You’re walking along a busy city street just before Christmas, shopping for deals on your limited budget, when you look down and see a wallet on the sidewalk.
You pick it up, open it and see no less than $100 inside, along with identification.
What would you do?
A) keep it? B) pocket the money and return the wallet to the owner, and lie, saying that no money had been inside when it was found? C) contact the owner and have it, including the money, returned?
In these difficult economic times when money is short and expenses are high, it would be tempting for many people to want to lighten their financial burden with some extra cash.
And even if you were to do the honourable thing and return the wallet and money to the owner, with crimes such as theft and robbery so prevalent in our communities these days, perhaps you wouldn’t expect others to do the same.
Just how honest are people in this part of the country?
A regional public relations and marketing company set out to find out.
Just before Christmas, Atlantic Credit Unions — which represents 47 credit unions, co-operative financial institutions, in the four provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador — launched an eye-opening experiment.
Representatives of the company filled 12 wallets with cards, receipts, a credit union debit card, about $100 and contact information. The wallets were then placed in various locations in the four Atlantic provinces, including this province, where there was high pedestrian traffic. Exact locations were not disclosed.
The test was to see how many would be returned.
The results are encouraging.
Within hours, finders called the contact numbers, indicating they had found the wallets. Nine of the 12 wallets were returned — and every one of them still had the cash inside.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Cory Munden, CEO of Leading Edge Credit Union in Port aux Basques, one of 47 credit unions across Atlantic Canada.
“We’re consistently consumed by news with topics of dishonesty and distrust. Our culture is built on the values of honesty and trust. Our province is recognized tremendously for that.”
The experiment was part of a marketing campaign to show that just as Atlantic-Canadians value honesty, trust and fairness, so too do credit unions across the region.
“That’s the way our business is structured,” Munden said. “We offer financial services. However, we offer it to our owners, unlike other institutions that offer it to customers.”
Munden said the locations of the three wallets not returned were not disclosed, to keep the focus on the region and the positive results.
A video of the project can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCCUQMRR520&feature=youtu.be.