Free Ebook.


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Help Readers with Debt Problems | Main | 10 Commandments of Personal Finance, Commandment #2: Thou Shalt Not Spend More than You Make »

January 24, 2008

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Absolutely! I boycott Walmart and Sam's Club 150% for three reasons: 1-the lawsuit that alleges that Walmart does not provide upwardly mobile opportunities to women, 2-how it treats its' suppliers by paying them so little that many of them can barely survive, and 3-I am sick of seeing the EXACT SAME STORES EVERYWHERE I GO, so I try to support the 'little guys.'

I shop wherever I am able to get the best deal. Let's not forget that businesses are in business to make money, not to provide jobs. Providing jobs are a necessary and welcome side affect of growing your business.

I don't generally boycott businesses. I'm sure if I looked hard enough, I could probably find something objectionable about a lot of businesses, and boycotting them would seriously impact my ability to get good deals.

To some extent yes. Not necessarily for business practices (both my parents are Wal-Mart employees and very happy, though I don't shop at Wal-Mart because Target is more convenient and less crowded).

But, I do have a problem with some companies and the position of their leaders. Tommy Hilfiger comes to mind with his comment that he would never have started his clothing line if he knew it would be so popular with black people. People like that I will gladly avoid giving my money to.

The only one I'm officially not buying products of is Sony for their evil ways with media. I try to avoid Walmart because it destroys local businesses and has cheap garbage . . . but at $6.97 for almost any pile of crap in the world, how can you avoid it!

I avoid Wal-Mart, but I do not boycott it, sometimes it is convenient or has a good enough deal to earn my business.

My friends and I avoid a local textbook store because they have a habit of following customers around as if they are there to steal.

While it's kind of an anti-value issue, I've boycotted Blockbuster for nearly a decade for their refussal to carry NC-17 films. I'm a big film-buff and didn't really like the idea of a corporation trying to limit my consumer choice.

I understand it was well within their right to not carrry them but it was also my right to not rent there. Of course they've now showed themselves to be complete hypocrits as they line their new release shelves with "Unrated" DVDs -- exactly the type of films they were opposed to in the first place. Funny how being on the verge of bankruptcy can influence a corporation's values.

And btw . . . I *love* Netflix. :)

I shop at Wal-Mart. Looking at Becky's arguments I have a few thoughts (no disrespect is meant, please):

1.) I actually was unaware of that lawsuit. Now if Wal-Mart is not giving executive positions to women simply because they are women than that is not cool at all and hopefully the plaintiff's in that suit will prevail. If the complaint is that when considering advancement they don't give extra weight based on the applicant being a woman well then I am for Wal-Mart. I believe that all candidates should be weighed on a level playing field, not given extra thought because they happen to be a woman or a minority. Then you end up seeing companies hiring based on sex or race.

2.) That is the free market. Wal-Mart pays it's suppliers what they accept. If they demanded more Wal-Mart would either find lower priced suppliers or pay if none were found. They pass those savings on to the consumer in the form of their prices (I love my Kashi waffles. At 3 stores in my area they range in price from $1.86 to $2.49 a box.. I buy them at Wal-Mart for $1.86..). How do you propose Wal-Mart does business? Offer to pay more when they could negotiate less? I don't often do that.

3.) The first part of the argument is not that rational. Do you shop at Kohl's, Best Buy, The Gap, JC Penny's, etc? I too try to help local merchants and for some items I will purposefully buy something that is a bit more from a local merchant to keep them going but I still will shop at Wal-Mart. I also happen to like having the same store layout no matter where I am (roughly). Helps make shopping more efficient.

Back to the question. Sometimes I will, in effect, "boycott" maybe not in an organized way though. If there is something I know that is involved in a product that goes against my world view I will not support it.

As an example: A coworker of mine who I respect a lot has a daughter with Type I diabetes (insulin dependent due to her body not external conditions). He does a walk in her name for the cure every year. He asked for donations and I told him politely that I could not donate to the organization in question because some of the money would go to Embryonic Stem Cell research and while I hope we get a cure for this nasty disease that has such an impact, I don't want to see it come from killing life. I did, however ask for his help in searching for a way to give in his daughter's name to an organization that supports cure research and will NOT use embryonic stem cells.

