Would You Recommend Something Unethical For Money?

Before I forget, I want to let you know that I wrote a guest post on a blog called Marcie Writes, which works well since the owner is Marcie Hill. It’s titled 5 Steps Towards Blogging Integrity and I think it’s a very good post, not necessarily because I wrote it but because I wrote a guest post for someone who asked for it and I wanted to make sure it would be really good. That’s how guest posting is supposed to work when you ask people if you can write a guest post for them or if they ask you; always give your best. In its own way it segues into today’s topic.

A Man Without His Word Means Nothing
Catherine Rankovic via Compfight

How many of you have heard of something called “payday loans“? If you haven’t, the concept is that if you need money and know you’re getting paid on Friday, if you will, but it’s Wednesday, you can go to an establishment, take out money now, then pay it back on Friday at a “nominal” interest rate.

To some people it sounds like a great way to get an advance on their pay, but the way I see it, and if you follow the link above you’ll see more reasoning, it’s a scam perpetrated against those without a lot of financial acumen and can lead to both untold debt and dangers people aren’t ready for. It’s people allowing themselves to be taken advantage of, with interest rates that can skyrocket at a moment’s notice and, in some cases, being charged daily, and eventually leave a person not being able to keep up and, well, leaving bankruptcy as a final decision to make if they’re not able to pay off the entire amount immediately.

Yes, I think this is unethical, and I’m not the only one. The Federal government is now investigating mainstream banks that are participating in this, including many that were bailed out by the government back in 2009. Eventually they may get to everyone, but this shows that they’re concerned enough to worry about it.

It’s under this belief in ethics that I was dismayed when I came across a post some weeks ago by someone I usually think is pretty cool, Zac Johnson, who wrote a post titled Is It Time You Started Looking At Promoting Pay Day Loans? In the article, he talks about how it’s one of the fastest growing programs in the world and how some affiliate marketers might want to think about hopping on the bandwagon financially, even though there’s a “slight” disclaimer near the end of the article: “No matter what your personal opinions are on pay days loans and whether they are ethical or not, you need to think of the situation from an advertising stand point.”

I’m sorry, but I personally disagree. The statement alone proves that even Zac knew there was an ethical standard being crossed when he wrote it, and he talked about it in a positive way anyway. There are a lot of people going to dog fighting matches or watching videos of the clubbing of baby seals; would you promote that in positive ways if they were making lots of money?

Along the lines of when I asked the question What Will You Do For More Followers, I ask just what will you do for money? If you truly believed payday loans were the greatest thing on planet Earth and decided to promote it, that’s one thing; if you know up front that there’s an unethical component to it, are you going to do it just because it might pay well? If racism paid well would you promote it if it didn’t fit in with your morality? What about child porn, videos of death, cruelty to animals, etc?

There may be things you find unethical that you’ll complain to someone else about that doesn’t find it unethical. In that case it’s more on you than on the other person. But if you know it’s unethical and you promote it anyway, or the other person knows or believes its unethical and promotes it anyway, what does that say about your commitment to principles? Is making a buck, no matter how much it is, really worth your self respect, let alone the respect of others?

I know what I think; what say you?

56 thoughts on “Would You Recommend Something Unethical For Money?”

  1. Hi Mitch,

    I don’t think that I would promote something like this either. With karma and conscience aside, I feel that in order to promote a product to its maximum potential one would need to fully believe in the product and honestly think that it provides value.

    If those elements are not there it will be hard to put in 100 percent and the affiliate could be better off promoting a product that they believe in, even if it’s not “one of the fastest growing” products.

    Plus, it would ruin your reputation and make any future promotions hold less credibility.

    1. Thanks for your perspective Keith. I don’t think one has to be fully behind everything they might promote in their spaces, but if you know it’s not right and you still do it I think you have to question your ethics. Yeah, some folks will say it’s about making money; I just can’t go that way.

  2. That’s a no brainer for me Mitch. No! Especially if I had any doubts at all. I’d also remove that person from my list of professional affiliates. If I unknowingly promoted something I later found to be dodgy, I’d come clean and explain what happened and how, and why I no longer agree with my previous position.

