Ethical Decision Making

Total

#1

You work for a large retail company and have been recently promoted to a Sr. Buyer position. You buy clothing from
vendors in New York, and one of your primary responsibilities is to negotiate with these vendors to provide markdown
dollars for merchandise that has been bought that does not sell well. These markdown dollars are referred to as
chargebacks.
One of the largest vendors that you buy from has named a new account representative that you will be working with.
During the first month in your new job, this account rep comes to you and says it appears as if the previous buyer
submitted unauthorized chargebacks. Since both you and the rep are new, neither of you has any knowledge of these
chargebacks. The rep says her company wants you to document hundreds of thousands of dollars that were charged back
over the previous two years.
You begin working on this and find it to be a very time consuming process as it requires matching paperwork from
the previous buyer (that is not readily available) to figure out what was authorized and what was not, so this process takes
months. The previous buyer was fired, so you cannot get any information from him. Your boss is putting the entire
blame on the previous buyer and claims she was unaware that he was submitting these chargebacks. She tells you that she
wants all of your documentation to go to her so that she can deal with the vendor since you are new. It is rumored among
your peers in the division that your boss knew about the unauthorized chargebacks, but this is hearsay and there is no
proof. After months of going through paperwork, you give your boss a report showing close to a million dollars in
unauthorized chargebacks. During a trip to NY, you and your boss meet with the vendor, and your boss gives the vendor
a modified report which only shows that half of the chargebacks were unauthorized. The vendor accepts the
documentation and everyone agrees that your company will pay back $500,000 to the vendor.
After the meeting you and your boss discuss the ramifications of the money that will be charged back to your
company. You express your discomfort with the fact that only half of the chargebacks were acknowledged, but she tells
you that she is not really sure that the total amount was unauthorized, and that the company simply could not afford to
pay back the entire amount because it would impact the profitability for the current year.

What would be the best way to go about this situation?