Monday, November 30, 2020

Trifecta Nutrition: CrossFit Games Food Scandal (2017-2020)

 

Abstract

Trifecta Nutrition is an organic meal delivery service that offers classic, keto, paleo, vegetarian, and vegan plans. Trifecta states, on their website, that their meals are “Organic, premium, pre-made meals”. Their website also claims, “Every meal is made from scratch, just like you would prepare in your own home, only in much larger volume by professional chefs. Our amazing team of chefs use all organic ingredients, grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood”. However, at the Crossfit Games that ran from August 3rd, 2017 to August 6th, 2017, Trifecta was found to have been using food from other restaurants such as IHOP, a local barbeque shack, and a Mexican restaurant, and others. This incident contradicts their previous statement about using all organic ingredients such as grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood, and another statement about every meal being made from scratch. CrossFit is currently investigating allegations also about the 2018 games with Trifecta’s actions. Trifecta is chosen by many customers because of their fresh products that cater to different dietary preferences of customers. These allegations that the company is facing is not good for their publicity or consistent business because it shows that they cannot be trusted to supply the quality of food promised, or even their own products. This case will be looked at through the four different ethical lenses, Individualism, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory. Considering a utilitarian argument, more harm was done in this Trifecta scandal than bringing happiness. In fact, there is no happiness to be known of in this case, not from Trifecta employees, customers, athletes at the Crossfit games, alternative food sources, or Crossfit Games employees. Thinking of individualism, the Trifecta case was unethical because the company had passed alternative food sources off as their own. A kantian argument can be made that the Trifecta employees were not honest to the Crossfit Games staff, the athletes, or anyone in this scandal. And finally, a virtue theory is that this case was unethical because Trifecta did not meet any of the four characteristics of the virtue theory, which are courage, honesty, temperance, or justice.

 

Case Controversy:

In 2018, Trifecta Nutrition was involved in a food scandal involving the Reebok Crossfit Games, and some third party restaurants and food chains, such as IHOP, McDonald's, and a Mexican food restaurant. Trifecta is the main food supplier for the Crossfit Games, providing food for athletes, staff, and and consumers at the event. Trifecta promises fresh, healthy, and dietary specific meals for their customers. For the Crossfit Games, Trifecta had gone to third party food suppliers, mentioned above, and used their products to pass off as their own during the event. Two former Trifecta employees came forward to spread this news, and were later relieved of their roles in the company. Trifecta Nutrition was founded in 2015 by Greg Connolly, who is also the present-day CEO of the company. In an article written on July 25, 2018 by hugheyphillipsllp.com, the text reads, “Trifecta Nutrition, which won a high-profile competition for local startup businesses and struck partnerships with national sports organizations, is accused in a lawsuit of repackaging processed foods from chain and fast-food restaurants and passing it off as high-quality organic meals suitable for top-level athletes in training” [1]. This quote shows that before the incidents were found from the CrossFit Games, Trifecta was proved to be a big name in meal delivery, winning multiple competitions for startup businesses and collecting partnerships with well-known sport organizations. In another article, Morningchalkup, discusses how Trifecta sourced food from other businesses for events. A quote that shows this from the mentioned article is, “Trifecta also provides all the food for staff at Regionals, the Games, and to CrossFit HQ for those who wish to purchase it. The lawsuit alleges that Trifecta sourced food for the 2017 CrossFit Games from other restaurants — “IHOP, a local BBQ shack, and a Mexican restaurant, among others, as well as sourcing McDonalds hamburger buns” — and passed it off as their own” [2]. This lawsuit was filed by two former Trifecta employees. After the lawsuit was filed by the two Trifecta employees, they were fired a week later. Another quote that adds to the same case is also written by Morningchalkup. The two employees that filed the lawsuit were mentioned in the quote, “Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, who were both fired on August 14, 2017, just a week after the 2017 CrossFit Games. Scott was hired July 1, 2016 and was formerly the marketing manager. He also holds a minority ownership in Trifecta (50,000 shares). Jodi was hired in September 2017, as a “Social Media & Marketing Intern” then promoted to full-time around May 2017” [5]. Also, according to Morningchalkup in the same article, in the next paragraph, “According to the lawsuit, both employees had received promotions days prior to being fired. Both former employees are seeking monetary damages in excess of $80,000 each” [6]. Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, the two ex-Trifecta employees, did the ethical action by speaking up about Trifecta’s actions. Another paragraph from Morningchalkup says, “Morning Chalk Up also spoke with Dan Schneiderman, partner at Witan Law Group, the legal team representing Trifecta on this matter. He added, ‘This is an honest, hardworking company that's made its way from a concept to a start up to a successful company. We believe that the accusation and allegations in the complaint are ultimately trying to form an unfounded narrative to say that a certain culture exists at Trifecta that quite frankly does not exist in that manner. We believe that the allegations are unsubstantiated and are founded mostly out of retribution from two disgruntled employees’” [5]. The previous paragraph also stated, “‘Trifecta strongly opposes the allegations and claims present in the underlying lawsuit,’ Trifecta said in a statement. ‘While we cannot discuss the details of pending litigation nor provide specifics regarding the alleged claims at this time, we look forward to correcting the record regarding the salacious and misguided claims brought by these two disgruntled fired employees’” [4]. Both of these quotes from Morningchalkup state that Trifecta has denied these claims made by former employees, Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, and preach their innocence on the incident involving CrossFit Games. The lawsuit against Trifecta was 141 pages long, from source Morningchalkup, and in the coming sentences, quotes and photos will be shown from this lawsuit. “‘The food was supposed to be Defendant Trifecta food, which is advertised as “90% lean or greater, and Organic, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free and Non-GMO,” but instead was McDonalds hamburger buns, IHOP pancakes, meat and egg products, pork and other meat products from local BBQ shack, etc. Not only were those food products not Defendant Trifecta’s, none of them are or were “90% lean or greater, and Organic, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free and Non-GMO’” [8]. Below I will include a photo incorporated into the lawsuit used as evidence against 


