From time to time we’re contacted by a reader who may ask us about our views of a certain company or ask us why we boycott or don’t boycott a certain company. This post was written to answer inquiries on this subject.
We understand and respect people’s feelings regarding boycotts. Keeping in mind we too are “people”, we too are humans, we too are consumers, we too work hard for a living, are hurting financially like the average person, and we too have to make choices on how to spend our hard earned money every day. That’s why we created this website and sister facebook page.
Ask us about this subject 5 years ago and we would have whole-heartedly endorsed the boycott of any number of companies, in the blink of an eye. We might even have endorsed or encouraged the boycott of certain towns and states due to unfair or restrictive laws and policies. However, in these economic times we’ve found in certain circumstances boycotts are not always in the best interest of consumers who desperately need to save or make money in order to survive. For example, to some people, a $2 savings on bag of flour or a pack of underwear makes a huge difference in their budget. To some people buying their prescription medication from one store over another may mean the difference between being able to afford to buy their medication or not. Another example would be the boycott of a company, and that boycott becomes so successful the company looses business and that loss of business means they have to lay off employees. There’s much to think about. For some consumers, saving a few dollars here and there may mean the difference in if they eat three meals a day, or not, or if they can afford to pay their rent or mortgage or end up living in a tent or under a bridge. And a successful boycott may mean the difference between having a job or not, for employees and potential employees of the company.
Of course, if the reason for the boycott is the company is ripping off customers with unfair or over inflated prices, we’ll most likely be the first to call for a boycott, as long as the items they sell or services the provide are non-essential, or if they are essential they can be obtained through another company.
We take saving money, and boycotts, very seriously.
To us, and to many people, saving money is serious business. It’s about being able to afford the things we need – it’s not just about finding an occasional sale on pretty boots. It’s not only about clipping coupons to save a few cents. And it’s not a game or some exciting competition as shows like TLC’s Extreme Couponing imply. Simply put, for many people saving a few dollars wherever they can is about survival.
We feel consumers who are desperate to save money should “use” any store or company in any way that helps them save the money they need to save as a matter of survival, especially if one store or company is offering an item or service they cannot get elsewhere at the same price (or close to it). But if they want to boycott a company and can afford to spend their money elsewhere, then we support and respect their decision to boycott.
We feel the great majority of retailers, manufacturers and companies in America (and around the world) are guilty of doing many things we do not agree with or that may be harmful or unfair to someone in some way. If you look deeply enough you could find a reason to boycott just about any company or corporation. However, we feel that if we (the consumer) were to boycott every company that’s guilty of doing something wrong or is guilty of being unfair, that would mean we’d be boycotting 99% of all companies and we would then most likely not be able to afford all of the items and services we need. Since we cannot fight everyone and everything all at one time, when it comes to survival (and life for that matter), we must choose and pick our battles carefully. It is unfortunate but in life sometimes people need to do things that they don’t necessarily want to do, and associate with people or companies we don’t necessarily like, but sometimes we must do these things as a matter of survival.
Practical Ways To Save Money was formed by several individuals, and we work with several other volunteers, to post important information, tips, and articles in hopes of helping others save money and in some cases help them get by one day at a time, to help them survive. Everyone associated with PWTSM cares deeply about others, about their fellow citizens, their neighbors, consumers. That’s why we do what we do. And as people who care about others, and because we too are consumers, we try to be aware of all boycotts and reports of misdeeds by companies.
At one time we were calling on boycotts every time we discovered a problem, and at one point we found we were encouraging boycotts of over 30 nationally known, popular companies. Then we took the time to think about where we’d realistically buy items or get services if not from these companies, and we calculated the money we’d have to spend to work with or buy from alternative companies, and we found for many of them there were no alternatives with companies we felt good about or that we (or the average American) could afford. That’s when we decided if we are to live life and spend money in a realistic, responsible, and practical way, we can not boycott every company that caused us or others grief or does something wrong. That’s why we feel it’s important to repeat this: Since we cannot fight everyone and everything all at one time, when it comes to survival (and life for that matter), we must choose and pick our battles carefully. It is unfortunate but in life sometimes people need to do things that they don’t necessarily want to do, and associate with people or companies we don’t necessarily like, but sometimes we must do these things as a matter of survival.
OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WORKING FOR UNFAIR COMPANIES
Looking over the work history and employers of all volunteers who are associated with PWTSM, and looking over the work history and employers of all of our friends and family, we found we can easily find fault in just about every employer each one of us has been involved in. Faults ranging from unsafe workplaces to discrimination to unfair pay and so much more. These unfair employers, that we and our friends and family have worked for, include but are not limited to:
(in alphabetical order)
Arizona Iced Tea (Hornell Brewing)
Department of Defense (U.S. Government)
Port Authority of NY & NJ
Stop & Shop
and numerous small/local businesses the average American has never heard of or would not know about
A PARTIAL LIST OF COMPANIES WE, OR OTHERS, FEEL SHOULD BE BOYCOTTED
Add to this list (above) all of the companies that we’ve read about in articles, that have been accused of doing something terrible, or have been proven to have done something unfair to workers or consumers, or who have irresponsible or unfair business practices, and you’ll find the list of who we’d like to boycott grows by the hundreds, if not thousands. And although we feel all of these companies deserve to be boycotted, we understand in reality not all of us can boycott all of them.
Boycotting or protesting a company or agency any time they’re found to have mistreated employees, employed unfair or unsafe business practices, or who have lied to or misled consumers, would mean boycotting most clothing manufacturers, most food companies and farms who employee migrant workers, virtually every landscaping company in any suburb (they often use Hispanic workers off the books for low wages), every company associated with mining or selling diamonds (have you ever heard of “blood diamonds”?), nearly every company that manufactures food (food manufacturing and canning/bottling plants are notorious for unsafe and uncomfortable working conditions), all cigarette companies (including their non-cigarette company holdings), nearly all companies who manufacture or sell alcohol, all pharmaceutical companies, nearly every store that hires cashiers (cashiers are often treated unfairly), and just about every restaurant that has ever existed (waiters, waitress, bus-boys and dishwashers are some of the most highly abused workers in this country), schools (for not teaching children properly), virtually all fire departments and police departments (both are famous for discrimination).
Now take into consideration other moral issues that many people find harmful and offensive, such as companies that do harm to the environment, or the killing or torturing of animals, or who generally rip-off consumers. That would mean boycotting every insurance company (which you cannot do if you wish to drive a car or have health insurance). It would mean boycotting nearly every bank or financial institution. It would mean boycotting every company associated with the manufacture or selling of any items made of fur or leather (or any other animal skin) which means every store that sells clothing. It would mean boycotting all companies involved in the production of meat or any products that contain meat which means every store that sells food. It surely would mean boycotting the Philadelphia Eagles for employing Michael Vick. And if you know anything about the owner of Madison Square Garden you’d understand it would mean boycotting anything at that venue, boycotting the MSG Network, and boycotting any company or holding owned by James L. Dolan. It would mean boycotting all oil, gas, and coal companies which means virtually all energy companies and all electric companies that sell oil, gas, or coal. It would mean boycotting all gas stations in the entire country. It would mean boycotting all zoos and aquariums. It would mean boycotting all pet stores that sell animals, as well as all animal breeders.
Below are just some of the companies we here at PWTSM believe deserve to be boycotted (along with those on the list above) due to their unfair or irresponsible business practices. This list is just the tip of the iceberg.
(in alphabetical order)
Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.
Associated Milk Producers
Borden Dairy Company
Campbell Soup Company
Carnival Cruise Lines
ConAgra Foods Inc.
Dannon Company Inc.
Dean Foods Company
Diamond Foods Inc.
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
General Mills Inc.
Goya Foods Inc.
H.J. Heinz Company
Hormel Foods Corporation
Imperial Sugar Company
J.M. Smucker Company
James River Coal Corporation
Jim Walter Resources
John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc. (Fisher Nuts)
Kraft Foods Inc.
Land O’Lakes Inc.
Lorencito Coal Company
Madison Square Garden & the MSG Network
Proctor and Gamble
Sara Lee Corporation
Sargento Foods Inc.
Seneca Foods Inc.
Smithfield Foods Inc.
Tiffany & Co
Tyson Foods Inc.
SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
HOW DOES PRACTICAL WAYS TO SAVE MONEY FEEL ABOUT BOYCOTTS?
As consumers and consumer advocates we strongly believe in the power of how we spend our money. As Americans and citizens of a free society we strongly believe in freedom of speech, protesting, and the power of voting. We feel all consumers, all citizens, all people should use all of these means to fight wrongs, and to let companies and lawmakers know how we feel. But in these tough economic times we find it difficult to fault someone for patronizing a company if doing so is what allows them to get by, to survive. And in turn, we feel no one should fault any of us for boycotting or not boycotting a company for the same reason.
