Google Stalking

I ran into a moral quandary at work today. I’ve written here before about my almost preternatural commitment to getting people to pay up. It’s a gift that I use joyfully and it has never gotten me into trouble until now. Enter today’s little problem:

A woman orders personalized water bottles for a wedding. She types in an invalid credit card number. We ship the product before realizing the invalid payment info. We call her, she stalls for time, then ceases to answer our calls entirely. We call from a cell phone, just in case she’s screening, and what do you know? She picks up immediately. She proceeds to explain that, because we shipped the product to her before getting payment, she doesn’t have to pay us. She then hangs up.

The amount she owes us is too small to justify taking her to court, and submitting her account to collections isn’t a viable option at this point (it’s expensive.) What to do?

I do some Google stalking and find out some amazing things about her. I know the names of some of her friends, I know her favorite band, I know the name of the church she goes to (yep, this class-act thief goes to a church in the good ol’ Bible belt!) and I can call five of her co-workers directly.

Google is a stalker’s new best friend.

My moral quandary lies in what I should or shouldn’t do with this information. Obviously, she is a terrible person who sees nothing wrong with stealing. Do her friends need to know what kind of person she is? Do I owe it to the people with whom she does business to warn them that, if they do business with her, they may never get their share of the money? Do I need to alert her pastor to the status of this particular wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Even though all this information is just floating around on the Internet, do I (meaning my company) have the right to use it against her?

My sense of morality is really gray on this issue. It seems that the line between craziness and doing my job has just gotten really blurry.

3 thoughts on “Google Stalking

  1. There’s no such thing as too small for court. Hire a lawyer and make sure to ask for attorney’s fees in the relief you’re seeking. But first call the small claims division of whatever court you’ll be suing in to see if those judges routinely grant attorney’s fees or not.

    Any other form of harassment, subtle or not, is just going to open you up to legal liability. As far as the morality of such a play, I have no problems with it. It’s the LEGALITY that’s key.

  2. By the way, I’m not advising you in a legal capacity here. No legal advice is being dispensed. Anything that bears a resemblance to legal advice is for novelty purposes only. Just remember that when I tell you that you’d be opening yourself up to all sorts of torts actions if you decided to start contacting her friends, families, and co-workers.

    And again, I have no trouble with the morality of it, it’s the legality.

    On the other hand, it might not even be her. Do a google search for me, and you’ll find papers my various dopplegangers have written on theological studies, physics, church sermons, as well as my rankings in various athletics including high school football, track, and some Irish soccer league. Very little on the real me, though. Perhaps it is because there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable…I simply am not there.

  3. -Dane, Thanks for the advice, Mr. Batman…Err, I mean Bateman. Good note about the veracity of the data I collected from Google. Also, that word torts needs to be used in sentences way more often than it is now. I predict that this will be my new standard response to anything Wes says for the next few weeks. “Erika, can you please cook this for dinner?” “Torts!!!” Thanks for weighing in with your completely novelty advice, though. I appreciate it!

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