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The ethics of a botched deal

My chat box isn't usually a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but on occasion it turns up a few statements that'll make your eyebrows execute a shuttle launch. One such morsel popped up recently in the form of an amused snicker from an acquaintance who'd applied to raid with my guild in Wrath. He'd just made himself a quick 38 gold off a blacksmithing deal gone awry and was having a laugh over his good fortune. A leveling player had asked him to meet in Orgrimmar to make a Saronite Mindcrusher and could provide both materials and a tip. The applicant obliged, ported to Org from Dalaran, made the mace, and then they discovered that it was BoP and thus unusable by the customer. The disappointed player thanked him for his time, tipped him anyway for making the trip, and went on his way (according to the person who shall henceforth be known as The Blacksmith).

"So not only did I get a 25g tip," he concluded smugly, "but I also made 13g vendoring the mace."

That dog won't hunt, Monsignor. "You did give the guy the 13g at least?" I asked. "I mean, those were his mats, the mace wasn't yours."

"No. Why would I? It was his mistake."

To quote everyone who has ever set foot on the internet ever, ORLY?

UPDATE: The post got a lot more attention than I expected, so I've written an addendum here that gives a little more insight into what happened.

The Blacksmith and I had a little tiff, which eventually became a big tiff, which then transcended the accepted boundaries of tiffitude to become a conflict on the approximate scale of Hiroshima. As far as he was concerned, he hadn't done anything wrong. It was entirely the customer's fault that the piece was BoP, and he (The Blacksmith) was entitled to the gold for the inconvenience of having to burn his hearthstone over the error.

"But is porting from Dalaran to Org really worth 25g?" I asked. "And it wasn't just this guy's mistake. You didn't look at the pattern either, or know your own profession well enough to know right off the bat that it was BoP."

"I didn't look. Why would someone give me the mats to make a BoP item?"

"You shouldn't make someone pay more than they should have to for a mistake that both of you made."

I'm sure he was shrugging at his computer. "Life lessons suck."

"This isn't a life lesson. This is you getting paid a tip for a service you couldn't actually provide, making money off an item you didn't own, and then bragging about it."

Personally, I'm still not sure this guy was telling the truth about not noticing that the piece was BoP, but let's accept for the moment that it was an innocent mistake on his end. So assuming he didn't go into this with the intent of cheating anyone, Blacksmith could have done one of three things:
  • Nothing: His choice. Certainly the most lucrative, but it does oblige you to put up with people who are very annoying (like me).
  • Keep the tip but return the 13g from vendoring the mace: In my opinion, this was the very least the Blacksmith could have done. He didn't buy or farm the mats for the mace; it was only his by virtue of being BoP. And I don't know about anybody else, but on my realm the mats for this mace aren't exactly cheap. They're not amazingly expensive on the level of, say, a Titansteel Guardian, but they're still worth a lot more than the 13g. Blacksmith obviously couldn't have given the materials back to the customer, and 13g wouldn't have recouped its cost either, but regardless of how much the piece vendored for, Blacksmith wasn't (I felt) entitled to the proceeds from its sale.
  • Return both the tip and the 13g: Later in the argument, Blacksmith made the point that 25g isn't a lot of money given Wrath's general inflation, and 13g won't cripple anyone either. I don't think the amount makes a difference. You shouldn't accept a tip just because someone else made the same mistake you did but was the only person to accept responsibility for it. Keeping the 13g was just icing on the cake.
Mistakes like this tend to be less common once people are more familiar with popular profession recipes, but they will happen, and I don't like seeing people lose more gold than they have to. At the end of the day, I also have difficulty believing that people who cheat you over small matters wouldn't cheat you over larger ones as well.

Filed under: Blacksmithing, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Economy, Making money

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