Trifecta.  




Individualism Argument:

An individualistic theory posses primary values of the business, or those involved, profiting. Now considering Trifecta Nutrition, the Trifecta case was not ethical to an individualistic argument because the company had passed alternative food sources off as their own, therefore not profiting. An excerpt from the lawsuit against Trifecta, displayed on Morningchalkup, reads, ““Another specific example involves eggs served to CrossFit competitors and attendees. Eggology is or was the sponsored egg product and provider for CrossFit, and Defendant Trifecta was supposed to prepare and serve Eggology eggs for breakfast each day. Defendant Liz Connolly first told Plaintiffs and others that IHOP refused to cook the eggs at their facility because it was against IHOP’s corporate policies and procedures. Shockingly, Defendant Liz Connolly’s solution, as she explained to Plaintiffs and others, was to instruct IHOP to literally throw out the thousands of cartons of Eggology eggs that Defendants sent to IHOP and have IHOP prepare and serve whatever eggs they desired. When Plaintiffs and others communicated to Defendant Liz Connolly their disappointment and disagreement with her approach, Defendant Liz Connolly changed her story and represented that IHOP suddenly changed its corporate policies and procedures and in fact agreed to prepare and serve the Eggology eggs” [9]. Another argument to consider to viewing Trifecta's case from an individualistic perspective, is that neither the athletes, nor anyone else involved in the food scandal have profited from this incident.

 

Utilitarian Argument:

A utilitarianism argument is happiness for all. Considering a utilitarian argument in the Trifecta food scandal, more harm was done in this Trifecta scandal than happiness brought. In fact, there is no happiness to be known of in this case, not from Trifecta employees, customers, athletes at the CrossFit games, alternative food sources, or CrossFit Games employees. Looking back on the comments made about Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, these two employees were treated very unfairly. Also considering the dietary plans that CrossFit athletes are on, they have chosen specific meals from Trifecta with trust that they contain the exact nutritional facts to maximize their performance during events. As well as these athletes, any customer of Trifecta reasonably has distrust in the food provider now. Trifecta’s actions have disappointed many and it will take honesty and an action plan to turn their reputation around.

 

Kantian Argument: 

A Kantian argument is rational decision-making and honesty and freedom. A Kantian argument can be made that the Trifecta employees were not honest to the CrossFit Games staff, the athletes, or anyone in this scandal. As shown in the photos above, of text messages with the president of Trifecta Nutrition, it is clear that there was a lack of honesty from Trifecta. Trifecta was also unwilling to disclose what specific restaurants where they sourced food. With this being said, Trifecta did not consider a Kantian ethical theory in their business actions.

 

 

Virtue Theory:

Theory
Character traits that
promote wellness or
flourishing of
individuals within a
society
Theory
Character traits that
promote wellness or
flourishing of
individuals within a
society

Virtue theory is considering character traits that promote wellness or flourishing of individuals within a society. Trifecta did not meet any of the four characteristics of the virtue theory, which are courage, honesty, temperance, or justice. Trifecta did not follow these four characteristics in the slightest way. In fact, it was courageous of them to risk their reputation over a situation that was very controllable from their own ability.

