While we’re talking about Panera... something came up in conversation recently, and I’d like to pass it by my
ethics board readers.
When one buys iced tea (and other drinks) at Panera, one gets free, self-served refills. The question is how far
free refills should go. I think we’ll all agree that if I buy a sandwich and an iced tea, and refill my tea halfway through eating my sandwich, that’s fine. And I think we’ll all agree that if I bring my own cup into the store, go back and fill it with tea without paying, and leave, that’s not OK.
But how long can I hang out and keep refilling without crossing an ethical line? Is it ever OK to leave and come back, and still get a
If you have a general rule, or any thoughts on the matter, please post a comment. To give some, ah, food for thought (perhaps some cream of broccoli soup in a bread bowl), here are some scenarios, each pushing things a bit further. Where does one draw the line — realizing that buying another cup of tea only costs about a buck and a half, so we’re not talking about a huge issue here — between ethical and unethical behaviour?
In each case, I order an iced tea and...
- I drink it in the store, then get a refill and immediately leave.
- I use the Internet for half an hour, getting two refills while I sit there.
- I use the Internet for three hours, getting many refills while I sit there.
- I use the Internet all day, getting countless refills. The store never gets very busy, so I’m not preventing anyone from finding a seat.
- I go to a store next door for five minutes to pick something up. I come back and get a refill.
- I go for a one-hour walk, coming back to the store. When I return, I order a sandwich and refill my tea.
- I go for a one-hour walk, coming back to the store. When I return, I refill my tea and use the Internet.
- I go for a one-hour walk. As I walk past the store again, I drop in, refill my tea, and keep going.
- I go for a one-hour walk. I walk past another Panera, drop in, refill my tea, and keep going.
- I go home. I come back later that day to pick up a loaf of bread, and, having brought yesterday’s cup, I refill it.
- I go home. I come back the next day for a sandwich, and, having brought yesterday’s cup, I refill it.
I have my own thoughts, of course, but I’d like to hear yours. My friend had a fine suggestion for resolving it: go to the person taking the orders, with your Panera cup, and ask... then let them decide. But let’s assume that you have to make the choice yourself; how do you choose?