a Free Bag of Chips

After a quick breakfast, I brushed my teeth, and then came to the buzzing hostel lobby. While unobtrusively sitting here and working on my computer, a mid-age man came to refill the big vending machine, which happens to be next to the couch I’m sitting on. He began to load the 34.5-gram bags of “Walkers” chips out of boxes and into the machine. At this time, I noticed that there’s a large door behind him that reads “LOUNGE” in bold, colorful letters. I got up, taking my MacBook with me, to see if I could move to the lounge instead.

As I walked from the couch to the door, the man took one of the bags of chips from the box, and offered it to me, saying that it’s free. I hesitated. What’s the deal here? A free bag of chips?

After a moment, I decided he was just being kind, and took the bag of chips. He offered another– of a different flavor– but I refused, saying that just one bag is fine. The one he gave me is “Prawn Cocktail Flavor Potato Chips.”

I read a sign on the door that says the lounge is closed for renovations, and returned to my seat on the couch. While I sat there, I wondered: who was paying for the “free” bag of chips that this man gave me? It probably wasn’t him, which is why he offered me a free bag. It’s likely the company that hired him. Do they know that they have an employee giving out free bags of chips to random strangers, who happen to be sitting near the vending machine at the time of refill?

Was it ethical for me to accept his offer of a free bag of chips?

2 Responses to “a Free Bag of Chips”

  1. Katy says:

    It was probably just smart marketing on his part. He figured you’re a foreigner, and if he can get you hooked on the chips, you’ll be back to buy more. I don’t think the company would mind him giving a free sample here and there. However, if he treated all his friends to free chips, that would be stealing.

  2. Mike says:

    Actually, this happened to me at the hotel I was managing. The guy who services the vending machine passed out the bags of snacks from the vending machine to the hotel staff. This is because the snacks were nearing their expiration date and he needed to keep the snacks in the vending machine fresh. No mystery to that after all.

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