Saturday, December 3, 2016

Unethical Behavior by Verizon (August 2015)

Controversy
For years now, Verizon has been providing cell phone service to many people across the world.  For the most part, the company has done things that have seemed fair to its customers.  However, there was one issue in 2015 that may have changed the way people think about Verizon.  On August 7, 2015, Verizon brought to life a somewhat unfair data plan.  This plan would make mandatory that customers pay for their smartphone downright, or with smaller monthly payments.  This plan went into effect six days later.  According to cnet news, “It’s a radical change in how Verizon operates and signals a broader shift away from smartphone subsidies and service contracts.” Verizon is crossing its norm when it comes to this data plan, and this is not only a major change for the customers, but also the company itself.  There is a lot of question regarding how people feel about this new plan.  There are four data plans in this new system, that have numbers of monthly GB ranging from one to twelve.  All of these plans offer unlimited talk and text.

Verizon Wireless headquarters in New Jersey
Individualism
Individualism focuses on human independence and self-reliance more than anything. This particular case can be viewed from both parties. For Verizon, if their customers are willing to go aboard with this plan and end up paying more, than that will make Verizon much more independent as a company. Also, the company will be able to be more reliable due to the bigger profit that it will be making. However, if customers do not go along with this new plan, the view will be turned around. Verizon will be less reliable due to a decrease in profit, because they as a company would be losing customers and not getting paid as much. But, the individualism for the customers will get better in this particular scenario because they would be saving their own money by not adhering to Verizon's new plan. When it comes to individualism, there is a lot to consider. Customers decisions to stand with or against the plan will have an impact for both sides of the party.

The negative effect that goes along with this plan is that customers who are enrolled in family plans would pay five dollars more than usual, which really would add up with a large household family. According to cnet news, “Verizon also eliminated its low-end 500-megabyte plan, priced at $20, which was an attractive option for customers who weren’t heavy data users but still wanted to be on its network-typically order individuals who didn’t need all the bells and whistles of the latest smartphone.” This quote basically says that customers who are not totally hip to the new smartphones and are not on them constantly will still pay equally as much as those who basically live on their phones. It is the same idea as something such as going to a restaurant and ordering something small for lunch, like soup and a sandwich, but paying the same price as someone who ordered a four-course meal. This would be a very quick way for a restaurant to lose business and profit. The same applies with the Verizon case. People who are not as cell-phone active as others will likely extricate themselves from Verizon and Verizon would lose business very quickly as well.

Kantianism
According to DesJardins, “Kant tells us that we should act only according to those maxims that could be universally accepted and acted on” (38). It also provides the maxim answer to the question, “what am I doing?”. A Kantian might review this case as a poor action displayed by Verizon. The maxim answer to that question in this case could potentially be something as extreme as losing big-time business. That is, if enough people are unhappy with this new plan and decide to take their business elsewhere. Another maxim answer to this question is that Verizon’s competitors such as Sprint, T-Mobile, etc would see increases in business as Verizon is losing business. It is safe to say that these types of cell phone companies are major competitors and would not want to give big business away for free.

Utilitarianism
Verizon Wireless smartphones

Utilitarianism also has a good number of views. Another thing that DesJardin says is that, “Utilitarianism is an ethical tradition that directs us to make decisions based on the overall consequences of our acts” (24). It could be fair to say that Verizon may not have went along with this new plan if they knew that business could potentially be lost if there were unhappy customers. DesJardins then says, “A second tradition, one based on the importance of ethical principles and rights, directs us to decide on the basis of moral principles such as keeping your promises or giving people what they deserve” (24). One might ask himself, do these Verizon customers who barely use their phones deserve to paying the same amount as people who are on their phones constantly? Everybody has their own traditions and values in life, and those traditions should be paid for appropriately. One last tradition, according to DesJardins, is “Finally, virtue ethics directs us to consider the moral character of individuals and how various character traits can contribute to, or obstruct, a happy and meaningful human life” (24). It is somewhat difficult to connect that value to this specific case, but it can be said that cell phone users and non-cell phone users have different character in their personalities and those specific character traits should be treated equally. There are many different values associated with utilitarianism in general, and also this specific case.

Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon Wireless
Virtue Theory
According to an article called Virtue Ethics, "Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach which emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that which emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism)" (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). As mentioned earlier, there are good consequences for this action by Verizon, as well as bad consequences. If customers decide to go with the plan, Verizon will make a bigger profit, but if customers back out of this plan, then Verizon will lose profit and the customer will save money. Either way, it is a win-lose situation. In this particular scenario, it is not possible for both parties to benefit from the action of the customers of Verizon. It could be said also that the moral character of Verizon could be questioned while bringing this new plan to life, because one might think that Verizon is looking only to increase profit, and not caring about how it affects the customers.

Action Plan
If this is a plan that is going to have a negative impact on the customers of Verizon, which obviously
does, then the option of keeping the old plan should be in place as well. As mentioned before, it is very unfair that customers who rarely use their cellphones pay equally as much as people who are on their phones constantly. According to a graph on trading economics, during the time that this new plan was being brought to life, the United States economy was decreasing very quickly, and continued to do so until early 2016 (United States GDP Growth Rate). It's bad enough that the economy was going downhill at this time, so customers really should not have to worry about having to pay more for something that really is a necessity in today's world. Another idea is that customers just pay for exactly what they use. For instance, at the end of the billing period for Verizon, the data used and the minutes and messages sent can be added up and placed on the customer's bill. That way it will be fair for each customer and everyone will pay exactly what they deserve to pay.

Conclusion 
All in all, some will agree that Verizon’s new cell phone plan can be considered unethical or unfair. There are many different reasons of why this is, but some may think the new plan is fair, because they can be considered cell phone abusers. To sum it up, it is a plan that is going to take a lot of getting used to for all of Verizon’s customers.


References

By Roger Cheng August 7, 2015 9:01 AM PDT. "Verizon Kills off Service Contracts, Smartphone Subsidies." CNET.     

     N.p., 07 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Oct. 2016.

DesJardins, Joseph R. An Introduction to Business Ethics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. Print.


Hursthouse, Rosalind. "Virtue Ethics." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 18 July 2003. Web. 29 

     Nov. 2016. <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/>.

"United States GDP Growth Rate | 1947-2016 | Data | Chart | Calendar." United States GDP Growth Rate | 1947-2016 | 

     Data | Chart | Calendar. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth>.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

United Airlines: Religious Discrimination of Muslim Passengers (2015/2016)

Controversy
Following the events of September 11, 2001, airports and airlines across the country and the world have been taking specific measures to improve security. The goal of improving security for air travel is to ensure that passengers and employees are having a safe experience. While the focus on safety is of major importance, both the measures that these companies have taken, and the scrutiny from the media, have caused a build up of racism. There has been a severe amount of lashing out at the Muslim community since 9/11. Most significantly, it has been noted that people of Islamic faith have been patted down, searched, and refused service while visiting airports or while onboard flights. A prime example of this mistreatment is present onboard United Airlines flights.
Tahera Ahmad, the woman denied
a Diet Coke mid-flight
In May 2015, Tahera Ahmad was mid-flight when she asked the flight attendant for a can of Diet Coke, and was refused. Ahmad later accused United Airlines of Islamophobia, seeing as how she was not only wearing her hijab at the time of the incident, but was told by the flight attendant that they feared she would use the can as a weapon. The flight attendant had given another passenger a can of beer, but told Ahmad that it was against company policy to provide cans. In Ahmad’s case, the employee was later removed from their position. Ahmad is not the only person of Muslim faith that has been denied service on United Airlines (Mai-Duc, 2015). In a similar incident in April 2016, a Muslim family in Chicago was denied a booster seat for their young child. The family had researched online and knew that the company provided the seats, but the flight attendant ignored their requests. Later, the pilot asked them to leave the aircraft, and the family claimed discrimination. In response, the pilot told them it was a matter of safety (Pashman, 2016).

Stakeholders
There are several relevant stakeholders in this case. To begin, it is obvious that anyone who practices Islam is a stakeholder. Due to the practice of their religion, they are subject to this kind of scrutiny. Another relevant group of stakeholders in this situation are the employees of United Airlines, as well as United Airlines top executives. These actions not only reflect poorly on the employees involved, but on the company as a whole. Other stakeholders include other passengers and family members of both employees and passengers. The passengers and their family members experience a disruption in their travels. The employees and their families experience not only judgment from the media, but in some cases suffer from the employees being out of a job.

