Barmek requires timely payment for the power consumed but the company abstains from moral and
material responsibility for the quality of electric power or the damage of electric appliances due to
interruptions of power supply.
In this Chapter we will discuss the nature of relationships between businesses and customers, as well as
analyzing the obligations of businesses to customers. It should be noted that these obligations cover a
broad spectrum of businesses, while many professions are noted for their own specific duties to their
clients. For example, the obligations of professionals (lawyers, doctors, teachers, auditors, architects,
consultants, etc.) are very diverse and have their own peculiarities. We will review common principles
only, while the special characteristics of professional ethics will be discussed in Chapter X.
Global experience recognizes seven main obligations of businesses to their customers. These obligations
Honesty in dealing with customers
Shall a baker warn his customer that the rolls are not fresh?
Businesses should strive to build credibility in the eyes of their customers. In this particular case, it means
abstinence from deceiving customers and wasting their money. If a business attempts to deceive a
customer (withholding change or offering wrong information about a product), this is dishonest from an
ethical point of view. Such behavior evokes an adverse response. As discussed in Chapter V, a customer
will feel deceived and will not return to this particular business in future.
Shall a surgeon call for a conference of specialist doctors, if he is not sure of his diagnosis?
The competence of a servicing party is of vital importance for customers. A person rendering a service
competence, he or she will not be able to adequately fulfill the task. If this is the case, the servicing party
should immediately recognize its lack of competence and refer the customer to a more experienced firm.
Can an auditing firm delay submission of an auditor’s report to its customer by one month?
Businesses shall execute commitments assumed duly and diligently. A business may supply quality goods
to its customer.
Shall a dress-maker tell a female customer that because of her size she’d better not have her skirt too
M. D. Bayles, Chapter IV in Professional Ethics, Florida State University, Wadsworth Publishing House
services, but will be bound to lose customers, unless it is able to take care of them. By care, we mean a
consistent response to customers’ needs and wishes, the provision of advice and assistance to facilitate the
best choice of goods and services. A customer will feel cared about and trust his or her supplier. Such
customers are bound to become regular frequenters of a particular business. It is no wonder that many
famous companies include the principle of care into their statements of mission.
Loyalty to customers
Shall an architect tell his customer that a construction company hired to build a house is over- charging
for its services?
Businesses shall, first of all, protect the vital interests of their customers and be loyal to them. A failure to
is a feature more peculiar to representatives of the highly skilled professions. For example, lawyers and
doctors should always give priority to the interests of their customers in their relations with all other
Fairness in dealing with customers
Can a cashier at a shop serve a woman with a small child out of turn?
The main aim of fair treatment is to ensure equal treatment to all customers, regardless of the customer’s
professionals such as doctors, lawyers or teachers. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath and are obliged to
render help to any patient, regardless of their financial or status. As for the question framed, this principle
might contradict our national mentality, which requires special attention to the aged and women with
small children. This problem is discussed further in the Conclusion.
Can disclosure of information on a patient who has undergone a plastic surgery be considered as
violation of ethical principles?
Confidentiality is one of the fundamental rights of customers. Health care systems of many countries
customers’ secrets, are guided by the principle that customer information is secret in the same way as
business information is considered confidential. Many big companies consider confidentiality so
important that they prohibit their staff members from sharing information on their customers with the
public. Many professional businesses give serious guarantees of confidentiality of customer identity. For
example, Western banking systems give strict guarantees of confidentiality of customer identity and their
bank account details. A bank is not allowed to state that a certain company is their customer, unless a
relevant court ruling is available. It is considered dishonest and unethical for a consulting company to
pass information to their client on a competing firm.
In Azerbaijan, business partners do not follow the principle of confidentiality with respect to their
firms. The majority of banks in Azerbaijan do not have an efficient system of guarantees of
confidentiality for their customers, which partially explains the low level of credit in local banks by
citizens of Azerbaijan.
We believe that the growth of economic activity and consequent increase grip of competition grip will
It should be mentioned that, despite a widespread perception that “the truth is always with a customer”,
for goods and services.