ASID Icon - January/February 2009 - (Page 42)
GRASSROOTS/ “Members agree to maintain standards of professional and personal conduct that will reﬂect in a responsible manner on the Society and the profession.” Q: Did Matt violate the ASID Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct? A: Yes. Section 3.3 of the ASID Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct speciﬁcally states that: “Members shall fully disclose to a client all compensation that the member shall receive in connection with the project and shall not accept any form of undisclosed compensation from any person or ﬁrm with whom the member deals in connection with the project.” * Names have been changed for publication. You Be the Judge! AN ETHICS VIOLATION MAY NOT ALWAYS BE OBVIOUS/ JASON SMITH HIRED Matt Jones, ASID*, to refur- bish his condominium. Jason told Matt that he wanted his condo to have a “modern” look, but otherwise left the design in Matt’s hands, giving him almost total freedom in the project. Matt asked Jason what speciﬁcs he wanted and his price range so that a contract could be drawn up. Jason initially dismissed the idea of a contract, maintaining that he trusted Matt. Matt, however, remained insistent on having a written contract. Finally Jason agreed. The contract set forth the scope of the project and established a ﬁxed fee for the conceptual design, presentations, and an hourly charge for all shopping and purchasing services. The contract further provided that all furniture and materials would be sold by Matt to Jason at Matt’s net cost from his vendors. A few months into the project, Jason and Matt visited one of Matt’s trade sources to inspect the custom furniture being manufactured for the project. Jason noticed a check that was made payable to Matt with a reference on the check to Jason’s project on the trade source’s desk. When Jason confronted Matt about the check, Matt told him that on occasion he receives a commission from a trade source for bringing in his clients’ business. Jason expressed his dismay that Matt received payments of this kind, and terminated Matt from the project. In addition to commencing a lawsuit against Matt, Jason filed an ethics complaint with ASID arguing that, under these facts, it was improper for Matt to receive payments from his vendors on his project. Since Matt did not disclose to Jason that he would receive compensation from vendors in connection with the project and accepted “undisclosed compensation” from a vendor with whom he was dealing in connection with Jason’s project, he violated section 3.3 of the ASID Code of Ethics. The circumstances suggest that Matt also violated Section 5.1, which states, “Members agree to maintain standards of professional and personal conduct that will reflect in a responsible manner on the Society and the profession.” Would Matt have avoided the code violations if he had disclosed to Jason that he would be receiving compensation from his vendors? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Under the arrangements, Jason was to receive the beneﬁt of Matt’s designer discounts since the furniture was to be sold to Jason at the vendor’s net cost to Matt. The question arises as to whether the vendor’s price to Matt for the furniture was otherwise inﬂated to cover the amount of compensation that the vendor paid Matt. Thus, Jason may have been paying a higher price than he would have if the net cost had been increased by the vendor to cover Matt’s compensation. Clearly, the best way for Matt to avoid such problems would have been for him simply not to accept any form of compensation from a vendor with whom he is dealing. If Matt’s proﬁt margin in connection with the projects he undertakes is not sufﬁ cient, Matt should reconsider his fee arrangements with clients and not seek to supplement those fees by payments from his vendors. 42 icon january/february/09 the magazine of the american society of interior designers
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASID Icon - January/February 2009
ASID Icon - January/February 2009
Getting it Right
Design for Life
ASID Icon - January/February 2009
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