Written by Sweety Vyas

I opened the mysterious large box with some trepidation. What could be in it?…

As far as I knew, neither my husband nor I had ordered anything for delivery. After returning home from vacation, I found it on the front porch.

I gingerly opened it from the top. It was a beautiful chandelier with sparkling hand cut crystal accents. I looked at the packing invoice. It was delivered by a manufacturer who was part of a membership buying service we were a member of years ago. There was no charge billed to us. 

The chandelier was stunning no doubt… But the problem was that we had not ordered it. True, we had ordered a chandelier but that was in 2017. It had already been delivered and even installed in our dining room back then.

We checked our credit cards and accounts to verify if we had been billed for the recent delivery, but found no charge for it. It was a mystery as to why it was delivered to us. I made a few phone calls and spoke with the manufacturer. He did not have too much information. He directed me to the membership buying service company. I called the customer support hotline.

A customer service representative came on the line. I explained to him that we had not ordered the chandelier. He checked a few things and admitted that there had been a mistake on their side. He confirmed that the price of the chandelier was $1,250 but we were not charged for it. According to him, there may have been a glitch in the computer. Someone else may have ordered it and it may have been delivered to us by mistake. He told me to keep the chandelier, and assured me that I would not be billed for it. I indicated that I was not comfortable keeping it as I had not paid for it. Repeatedly, he advised me to keep it as I was getting it for free. However, I insisted that he initiate the process of return. He was surprised. Finally, he agreed to start the return process. He told me that I have a conscience and so I felt that it was necessary to return it. I agreed. We closed the conversation with him assuring me that there would be follow up by email regarding the next steps.

After a few days, I got an email from a merchandise specialist. He mentioned that they needed some time to investigate. He praised my honesty. I was very surprised – I did not expect any praise.

Finally, I was sent a return authorization and prepaid return label for the item. They requested me to contact Federal Express for delivery back to them. After some delays, I managed to connect to a Federal Express representative and scheduled the pickup from my home. I repacked the box with the return label and authorization. I heaved a sigh of relief when the chandelier was picked up. I then informed the merchandise specialist of the return details. I received a very gracious email thanking me for everything and appreciating my help. 

One of my close friends felt that I could have kept the chandelier since I was getting it free of charge. But for me there were no second thoughts. I did not want to keep something that I had not paid for. Moreover, someone else may be waiting for what was delivered to me by mistake. It could create problems later.

In another context, Maya Angelou beautifully mentions in her book Letter to My Daughter: “In all the institutions I try to be present and accountable for all I do and leave undone. I know eventually I shall have to be present and accountable in the presence of God. I do not wish to be found wanting.” We are answerable for all our acts, big or small. Let us act responsibly.

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