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The High Cost of Low Prices is a video that shows how the infamous Walmart shop harmed the local neighborhoods, families, and already existing cities. Walmart was an organization that drained the life out of any culture that let it live within them. The series focuses mostly on interviews with current and former staff of the massive department store. The documentary's author and producer have a closer look into how the department store conducted business by using different business strategies that posed concerns about how it evolved so quickly. The audience gets to learn some of the exploitative labor practices as well as unethical practices that the company used to make profits for its growth. Besides, the documentary also exposes how the cooperation had an adverse economic impact on the communities around, businesses as well as individuals. The cooperation’s policy, executives, as well as operations were inhuman, unfair and unsafe to the communities leaving within the vicinity of Walmart (Brave New Films, 2014).
The documentary mainly focuses on the destruction caused by the cooperation to one family-owned enterprise and town that over the years remain so vivacious and active until Walmart opened in that area. The existence of Walmart in the town saw the crushing of lots of dreams and causing the collapse of other businesses as well as emptying of the city. One of the ethical issues that resulted in the collapse of this family business and the town is a lack of genuine and valuable services provided by the giant retail store. As the owner of the collapsed business laments that no one in the company new plumbing, however, they still provided the services at a poor quality to keep the customers coming back.
Walmart moves into this long-established town and promises to create employment opportunities by building a megastore structure and hires staffs. The company sells all the commodities and services already offered by other established companies within the town, the management undercuts local commodity prices resulting in the closure of a previously prosperous family enterprise. Consequently, leading to unemployment, the evolution of ghost towns as well as impoverished communities. Besides, the cooperation used their influences to lure the government to subsidize the company’s services and goods offered in a bid to improve its economic growth and development by allowing them tax breaks (Cascio, 2006).
Another ethical issue that arises from this scenario is the harsh treatment that Walmart imposed on its associates, employees, stakeholders and partners. Firstly, the company treated its employees with disregard by establishing a policy called “eat hours” forcing their personnel to work more hours than the company paid them. Employees’ health should be the priority and responsibility of any organization; however, Walmart’s employees could not even afford to pay the medical bills for their family with Walmart’s insurance. Instead, the cooperation encouraged its employees to apply for government insurance programs (Balser, 2007).
Every organization should always work to create better working conditions for their employees; this is the most serious ethical issues that a business organization should focus on to reap good outcomes. For instance, every employer should maintain safety working environment for their staffs and give compensation to their employees for any overtime job done. The existence of Walmart in the region as well as in other countries like China crushed the unionization efforts to improve the working environment and conditions of its employees (Shaw & Barry, 2014). From the interview conducted it reveals that the working condition of Walmart’s employees was so inhuman that some of them quit for other jobs that were paying well. There was a strong anti-union in Walmart Organization such conditions generated fear among the employees who were enthusiastic to join employee unions. As a result, it was difficult to find workers of the company who could speak about the condition and such records.
Every business organization has its social responsibility to the surrounding communities. However, this was not the case with Walmart who paid no attention to insecurity issues in the parking lots which resulted in increased crime such as theft against their customers. The insecurity was so rampant that most consumers shifted their shopping to other stores in neighboring towns. There was no way a multi-billionaire store could not manage to maintain the security within its vicinity.
In conclusion, Walmart was a company that sucked the life out of every community and town that allowed it to exist amid it. The retail store did its business operation by using various business malpractices that raised questions on how it grew so fast. Besides, the cooperation’s policy, executives, as well as operations were inhuman, unfair and unsafe to the communities leaving within the vicinity of Walmart. The existence of Walmart in the town saw the crushing of lots of dreams and causing the collapse of other businesses as well as emptying of the town. One of the ethical issues that resulted in the collapse of a family business and the town is a lack of genuine and valuable services provided by the giant retail store. Another ethical issue that arises from this scenario is the harsh treatment that Walmart imposed on its associates, employees, stakeholders and partners.
Balser, D. B. (2007). The Bully of Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart's Everyday Low Prices is Hurting America. Administrative Science Quarterly, 52(1), 161.
Brave New Films (2014). Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices. [Video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXmnBbUjsPs&t=2405s
Cascio, W. F. (2006). Decency Means More than "Always Low Prices": A Comparison of Costco to Wal-Mart's Sam's Club. Academy of Management Perspectives, 20(3), 26.
Shaw, W. H., & Barry, V. (2014). Moral Issues in Business (13th ed.). Boston: Cenage Learning.
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