    Acting ethically, with integrity and line with my values is really important to me – knowingly promoting something that will disadvantage someone goes against all I agree with. It’s not worth sleepless nights and my professional reputation.

    1. Thanks for your opinion Sue. I’m with you, once you cross to the other side on your ethics it’s over, and even if no one else learns about it you’d know. Sleepless nights aren’t worth anything, are they?

  3. Mitch, there is so much misleading information online, I think I have mention this in my previous comments. In my career when I have teach other SEOs or web developers, the first step have always been to tell them to find their own reliable sources of information and news, trust me there aren’t many and unfortunately the most misleading stuff is coming from A-list bloggers and newspapers. Some are doing it for money and others are just doing it because lack of knowledge (rewritten from somewhere else). This is unethical period.

      1. Even lack of knowledge is no excuse. Even recommending something small like web hosting company which have good uptime and support in the beginning and after that turn bad, could lead to a lot of negative results for any business, about the loans there are so many pitfalls and for sure non-expert can’t recommend anything like that.

      2. Well, when you put it like that Carl, it’s hard to disagree. I guess overall since there is an internet it means people should research everything before they decide to recommend it, just to be safe.

  4. Doing something like may only benefit you for one time, but how about future promotions or marketing? You will have ruined your reputation and thus limiting the chances of getting more promotions in future. It is better to just do what is ethical and right.

    1. Thanks for your opinion Jamie and of course I agree with you on this one. Mistakes are one thing but intentionally promoting something many feel is unethical can ruin a reputation.

  5. Well Mitch, Pay Day Loans may be useful for some people, but I see them as preying on the vunerable – anyone stuck in this cycle needs a different type of financial help, help to overcome their issues.
    I wouldn’t touch this type of promotion with a barge-pole. The only things I promote are products or services that I use personally and bring benefit to my business.
    Very thought provoking post ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Good input Jacs. It just seems like it’s meant to draw people in who can least afford it, and I’ve read some articles and blogs where people who have gotten themselves into it had to work really hard to get out from under the debt. If I didn’t know anything about it & promoted it, then learned about it that’s one thing. Knowing about it, or other things up front, that’s another matter. It’s so cool seeing so many people here saying they’d do the ethical thing.

      1. It’s interesting, but here in the UK, a company is now advertising on TV, pay day loans seems to be just coming into mainstream advertising here – and it has a real catchy name and tune to draw your attention – and it’s advertising a loan till pay day – they even plug how many people pay them off before they’re due!! – no mention of the poor people who aren’t able to and end up in more trouble – it makes me feel sick whenever I see/hear it, and I feel really sad for people who are drawn in by the advertising – we can’t change the advertising or the people that prey on the vunerable – but at least we can hold up our heads and be ethical in our Businesses – as you say Mitch, great to see many people taking a stance against the unethical ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. Thanks for sharing that Jacs. I haven’t seen a commercial on TV yet, but I do know that the Treasury Department has decided to investigate major banks and their participation in this type of thing, and to me that’s enough to show that it’s dodgy in some fashion.

  6. Back when I have started in online business I knew that whenever a customer would have a project that I personally don’t like or are against my principles or they are in direct competition to other customer of mine I would reject it.
    It is very hard to obtain earnings from ideas or projects you don’t believe in. There are a lot of ways to get paid and letting down your personal belief only for a quick buck could bring you down on the long term.

    1. Good stuff Saru. I can’t say that I’ve had to consider working with anyone that was unethical all that often, but I did have one place I was consulting where I had to seriously think about whether or not to report the hospital, which in the end I didn’t, and it’s bothered me ever since.

      1. Well even the word “unethical” has different limits depending on one’s community, religion, education or simply mental health. If my principles differ from yours than one specific idea is ethical from my point of view but unethical from yours.
        Sticking to your topic the unethical characteristic of the “pay day loans” is the great amount of interest that finally would make the customer go broke. If the interest would have had a decent rate (i.e. like a bank’s loan rate) then the loaner would have been seen as a social service provider since he would have helped the customer with some money to pass a bad period.

  7. Hey Mitch this is an interesting thing to look at and I think it is another example of making it far too easy for people to get money. But you are also brining up the questions about would you promote something that you consider to be unethical and I would have to say no.