> If you feel strongly about something a company is doing something wrong and needs to be boycotted we encourage you to speak up, spread the word by telling other consumers and by writing to lawmakers and other groups that may be able to help.
> If you can afford to boycott a company that have been accused of unfair or unsafe business practices, then we strongly encourage you to do so. But we feel it extremely important that if you decide to boycott any company that you don’t just boycott them, you must tell them you are boycotting and you must tell them why. If you don’t go out of your way to tell a company why you are boycotting then they may think the reason for a slight decline in sales is due to the economy, not due to their business practices and unhappy consumers.
> If you cannot afford to boycott a company, don’t feel guilty – do what you have to do, to survive. We will do the same.
> If you cannot boycott a company, that does not mean you cannot criticize them or call for change. For example, if you support a boycott of Toyota and you own a Toyota, but you cannot afford to sell your car and buy another, we feel you still have a write to encourage others to boycott Toyota and do what ever you can to effect change. Or, for example, if there is a call for a boycott of Walmart and you can’t afford your prescription medication unless you buy it from Walmart’s pharmacy, we feel you still have the write to encourage others to boycott Walmart and do what ever else you can to effect change.
> It should be understood that boycotting a company is sometimes simply a means to call attention to a problem, in hopes to get the company to correct it, and does not necessarily mean you can never use that company or service again, in the future.
> You should not just talk and/or post on the internet and write letters. You/We need to use the power of our vote to make sure lawmakers who favor these companies or unfair practices don’t remain in office.
> That until or unless you are in another consumer’s shoes and/or have an alternative plan to offer them, you should not fault someone for patronizing a company that provides items or services they need to survive, items or services that cannot be found elsewhere at an affordable price. Keeping in mind we do not consider non-essential items and services such as fur coats, luxury vehicles, soda, candy, cruise ships, professional sports, ipods, video games, and similar products & services to be things needed to survive.
> Boycotts are a great tool for letting companies know they are out of line or need to make changes. PWTSM may occasionally call for or participate in a boycott, and if the company is one that provides non-essential items or services (things not needed to survive) we fully expect all responsible consumers to at least seriously consider joining the boycott, but we will not automatically condemn those who do not participate.
> When calling for a boycott of any company, consider if you should be calling for a boycott of everything that company is invovled in selling, or should you only be calling for a boycott of certain items or services. Calling for a boycott for an entire company when only one product is offensive is over kill, and this kind of over kill may keep you from getting support from other consumers.
> You should never call for a boycott or ask others to boycott any company unless you know the details behind the reason for the boycott. Calling for participation in a boycott just because the company pissed you off once, or because your friend, your facebook buddy, your sister, your union, employer, political party, your house of worhship, or any organization you belong to is doing it is not a good enough reason. If you don’t know the true reason and the details, if you cannot explain it to others or at the very least point others to a reliable source where they can obtain the details, then you should not be calling for or encouraging the boycott. Doing so would be irresponsible.
> Boycotting a company does not have to mean you can never use their products or services again. Once the company makes good for things it’s done wrong, makes needed improvements, and apologies and changes it’s ways, it may be acceptable to go back to using that company. Of course this decision must be made on a case by case basis. For example a company that’s been found responsible for hundreds of deaths due to negligence may be one you never want to use again, one you hope will be put out of business. Each company and each circumstance should be judged separately.
> You should always remember that when you boycott a company you are potentially harming innocent employees that work for that company. If you’re successful in reducing a company’s business and profits, you will also be impacting the employees of that company. We should always keep this in mind when we call for a boycott.
> Once a boycott is called off (for example, after the company fixes the problem) you should also put effort into letting others know the problem has been fixed or the issue has been rectified so consumers will know their efforts worked, and know it’s “safe” to spend their money with that company again.
> Sometimes an all out boycott is not needed. Sometimes a simple letter writing campaign will bring about the change you want. Letter writing, emails, phone calls. All of these are great weapons to affect change and should be seriously considered before calling for an all out boycott, especially if a successful boycott of a company will harm innocent employees of that company or do more harm to our already fragile economy.
Wishing you all Good Health, Happiness, and Prosperity
The Staff & Volunteer Members of www.PracticalWaysToSaveMoney.com