Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

Gas Ethics

According to the last gas bill we've received, we used exactly zero gas between November 20 and February 20.

This is not plausible. I think it's clear that we are receiving gas for which we have not paid.

I've called the gas company once to say "Hey, this isn't right." I'm waffling about whether to do so again.

I don't object to free gas. But I feel iffy about this method. I think that I've done what is ethically necessary, but not necessarily what's ethically ideal.

I see three models for "receiving gas without paying":

- it could be a gift. But the gas company hasn't explicitly acknowledged it as such.
- it could be theft. I think that my notifying the gas company about it weakens the likelihood of that model.
- there's also a legal status of 'abandoned'. Most of what I know about the legalities of abandonment comes from the Straight Dope, admittedly, so I'm no expert. The gist of what I think I know is "it is possible, but you have to be super careful that it's not theft."

I thought at one time that part of the quandary here was that I felt that talking to a customer service representative didn't give me faith that the company really knew I was receiving free gas. But I've come up with a situation that seems analogous to me that maintains the same ethical quandary:

Suppose that you're in line at the grocery store, and you see a $20 bill flutter out of the wallet of the man ahead of you. You pick up the bill and say (loudly and clearly) "Excuse me, I think you dropped some money." The man makes no response and keeps on walking. What do you do?
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