice), then when we get home I realized he carried something out of the store because HE was careless, then sure, I'm going back.

Major difference in those two - MY mistake, or the STORE'S mistake. If it's my mistake I'd always resolve it appropriately. Maybe if I were a person of extremely excellent morals I'd still take it back, but I guess I'm not. I'd be too lazy to repeat the process because of the store's mistake.

FWIW, I don't cuss in front of my child and expect him not to cuss. I wait till he leaves the room to cuss.

Didn't see the first poll - no way I'd go back because time's too short. I'd ring the store (if the phone number is on the receipt i.e. easy to find) and tell them, then settle it on my next visit. I have done this in the past, and the look of shock and utter incomprehension on the cashier's face is a joy to behold. I then have difficulty manoeuvering my halo out of the door...

I once was given $5 too much in change at the supermarket. I discovered it when I got home, but went all the way back to return it. Mainly because I didn't want the cashier to get dinged for her drawer being under.

Can't help it. I'm grossly over-honest.

I don't think these are comparable at all.

If it's the store which has made a mistake then it's up to them to sort it out. However, if either me or my child has made the mistake then it's our responsibility to rectify it. Simple as that.

And I believe strongly that it's wrong to have one set of standards for kids and one set for adults.

whoa whoa whoaaaaa! BIG difference in the two scenarios here. Having something accidently placed in my back by the cashier or something not scanned is one thing. Having my little boy deliberately take something without paying for it is another. You cant compare it, really.

Not guilty! I always go back to the store and correct the error or return the extra change. Sometimes I wish I could just accept the "win" but it is just too deeply ingrained in me.

Actually I lie, I did it ONCE. I was 8.5 months pg, had a 12 month old in tow and it was 37 degrees celcius. We got out to the car, I put dd in the car, unloaded the shopping and realised I hadn't paid for the $2 loaf of bread wedged in next to the baby capsule. So I get dd out of the car, go back in, line up for 10 minutes, confess and pay and go back to the car. I put dd back in the car, put the bread in he boot and as I do a birthday card falls out. So I get dd out of the car..... by round 3 when I found a 50 cent pack of gum at the bottom of the trolley I just cried and went home, but 2 years on the guilt still gets to me.

Like the previous posters, the big difference here is intent. Plus, you have to make a value judgement. I may not put all 3 kids back in the car to shlep back to return $1 in extra change, or to pay for a $2 item, but I sure as hell am gonna do it for $10 extra, or an item worth more. I actually had this happen, I accidently came home with a leappad book I hadn't paid for, so I tried to take it back, to Tarjay, but the clerks were so confused as to why I was bringing it back and kept trying to give me a refund! I kept telling them I was trying to PAY for the damn thing - they thought I was nuts, and ended up giving it to me. This weighs on my mind when I find myself in a situation where I ended up with an item I hadn't intended.

However, if DD pockets something and I catch her at home, I'm marching her back to the store to make her confess, just like my mother did to me when I was 6 and stole a pack of gum. Makes a great impression, and the lesson is never forgotten.

Sorry, but it's not the same issue in both questions, unless the second question is modified to say the child also forgot. If he forgot, then we'll talk about it, but it's a mistake, he's not in trouble, and I don't take it back. If he stole it, then that's a whole different ball game.

There's a very simple explanation for it. With children, everything is absolutes. They don't have the ability to tread the moral grey area. Thus, if you teach them that it's okay to steal, given a certain set of circumstances, they're going to infer that it's always alright to steal. So, you teach them the absolute rules and let them sort out the middle ground when they've reached the age of reason and start working their own moral compass.

I agree that both are questions of morality, but as many people have said you can't compare the situation. One situation is out-and-out shoplifting. In the other, the system (at the store) charged you a certain amount for you items. You paid that amount. Now maybe the system got it wrong, maybe you should point it out, but you paid what the system told you to pay and I don't see that as theft.

