Friday, January 8, 2010

Social responsibility Vs. Profiting to maintain low prices

H&M has been under fire this week since the New York Times ran a story about their mutilating and trashing clothing unsuitable for sale. Click here for the story.

Some are boycotting H&M for not being socially responsible. In what is surely a publicist's nightmare, H&M is claiming the one store disregarded corporate procedure by trashing the clothes. Of course associates are coming out in droves to say it is being thrown under the bus for what has always been H&M's norm.

It would be great if this scandal led to stores donating their goods to the homeless but lets be honest - it probably won't.

Stores like H&M already sell at ridiculously low prices. They don't have outlets. Transporting items to donation shelters would cost money. Shipping damaged goods back to corporate wouldn't be cost-effective - so what is in it for them besides karmic points? Not every business can be Microsoft with Bill Gates' generosity at the helm.

I'm annoyed by how the NYT slanted this article. Most stores mutilate items unsuitable for sale. Just search for Victoria's Secret on eBay - most of the items are missing tags. That's a giveaway the item was purchased at a sample sale or outlet store and was "mutilated" to prevent fraudulent returns. As I said earlier - H&M is already almost an outlet store and doesn't have the luxury of removing a tag and selling for a lower price. They'd probably lose more business by raising prices in order to donate items than by irking a few righteous consumers.

We need to stop confusing the social responsibility of businesses with those of the individual.


Chandrika Shubham said...

Thought provoking post indeed! Happy blogging! :)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Hmmm..I'm on the fence with this one. It does seem wasteful to just dump the clothes or trash them. Maybe individual stores with a mind for it could organize a time for Goodwill or Salvation Army to come and pick up items themselves. Just a thought. :)

Alicia said...

This brings to mind for me an episode of Seinfeld where someone opened a muffin shop called Top O'the Muffin and sold only the crispy top of the muffin and then discarded the bottom stump. After getting in trouble for simply throwing away the bottom stump they started donating it to a homeless shelter thereby causing the people at the shelter to complain that they were being discriminated against because they weren't good enough for the whole muffin but only good enough for the stumps. There's just no pleasing anyone is there? Damned if you do and damned if you don't!

Interesting reading though, thank you.

Ryan said...

Around here our local supermarket used to give away their leftover bakery items to the local homeless shelter. Turns out somebody choked on the donation, sued and won. They no longer donate the leftovers because of this.

H&M probably is worried about the same thing. Some of those designs seem hard to swallow ;)