Loose Lips Sink Retail Chains?
By George Anderson
It appears as though retailers and politicos in Washington have something in common. To borrow words from Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, "We can’t keep our mouths shut."
In retail as in Washington, leaks of information appear to becoming increasingly common.
Wal-Mart recently found itself having to answer some questions about its sincerity in looking to care for its associates when an internal memo describing means to cut healthcare
costs found its way to media outlets. The document was intended for the company’s board and not public distribution.
The chain and others, including Sears and Home Depot, have also had to deal with ads offering special deals for the holiday season finding their way to web sites such as Black Friday 2005 (www.bfads.net) and GottaDeal (www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com) well before they are intended to be made public.
Last year, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun, the owner of the Black Friday site, a teenager named Michael Brim who attends California State Polytechnic University, received a call from lawyers at Home Depot telling him to cease and desist with publishing their ads.
Retailers have taken in recent years to copyrighting ads to discourage early public disclosure. The legal position taken by retailers is that prices in the ads are protected under the copyright. None have yet to take a case to court to see if their legal position would hold up.
Sears is another company not happy with Mr. Brim. He said he received a 54-page letter from the retailer’s lawyers threatening legal action if he did not remove scans of an insert for Black Friday from his site. He complied, although the ad does remain on other web sites.
Moderator’s Comment: Why does information not intended for public disclosure by retailers keep finding its way to news outlets and the internet? How
harmful are sites such as Black Friday 2005? Do retailers do themselves more harm or good with consumers with stories that they have threatened web sites such as those run by
Michael Brim? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Retailers take a dark view of ads for Black Friday leaked
to Web – Baltimore Sun (free reg. required)