I have avoided Wal-mart for years. I try to shop at locally owned businesses rather than chains. We have a subscription to farm through a Community-Supported Agriculture program, which does not eliminate but reduces the amount of produce we buy that has to be hauled to our table over long distances using large amounts of fossil fuel.

Our CSA gives us strawberries a few HOURS after they are picked, and good God, they are wonderful.

More info here on CSAs:
http://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms/csaguide.html

I don't purchase from companies whose policies diverge widely from my own ethical beliefs, whether it's a company-wide policy (e.g., Cracker Barrel, prior to the recent change in policy) or bad behaviors on the part of branches of the company of which the HQ is aware and does nothing substantive (e.g., Denny's).

That aside, I think it's important that whatever purchasing decisions we make are based on facts and well-formed opinions and not false information. A comment referenced to Tommy Hilfiger -- that whole thing was long-ago proven to be a hoax. For more info, please see http://www.snopes.com/racial/business/hilfiger.asp or Google "Hilfiger" and "hoax" or "urban legend". Indeed, the identical email hoaxes, replacing Hilfiger's name with Liz Claiborne's and changing the gender have been going around for years. Whether we're making purchasing decisions or voting, we have a responsibility to check out out the facts underlying our decisions.

Definitely. I have never stepped foot into a Walmart. I believe in independent business and I don't understand how companies like Walmart can exist in a country that claims to have laws against monopolies. I also boycott Amazon.

I think the fact that you have managed to buy all you need and have "never stepped foot inside of a Walmart" goes to help explain the answer to your question about laws against monopolies.. ;)

Here's another question I am curious about..

How many people boycott a company because others you know boycott it or you have preconceived notions about what you are boycotting?

Reminds me of the story a friend told me.. Someone had one of those Free Tibet bumper stickers on their car when they were in fashion. Someone asked about it, and the answer basically indicated that the person who bought this sticker and stuck it to their car was under the impression that Tibet was a person...

I have avoided companies that don't line up with one of my values - treating people with respect. If I have a bad experience, I will avoid them like the plague. I will drive to the other side of town to their competitor if I have to.

The Great Harvest Bread Company in Wilmington, NC tried to tell me that they don't make pizza dough for people after I purchased some from them a few weeks before. When I asked why I wasn't called (with my name and number on the order placed several days before), to tell me this so I didn't waste my time he told me that my time wasn't wasted because I could go next door to the pizza parlor and order pizza there.

I never went back again, and I took pride in telling anyone who talked about them about my story.

I am by no means a Wal-mart fanboy, but..

You do realize that Wal-mart started out as an independent business, right? Why do people always think that Wal-mart has always been this huge giant going around crushing little businesses. Sam Walton took the time and energy to expand his stores. Lot's of people supported him as the 'little guy' and he turned the company into a 'big guy'. There are plenty of suppliers who have refused to sell products to Wal-mart because they can't meet the desired price. It's called supply and demand.

Also, There is also a difference between a lawsuit and an actual ruling.

And if you think Wal-mart is screwing people. Just look at their profit margin: only 3.61% last year. They are a business. Businesses make money.

I don't necessarily "boycott" any stores, but it takes a lot for me to go into a Wal-Mart (stores tend to be dirty, not enough cashiers, not well organized, in my opinion) or a Blockbuster Video (a few years ago I returned a DVD, but forget to put the DVD in the case - it was still in my player - and instead of calling me to let me know the DVD was missing, my account went to collections before I realized what happened - we had gone on vacation in the meantime). I realize the Blockbuster thing was mainly my fault, but I thought they should have been more proactive with their customer.

Another thing I have started this year is not watching NFL football, mostly due to the way they treat their retired players, and I tend to find the games completely boring most weeks.

When I avoid doing business with a particular company, it's because of practices that negatively impact me directly.

Another commenter mentioned blockbuster, and indeed I avoid them for much the same reason. Aside from NC-17 content, they also bowdlerize R rated movies too, and they don't even tell you when they've done it.

