Question: A company that sells bottled “pure mineral water” discovered a problem in its filtering process resulting in trace amounts of chemicals in bottles of water already shipped. The small amount of chemicals does not pose a health hazard and no law was broken. Further, it is unlikely anyone else will detect the problem. However, the company promotes its product as “pure and of the highest quality.” A recall from retailers is the only way to correct the problem–generating high costs and bad publicity in a very competitive market. What should the company do?
Take into account:
Sometimes marketing authors treat ethics the same as social responsibility. In this context,societal “good” is defined as what is ethical. Other authors take a different perspective. They look at the situations arising when a marketing person consciously makes a decision to cheat or mislead some other party. In this context the “ethical issue” often boils down to whether or not some marketing manager has broken the law; clearly this is a much narrower view of ethics. A third perspective deals with what some ethicists call situational ethics. Here, the focus is on situations where there really is not a good solution (and certainly no legal guidelines)–and no course of action seems very acceptable.
The Threaded Discussion situations ask you to decide what a company should do when faced with difficult ethical problems. It is a matter of sensitivity. Thus, it will be important to write what you really think–and not just post, what you believe is a “socially desirable”response.
How different people might deal with these different situations will vary. It is important to understand not only your recommendation but also the reason for that recommendation. All semester, we will be studying the ethical implications of marketing decisions.