    1. As a teacher I would hope you’re say that Angus. The thing is one might not make money from such a venture, but just advocating it might ruin one’s reputation forever.

  8. Short answer. HELL NAW.

    If it’s something I feel is unethical then I wouldn’t promote it. Especially payday loans.

    I learned the horrors of these places about 15 years ago first hand and I’d never use one again, nor would I ever suggest that anyone else use one.

    I will admit though, that there have been times in my life where I decided “I don’t care what I have to do, I have to get this money!”

    Well, it turns out I did care, because I just can’t go through with some things. One time I was going to work for an insurance company, and in the training the guy is telling we have to convince people to buy things they don’t need and to try to scare people. The money looked good but I just couldn’t do it so I had to leave that alone.

    Sometimes I wish I was a ruthless cutthroat money grubber, though. I’d likely have that yacht and beach-house already ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. John, great perspective. The closest I ever came to that sort of thing was right out of college, where a friend and I answered one of those “be your own manager” ads and ended up with one of those wholesale marketing companies. What these folks did was drive around the city looking for groups of people and then selling things out of the back of their van. That seemed smarmy to me so my friend and I tried doing it more legitimately, but of course found that all those stores already have vendors. One day, that’s all it took. lol

  9. Hi Mitch,
    I think there are many people out there who would actually say yes because they are seeing it in the business point of view but for me it would be No!. No, because I certainly have gone through the experience of promoting bad stuffs and losing genuine clients. I think when promoting products or stuffs, it should be noted that its not only about right now but also about the future.

    Promoting something unethical or something which is a complete waste and not useful for the customer can jeopardize your online reputation and well even the promoter himself/herself will not have the peace of mind because he knows that he is doing something wrong by promoting something unethical. Isn’t it?

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Shiva. Actually, everyone that’s commented on this post has gone with “no”, but it does make me wonder if someone believes it’s fine to do but doesn’t want to risk looking, well, unethical. lol I’ve never been one of those people who will do just anything for money, and I know it’s probably held me back in some ways, but I have to be true to myself since I will definitely live with myself for the rest of my life. lol

  10. If I were to be honest about the subject, I would say the list would be shorter If I were to say what I would not do for money. I know I would not forsake my God, Family or Country for money. This covers a wide range of things. Anything except for these I’m sure I could be bought for a price.

    1. That’s an interesting contradiction Artison. I’m not religious so I’m not coming at it from that point of view. However, one would think that the connection of “god, family or country” would include an ethical base which says that there would be limits that might be even stronger than someone who only bases their thoughts on their personal ethics. I’m curious as to what type of possibly unethical things you might think would fall out of that category.

  11. Hi Mitch,

    Yes , The age old question when it comes to business. Personally โ€“ Especially when your businessโ€™s bread and butter (main income) comes from online sources and or websites, Being unethical in the long run might mean closing your website and registering a new domain when it comes to new algorithms from the search engines. And once youโ€™ve been exposed to using unethical business tactics โ€“ then who would want to do business with you?

    1. Good stuff Anton. I think it’s even worse in one’s own community because, unless you’re prepared to move, those people will see you on some type of consistent basis, and you’d have to put up with how those people might be feeling about you.

  12. Very easy to say that you wouldn’t but people do act unethically sometimes just to survive and until you’ve been in that position you can’t know for sure. Good article.

    1. Elena Anne, who says I haven’t been put into that kind of situation? Goodness, life brings these types of decisions to all of us many times, and I tend to believe that track record determines how one will act. This isn’t a situation where you have to decide whether to deliver that packet of cocaine to a politician or your kids get killed; I think that’s a Kobiyashi Maru type of scenario where it has to play out. But if you’re open to make money however, no matter what it is, that’s an ethical dilemma that I’m betting even you’ve had to deal with at least once in your life.

  13. Hi Mitch,

    Great thought provoking article and I agree with you whole heartedly. There is no way that any self respecting person should promote unethical things. I must admit this is something of a sore point at the moment, as you know the Olympics has been on in the UK and the Paralympics is about to start and do you know what the main food service is available on the Olympic Park.. Macdonalds – I know you don’t have to buy the food they sell, but I think it’s on a parallel with what you are saying – someone in the UK Government is making a ton of money at a sporting event that promotes fitness and health but offering one of the most unhealthiest food options available.