United Airlines, the company that
refused a Diet Coke to Ahmad
Individualism
Individualism is the economic theory that states that the main goal of a business is to increase its profits, while keeping actions within the scope of the law (Desjardins, 2014). From an individualist’s point of view, United Airlines is not being true to this theory. If the main goal of the airline is to maximize profits, then turning away passengers on a discriminatory basis is not a smart decision. When scandals like this come about, it is detrimental to the business. People may not want to fly with United if they think that the company has a discriminatory background, and may choose to take their business to another airline. The company has also stated that their actions have been taken in order to increase safety, meaning that this is their main focus. Under individualism, United is not being true to the main goal of business because they are not trying to maximize profits, rather they are trying to maximize safety.


Utilitarianism
The focus of utilitarianism is to maximize the overall good of a situation. Utilitarianism defines an act as ethical if the actions in question produced an outcome that can be perceived as good (Desjardins, 2014). In the United Airlines case, a utilitarian would say that these actions did not maximize the overall good, and are therefore unethical. Not only was travel disturbed for all passengers on these flights, but the people that were directly effected were highly inconvenienced. Ahmad was shamed by another passenger (Mai-Duc, 2015). In addition, the family in Chicago were not able to travel when they needed to (Pashman 2016). Also, both parties suffered from media scrutiny as well as the emotional damage brought on by the discrimination. The family in Chicago probably had to explain to their young children why they couldn’t stay on the plane, and that type of emotional trauma will follow them their entire lives. In addition, the employee in Ahmad’s case was terminated and, in both cases, the airline was branded as a discriminatory company. This situation produces almost no good for any of the parties involved, and therefore a utilitarian would not consider these actions ethical.

United Airlines logo

Kantianism
Kantianism is an ethical theory that says companies must be respectful of others when making decisions. Therefore, if an action is harmful to another party, it will be considered unethical, even if the outcome is good. Kantianism means that we must not use others to reach our outcomes (Desjardins, 2014). A Kantian thinker would perceive the United Airlines case as an unethical one. The employees involved were being harmful to others through their actions. Both Ahmad and the family from Chicago were not only publicly humiliated, but disturbed during their travel time. While the outcome the employees were seeking (safety for other passengers and crew) may have seemed to be a good one, the parties effected were harmed too much to make the actions justifiable under Kantianism. There was no other reason other than personal prejudice to consider either of these situations as unsafe. Therefore, there was no respect from the employees to the passengers, and this situation is unethical under Kantianism.

Virtue Theory

Virtue theory is the theory that focuses on specific character traits and values to evaluate an ethical situation (Desjardins, 2014). In this situation, the company is being dishonest and the employees are exhibiting personal prejudice. Both dishonesty and prejudice are perceived as negative character traits. When the employees chose to deny the Muslim passengers their simple requests, they were exhibiting these traits. They lied about the availability of specific items onboard, and about company policy. This dishonesty and prejudice was a direct reflection of the employees' character. By acting on such traits, United Airlines and their employees are being unethical under virtue theory because they are acting with negative character traits.

Ethics Evaluation
Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines

United Airlines' employees are being completely unethical in this case. The employees are refusing service that they have rightly promised to all customers. They cannot give one customer an unopened can of beer, and then tell another that it is company policy to withhold unopened cans of soda. In addition, the United Airlines website had clearly stated that families would have access to special seating for children. Therefore, it is so very obvious that they were withholding the harness from the family in Chicago for discriminatory reasons. While the airline industry is an industry that is clearly skeptical of specific races and religions, it does not justify the actions of these United Airlines’ employees. There is absolutely no excuse for why a family was removed from a flight if they simply wanted a safer seat for their child. Businesses can’t select who they want to serve and who they do not. They made certain promises to all paying customers. Upon accepting payment, the airline agreed to provide these services, and they are going back on their word by doing these things.