I think, as others have said, you put a value on it. 50 cents of gum? Not worth the hassle, even if it is just as wrong. A small, struggling corner deli where the young cashier has to account for every cent in the till? Probably worth going back. Huge department store where it scans incorrectly and the amount isn't too huge? Their problem. Most people don't have absolute moral values, they weigh up the circumstances and have "exceptions" to their rules. And we can always make ourselves feel better by justifying whatever decision we make.

As for the 8 year old, I think paying for the item then throwing it in the bin would be my way of handling it.

And yes T, I did get that you did the polls purposely, in that order. Worked it out as soon as the second poll appeared. As subtle as a brick to the head!!

My view is that it isn't demonstrating double standards at all, the situations are completely different. As ceecee said, whatever the register says is what you're obligated to pay. Maybe that's not morally right, but I'm sure you couldn't get arrested for it!

I have sometimes left a shop and found an item unpaid for in the trolley - I will always take this item back, because even if it's an accident, it's theft. But if an item scans incorrectly or the store makes the stuff up, I'm less likely to, esp with a big store. As abigail said, I pay what the till tells me to pay. That's the total that my order came to.

A boy taking a toy is stealing. If it was an accident (but I don't see how it could be?? It's not likely he was planning on paying for it) I'd still take it back, but explain it as an accident and not get all fire and brimstone on his arse.

If you'd said it was a 2-year old, I wouldn't have been considering the child's intent or the lesson she would learn. I would have considered it equivalent to the cashier failing to ring up the item (as has happened occasionally with our bananas at the grocery store -- why is it always the bananas, anyway?). I just don't think the two questions are enough the same to assign hypocricy as the explanation for the divergent answers.

I hold myself to the same standard I hold my child to, my husband and my students. Being a teacher (through a profession oras a mode of life) means that I have to set examples. All things should be dealt with, that and I really belive in karma, to not hold ones self up to the highest denominator means that we are open to karmic debt, the kind in the red.
This also means, to me, that I should tell you that I think that the discussion is apples and oranges... the main difference being intent and a sort of pre-meditation of theft.

So here's the thing.

I actually did this once--went to the store, and as I was leaving, realized I hadn't paid for a pair of 88 cent gloves, even though they were in my grocery bag. 88 cents, man. Hardly worth my time to turn around and go pay, right?

Except it totally was, because the look on the cashier's face was great. "You came back...to pay for 88 cent gloves?" She was stunned. She smiled. She thanked me. It didn't matter at all to her in the long run, but it apparently cheered her up, so it was worth it.

T, I think you'd be shocked how many double standards there are in relation to kids. It's necessary, as someone said above - kids only know absolutes. So you might hit Marko on the arm in fun (mock shock at something he said, for example), but would never let Adam hit Kate. Because he doesn't know the difference between a fun tap and a hurtful hit. So you say "No hitting, at all". We don't let kids play with our CDs, but we do. Kids aren't supposed to talk to strangers, but we do it all the time. And while we might not feel guilty leaving a bit of orange peel on the ground (the worms will get it, it will get mulched down) kids aren't allowed to litter. And we tell kids not to lie, but we do it all the time. Maybe to spare someone's feelings. But for kids at a young age it's all or nothing. Because they can't make the distinctions.

I actually don't think the examples you gave really make any sort of point about double standards though, because as has been said ad nauseum, the intent is different in the 2 cases.

I went back in the store once - with baby in tow - to pay for about $1.25 worth of bananas. I had forgotten they were in the bottom of the cart. However, I was still in the parking lot when I realized. I doubt I would have made a return trip had I been all the way home.

I'm generally an honest person, but there is a cost/benefit analysis to be done.

Ahhh yessss... I remember the first time I shoved produce down my little one's diaper... *sniff*

Wow! Yes, I lined up with the poll results, and yes, I guess I am a little ashamed of myself.

Okay, chiming in late, but I will say that I would take the item back to the store if I inadvertently walked out with it (I've done it before, either from distraction or being plain-old absentminded and walking around the store with one small thing in my hand for a long while). I would make CX do the same.

There have been times when something has made it into my bag by mistake on the part of the counter person--three bags of something kept behind the counter rather than two, for instance--and if I catch it before I get home, I'll take the item back.