 

Personal Opinion:

            Speaking on my personal opinion of this Trifecta Nutrition scandal, I believe Trifecta to be guilty and in wrongdoing. CrossFit Games have been around since 2007, and it is a very respected and popular event. Athletes work extremely hard every year to be featured in the event, a miniature Olympics if you will, and Trifecta’s actions have foreshadowed that they do not take the event seriously, the athletes seriously, the athletes training seriously, or even have respect for their own business or values, to stick to their statements about, “Every meal is made from scratch, just like you would prepare in your own home, only in much larger volume by professional chefs. Our amazing team of chefs use all organic ingredients, grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood” and “Organic, premium, pre-made meals”. What would be a great action plan for Trifecta, is to show the meal delivery business that they are now striving to be what they have lacked to be during this time. What I am referring to is Trifecta should show the public, and CrossFit Games, that they can be trusted from now on, and that nothing but Trifecta products will be distributed. The two terminated employees, Jodi Charter and Scott Cooper, should be compensated for their termination, and also, Trifecta should re-evaluate their upper-level management, because an ethical president would not allow such actions to be performed.


Action Plan:

     The current issue, is that Trifecta has been dishonest about what food they are providing to consumers, and have denied all claims against them, despite the evidence produced against the company. With the detailed and strong evidence against Trifecta, a mission statement should include a public apology from Trifecta, to consumers, the Crossfit Games, and the athletes participating in the Crossfit Games, as well as a plan moving forward to prove their future honesty to consumers. Some core values that are important are honesty, customer satisfaction, and quality assurance of the products being produced and distributed. I believe that some upper level management should be fired for allowing these actions to take place, and for a quality assurance worker to be hired or a quality assurance team, to make sure that the products being distributed are Trifecta's own products, as well as that they are to their own quality standard. With Trifecta's dishonesty towards passing off other vendor's food as their own, they have received poor publicity which has to be rebuilt by building a positive reputation with big names. Trifecta has continued to be the provider for Crossfit Games, which shows consumers that the air has been cleared between the nutrition company as well as Crossfit Games. With this plan of showing how trustworthy of a company Trifecta can be moving forward, their business will hopefully return to having an outstanding reputation. 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

About The Author Amy Gesenhues Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media, and Amy Gesenhues Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media. “A CMO's View: How IHOP Keeps Winning the Love & Affection of Its 3.5M Facebook Fans.” Marketing Land, 16 Aug. 2016, marketingland.com/cmos-view-ihop-keeps-winning-love-affection-3-5m-facebook-fans-187900. 

“According to Text Messages, Trifecta Coordinated with IHOP for 2017 Games.” Morning Chalk Up, 2018, morningchalkup.com/newsletters/according-to-text-messages-trifecta-coordinated-with-ihop-for-2017-games/. 

Danger, Jessica. “Lawsuit Filed Against Trifecta by Two Former Employees.” Morning Chalk Up, 28 July 2018, morningchalkup.com/2018/07/27/lawsuit-filed-against-trifecta-by-two-former-employees/. 

“How to Win the CrossFit Open (Even If You Come In Last).” VeloPress, 22 Aug. 2017, www.velopress.com/how-to-win-the-crossfit-open-even-if-you-come-in-last/. 

Lofranco, Justin. “According to Text Messages, Trifecta Coordinated with IHOP During 2017 CrossFit Games.” Morning Chalk Up, 30 July 2018, morningchalkup.com/2018/07/29/according-to-text-messages-trifecta-sourced-ihop-food-for-2017-crossfit-games/. 

Maria, Meghan De. “14 Menu Items McDonald's Employees Won't Eat.” Eat This Not That, Eat This Not That, 6 July 2020, www.eatthis.com/mcdonalds-foods-employees-wont-eat/. 

Nutrition, Trifecta. “How It Works.” Trifecta Nutrition, 2020, www.trifectanutrition.com/how-it-works. 

Rodd, Scott. “Organic Food Delivery Company Accused of Serving Chain Restaurant Products.” Bizjournals.com, 2018, www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2018/07/25/organic-food-delivery-service-accused-of.html. 

