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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

Tricking Web Users

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I want to check out the feasibility of a project I am contemplating. Can I make a trial website to measure interest? When a person presses the "order" button he would get a message saying that no orders can be processed but I would know there is demand.

A. Knowing the conditions in the market is one of the most difficult challenges in business. Even in an existing going business it can be difficult to get a handle on how much volume and revenue your competitors are getting; in a new business the uncertainty is that much greater. One common but expensive tool is focus groups; you ask about an alternative that is much simpler and less expensive, but unfortunately is ethically quite problematic.

The tactic you describe has something in common with "bait and switch." In bait and switch, the merchant attracts the customer's interest with one offer but in the end presents him with a different offer that would probably not have drawn him into the store (or into negotiations) in the first place. This tactic is discussed in Rabbi Aaron Levine's book Case Studies in Jewish Business Ethics. The main problem Rabbi Levine discerns with this tactic is onaas devarim, meaning causing someone unnecessary disappointment or anguish.(1)

One example of onaat devarim mentioned in the Talmud is remarkably similar to your proposal:

    If donkey drivers ask you for fodder, don't tell them "Go to so and so, who sells fodder", when you know that he has never sold [it]. (2)

In your case it is even worse, because the people don't merely idly come to you asking for your "product". You have gone out of the way to attract them to your site.

I think that in your case there may be an additional problem as well. Any advertised price effectively makes an offer to sell the product at a particular price. But the tactic you describe goes beyond an offer; it is perilously close to an agreement. Pressing the "order" button constitutes a valid sales contract in current business practice. This could possibly be considered an actual agreement to sell. The sages of the Talmud concluded that reneging on such an agreement, even in the lack of a binding contract, is a sign of bad faith.

    It is taught: If there is a [merely] verbal agreement, Rav stated: It is not bad faith [to renege]; Rabbi Yochanan stated: it is bad faith [to renege]. (3)

The rabbis' conclusion is that reneging is an instance of bad faith. So if a person makes a firm agreement to make a sale, it is considered unethical to renege unless there is a significant change of circumstances. (This is similar to what is known today as a "material adverse change".)

Legally your case is not exactly identical. When there is an agreement, even without a sale, the other party will generally rely on the agreement and that is the source of bad faith. In your case the party finds out right away that no sale is imminent so there is not the same level of reliance. But the message may still induce some level of reliance; perhaps the person will try again later, or seek ways to contact the company to carry out the sale.

Market research for a new business is challenging and difficult, but it must be carried out in strict accordance with ethical principles.


SOURCES: (1) Rabbi Aaron Levine, Case Studies in Jewish Business Ethics pg. 55. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 58b. (3) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 49a

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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.

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