I don't shop at WalMart much, but that's because I live in an urban area and there just aren't any less than 45 minutes away, whereas there are 3 Targets within 15 minutes. But I have no problem with their business practices. They abuse their employees and suppliers and pass the savings on to me! It's up to the employees and suppliers to look out for their interests, just as I look out for mine.

PJ, if you're getting a better price for produce from your local farm or the quality is sufficiently higher that you're willing to pay the additional cost, good for you. But don't kid yourself that you're necessarily helping the environment by avoiding transporting food. Let's consider two of the most popular fruits, bananas and oranges. To grow them year round (or possibly at all) in the northern half of the US, you would probably need heated greenhouses and perhaps artificial sunlight too. That takes a lot of energy, and it probably takes less energy to just grow them in favorable climates and transport them to faraway markets when they're ready. Other types of produce that make more sense to grow locally would be grown locally anyway, even when you buy it from the grocery store. I doubt that many grocery stores are in the habit of paying their suppliers more than they have to. Plus, consider that you're now driving two places (the farm for your produce; the grocery store for the other stuff you need). That takes fossil fuels too.

Freedom is having choice! You can have your choice of where, when or even if you wish to shop. Thank GOD and American soldiers we have that choice in this country.

My uncle, who is a president of a local labor union, boycotts Wal-Mart because of the way they suppress their workers' ability to organize.

Well there are two sides to the labor vs management story. I tend to look twice at deals that unions disagree with. In New England there is a big phone company deal with northern new england line service. The union representing the linemen is very opposed to the deal. Lots of advertising going on. I just can't see any valid reason for them to be against the deal, however.

Sometimes unions function for the union. I agree that there was a time when they were necessary because people were taken advantage of and they needed to work so the free market couldn't self right itself without collective bargaining. This ultimately led to laws eliminating many of the things the first unions sought to remove.

Now it almost seems that a lot of unions function as political powerhouses, pacs with lots of money, union dues going to the union hierarchy and lining a lot of pockets along the way (I don't mean underhandedly here just talking about the executive and administrative overhead) and they really end up making companies either go bankrupt, pass on higher costs to consumers or shift manufacturing to foreign countries where the labor laws are not what they are here and unions are not what they are here either. A lose lose situation...

I do boycott companies that are in complete opposition to what I stand for.

Ever since the Valdez went aground and Exxon refused to do the cleanup because it was cheaper to pay the fines (and still hasn't paid them either, btw) I have refused to buy gas at Exxon. Really hurt when they bought out Mobile because I liked Mobile and their stations were handy, but I grew up in Alaska and that one just chapped my butt.

I generally avoid WalMart, because they treat their workers so horribly and employ underhanded tactics to run small locally owned shops out of areas they're coming into. I do admit that sometimes when I need something at 11:30 at night I give in and run over there, but I hate it and try my best to plan things so I don't end up having to shop there.

In general, I try to shop locally at non-chain stores and restaurants. While I do a lot of online shopping, I always look for something locally first. And we're looking for a good local farmer's co-op for produce.

Definitely, no middle eastern stores for me!!

Julie Bestry -

Can you tell why "snopes" is any more believable than any other website you can get info from?

I don't boycott any companies currently, but i can remember a time when my parents were boycotting certain businesses because the companies gave money to planned parenthood., and they were ardently pro-life.

I shop at wal-mart because they ALWAYS have lower prices on everything in our area. Groceries, clothes, dog food. Everything.

At the same time I do think that big businesses need to be responsible corporate citizens, and compensate their employees fairly.

Pete

Of course! In an capitalistic democracy we can create change by what we support with our vote and our dollar. This gets to the core of the consumer vs citizen debate that Robert Reich writes about in "Super Capitalism". If we don't vote and buy with our own interests in mind we fail to play our role in both our democracy and our economy and instead let both be run by who ever gives us the better price instead of the better total package.

Yes, WalMart/Sam's Club, and especially Fox News. They should change their name to
CNN = Conservative News Network.

