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Moral/Ethical Business Dilemma

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by Tom, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. Chuck C

    Chuck C New Member

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    I had an entire essay on how I feel about this situation, but I chose to delete it. I don't post much on here, but from the responses I did read, some people should keep their mouths shut.
  2. DebQue

    DebQue New Member

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    I have only recently discovered this forum, but I have read and re-read MANY of your very knowledgeable articles and it is obvious that other breeders have a great deal of respect for you. No question. I don't have a tortoise yet (waiting patiently for the 2019 hatch) so know absolutely NOTHING. I don't
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Chuck I'd like to know how you feel about it. That's why I did the original post. Feel free to share your opinions on the matter. I won't even ask you to sugar coat it. Be as blunt as you want.
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  4. DebQue

    DebQue New Member

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    dang hit post too soon. I am on the fence... I am puzzled by the fact that all was well until it was not, I guess that is possible but seems unlikely. I also get the impression from reading many post that you and the community as a whole are Very Knowledgeable and very 'available' to assist when asked. so basically I am stating the obvious. All that being said, what makes you feel 'right' about this particular request? My gut says a reasonable request as the loss was only about 30 days into the arrival.
  5. anac1979

    anac1979 New Member

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    No way would I give the person back their money! They had the tortoise for over 2 weeks, then it dies? Definitely not your fault! You have zero idea how these ppl kept their tortoise. Even if they told you what they were doing, it could be total bs. I raise cats & I give a 72 hour guarantee. The purchaser has to take the kitten to the vet before this time or their contract is null & void. I do give a 1 year congenital health guarantee but the purchaser has to get my permission to put the kitten to sleep & a necropsy has to be done at the buyers expense. Only if their vet finds a congenital defect, will I refund a kitten back. I never return money unless the kitten dies in my home before the buyer receives the kitten. If I were you, I'd figure out a contract for your tortoise sales. I didn't want to do one but finally had to because some nut kept contacting me about a cat she didn't even buy from me. It covers my a$$! Also it makes buyers more comfortable of they have a contract. At least that's been my experience. Good luck! There are a ton of nuts out there. I hope it doesn't happen again.
  6. DebQue

    DebQue New Member

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    Also, I just read other responses and I also thought about the discount on another baby, but then my GUT said that might be a death wish for the baby so I deleted that part of my response.
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  7. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  8. keithsf

    keithsf Member

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    I purchased a baby Sri Lankan star from Chris Leone a few years ago. Sadly the poor little thing arrived upside down in the package shipped from NJ to CA and it was listless and in decline from the day I received it. (I understand this is a different fact set). Three weeks later it died.
    Although we all know Chris is one of the very top tort people out there, I was initially really unhappy with the situation because for me as the buyer, I was experiencing a 100% mortality rate whereas for him it was a one-in-a-[insert very large denominator] occurrence.
    I of course was also in contact with him the whole time and sharing pictures, set up info., etc.
    Chris more than made the situation good by sending me a free baby Western Hermanns as a replacement. I actually offered to pay him the difference in price between what the lower priced Sri Lankan cost vs what he sells the Western Hermanns for and he refused! [This in no way obligates him to do this for anyone else of course! :) ]
    Through the process he gained my complete respect and I have nothing but positive views of the whole experience, and would never hesitate to recommend or deal with him again,.
    Unfortunately many baby torts do die in the first year for myriad reasons, especially in the wild of course.
    For those on the forum who have been surrounded by lots and lots of tortoises over many years, it's hard to remember what it was like for someone purchasing their first and possibly only one.
    So although I agree that the arbitrators made the correct legal call with regard to denying the customer's demand for a refund, sometimes real goodwill is created when you don't just handle everything by the contractual book. Tom I understand the customer took this option out of your hands in this case. Just food for thought for the future.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  9. Elisa

    Elisa New Member

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    I know this is all resolved now but since no one gave a differing opinion, I'm going to play devil's advocate for a minute. Is it possible the temps during shipping played a role? I've read numerous times on here that babies should always be at at least 80 degrees. 64 seems pretty low in comparison.

