Monday, May 18, 2009

The limits of self-interest

There is a kind of innate dishonesty in ‘little’ things, which when I run across it, I have a hard time understanding as it flies in the face of basic self-interest. This Toronto Star article is a prime example. Ten employees have lost their rather lucrative jobs by swiping their personal airmiles card on customer purchases at the LCBO.
Ten LCBO employees – accused of doing just that – were fired in the last year for using their own Air Miles cards to skim the miles from customer purchases, according to an internal audit dated October 2008 and released yesterday.

It's not that hard. Cashiers can fraudulently intercept reward miles by simply swiping their own card if the customer does not present a card at the time of purchase. "Common sense would suggest that, during times of recession, illegal activity of a general nature tends to increase," Bill Kennedy, a spokesperson for the LCBO, told the Star last night. "The purpose of the audit is to be proactive and to ensure management is vigilant."

The 10 cases identified in 2008–09 are a sharp rise from a single instance detected the previous year and six cases the year before that. Kennedy said there was no cost to the LCBO as a result of the fraudulent activity, which, he added, is committed by a tiny fraction of the LCBO's 7,000 employees. The 10 employees were nabbed thanks to an agreement with LoyaltyOne Inc., the company that runs the Air Miles program, to allow LCBO auditors access to employees' private card information if fraud is suspected.

They could have earned more legally than they stole without risk to their livelihoods, future careers or their character. Go figure because I can’t.

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