Fox News...we lie, you decide
or
Fox News...we lie, you believe us

I boycott Wal-Mart, and have for years. It saddens me when people say things like "I wish I could boycott Wal-Mart, but they sell stuff so cheap!" or "That is the free market. Wal-Mart pays it's suppliers what they accept." It's not that I think that people should have my values, but the only way we can affect change as consumers is with our wallets, and when people just don't care... It sucks. Wal-Mart is absolutely terrible for America, there are no ifs ands or buts about it. Anyone that doesn't believe that either isn't aware of the facts or has their head buried in the sand.

I make a conscious choice to try to shop in ways that support the kind of community I want to live in. That means shopping locally whenever possible, and doing my best to avoid companies known for discrimination (still not flying American after that nasty incident with the gay couple last year) and abusive practices (WalMart deliberately shorting its workers of hours so they can't qualify for benefits, firing its most experienced workers to save a few bucks an hours on salaries while bragging about what they pay, LOCKING THEIR WORKERS IN OVERNIGHT...). It also means trying to shop organic and local whenever possible (the commenter above who can't get his mind around the idea that maybe you wouldn't eat certain seasonal fruits out-of-season due to the environmental costs or that you could go shopping any other way than in a car cracked me up. My walk to and from the Greenmarket on Saturdays is both pleasant and good exercise, especially on the way back). Obviously I am not perfect about this, but I am glad that I am in a financial position now that I can choose to shop my values in this way when I have the opportunity.

People who think they can continually benefit from big corporations muscling their employees and suppliers around (and thus indirectly smaller, local businesses) without any of that misery eventually landing on their own doorsteps are kidding themselves. When Wal-Mart (just for instance) doesn't provide health insurance, taxpayers end up picking up the slack. When it produces a class of overworked, underpaid, mistreated employees, those people aren't able to contribute to their own communities, and that affects us all, too. If you think the money the corporations and their highly-compensated executives make will trickle down to the rest of us, think again--the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is *lower* than it was in *1973*. (Americans have an apparently more materially wealthy lifestyle now because women went into the workforce, but basically this means households had to add workers just to keep up!)

Now, obviously a lot of people are in a position where they really need to scrimp and pinch to get by. I remember what that was like, and I don't expect people in that situation to start paying twice as much for organic food, but for those with more disposable income, it's worth trying to invest in the world you want to live in, not just in your immediate personal well-being.

I absolutely boycott stores that have practices that I don't agree with. Wal-mart keeps their employees from organizing into unions to better themselves, they show them how to apply for welfare and health insurance and purposefully keeps people on part time instead of full time so they don't have to pay the additional benefits costs, they pressure their suppliers to lower their prices to costs below what they can afford, they use factories that have documented abuses, they somehow connive local government to give them tax subsidies just for coming to your town and building their store (that obviously rivaling local business do NOT have)(althought I think this practice is finally abating some)... *pant pant pant*

Someone earlier commented about how Walmart started out small. I think that if Sam Walton could see what they did with his company, he would be rolling over in his grave.

If people want to check out the companies they shop at, look into Coop America: http://www.coopamerica.com/ and see the scorecard for businesses they keep on various issues, as well as shopping alternatives.

Now that I've gotten all that off my chest, I do have to admit that I shop at some stores that aren't totally shiny clean on all those fronts. I can understand one's want or need to stick their head in the ground on the politics of choose a place to buy your cereal. It's sad that we even have to, but there you go. Given that, while I don't shop at Wal-mart, I try not to fault anyone else for the choices they make.

It's scary once you really delve into these things. Makes that hole in the sand look goooooood.

I boycott stores that do not allow the Salvation Army to set up their kettles and I also boycott Abercrombie and Fitch because of their advetising practices.

Wages at Walmart are based on supply and demand in an open marketplace. Unions are an anachronism that distort the free market by attempting to change the supply and demand for workers.

Could Walmart pay more? Absolutely. Should the law compel them to pay more, absolutely not. Should you give more to Charity, absolutely. Should the law compel you to do so, a thousand times no. Should the law force you to go to a certain gas station? Should the law compel your boss to pay you more money? No. If you want more money than you may need to change jobs, get better training, get another degree, get more experience, or move to a new location. Your current employer may already be paying you more than you are really worth in the same way that you may being paying too much for any of a hundred services you pay for every day.

