Have you ever lied to get a deal? Even just a little white lie or a fib? This is a topic that has always fascinated me. To what lengths is it ok to go in order to get a deal or save some money? What is taboo and what is acceptable? What am I talking about? Why are all my sentences in the form of questions? Sorry, I got carried away there for a second. Let me give an example.
After my first go-round in school came to an end, I realized that my student card didn’t have an expiration date like many student cards did – rather, my school printed the date issued instead. Even though I was no longer a student, I occasionally continued to use my student card to get student discounts on merchandise and admission costs. If anyone asked, I was a graduate student. I figured that gave me about 9-10 years from the date issued on the card before anyone could really put up a huge fight.
Is that bad? Are you all recoiling in horror right now at my inhumanity? I will admit, I always felt a little pang of guilt when I did it, particularly when I was getting a discount from some kind of independent store or organization that could probably benefit from the money. And sometimes I got questioning looks or grimaces of unhappiness that would stick with me for a while. But that guilt was often quickly wiped away by the knowledge that my own personal finances were a little bit better off because I’d saved some money. Sometimes it wasn’t much, maybe a dollar or two. Sometimes it was as much as $50-100.
Self-Preservation Trumps Everything
I think, in the end, human nature sets us up for self-preservation. Is it my prerogative to be honest and not use my student card when I’m not a student, or is it the prerogative of the person issuing the discount to thoroughly check my student card for its legitimacy? Both parties are, in the end, interested in self-preservation. Now that I’m actually a student again, I can use my student card guilt-free, but come the fall, I will be back to my non-student ways. My student card was now issued five years ago (I went back this year to the same school I was at before, so they didn’t reissue me a new student card). The other day, I actually thought to myself that I should claim I lost my student card so they can issue me a new one, with a new Date Issued.That way, I can keep using it for another 5-10 years.
Oh Come On! Haven’t You Learned Anything?
Yes, yes, it seems my conscience is catching up with me. That thought actually did feel wrong. And yet, I’m still in inner turmoil because I can do it and because no one would stop me. Why does anyone do anything they know they shouldn’t? Many times, its because they think can without getting into trouble. So they do it just to show themselves that they can do it. That they can game the system. Because it feels good sometimes to beat the ‘man’. The same way it feels good to win money at a casino. You went in expecting to lose and you came out a winner against all odds.
I’m Just Playing the Game
And it is all just a game after all, no different than a casino. The ones who are willing to play the game stand the best chance of success. The nice thing about the deals game though, is you can rarely lose. If you play the game to try and get a discount, the worst that can happen is you get denied and pay the same price as everyone else. A few years ago, I had cable TV, internet and a home phone, all through Rogers, one of the communications monopolies here in Canada. Rogers, like all the other big telecoms in Canada, plays a game with their customers. The people who don’t play the game pay full price for the services. The people who do play the game stand to get discounts. So one day I called them up and told them that my friend was getting a laundry list of discounts from Rogers and that I wanted the discounts too. At first, they said no. So I called back a week later. The person who answered the phone was in a much better mood. I didn’t have any friend with Rogers getting discounts, but after the call, I was saving over 25% off my bill every month.
I Can’t Be The Only One!
Surely, I can’t…can I? That guy in line in front of at the drug store didn’t look 65, but he asked for a senior’s discount. That woman at the table next to me the other night at the restaurant said it was her birthday. They brought her a free dessert, but they never checked her ID. Was it really her birthday? Can I really be the only one who’s told a little white lie to get a deal? I really don’t think so. If I think this way, others must think this way too. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I go to bed at night.
And no, I won’t be getting a new student card. Sadly, its time to end the student discount. Readers, am I alone here? Do you tell the occasional white lie to save some money? Or do I just need a lesson in morality?