Action Plan United Airlines needs to create a formal action plan to ensure that they not only restore a credible public opinion, but regain the trust of their customers. It is highly important that they release an affirming mission statement to the public. United’s current mission statement states that they are committed to a diversified work place. However, the company makes no mention of the fact that they want a diversified customer base, or to provide a service free from discrimination (Our United Customer Commitment). A more accurate mission statement would go along the lines of, “We at United Airlines are committed to providing a travel experience that is not only safe, but free from unfair treatment, harassment, and discrimination. We want our customers to have a very safe, pleasurable experience on our aircrafts.”

"Diversity flies with us" banner to support diversity on airplanes
In order to accomplish this new mission statement, it is important that the executives at United follow a simple plan. First, they can issue a press release or hold a conference in which they explain the issues at hand and reveal the new mission statement. They must also be sure that the employees involved in these incidents are punished effectively. Clearly, they’ve begun to take the right steps by terminating the flight attendant from Ahmad’s case. After taking appropriate action, I think it is important that the company create new guidelines and procedures for employee punishment in such situations. They should issue these procedures to the public to show that they are serious about the situation. Lastly, United should look into any and all complaints about discrimination onboard their aircrafts and take appropriate action for each.
With this mission statement and set of actions, I believe that United Airlines will regain public respect and trust.



References
DesJardins, J. R. (2014). An Introduction to Business Ethics. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Mai-Duc, C. (2015, June 3). Flight attendant who denied unopened soda can to Muslim will no
longer serve United customers. Retrieved September, 2016, from
http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-diet-coke-airline-apology-20150603-story.html
Myers, A. (2016, April 02). Muslim family kicked off flight demands apology from United
Airlines. Retrieved September, 2016, from
family-met-20160401-story.html
Our United Customer Commitment. (n.d.). Retrieved September, 2016, from
https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/customerfirst.aspx
Pashman, M. B. (2016, April 15). Muslim family kicked off United flight plans to file complaint.
muslim-family-united-airlines-met-20160415-story.html
Sanchez, R. (2015, June 3). United apologizes after discrimination claim. Retrieved September,
2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/30/us/united-flight-muslim-chaplain/

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mitsubishi: Fraudulent Fuel Economy Tests (April 2016)

Mitsubishi Motors logo
Controversy
There has been a 25 year fuel economy scandal uncovered in this past April. Mitsubishi was caught lying on multiple occasions regarding how many miles to the gallon that their vehicles can maintain. In 1991 Japan placed new regulations, which further restricted how the country monitored the mpg of their country's vehicles. At the time of the proposals, they were only under investigation with two main models; the eK and the Dayz. Under new research, it is now confirmed that there are eight models under investigation, and they have since been raided by what would be the Japanese Transport Administration. Some of the major models that are being questioned are the Pajero, the RVR SUV, and the well known Outlander. Mitsubishi Motors is now being forced under federal law to cease all production of all eight models until proper numbers relating to fuel-economy can be released. The JTA quotes that "we want to thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to this situation," and they found that all efficiency numbers were understated by 4.2%-8.8%. They also uncovered that Mitsubishi was only making estimates of their numbers based on old tests, and not physically running updated tests for recently produced vehicles.
The controversy arose when Nissan, a partner company, found out about the false numbers. Centering around the fact that Nissan works on multiple projects with the fraudulent company, and actually has them manufacture the Dayz model for them, they did not want to be linked to the charges. They cut off all ties with the company until they saw a business opportunity. As a result of the scandal, Mitsubishi Motors' market share tumbled along with their revenues. This meant that in order to stay in business, they needed an influx of investments. Nissan hopped on this chance, and purchased a controlling stake in the company for $2.2 Billion. This will hopefully create a large change for Mitsu, being under a new board. Nissan wasn't the only partner company effected by the false data though. Toyota also has ties to the company, and refuses to do business in the future. It will take years to come to bounce back from the scandal, and Mitsubishi's now resigned president stated he "was truly embarrassed."
Stakeholders
Unfortunately with any scandal, more than just one entity is effected. Their vehicles were sold worldwide, and many people took hits. Mitsubishi had to lay off several employees due to their cuts in revenue streams, so upper and lower level employees were stakeholders. Any partner companies like Toyota and Nissan who conducted business would also be effected from the halt in production. Joined by consumers in any country that sells any of the eight models with fraudulent data. If you purchased one of those vehicles, there was a very good chance the appealing fuel economy was one of the reasons you turned to it. Members of the Japanese Transport Authority are also included because they have to take time to investigate a large company as soon as possible. Lastly, the Japanese government becomes a stakeholder, because they now have to again create new legislation to prevent future events from occurring.
Dayz model by Nissan
produced by Mitsubishi