If you really want to change Walmart than you need to buy shares of Walmart. Walmart will change when its owners, AKA Shareholders, demand that change. Right now those owners are interested in boring things like ROI and ROE and Inventory Turnover. They are anti-union because unions have a negative impact on all of these metrics.

I think Sarah must live in an Urban setting. The nearest grocery store to my house is 15 miles. I live in an environment with rather harsh winters. The nearest "green grocer" is about 35 miles and the nearest farmer's market is about 45 miles. There is a small farm stand in my town which has some produce in the summer and early fall but not nearly enough of a variety.

Walmart is simply paying its employees what they're worth. If they were worth any more, they'd work somewhere else. If you try to set up a business that pays people more than they're worth, you simply have a lottery where the jobs go to the lucky. It's great for the people inside looking out, and unemployment for the people outside looking in. That's essentially what happens when labor unions get involved. How is it fair to turn away someone who is willing to do the same work for less, just because he didn't happen to get there sooner?

In every way it can, Walmart puts the consumer first. All those local, mom-and-pop stores everyone is so nostalgic about? I, for one, am glad they're being replaced by Walmart. Walmart means better selection, better hours, and better prices. I would never go back to the time stores would actually close at night.

Matt, you said "In every way it can, Walmart puts the consumer first." You're kidding, right? Wal-mart only cares about customers as long as they contribute the bottom line (just like almost every other business). If Wal-Mart made money while destroying live in the U.S., they would. Oh wait, they already do that!

To compare two big box retailers, look at the way Wal-Mart treats employees, customers and communities and the way Costco treats employees, customers and communities. Look at it with an open mind, and maybe you'll understand.

Sam .. that's funny. Although I wouldn't consider CNN conservative by any means. My army friend refers to it as the Clinton News Network. :)

I definitely don't support businesses who my values don't align with. The main one is credit card companies. Their practices are far worse than any of the others listed, but because they've become so engrained in our culture, people seem to overlook them.

RP, what better reason is there for putting the consumer first than the bottom line? That's how it's supposed to work. By putting the consumer first (and to clarify, by first, I mean ahead of employees and suppliers) Walmart makes more money.

Do you have any examples of how Walmart treats its customers badly? I mean, I know the service is pretty basic. But I don't expect much when I'm paying so little. It's not a Mercedes dealership.

Whose lives has Walmart destroyed? The owners' of other retail businesses? Domestic suppliers? Both had it coming. They were simply out-competed, and the consumer benefited. Even for them, it's a bit over the top to say their lives were destroyed. They just got a dose of reality.

As for Costco, yes, they do pay their employees more and they still manage to get by. But like with any expense a business has, it's really the customers who pay it. So what do the customers get for paying that extra cost? Possibly better service (Costco is more of an upmarket store), but my guess is that mostly the customers get to feel better about themselves, just as some people will pay a lot more for local organic produce mainly to feel better about themselves. I think they are mistaken to feel that way.

What do you mean by how Walmart and Costco treat their communities? These are retailers, not fire departments or churches. So are you alleging Walmart doesn't pay its taxes? If only I had an open mind, maybe I could understand.

When Wal-Mart forces companies to move factories out the U.S., putting hundreds (if not thousands) of employees out of work, I consider that to be bad for communities. When Wal-Mart moves in to a community, sells items at a loss to forces smaller companies out of business, then raises prices back up when the competition is gone, I consider that to be bad for business. When Wal-Mart forces employees to work part-time so they don't have to pay full benefits (forcing taxpayers to shoulder the burden), I consider that to be bad for communities. Really, there are dozens and dozens of examples. I don't consider it to be "good business".

Costco treats employees and suppliers well, and the whole system works great.

And I apologize for the "open mind" comment. That was uncalled for. There is a huge price to pay (for all of us) for Wal-Mart's legendary low prices, and I really wish people would look beyond the bottom line - that's the point I was trying to make.

Anyone who's defending Wal-Mart here needs to see the documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices." If you've already seen it and are still defending Wal-Mart then there's no hope for you. :)

I'm pretty shallow with my shopping habits. If it has decent prices, the store is clean and service good, and it's convenient to my home, I'll shop there.

