Unethical Communication

Module 5-Critical Thinking

Unethical Communication



Unethical Communication

Unethical communication is a behavior that entails breaking confidentiality and the manipulation of information. In general, this type of unethical behavior undermines relationships or encourages social immorality (Valde & Henningsen, 2015).

The unethical communication encountered was one where I went to the local store and found that they were running promotional messages or the so-called specials. One of the messages had two items for the price of one. I went ahead and put the items on my basket despite the fact that they did not feature on my shopping list but the deal was too good. I was doing my weekly shopping and so my shopping list was along and I had a lot of items in my basket which meant I could easily be charged for the free item without noticing. After the cashier recorded all the items and gave me the till slip. I checked it and found out that the items had been charged as two. I went back and complained and they told me that the specials had been running for the past month put had just concluded the day before and that they were now selling one item at its traditionally. I complained about the sign and they claimed to have just not been able to pull it down. The other excuse was that usually when they are selling two items for the price of one both items are tied together and these ones were not meaning they were independent. They also had this item they had knocked down its price by $2. However, this amount was included in the till slip and when I raised that concern also, they gave me the same answer. I came to understand later that unethical communication on specials is a considerably common problem and one needs to be careful.

This from the view of a customer border deceptive advertising, which is a crime under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act under the Federal Trade Commission (McGaan, 2016). This deed is also prohibited in states as well and there is no excuse for any business owners especially those with small businesses. A case such as this one can be beyond the reach of the law and just depended on the intuitive nature of what is right and what is not. There was no clear way to reinforce the consequences of this very unethical behavior. I am very sure that many unsuspecting customers have fallen into this trap and only an awareness by consumers on this issue would generate consequences for the business. So in my confrontation with the store manager, I threaten to launch a campaign with people from my neighborhood who rely so much on the store. I was very sure that this was a mere threat and I was just trying my luck on whether the store would welcome the knowledge of the ethical requirements of advertising. Physical campaigns are not easy and so I decided to mobilize people around me using social media especially the Whatsapp group shared by people from down the block.

The campaign did not succeed and the next step would be to check where the team at the store had made any action after I raised my concern. It will still be hard to know because the specials are done, after lengthy periods and by then people are already prepared and made ripe for the idea of something that is cheaper than its traditional price. The store continued to operate as usual and there was no sign of change. It would be safe to say that the little to no outcome ended with store manager promising to ensure that the language they used was ethical but avoided to confess that they had removed the misleading placard. Instead, the store people promised to be more careful with the overdue promotional massages. This means that they were still reluctant with the kind of advertising and that they were going to announce it anyway.

The next time the store operates in violation of the law and the trust of its customers, I would launch a more aggressive approach to this issue that includes the lobby for the support of individuals in boycotting the place. If I encounter this situation again I will first begin with refusing to purchase the item. This should be easy because usually specials do not feature in the shopping list and it is never ideal to wander off a shopping list. The other thing I would do is to inform everybody at the store about the misleading information and thus stop these veil transaction. Other people will come in later in my absence to the store and fall victim to this veil act but will unfortunately not notice it. Informing other customers creates the beginning of the flow of that information. One person will talk about the issue with a friend who will, in turn, inform a friend and so on.

The other thing I would differently after encountering this problem will be to withdraw from the store completely and refuse to do business with them again. This will, of course, be accompanied by an earful for those in charge at the store. I will make sure the store manager understands that they have lost a family of aggressive shoppers and others will follow over time.


McGaan, L. (2016). Persuasion ethics. Monmouth College. Retrieved from https://department.monm.edu/cata/mcgaan/classes/cata339/Ethics-Persuasion.htmValde, K., & Henningsen, M. (2015). Facework in responding to unethical communication. International Journal of Business Communication,52(4), 369-403.