Wednesday, August 31, 2005

An Incentive to Lie

If there is one thing I really hate it is when a company creates a situation where lying to them makes everyones life easier, and hurts no one.

As a Christian, I try not to lie, even with "white lies", mostly because of these passages in the Bible: Matthew 5:37, James 5:12, and various false witness verses. So as someone who tries to live honestly, it is very annoying when my life would be so much easier if I lied, for no good reason. I've come across two examples recently, but they seem to happen fairly regularly to me, so I'm sure I'll notice more.

The first is the fault of the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). In England we have two parts to our driving licenses, a plastic credit card sized identity part, and a paper record part. This is a fairly silly design to start with, but let us ignore that for now. I recently lost (or had stolen) my wallet and in my wallet was the plastic part of the drivers license. I keep it there because it is a useful photographic ID with proof of age. I do not carry the paper part about because it is more bulky.

It is a legal requirement to be able to produce your driving license, so I need to get a replacement. Now according to their website, if I had lost, or had stolen both parts I could just call up, pay the fee on my credit card, and get a replacement sent to me. But because I have only lost one part, I have to fill in a form, and post off the paper part back to them. So it is in my interest to lie and say I've lost both bits which saves me some hassle and doesn't hurt them. But if I'm honest my life is made harder for no good reason.

A second example was similar from First trains. My train season ticket wore out - it stopped working in the barriers at the station. If I was dishonest I could ring up, say it had been stolen, and get a replacement sent to me. But if I was honest I had to post them the ticket, wait for them to post me a replacement. While waiting I had to pay for daily tickets with my own money, save the receipts, and then post them all off to get a refund. A lot of work, for no real benefit, as if I wanted to cheat them, I could just lie and say it was stolen.

Companies shouldn't be encouraging people to be dishonest to them.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michael jensen said...

Well, I think you have a real point.

And this is REAL comment!

Anonymous said...

I think that as with all things including virtues it is possible to apply a principle to the point of being ridiculous. I empathise with your feelings of unjustly being pressurized into being dishonest but I don't think you should beat yourself up when such occassions arise. Common sense is also God-given. Anna