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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct 2, 2008 / 3 Tishrei 5769

Wrong Store

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Often customers looking for our competitor accidentally enter our store. Can we just serve them without comment?


A: You don't owe any duty of loyalty to your competitor, but you do owe your customers complete honesty. According to Jewish law, a merchant is not allowed to take unfair advantage of a customer's misunderstanding, even if the merchant himself did nothing to mislead.


We learn this from a scenario in the Talmud. While the Jewish butchers in a particular town would generally sell only kosher meat, occasionally the animals would be found with disqualifying blemishes or for some other reason kosher meat was unavailable. In this case, the butchers would stay open and sell the non-kosher meat to non-Jews. However, the rabbinic authorities affirmed that since the customers were accustomed to obtaining kosher meat, which is considered of higher value, the butchers are obligated to tell even the non-Jewish customers that the meat is not kosher. (1)


We see right away that it is forbidden to sell someone one item when he thinks he is getting something else — even if the difference is not visible or functional. After all, non-Jews are allowed to eat non-kosher meat. Likewise, your merchandise may be every bit as good as your competitors', but since many customers do have an expectation or insistence on a particular merchant this would be considered a substantive difference.


It is obvious that a merchant shouldn't actively try to mislead customers, for example by choosing a name, location or design specifically intended to induce customers to confuse his place of business with that of a competitor. (This is generally illegal as well.) But we learn from the above passage that even if the misunderstanding is completely passive the merchant should take steps to disabuse the customer of his misconception.


So if a customer walks into your store and makes it clear he thinks he is in Joe's Garage, state clearly, "This is Jane's Garage. Can we help you in any way?" If the customer asks directions to Joe's Garage, you are under no special obligation to give directions, but in my opinion it is ugly to refrain from helping out the person in this way. Giving directions is a simple courtesy expected of everyone.


Although there is no inherent obligation to steer customers to the other store, if confused customers are about equal at each place of business, the most civilized response is for each business to direct confused customers to their intended destination. "I see you are looking for Joe's Garage, it's around the corner." This makes the customers happy and costs the cooperating businesses nothing.


We should also consider the opposite extreme - where the other store's customers are a burden. If there is a chronic problem, where customers repeatedly exploit you for directions to another business, whereas you don't gain any business from their visits to you, then you have a valid claim. The other business (whether a competitor or unrelated business) is taking advantage of your good offices. In that case it is appropriate to contact the other business and tell them to give their customers better directions or mark their place of business more prominently. You can even threaten to refuse to give directions to their customers. The reason is that in this context giving directions is not a simple courtesy but a commercial service, which you are not obligated to provide free.


In any case you are required to inform the customer that he is not in the store he intended.

SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Chullin 94b.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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