    1. That’s funny Steve. Whereas I don’t have any gripes against McDonalds at all, I do remember thinking “McDonalds sponsoring the Olympics; that’s ironic”. I don’t think that’s unethical but it was strange. lol

  14. I do not agree with these so-called loans. Many have used this tipe off business along time but each time ended badly for them. I can not believe that the Government encourages such things.

    1. Dan, the government doesn’t encourage it, but banks come up with these things and the federal government really has little they can do about it until the complaints come rolling in, which is starting to happen.

  15. We were discussing this same issue last night Mitch on our NW Superstar hangout. The types of products people promote, it’s just really unnerving the lengths some people will go to to make money.

    I’m really surprised that Zac mentioned this even knowing that it’s unethcial. It’s like knowing the government if fixing to shut something down but you’re promoting it anyway just to make that last red cent because some sucker will fall for it. That’s not building a business with integrity, that’s just down right dishonest to me.

    I see a post coming from this as well. Glad you sparked the light too Mitch. Thanks for bringing this to light.


    1. Good stuff Adrienne. I can imagine you’ve got a post coming out of this. I actually have a post coming out of a comment someone left here as well, but my publication schedule is way out at this point. lol

      Yeah, I was kind of surprised he did that as well. I commented on his post and he said he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t bring it up. The thing is you never, and I mean I’ve never, heard a single person say that payday loans has been beneficial to them, which is why I think it’s unethical. If someone didn’t think it was and decided to promote it, that would be a different thing. But once the disclaimer was added… you know.

  16. No, I wouldn’t.

    But, I have to be honest here – depends a lot on what’s the act and the amount of money you offer me.

    How do we define something as ethical or non ethical? It is very much subjective, right Mitch?

    To a person who need money immediately, he doesn’t care about the ethics of pay day loans (will he? will he ever? Even if he was recipient of the loan?).

    Money is an essential part of our life – we need money to live, but we don’t need it excessively. For some, they may not have enough money to survive (they perceive to not have), but in reality, they may have the money.

    For others, they may have a lot of money but perceive to not have any.

    It all depends.

    Then there is man’s greed.

    Greed causes people to do many things – even betray their own friends or spouse.

    But, it all depends.

    1. Actually Jeevan, I’m going to disagree with one main statement you made: “How do we define something as ethical or non ethical? It is very much subjective, right Mitch?”

      I think ethical is ethical, no matter what. Based on what you said, a person who thinks killing others is ethical is a subjective thing; sorry, but it’s not. You could say it’s an extreme but people often fall back on “well, that’s a different thing”; no it’s not. The degree of ethical and non-ethical behavior doesn’t work that way. Ethics do work based on what’s in front of you, such as the scenario I pointed out to someone earlier where I said if you have to save a family member from being killed by doing something that’s unethical, your ethics are still your ethics but those are in putting family above all harm. In the same breath, you wouldn’t condone someone breaking into your house, stealing your stuff, and beating up your family members so they could feed their families. At least I assume that’s correct; is it?

      If a person’s ethics can cause someone else harm in any way but you don’t care because it’s all about you, then those are your ethics, good or bad. But if there’s even one slight bit of reluctance because ethically you know what you’re doing isn’t totally right, well, that’s something one would have to live with. Maybe this makes you a better businessman than me; I’ve heard that my ethics can be tough sometimes. lol

  17. Mitch, I love my freedom and the credibility I’ve built; therefore, I would not intentionally recommend something unethical for money. In fact, I’m more cautious than ever about what I post on my sites.

    I used to be excited when someone asked me to post something that I rarely researched it, because I thought it was legitimate because it came from someone I knew. I don’t do that anymore. I make sure that I have good background information before I share it.

    1. Thanks Marcie. Yeah, there are a lot of sneaky things out there, and I’m very cautious as well. I even check lines from guest posts for my finance blog on the search engines, just to make sure no one has directly copied someone else’s work.