    Also don't pet stores offer 30 day guarantee on their animals if you bring it to them/vet for problems? (Not that I ever would buy from there. Just offering an example)

    Please don't take offense by any of this. I know Tom is a great breeder and I'm very new to the tort world so I could definitely have it all wrong.
  10. Heckhaven

    Heckhaven New Member

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    Tom - Since no warranty/Guarantee was mentioned I don't think you are under any obligation to refund them. BUT - I would be very upset if I bought something (did everything right) and within two weeks it died. Would you send, if you have one, another Tort to them? Have them send their Tort back to you for examination/necropsy to see if you can find a defect? Since you do sell them and I'm sure you do sell Quality, you do not want a Bad Reference showing up somewhere.
  11. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    It's an unfortunate fact that mean, inconsiderate, dishonest people exist and that they like to keep tortoises. When people like this buy from a breeder, anything can be expected to happen, but it will never, ever be their fault, even if it is. I am very sorry Tom. You are the best! One bad apple does NOT spoil the whole bunch, and you have a huge bunch of happy customers to prove it.
  12. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The issue I have is we have a tendency to look at things through our own set of values, and not take into consideration who we are dealing with and their values.

    How many of the people who responded here - saying it would be good to refund - would have ever asked for any refund themselves in the same circumstances? How many of you would have then gone to your payment company and filed for a full refund without notifying the seller you were considering that option?

    Recieved the tortoise and all was well
    5 days later reached out for hatch date so you could celebrate birthdays. Report all is well.
    16 days out seller reaches out to you to check on things. You report everything great. Eating and acting great.
    4 weeks out you contact seller say tortoise suddenly dies. You want refund of at least 1/2 money. Seller says needs to think of options and will get back.
    What must have been the same day, you then file a claim with your payment company for a full refund, not waiting for a reply from seller.
    Seller contacts you and you state payment company did not decide in your favor. That you went ahead and filed because you did not trust the seller and you didn't trust they would send healthy animals.

    How many of you would have acted that way? I don't believe anyone of us would.

    We tend to have a feeling of how to respond based upon how we act and how we would have treated the situation. BUT... we don't think and act like this person.
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  13. Fluffy

    Fluffy New Member 5 Year Member

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    Tom I wanted to reply to this and I say this with all due respect. I own two successful small businesses and a couple things you said stand out to me. You refer to this as a "Hobby" and you don't do it to for the money. If we take out of the equation the fact that the product in this instance is a living animal and only look at it from the "Business Dilemma" as you say, it changes a lot for me. The customer is always right! Several times a year I find myself dealing with a customer who is wrong but I always do everything I can to make them happy and especially if it is something I can solve financially. I would rather lose money and know my reputation is still great. You said you don't do it for the money so I would of sent a new tortoise to them and let them know I was doing it to make them happy but was under no obligation to do so and would not be doing it again in the future. You had said everything they had set up for the tortoise and their husbandry seemed ok to you and that's where the live animal comes into play. If I thought they killed it because of their negligence that changes things but you seemed to believe they were doing things correct. If that's true then this is strictly a financial decision. What is your reputation and your wanting happy customers worth to you?
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  14. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    I advocated for a 50% refund or 50% off a new baby. That was BEFORE we knew about the arbitration.

    This is what I think happened. The customer started out just fine. He cared enough to spend extra money to buy from a reputable breeder, rather than a pet store.

    He had the baby and cared properly for it, reporting the truth to the breeder, until....something HORRIBLE happened. A lapse of care, a drop or fall, a dog attack, a child flushed it...any one of a thousand possibilities, but the baby died traumatically.

    Instead of admitting this awful thing happened, the customer turned his anger back onto Tom, and to cover his own guilt, tried to blame Tom for the event. Getting his money back was only a way to try to hurt Tom, the object of his rage, since he couldn't own his anger at himself. By this time, the customer was on a rampage, evidenced by his refusal to discuss, ridiculous reason for turning down a new baby, and initiating arbitration.

    Back when we only had "my baby died, I want my money back", I think the customer deserved the goodwill approach that many of us suggested, the 50% offers.

    After hearing "the rest of the story" (how many of us listened to Paul Harvey?)...I thank God that the arbitors saw the truth. I'm glad that the coward didn't get a cent, and he will have to carry his own anger and guilt.

