Here’s a good rule of thumb for determining whether something is a charitable act: if you have to steal money to do it, and you’re not Robin Hood, it’s probably not gonna count as a good deed.
Someone wrote in to “Dear Prudence” on Slate recently (see third question) asking whether she should keep silent on a double refund.
A giant bottom-feeding corporation [...] just e-mailed to let me know that they will be crediting my card back for a purchase I have returned, to the tune of $300. Only problem is that they have already credited me back the full amount, several months ago. Husband thinks I need to fess up about the double payment. I think I should take the money and donate it to charity. What say you?
We don’t always think “Dear Prudence” is a font of wisdom—we’re still scowling at her for some really, really lame sexual advice she gave a few years ago (and yes, we read far too many advice columns, and by “we” I mean just me). But Prudence gives just the right answer to this question:
Here’s a way to make everyone happy: You call their 800 number and tell them you’ve received double credit for the return of a purchase; then you donate some money to charity, anyway.