Contracts of Trust

by Trish Overby

Whether you walk into a retail shop for a purchase or order a pizza over the telephone, you have initiated an agreement between yourself and the proprietor. This agreement consists of you buying the product which you know has the qualities to suit your need. The shop keeper is trusting you that he will receive the purchase price for the product. Both of you have put 'faith' in each other to hold to your contract of trust. This trust is an integral part in the business world.

For example, this past weekend I booked our summer holiday flight and car hire with a travel agent over the telephone. The young man, Burt, took all our travel dates and found us the best and cheapest flight available for the dates we wanted to travel. I put my confidence in Burt to give me the car hire and flight we wanted for our holiday. He, of course, took our credit card details for the payment and said we would receive in a few days' time the confirmation of our booking and receipt for payment. Faithfully, these items arrived within two days time. Our agreement of trust turned out to be amicable and justified.

But what happens when this contract is broken? For instance, a shop owner orders goods from one of his distributors. Most wholesalers would give this customer 30 days credit on their invoice. Again, trust has taken place. The distributor believes that his customer will send him a cheque on the due date. And the shop owner knows that the distributor will deliver the quantity and quality of goods that he wants in his shop. But what if this agreement of trust is broken by one of the parties? Does the wholesaler just lose a customer because the customer isn't satisfied with his received order? Does the retail shop just lose a source of goods because he hasn't paid his bill? What effect does this breaking of the contract have?

An unpaid bill must weigh heavily on the shop keeper until he pays it. An inner voice must tell him he is not doing right or even being honest. His conscience must let him know that something is not right here. Feeling guilty can have some physical and emotional affects. It might even affect his self esteem and confidence in doing more business with this company or others. Perhaps even his personal integrity could be affected.

The distributor's integrity is marred because he hasn't kept his side of the deal. His conscience weighs heavily because he knows he did not deal fairly with the shop owner. The inferior goods he sent out are returned and replaced by better goods. But the customer has lost the confidence he once had with this supplier. He lives in a dread that he will not be found out for dealing dishonestly as it could affect future business. Either the supplier learns from this experience and never does it again or he stops listening to his inner voice and keeps doing it.

We are given this inner voice or conscience to help us know what is right and wrong. It is influenced by our social morals and past learned experiences. If we allow it to guide us, we will always put the customer first and do business in a trustworthy way. In a life that is constantly changing, we must keep this very important aspect of business alive. For trustworthiness doesn't only pertain to business but to all the aspects of our lives. It is vital for our everyday transactions whether they are business, family or social.

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