Individualism
Individualism focuses on the concept of making profits within the law. As Friedman explains, the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or stockholders. The decision in 1991 to falsify data would, for the next twenty five years, make the company seem individualistic. The problem is that they directly went outside the law to make profits possible. Machan's individualistic approach follows the same concept, but explains that indirect goals must be met as well, those of which do not directly link to profits. Mitsubishi had indirect goals of meeting the standards of Nissan and Toyota, and doing so within Japan's Law. They were individualistic in the sense that the company put profits before all, but cannot be classified as this because of their unlawful decisions. If the company chose to place an irrational profit margin on their vehicles, this would still be unfair to their customers, but not illegal. A decision like this would fall in the lines of Individualism. Unfortunately, directly ignoring regulations was the choice former president Tetsuro Aikawa made for Mitsubishi. They felt that their numbers were not up to par to compete with the competitive market and they saw an opportunity to make more profits. Exactly what the stockholders want as investors, but the wrong means of doing so. Although they were happy, many stakeholders were affected as a result, and in the end Mitsubishi paid up for it by almost having to close their doors entirely. With a cost of $1.4 Billion in fines to counteract regulation violations, it will be tough to recover fiscally. Trust is needed for any company to succeed, and all trust is lost from consumers when lying about figures, especially fuel economy. Safety and efficiency are two areas where you must be honest, and Mitsubishi's desire for positive profits made them almost individualistic, but not quite.
eK model by Mitsubish

Utilitarianism
John Stuart Mill's idea of utilitarianism takes a stakeholder approach, and is focused on the consequences of the business action. This action's main goal should be to maximize happiness in the long-run for all conscious beings affected. He also touches on the idea that happiness is a valuable thing, and that there is no difference morally, between one beings happiness to another. There are two viewpoints to how Mitsubishi could be looked at from a utilitarian perspective. Many stakeholders, especially the consumers who bought vehicles like the eK and Dayz, were affected in a negative way but only after a twenty five year period. The line is drawn depending how you look at the term long-run. If you describe this within the confines of a twenty five year period, then you could almost consider their actions to be utilitarian. Happiness becomes the only thing matters, and for this extensive amount of time, every stakeholder in the picture was, in fact, happy. Even though the figures were falsified and outside the law, strong profits were being reported along with satisfied customers. The consumer believed they were purchasing a good reliable vehicle, and they essentially never had issues with their cars other than having to refill the gas tank slightly sooner. This changes if you determine that the "long-run" should be a hundred years, or even hundreds or years. This would make their unethical choices result in very unhappy consumers in a short period of time. Happiness is pleasure and freedom from pain and the consumers, along with many employees of the company, were not pleased when the news was reported. Once the Japanese Transport Administration raided the company, the idea of a utilitarian organization was kicked down along with the front door. The intrinsic value is completely centered on happiness, and because of this it makes is difficult to make a finite verdict on if the company acted in a utilitarian way. They did aim to keep everyone happy, and did for quite some time. If you asked around 1995, most people would agree that they were completely utilitarian, but fast forward to 2016, and there's an entirely different picture.
Tetsuro Aikawa, former President of Mitsubishi