Anyone who thinks that the "savings" at WalMart aren't passed on to you by various externalities is delusional. Whether through increased Medicaid and Medicare spending, environmental cleanup from their suppliers, etc... we all subsidize your WalMart discounts.

Aside from WalMart, I also refuse to purchase any products from manufacturers that test on animals (like Proctor & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Unilever, etc.). I stopped buying gas from Shell about 12 years ago, while they were supporting the military dictatorship in Nigeria. I stopped shopping at AutoZone because of their continuing support of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage.

I never assume that my action actually has a measurable impact on the bottom line of the company, but I do always send a polite message letting them know why I will not purchase their product. I seldom get even a canned response, which goes to show how much they value consumer opinion.

However, I know I do affect what the people around me buy by the example I set. I work at a university and routinely meet reps from many of these companies, and I am always honest with them. I realize their recruiters have no power to change corporate policy, so I am always very polite with them. On the other hand, I refused to accept any samples from a P&G rep, who seemed surprised that I was well-versed in her company's history of (and excuses for) animal testing. I don't think I made her feel bad, but I do think that I made her think.

I guess being Anti-WalMart is the cool thing to do nowadays. Kind of like those anti-globalization warriors..

RP - My wife worked at Walmart before we met when she was starting out. She enjoyed it, she received decent benefits, got some stock through an ESPP, and made good money for someone who did not yet have a degree and was putting herself through school. She isn't scarred for life, she was never locked in and she was treated fine.

I am also on a Fire Department, a volunteer fire department for a small town that is in a community next to a town that has a WalMart. We have received donations through WalMart to buy items that we otherwise would have to pass on to our taxpayers in the form of increased property taxes (or be forced to go without). Many local fire departments, civic organizations and others have also received generous gifts from WalMart.

When the WalMart needed to go in, they worked with the planning board to make needed infrastructure improvements to the area to support their arrival but that also helped spawn a small commercial center right across the street from them with smaller regionally owned businesses and one small independent business.

New jobs for wage workers came to the area that the small businesses in the area could not have placed into service.

I am not a WalMart employee, stockholder, etc and have nothing to gain from these comments but I consider myself a rational person and I have been trying to look at this from all angles. I just can't find any justification to believe that WalMart is evil.

@BrianK -

Please explain how we are all subsidizing the prices that WalMart offers as you explain? Please cite accurate sources with enough information for me to google (or is that too large of a search engine for me to mention? Should I mention a smaller, more independent, search engine?) and I will look at the actual data objectively as I am sure you have done....

MonkeyMonk -

I haven't seen the documentary. I'll have to look for it. I am curious to know who created it and why but hey it's a documentary so it must be true. I'll watch it and research the claims it makes. Fair warning though, I have seen other documentaries before that were supposed to change my mind only to find that objective research undid the emotional goosebumpy "feely" effect of the documentary.

The funny thing I was thinking after posting the above comments. The question was asking about your values and beliefs. A lot of folks said WalMart and said some of the quick hit statements you hear from people about some of the things they are rumored/accused to do but didn't really explain objective, rational, reasoned example of their value and the confirmed behavior that goes against the value. Share that with us so folks can make informed decisions as you have.

Beastlike, I picked Snopes.com as my example because it's probably the best known well-researched myth-busting site on the web, but you could certainly have also done as I suggested as an alternative and Google for similar results. We could certainly debate whether Snopes.com being quoted by the likes of CNN, ABC News and other mainstream news sources as a source of valid information lends further credence, but for my needs (professional and personal) it yields exemplary research. If you know of a more highly esteemed hoax/myth-busting site, please share it with us!

Of course, the best such site would be one belonging to the source, since all the hoax emails claimed Hilfiger said the damning remark on "Oprah" and the rumor went on to say that Oprah kicked him off the show. Ms. Winfrey and her staff have debunked it themselves both on the show and on the show's site at:
http://www.oprah.com/tows/pastshows/tows_1999/tows_past_19990111.jhtml

I used to work in the television industry (I've long since started my own company), and since the rumor originally started about Hilfiger saying these alleged things on "Oprah" (and, as noted, the identical quotes and letters have been sent about Liz Claiborne, with only the name and gender of pronouns changes), I'd called my King World representatives (they're the ones who syndicate Oprah). They connected me with one of the segment producers on the show, who verified that it was a fast-moving urban legend but had no merit, as by the time time rumor was well-known, Hilfiger hadn't even ever been on her show.