  18. I guess that it isn’t ethical to recommend something bad for some money, it is some kind of liar behavior. And I actually hate liars. I know and recognize it, that it is usual in the everyday practice in the marketing scene, it is all about selling and money, but I think that there is still an ethical way of promotion or advertising. Maybe I am a stupid idealist…

    1. I’d agree with you Lili. For years there was a commercial shown on TV, one of those male enhancement commercials that promised… well, you know. Turns out it was a total fake, but it took 3 years to be discovered. Imagine how many men thought the commercials were funny and bought that stuff when the makers knew it was phony; that’s just a shame.

  19. Hi Mitch,
    I have come across people that promote unethical programs and strangly enough they did not know that the program that they are promoting are unethical. Knowledge is power and lack of it will make many people join such schemes only to realise that they have been scammed.

    1. Good stuff Elizabeth. I often think people are fooled because they’re looking for the quick fix and some of the people promoting this stuff makes it sound really easy. Also, it’s like not going to the doctors because you know you’re sick and something’s wrong, but you don’t want anyone confirming it. That’s a shame, but it leads to unethical patterns unfortunately.

  20. I could not live with myself involved in something that would harm others, as these paydays hurt people financial in the long run. We once had shoes on our retail site and when we received 3 complaints on the quality we took them off. Even though the supplier told us it was just a few “bad apples.” I like to know what we sell helps people to be more comfortable on their feet. It’s hard to build back a reputation once hurt.

  21. Hello Mitch,

    A nice awakening for many. I would like to speak for myself. Regardless of the money involved, I would never recommend anything which is not ethical nor will I write anything, which my conscience does not approve of. I mean it.Frankly speaking, I was never in a situation where I had to decide between ethical and unethical. Nonetheless, ethical is what is correct for me.


    1. Thanks for your comment Rajkumar, and I like that sentiment a lot. Seems to be a lot of ethical folks commenting on this post; glad to see that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. All in all it’s all about money money money. Money itself is very unethical. Everybody can do everything in order to get more $$$. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I have to disagree Martin. Money isn’t unethical; it’s not an entity that can be unethical. What some people will do for money is unethical and what some people will do with it is unethical. But without money, no good can occur either.

      1. Long time people lived without money and they shared everything between each other, but when money cam into life it changed everything. However, the money we use nowadays has no real value anyway.

      2. Martin, though money itself might not have always been around, commerce has almost always been around. Early on there was sharing because the pack was needed for protection. Once humans realized they didn’t always need to share a space with 20 people at a time, other considerations came into play, that being commerce. In its own way, it can be interpreted as a monetary system because some humans had more valuable things than others and thus class systems came up. Anyway, it’s more of a historical perspective than anything tangible, and it’s taking me away from the point of this post.

  23. Montel Williams actually did a commercial for some type of loan a while back. I haven’t seen it in a while however I think it was the same type of thing. It’s comparable to loans that some companies now make to plaintiffs in a litigation case. They loan the plaintiff money, based on an anticipated “award” they will receive from their settlement and the interest rates are “Incredible”. I mean they quadrouple in no time FLAT! I never endorsed them myself, I won’t even open my mouth to a client about them.

    So… this is a resounding NO I would never endorse anything or anyone that I don’t know personally. How could I? I don’t know them … I don’t know what they do, we don’t have a relationship and I try to come from a place integrity. Not some place where I have something to gain at someone else’s expense. Hmmph. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks for your point of view Sue. Nope, I’d never do anything just to earn dollars if it wasn’t ethical because I’d never want to take advantage of anyone.

      1. Exactly. me neither. Especially since if someone is truly that strapped and really needs that money, the penalties alone are so high and the interest. I’m surprised they’re allowed to get away with it…

  24. I agree with you Mitch as I too believe that ethics and principles are more important to us than earning a good commission by promoting something which is harmful to others. I too have come across some of these loan offers but I never chose any whatever be my situation and also tell my friends and family to stay away from them. Taking advantage of someone’s problem is extremely unethical for me and I strictly adhere to my principles. Hope your blog opens some more eyes to reality

  25. no i wouldn’t…i am blogging for a long term and would not break mine blogs visitors trust for some bucks of money..if you have genuine traffic than there are 100’s of more ethical ways are there to earn good amount of money..

Comments are closed.