Integrity And The Penny


Since all the ad blogs are going crazy over Superbowl ads this morning, I thought I’d wander off in a slightly different direction – integrity.

Today is the day that the penny dies – at least in Canada. While it will still be legal tender, it costs more than a penny to make a penny. The Canadian Government has decided to phase the penny out, and as of today they simply aren’t making any more.

Now, you may ask yourself how an entire nation’s economic system will work without the penny – I mean a dollar is 100 cents, right? What if I buy something that costs 98 cents? Or 92 cents? Well, believe it or not, the government hasn’t addressed this. Instead, they’ve proposed an outrageous solution – be fair to each other. The government has asked retailers in Canada to round every sale to the nearest 5 cents for cash transactions. If you’re paying by debit or credit card, nothing will change. But if you’re paying cash – 98 cents becomes a dollar, and 92 cents becomes 90 cents.

I know that 99% of businesses out there will be fair, dutifully rounding each transaction. I also know that there will be some businesses out there who will round every sale up to the next nickel – until they get called out or caught. How do I know this? For the same reason that there are still businesses who charge an extra 25 cents for using a debit machine, or who feel the need to gouge me a nickel for a plastic bag, despite the fact that I just dropped $40 on a bunch of little items that could only be carried home in a bag, and despite the fact that the actual cost of a plastic bag is about 2/100ths of a cent and that their competitor across town gives them away for free. I know this because there is always someone out there without integrity who will sacrifice the long-term success of his business in order to make an extra 3 cents per transaction in the short-term.

I recently turned away ¬†client offering a pretty good chunk of money for a project because I felt that the person lacked integrity. I reasoned that I could do a very good job promoting the client’s brand, but that in the end this would mean that the client’s brand would receive a higher profile. It would become known that I had worked with this brand, and in the end, I just didn’t feel comfortable with that.

The businesses that I work with have integrity. The businesses that I support have integrity. And I sincerely hope that I don’t need to blacklist any business because an overzealous owner decides that 2 cents is worth more than a good night’s sleep.



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