However, you don't know me, and you don't know the segment producer, and you'd have no reason to believe my debunking, whereas most people know and use Snopes because it has a good reputation (as do Barbara and David Mikkelson, who run the site) for presenting carefully researched materials. Certainly the actual "Oprah" site, debunking a myth about something that happened on the show, is even more reputable, but Snopes.com provides a more detailed recounting of the factual errors. (Oprah did a great job at rolling her eyes when she debunked it on air!)

Of course, you'd find the same general debunking of this story at:
http://www.hoax-slayer.com/tommy-hilfiger-rumour.htmlorhttp://www.emailhoaxesurbanlegends.com/tommyhilfigerboycott or, indeed, almost any other hoax-busting site, but again, I recommended Snopes.com as one option (doing your own research being the other) because of the extent of their research. It certainly provided a logical starting point.

Bringing this back to the subject, I boycott all spreading of rumors by checking at least three independent resources. We all have issues that resonate with us -- for someone up-topic, it was animal testing, for others, it's discrimination. But let's all base our spending and investing decisions on facts and not rumors, eh?

The exportation of jobs is irresistable as long as goods can be produced overseas for so much less that it covers the costs of doing so (shipping, for instance) and is STILL much cheaper when it reaches American consumers. It's been happening for decades in the auto industry, which has nothing to do with Walmart. I would guess that most of the anti-Walmart crowd has seen Roger and Me. To blame Walmart for this is to shoot the messenger.

Even if Walmart were to blame, there are two sides to that coin. When they market foreign-made goods to American consumers, it also creates foreign jobs. I may be a reactionary in many ways, but I do consider foreigners human beings too (I don't mean to imply you don't), and I believe that helping to lift some of the world's poorest people out of poverty will make the world a more peaceful, better place. Even when their working conditions aren't up to American standards, as long as they're not literally slaves, they took the job because it was their best alternative.

When Walmart starts competing with other local retailers, keep in mind that these other retailers were often monopolies before Walmart came along. Typically these are small towns with one hardware store, one grocery store, one fabric store, one toy store, etc. They don't compete with each other, they just sell different things. Then Walmart comes along with a much more efficient way: put it all under one roof and build a huge parking lot around it. Stay open 24/7, and charge lower prices for comparable foreign-made goods. It may be ugly, but it's still no wonder people abandon the old stores. Even if prices rise a little after the other stores are gone, I think the consumers are still better off than before.

It's true that Walmart doesn't provide health insurance for all their employees, but that doesn't mean that many of their employees have no health insurance. Teenagers are covered by their parents' plans, married people are covered by their spouses' plans, and semi-retired older people are covered by Medicare. That still doesn't quite cover everyone, but why should an unskilled laborer get health insurance from his or her employer anyway? Health insurance is a pretty lavish benefit used to attract and retain employees who are in high demand. If you can attract and retain someone for nothing more than $7/hour, why would you add this huge cost? If the taxpayers then step in and assume that burden, that's their folly.

You say Walmart "forces" people to work part-time. Are there guns involved? I think that as a condition to employment, employers should get to say how much people can work for them. To say otherwise would involve government intrusion. That's what real force looks like.

My overall point is that a healthy bottom line isn't evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, it's almost always evidence that a company is providing a good or service that people want, and doing it better than competitors. Profit is not a dirty word.

"Why should an unskilled laborer get health insurance from his or her employer anyway?"

Well, since you seem to think of basic health care as a luxury, I'll skip the appeals to human decency and cut straight to the financial chase: people without health care tend to get sicker, faster. When they have to go to the ER, who do you think ends up paying those bills? When they become too sick to work, who do you think has to support them? In the end, it's the taxpayers. So instead of being able to pay taxes themselves, people without health insurance end up draining our public coffers.

