My company is bidding on an important project. We are competing against a couple of our main competitors. Our proposal was submitted a couple of weeks ago. Today, the client inadvertently sent me an email destined to one of our competitors. I guess they did not realize they were replying to me, not the other person. In the email, the competitor’s pricing and some other sensitive information was revealed. They immediately tried to recall the message but of course that failed. I assume they will find out this wasn’t successful.
What should I do? Say nothing? Tell them that I received it and that I will delete it? It doesn’t affect anything on our end since our proposal has already been submitted. But I’m sure they feel bad about this. What’s the right thing to do here?
I would let your client know you received the email and assure them that you stand by or submitted proposal and that you will destroy the email. Deal with integrity and you will get the projects that are meant for your company.
Send a private email (in the event others were in the chain) and let the sender know that you have deleted the email and information. Ethics go a long way in any business, even if you do not get the project. Character is who you are in the dark.
This is the right time to seek legal advice. Mishandling will put you into violation of some fair competition laws. Do not hide it or pretend you know nothing about it.
I can understand the situation you are in, as few years back we did had the same situation where our client accidentally sent the communication with their client and it relived the sensitive information regarding the project which we are going to develop.
We immediately contacted our client and mentioned this assuring that our proposal is already submitted and this will not lead to any unethical work or demand at our end.
We did got the project and have worked on 2-3 more projects together.
I understand that these are sensitive information which cannot be revealed but after all we all are humans, I suggest you should mention this to them and assure them that you have discarded the email and will abide by your proposal.
You know and they know, so there is nothing to hide. Only you know the intricacies of the relationships involved, therefore I would treat this as a test, imagine this wasn't an 'error' and they did this to all the bids! to see where each company stood with their ethical values. Now decide what to do and consider the options that will demonstrate that you are a company that they would want to work with.
Was it a mistake or on purpose. Both are just as likely. My bet is that the price is less then your bid. This is a standard tactic for unethical client. If you want to contact the company call up a board member. Then sit back a see what happens.
In response to the thought that it might have been intentional, that would be an even stronger reason to delete the email and inform them that you deleted it. If they were hoping for a lower price, this lets them know you are not going to play that game. If they consider that a negative, they would be a negative customer and it is better to avoid them. If they are testing your integrity, you passed the test. I am not sure I would want to work with a company that uses ethically questionable tactics for testing the ethics of others, but unless they explicitly claim that they did this as a test, I would act as if it was an honest mistake.
In short, no matter their reason for doing it, the right answer is to delete and tell them that you did.
Have your attorney handle if there is any potential breach of privacy.
Tell your client about the same. Also tell them that you deleted the mail as soon as you received the same. This will surely create a good repute in the eyes of the Client.
Reply back telling them about their mistake and assure them you will destroy the message. Simple. Always do the right thing.