Kantianism
Immanuel Kant centered Kantianism on rational decisions, and doing what is right. In his basic principles he states to not act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from the rules. He also mentions to be motivated by good will, which is seeking to do what is right, strictly because it is the right thing to do. Mitsubishi acted irrational in every aspect of the term when deciding to ignore new regulations back in 1991. They did not approve of the rules set in place, and considered themselves exempt from having to follow them. As a maxim they manipulated economy data in order to achieve a competitive market. They also lied to the government, in order to avoid being prosecuted. These actions were not rational, nor rightly motivated. Kant describes a rational decision as one that is morally permissible or morally required. Mitsubishi was morally required to change their practices with the new laws, and disrespected their government and customers alike when acting to disobey. The autonomy of many individuals was ignored by not giving the consumer a chance to make a rational decision themselves. The formula of humanity states to "act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means." In this situation an end in something valuable in itself, and doesn't need to be used in order to achieve some other benefit. The manipulated data was valuable to the company to achieve positive profits, but is not valuable as an end. They used it to achieve another goal, and one that did not respect humanity as a whole. A group of falsified data is not valuable unless used for a negative purpose, and this is where some of the basic principles of Kantianism are ignored. If Mitsubishi was acting with good will, they would have adapted to the laws back in 1991, and made a strive to make a quality product within the boundaries placed before them. A positive maxim for them to follow would be: We will produce accurate figures, because it is the right thing to do as a automobile manufacturer. Its simple to follow, and would have left them in a much better place than their sitting in now.

Virtue Theory
Virtue Theory touches on the ideas of rationality, and fulfilling a functional life. According to Aristotle to feel fulfilled, one must look at a person individually, and find the distinguishing characteristic which surrounds their function. He believes in order to be happy, one must fulfill their function, but also act rational in the process. If you look at former president Tetsuro, his function was to lead a multi-billion dollar company forward in a successful manner. He was on the border of virtuous, but did not make his choices around the doctrine of the mean. Aristotle sees the four main virtues as courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. These all fall between two extremes, and therefor make them "just right" for how to act in a given situation. Courage, for example falls between being cowardice, and being too rash. President Tetsuro was courageous in a sense, but acted for the wrong ideas. It takes courage to make any large decision in a company, but by going against Japanese laws that were set in place to better everyone, he stood for an outcome that was far from virtuous. His decisions also manipulated the customers of Mitsubishi, and because of this cannot be considered honest. The situation called for lies to be spread throughout the entire company. His general employees could not know, the consumer had to be hidden, and the government had to be given false data to pass economy tests. If every car company acted as Mitsubishi did, we would never know if anything was true about the car we're about to purchase. These choices were very dishonest to a number of stakeholders. Solomon describes temperance as "reasonable expectations and desires," and Aikawa's decisions fell just outside of this boundary. It would be reasonable of any president of a large company to desire positive profits that reflect growth and efficiency. His desire was to look good in the eyes of his stockholders, but did so with many vices. His expectations were not out of line, but how he came to achieve these lacks self-control as a president. A virtuous leader would have put the time into improving their product within the law, and never manipulated consumers in the process. The virtue of Justice results in fair practices, quality products, good ideas, and overall hard work. Very little of this was displayed by the actions of the company, they strayed far from fair practices, and hard work. Taking estimates was an easy way out compared to running physical tests, and it was a horrible idea to directly disobey new regulations. Based on Aristotle's concepts, Tetsuro and Mitsubishi did not show virtuous actions while conducting their business.

Justification Ethics Evaluation
Mitsubishi headquarters in  Minato, Tokyo, Japam
As much as I'm sure the upper level management wants their choices to be justified, I can't see any reason why they would be. The decisions were made strictly for profits, and to falsely compete in a market they weren't gaining ground in. Instead of putting some heads together and thinking of new marketing techniques, or actually creating a better product, they manipulated data. There's never justification for taking an easy route, and it harmed far more people than it benefited in the long-run. The world would be a better place without companies like Mitsubishi Motors, and there's enough car manufacturers to replace them in a heartbeat. I hope Nissan can change the image associated with them, and send them heading in the right direction.

