Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Recently, I had a bit of a problem: I needed to buy a handheld vacuum. Easy, you might say: Stop by Wal-Mart or Target. That’s the problem: I don’t shop at Target or Wal-Mart.

This is not due to a “big companies are evil” mentality; I happily shop at department stores and order from Amazon.com. But both of these companies have done things I find distasteful.

The Wall Street Journal has reported memos from senior management, telling stores that if any employee tries to form a union, that employee is to be “made redundant” (e.g., fired) as soon as that can be done without raising eyebrows. That’s illegal, besides being nasty and unpleasant.

Last Christmas, senior management at Target sent a memo to stores telling them they were to not allow Salvation Army reps in front of their stores, as they “might make customers uncomfortable.” Might. They received no complaints; it’s just a possibility.

What concerns me about these memos is that they seem indicative of the overall style of management at these stores. They’re not simply isolated incidents; this seems to be how senior management at these stores normally operate.

So, I refuse to buy from them. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and found my handheld vacuum there.

Consumers have so many choices these days that companies now have to be aware of their behavior. Everyone sends messages.

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