    The tragedy in all of this is that Tom, a knowledgeable, good, and compassionate man, has had to endure this mistreatment. He's been accused and shaken, and he is innocent. Always a sad situation.
  15. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    Having spent my whole career at the Phone Company, and having drilled into my head to always be polite, and the customer is always right, I would have hat in hand, apologize and be very sympathetic, and done whatever it took to make that customer happy. If it means sending another baby, so be it. But send it with the understanding that this baby's life is all up to the customer and there will be no further replacements. And for pete's sake, keep all correspondence.
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  16. tortoisenana

    tortoisenana Member

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    I'm glad that they found in you favor especially since you (@Tom) are so knowledgeable and take such good care. I personally have raised Chihuahuas for over 35 years and I also have a contract that states a 72 hour guarantee IF they take the puppy to the vet during that time. I have only had one puppy die and I know it got parvo at my kennel because the other puppy in that litter came down with it the next day. I refunded their money. Then I bleached everything and everyone. lol I have not had any more problems. I have two 3 yr old torts and one 2 yr old. Last summer I bought 2 more and they both died; one after a month the other about 2 months. I texted the seller just to let them know but got no response. I never expected any money back but it would have been nice if they had at least texted back with a little sympathy.
  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    This is a fair question and you are not alone. The customer seemed to think this was a factor too. It isn't. Anyone who ships animals all over the country will vouch for this. A few hours of temps in the 60s in a dry insulated box is no problem for any tortoise of any species, and certainly not for a 6-9 month old 80-100 gram baby. If it had dropped into the 30 and stayed that way for a couple of days, it might have been a problem, but remember that this was an overnight shipment and the box was only out of my hands for about 14 hours. The majority of that time was here in warm Southern CA.
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  18. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I get your point here, but the answers on the husbandry were pretty vague, and I have no way of knowing if it was true or not. I have no way of knowing if the baby is really dead or not. If his answers were truthful, then something else went wrong to cause the death. What I do know with 100% certainty is that there was nothing wrong with that baby, and that it was shipped correctly. Something happened on the customer's end, and sending another baby would likely end in the same result.

    I would have refunded half the money, just for the sake of sympathy and good will, had he not taken it to arbitration and then changed his demand to a full refund to spite me.
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  19. TylerStewart

    TylerStewart Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    The problem with "the customer is always right" is that we are dealing with live animals, and there's a million things that can throw off a new baby. Many many (many) people will not tell you that their dog carried it outside or that they left it in a hot car or that their 2 year old took it in the bath with them, but that stuff does happen, and it happens a lot. More than once we have had people tell us a tortoise we sent them died after whatever amount of time (outside our normal 7 day guarantee). We always ask them for information and try and figure out why, but many times there's no obvious explanation. Many times I'm sure they know why it died, but they won't tell you that in the hopes of getting it replaced. We almost always ask for photos of the setup which about half the time you will never get a response to. More than once we have had photos taken from google sent to us claiming that was their setup (they were familiar photos to me when they sent them, I had seen them before). Someone sent me a photo I posted on facebook 5 years ago saying that was their setup. A few months ago, someone called my wife about this, said they had a "nice little setup." She asked for more information and they were unclear, just that it was set up right per our website. She finally got a photo out of them, and it was literally in a metal pan with no substrate, no light, no hide, placed next to a window with a couple of crumbs of food in there. This was like a month after they got it, they were asking why it wasn't eating (I'll try to attach a photo below, I kept this photo because I knew this would come up again). In their opinion, being next to the window was a light and heat source. People don't want to spend $100 on a tortoise and then be told they need to go spend $150 more to set it up right. They want to take shortcuts, and think they know better how to do it.

    We have also caught past customers that we gave the benefit of the doubt to trying to take advantage of that again. I hate not believing the things that people tell us, but you have to be skeptical because more often than not, you can find the hole in their story. If you simply sent a replacement tortoise to everyone that said it had an eye closed one morning 3 months after they got it, you'd be going broke trying to keep up with that. If you know you're not losing animals when you keep them or grow them up yourself, you can be confident that you're not sending out sub-par animals. I think Tom was absolutely in the right here, but I think the guarantee needs to be clarified ahead of time for future transactions. If the customer had been told (or better yet, signed) something saying it was guaranteed for 3 or 7 days (or whatever), their expectation of a partial or full refund after 30 days may have not happened. Many of us selling tortoises don't make their primary living from tortoises. For us, my day job covers my daily bills. My wife does women's hair and eyelash extensions to the tune of a few clients a day, and she keeps that money so I don't have to buy her clothes and shoes LOL. The tortoise money, if we make a profit in a given window of time, allows us some fun money for the kids, and more importantly to me, creates a bunch of tax write-offs. There is a lot of costs in keeping large groups of tortoises, we shouldn't feel bad trying to make money at the end of the day.

    TortoisePan.jpg
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  20. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    OMG I don't understand people. I went from Zero to Hero tortie owner because of the knowledge and sharing on TFO!
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