Action Plan
Fortunately for Mitsubishi, with some effort towards re-branding themselves, and the recent buy-out from more reputable manufacturer Nissan, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The first thing I would recommend they do is come forward about every aspect of their unethical actions within the company. They need to get everything out on the table now if they expect to improve. It would be useless to try to recover, and then have more scandals arise deeper in the books. The next step they need to take is to release all the accurate data for the eight vehicles that are involved in the discussion. With proper numbers released to the public they will be able to move from there. I would also reimburse all customers that feel that they were lied to, and no longer want to drive their vehicles. It will most likely take a large financial tole, but is completely necessary to build trust within the automotive market. Next I would attempt to build back the relationships that were present with other large car manufacturers. It's never helpful to have enemies in the same market your fighting for, and will only help to regain friendships with huge producers like Toyota. Although not all of them will be interested, and may need proof of faithful business practices before they want to take part, it's definitely an important step. Finally, I would re-brand and focus on integrity. People are going to need time to adjust to the scandal and decide for themselves if Mitsubishi is a company they want to buy from or not. a re-branding could never hurt.
Some of the core values I would focus on if I were the new president of MM, would be consistency, of course integrity, and customer satisfaction. Consistency is going to be key going into the future in every aspect of the business. They are going to need to show the millions of consumers watching that they can produce a logical car to buy time and time again. Whether or not they will be able to keep selling the eight affected models will be up to the market. If they can build back trust, they have a chance at gaining market share again, at least in Japan. Integrity will be needed to keep the company productive, because they are on a short string with buyers and the government. One more slip up like the 25 year scandal present, and no one will touch them with a ten foot pole. If they want to be successful they will have to maintain ethical business practices all around. Last, customer satisfaction is going to be a high priority from here on out. As much as you can't let the consumer make every decision for themselves, Mitsubishi will need to hone in on what the buyer wants in the future, and how to bring it to them in a productive way. If these core values are followed, along with the steps outlined to regain trust, then they have a shot at regaining a customer balance.

References: 
Shiraki, M. (2016, September 2). Mitsubishi Motors raided after fuel-economy scandal widens. Retrieved November 19, 2016, from Automotive News: http://www.autonews.com/article/20160902/COPY01/309029967/mitsubishi-motors-raided-after-fuel-economy-scandal-widens
Tajitsu, N. (2016, August 30). Mitsubishi suffers sales ban after overstating fuel economy for 8 more models. Retrieved November 19, 2016, from Automotive News Europe: http://europe.autonews.com/article/20160830/ANE/160839995
Mullen, Jethro. CNN. 22 June 2016. 17 September 2016.
Newman, W Rocky. Fortune. 3 May 2016. 2016 September 2016.
Soble, Jonathan. The New York Times. 20 April 2016. Article. 24 September 2016
Business Ethics PowerPoints- Utilitarianism, Kantianism, Virtues, and Individualism
Salazar, The Case Manual, Chapter 5: Abstract and Action Plans

Saturday, November 19, 2016

UBER: Misleading Claims Lead to Lawsuit (2014)



Controversy
 The ethical controversy at hand is that Uber was being sued for numerous allegations for misdeeds including misrepresenting the quality of background checks it conducts on its drivers and illegally servicing airports, according to L.A. district attorney Jackie Lacey. George Gasc√≥n, the district attorney of San Francisco, and Jackie Lacey, his counterpart in the case, allege, amongst other issues that Uber mislead customers into believing they screen out drivers who have ever committed criminal offenses. However Uber and other companies say they perform regular background checks, but by law are not able to exclude them from being a driver if their felony was committed more than seven years ago. Technically these ex-criminals are allowed to be drivers but it is not ethically right to present to your customers that your company does not hire drivers who have not committed a crime when in actuality they do. Amongst other allegations, the district attorneys also accused Uber of being out of compliance with the inspection of taxi meters. Drivers were found using the app to calculate fares based on time and distance without obtaining approval of the technology from a California agency that can do so. Also, Uber drivers were unlawfully conducting commercial operations at California airports without obtaining authorizations from them, and fraudulently charging a $4.00 “Airport Fee Toll” to customers even when drivers weren’t paying the airport. The district attorneys also opposed Uber's claim for $1.00 "safe rides fee" and found this misleading to customers. Uber responded tot he lawsuit by claiming that the company is an "integral, safe, and established part of the transportation ecosystem"in California and will continue to hold discussions with the attorneys. According to uberlawsuit.com, the court declined a proposed settlement with Uber under which it would pay up to $100 million and make some significant changes in its policies. The court's main concern was largely with the settlements reduction in the massive potential penalties that could be recovered under the private Attorney General Act.

Stakeholders
Uber executives and employees would be stakeholders in this issue. This is because they are directly affected by the concerns the district attorneys have with their current policies. They are also in control of the business and its actions so it is up to them to make changes if need be. Other shareholders would be the district attorneys filing the suit and also the customers. The district attorneys have interest in the company because of its actions, potentially putting the customers in harm by not actually screening its drivers for potential ex-criminals.