Now, when we take CX (just now 2) to the shops and are buying him something that he wants to hold or play with out of the wrapper, I explain repeatedly (when he asks to open it) that we can't open it until we've paid for it and made it ours. He used to fuss about relinquishing a toy to be scanned, but has gotten much better lately. It seems that with the lessons he's currently learning about sharing and ownership, he is coming to an understanding (to a degree) of the concept of us 'trading' to get his toy/new shirt/shoes/whatever.

You're a tricky's one, Tertia. I was one of the "do as I say, not as I do's", and I noticed it at the time.

However, I shrugged it off by rationalizing (I love rationalizing). 1. No kid is going to notice you were billed for less than you took home. So if they don't notice, it didn't happen.

2. I know that not paying for stuff is wrong. The kid doesn't. So I have to make a point to correct his behaviour. So long as he doesn't notice my own (see point number 1) I don't have to correct my own - I can live with the guilt (which isn't guilt at all - it's glee at getting away with something.)

3. I've left stuff I've paid for on the conveyor belt. They aren't going to run after me to return my loaf of bread, I'm not going to run back to the store to return the kitty litter that was on the bottom of my cart.

Here's one for you--- An incident occurred today, when a clerk missed an item we tried to pay for at the register, and in the process of moving the merchandise we set off the store's inventory control scanner at the exits, and because the alarm went off we went back to the clerk to verify that she rang up everything, and she insisted she had, but once we had a chance to look over the receipt, we found that the item in question was indeed missed--- a $200 retail item marked down on clearance to $50.

In the retail business, the stores have a certain percentage of volume that is counted as shrinkage, and losses to the store for mistakes, oversights, incorrect pricing, employee theft, and things that don't get properly charged for get written off because the stores wish to maintain good relationships with the customers. It isn't the customer's responsibility to perform quality control for the stores--- that's one reason why the stores employ mystery shoppers and loss prevention personnel--- we thought we caught the error, we brought it to the clerk's attention, and the clerk didn't want to be bothered to fix it, so at that point the customer should not have to go out of his or her way to rectify a situation that the store personnel is unwilling to fix. In business, the customer is always right, even if they aren't, and if the customer makes a good-faith effort to deal fairly with the store, and things work out in the customer's favor, then the store can make the necessary adjustment.

That's a different situation than, say, walking past the register with an item and not bothering to make the attempt to pay for it. The key factor here is intent.

Now, the moral question is, there is this fairly expensive item that really should be reported as not charged for. We'll likely go back to the store, and explain what happened. Not to embarrass the clerk, but to point out that when the alarm goes off, the store should re-examine their policy. If they want to prevent losses, they should make someone available to double-check things. I don't think we should have to pay for that item, now. The small loss incurred today may help to prevent larger losses tomorrow. Maybe the store will see it that way, maybe not. Maybe they will appreciate the honesty, maybe not. But there is a difference between theft (an intentional loss) and shrinkage (an accidental loss).

I remember once where I used a $100 bill to pay for dinner and the server brought me back $260 in change. She likely put my portion of the change back from the $100 in her register, and handed me all her $20's. That happens, I suppose. But to keep her from losing her job, I brought that to her attention. We fixed it, and my date was favorably impressed by the gesture. Now this was an example of the clerk taking the time to fix the error. If I had said, hey, you gave me too much change back, and she says no, I didn't, then if I go to upper management and try to give them their money back then the clerk would surely lose her job. And maybe she should. But from the customer's standpoint, if your conscience bothers you about it, you should do what you need to do to fix it. If it doesn't bother you, then you know you'll need to live with it. The question then becomes, can you live with what you know about the truth of this siutation.

Let me fix my typo--- can you live with what you know about the truth of this situation.

Now, if I had a child, I would think that I would insist the child return the item and explain the reasons why it would be important to return it. Losses get passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, and we all pay for this, even if we make the effort to correct our own personal experiences. Someday, when my kid owns a multi-billion dollar corporation, they will see how cost containment affects their bottom line. Or maybe, if the kid starts a small business, they will understand the importance of dealing fairly with the public. It all starts at home.

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