As for the person who mentioned lifting people from other countries out of poverty, it's a nice thought, but being paid pennies under brutal working conditions (often with accompanying destruction of the environment) isn't really being lifted out of poverty. It's the creation of a global serf class, competition with which will end up hurting many many Americans (and indeed already has--look at the Rust Belt). It's a classic "race to the bottom." In many of those countries, workers will never be able to improve themselves because business has such a stranglehold on government that workers end up shut out of the political process altogether.

As for people asking for detailed information on Wal-Mart's abusive practices, fair enough. Here are a couple of links:

WalMart Workers Assail Night Lock-Ins (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/18/national/18WALM.html?ex=1389762000&en=659ee9a0025b35de&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND)

Wal-Mart To Add Wage Caps, Part-Timers (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/02/business/02walmart.html?_r=1&oref=slogin) ("Wal-Mart’s top human resources official sent the company’s board a confidential memo stating, with evident concern, that experienced employees were paid considerably more than workers with just one year on the job, while being no more productive. The memo, disclosed by The New York Times in October 2005, also recommended hiring healthier workers and more part-time workers because they were less likely to enroll in Wal-Mart’s health plan.")

We all like to tell ourselves that we are good, productive citizens who could never lose our jobs to any kind of economic erosion--or that we're frugal enough that we could survive such a downturn. It's easy to blame the victims, and makes our own lack of control less scary. But the fact is, the big corporate execs taking $100+M payouts after running companies into multi-billion-dollar losses do not care about you. They do not structure their companies to benefit you or your communities. They keep an eye on their own bottom line--don't be suckered into not looking after yours.

I also find it interesting that in a post that is specifically about private individuals making private choices about how to spend their own money, people are reacting by yelling about government coercion. The people discussing choosing not to spend their money in certain stores were not advocating laws to prevent other people from doing so, but apparently enough people have bought into the corporate script that any criticism of corporate behavior is taken as the advocacy of a socialist regime.

That is a good point Sarah. We seem to be getting a bit derailed here :). I think that whole WalMart thing is causing some strife (well duh! I guess that is obvious). I never talked about government coercion but I am a happy shopper at WalMart, you are not and I think that is fine.

I just get a bit frustrated with that tribe/herd mentality that sometimes exists around issues like WalMart, Globalization, Free-Trade, Global Warming (that is whether it is man-made and a threat or whether it is explainable, shown to happen other places, etc). It seems that there are some (you could even say many) who sign on to these causes without really any objective or rational reason why. It's something that their friends stand for or something that their party stands for. That is so frustrating when we were given brains that are capable of rational thought and logic.

I will also say that I could be called a "pro-lifer" or an "anti-choice" person (depending on what label you desire to give me). Just as much as I am frustrated by the activists I mentioned above, I am equally frustrated by those who agree with my position but don't really have the ability to defend their position with rational thoughts or polite and courteous logical arguments but just rely on yelling louder (as happens on both sides of all of these issues far too often).

So this country is pretty cool. We can believe in an issue and we can support it as passionately as we want without fear of a gulag. But we also have access to some great resources through our libraries and the internet (though we need to be careful there :) ) and we should use those resources, think for ourselves objectively and come to conclusions that make sense for us.

Anyway I am just rambling now :)

Wow, what an interesting discussion we have going on here. I must agree with Ben Darfler that I am making a stand based on how I choose to spend my dollar or not to spend it. I don't think though that it is my place try to persuade other people to side with me. Others have the exact same choice with how they spend their money. That is one of the wonderful freedoms we have in this great country and I appreciate it for myself as well as for everyone else.

I also boycott other companies that I have heard employ workers/growers at such a low pay wage that those individuals cannot make a good living (usually outside of the U.S.). Yes, making a good living is relative, but I don't think employers should take unfair advantage of situations in order to make a larger profit. I believe in businesses that are sustainable and who want to make sure that their employees are also sustainable. Please see the website www.transfairusa.org to see a listing of companies that offer 'Fair Trade Certified' products. I do believe in this organization's mantra's and if I learn of companies that do not try to support it's team (employees, suppliers, growers, customers, etc.), I will boycott them.

Interestingly enough, Sam's Club is actually one of the companies listed as offering 'Fair Trade Certified' products, but I still won't shop there just because of it's affiliation with Walmart. That's just my opinion.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


Disclaimer


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.

Stats