Protestors against Uber's choices in employees
Individualism
Friedman's individualism, which is defined as "the only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders"(Powerpoint Lecture, Slide 2). According to this idea, Uber is not ethically wrong for hiring criminals after their 7 year period is up. They are doing what is best for profits by hiring more drivers, thus expanding their workforce generating more revenue for the company. Also, by charging a $4.00 “Airport Fee Toll” to customers even when drivers weren’t paying the airport would not be ethically wrong in the eyes of an Individualistic person because they are maximizing profits for the company, which is the overall goal of company.

Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is based off the idea that businesses should act in ways to maximize happiness in themselves and others.If a Utilitarian were to analyze the issue with Uber then they would not agree with the actions of the company. The actions of the company did not make everyone who was involved happy. The customers were told that the company did not hire criminals, however by law , Uber is able to hire drivers if their felony was committed more than 7 years ago. A utilitarian would also not agree with the unauthorized fees that Uber drivers have been charging customers.The main issue that a utilitarian would have with the company is that it is not maximizing the happiness in others. They are only looking out for themselves by not being honest with customers and charging them unjust fees.

Kantianism
Kantianism is the belief that one must make decisions based off what the honest and moral decision is in that case. A Kantian would not agree with Uber's actions to claim that they do not hire criminals. They should not tell their customers that they are screening out criminals because by law they can not screen out criminals that have committed a felony over 7 years ago. The right action, in this case, is to inform the public of this and not give false claims to the customer. Also, a Kantian would not agree with charging a $4.00 “Airport Fee Toll” to customers even when drivers weren’t paying the airport. This is not the moral thing to do. Furthermore, the use of the app to calculate fares based on time and distance without obtaining approval of the technology from a California agency that can do so is not the moral decision. The driver is only doing this for their benefit and knows that their action is not the honest one in this case.

Virtue Theory
UBER headquarters in San Francisco, CA

Virtue theory is "an approach to ethics that emphasizes an individual's character as the key element of ethical thinking, rather than rules about the acts themselves or their consequences"(Mastin). The four virtues in the business world are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Uber did not stand for the right actions and ideas in this case. They were also not completely honest with their customers. It is difficult to judge Uber's expectations in this case as they were not clear. Uber's justice is questioned in this case because they did not display fair practices and their good ideas were used not to benefit the customer but for the employers' benefit.

Justificated Ethics Evaluation
Uber's action in this case was far from justified. They misinformed their customers by saying that they do not hire criminals when in fact they do. It is not ethically right to tell your customers that you screen for criminals but you still hire them if their felony was committed more than 7 years ago. The company's actions that involved unauthorized fees are also not ethically justified. They should not have been receiving the fees from customers because they were not approved. It is ethically wrong to take money from customers that was not approved.

Action Plan
Uber must own up to their deception and properly inform the customers that they can in fact hire criminals if their felony was committed over 7 years ago. They should not make the claim that they screen them out of being a driver for the company. The company should get rid of this claim and be completely honest with their customers about what type of drivers they are hiring.
As for the unauthorized commercial operations at California airports, the company should immediately seek authorization or discontinue their services at the airports. The company needs to hold a public apology for operating without authorization from the airports and also charging customers unauthorized fees.
Uber claims to be integral, safe, and an established part of the transportation ecosystem in California. In order to maintain this claim they must reassure their customers that they will be honest with them about their screening process for drivers and also not charge them for unnecessary fees.


References
Mangalindan, JP. "Uber Slapped with Civil Suit by San Francisco and L.A." Fortune. N.p., 08 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 
     2016.
Lawler, Ryan. "SF And LA District Attorneys File Civil Suit Against Uber For Making ‘False Or Misleading 
     Statements’." TechCrunch. N.p., 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.
"UBER DRIVERS." Uber Lawsuit Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.
Gannes, Liz. "Uber Sued by Los Angeles and San Francisco, While Lyft Settles for $500,000." Recode. N.p., 09 Dec. 
     2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.
MacMillan, Douglas. "Uber Is Sued by San Francisco, Los Angeles." WSJ. Wsj.com, 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.