Tea companies: How ethical is it to offer a sales % to aid Japan?

It’s  been a little while since I posted. Many of you know what I’ve been up to since I last blogged because we talk on Teatra.de, Leafbox Tea, or on twitter. Perhaps even on all three. I don’t “steepster” so there’s no point looking for me on there..

Anyway,  – Japan! Need I say more? We’ve all read the terrible news, and seen the haunting photos & vids. The magnitude of what has happened is almost incomprehensible to me. It’s on a scale that surpasses any Richter.  Natural disasters like this one remind us – that no matter how technologically advanced we are – nature still has the upper hand. It is humbling.

Thankfully these last few days have seen an outpouring of people trying to help, both in practical terms by supplying manpower and supplies, or in financial terms by donations. Several tea companies have jumped on the “tea”wagon and are offering monetary aid too. That is great. What’s not so great, is that many of these pledges are tied to their sales.  “Nothing wrong with that,” you say? I would say at the very least it’s controversial.

As I wrote on @keenteathyme’s blog:

I’m not impressed by these kinds of “charitable efforts” … When donations are tied to driving up sales, that makes me cringe. It makes me think that companies are actually trying to make money off tragedies, and disasters like the one in Japan. Basically the message is: spend more money on my tea, then I’ll be willing to part with some of it. Everyone wants their sales to increase, but making money off something like this, is unethical. Don’t make me feel I “should” be buying your tea, if I want to do good in the world. Because who is going to end up receiving more money out of these “aid” sales? The disaster relief fund, or the tea company? You bet, it’s the company. If someone is serious about their intentions, they should donate all their profits to a relief effort. I don’t care if it’s only the profits they make for a day. Because then, their “charitable” drive to increase sales is truly motivated by a sense of giving.

Sounds harsh? Think about this one. One tea company is offering to donate 10% of their profits. 10%! That’s nothing. As Pete said in his comment to @keenteathyme:

“For the company, it is the same thing as giving a 10% discount which they can do anytime because their prices are set for the kind of flexibility.”

Yes, that sounds just like an average sales promotion. Heck, it’s lower than that. Many promotions offer 15% or 20% specials.

Pete goes on to argue my point:

“I’m sorry if I sound cynical about this, but I would be more impressed if they said “all profits for the next three days will go to…”

There he said it, and I’ve said it.  All profits for a set amount of time should be pledged to help Japan. That is commendable. Alternatively tea companies should follow obubutea’s example and organize a drive for donations. Not tied to their own sales. It’s wonderful tea businesses want to help.  And sure, every little bit helps. Just don’t give me any charity hogwash about percentage based deals.





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