Tailor Made Compounding: Fraudulent Drug Claims (2020)

Tailor Made Compounding is a company who has always worked in categories like anti-aging, sleep solutions, and aesthetic dermatology - until recently. With the hysteria of COVID-19 providing an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to profit significantly from any progression in vaccines or treatments, Tailor Made Compounding seized the opportunity. However, the way they took advantage of this opportunity was nowhere near ethical. For one, their research and compounding never had to do with infectious diseases and for them to take something on like this was well beyond their reach. They made claims that their compounding was a safe and FDA approved treatment for COVID-19 when the FDA had never approved their treatment and it was never proved to actually have any success in treating the virus. Many laws protect the general public from money-hungry companies like this but it took some time and probing from the subcommittee of Economic and Consumer Policy and outrage across the country for there to be an official investigation done by the FDA and FBI. As a result of this investigation, CEO of Tailor Made Jeremy Delk was sentenced to 10 years and the company was required to pay a maximum fine of $250,000. Because of Tailor Made’s actions many people went about their lives thinking they were immune to COVID-19 when in fact they could have been the most dangerous people to be in contact with since they were likely taking significantly less precautions to stay safe and/or stop the spread of the virus. 


COVID-19
                                                                              

When it comes to ethical theories, the theory of Individualism argues that any company/person should be able to maximize their profits as much as they want as long as it is within the bound of the law. Because making claims that the FDA had approved of the treatment and making unsupported claims about the drug in general are highly illegal, an Individualist would be against Tailor Made Compounding and would agree with punishing the company. A Utilitarian perspective aims for maximum amounts of happiness for everyone. Because these people are having to pay significant amounts of money for something that is not actually working or keeping them safe, it does not make them happy and their amounts of unhappiness significantly outweigh the few people at the top of Tailor Compounding who are profiting. A Kantian theorist would say that everyone should be treated as ends in themselves and not just means to an end. Because Tailor Made Compounding lied and manipulated these people to profit off of them, a Kantian would think Tailor Made was acting unethically. And finally from an analysis of the vices and virtues of the company - Tailor Made Compounding exhibited vices such as greed and dishonesty and lacked in critical values such as compassion and caring. In moving forward, the company will have to do some heavy damage control including an outright apology to the public for their misleading treatment advertising and should make sure to hire someone at the top of the company that has strong values of anti-corruption and anti-corporate greed. 

The Case:

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States it endangers the lives of millions. Alongside that the paranoia and fear of catching it is on the minds of most Americans as they proceed in their daily lives as cautiously as possible. It is not a surprise that the people of America are extremely susceptible to the tricks and follies that are bound to be pulled by unethical companies that are attempting to profit off of the uncertainty of the virus. Web of Wellness Doctors leaped at this opportunity, Tailor Made Compounding being one of, “30 medical practices and compounding pharmacies across more than a dozen states that have made unproven claims about this drug on their websites and on social media.” (Dreisbach) The cost of these drugs can run up and around $400 for only a month’s supply - all of which comes completely out of pocket. While representatives from VitaLifeMD have made claims regarding potential treatments, Tailor Made has made far more explicit claims for thymosin alpha-1 as a COVID-19 treatment. In early March a company leader from Tailor Made, Ryan Smith, created a presentation where, “He told a group of health care providers that Tailor Made Compounding had several drugs that they could "sort of market to your patients" during the pandemic [and] repeated the falsehood that thymosin alpha-1 is "FDA approved," and he recommended the drug to his audience as a treatment for Lyme disease, "general anti-aging," as well as the coronavirus.” (Dreisbach) Tailor Made Compounding took advantage of the citizens of the United States of America who are fearing for their lives in the midst of a global pandemic. Tailor Made lied to their clients and endangered their lives by giving them a false sense of security. 

In a letter from the subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, they inquire about the efforts being made by the FDA and the FTC in regards to the sale, distribution, and prescription of the drug thymosin alpha-1 for treating COVID-19. They explain that the efforts done so far, just warning companies that their actions are unlawful, is not enough. It explains that these companies aren’t even experts in infectious diseases, instead they often deal with benign treatments such as plastic surgery or even anti-aging medicine. Creating a cure to a pandemic that is crippling nations all across the world, does not really seem like it is in their alley of expertise. On June 30th these warnings went out to companies but this subcommittee argues that is not enough. There are many dangers in permitting companies to proceed in offering thymosin alpha-1 to people as a treatment for COVID including: “People who take them and assume they are protected risk infecting others. Beyond that, scam sales of this product present significant economic harm to consumers.” (House Committee) So clearly not only is this an obvious abuse of power to charge people exorbitant amounts of money for something that is not even FDA approved, it also makes people feel like they are immune to COVID which can cause people to not be as cautious as they should be. Specifically, Tailor Made received a warning from the FDA for unsafe production processes on April 1, 2020. However, warning letters carry no penalty and there is nothing being done to actually stop these companies from carrying on these dangerous practices. The Subcommittee ends the letter demanding that the FDA and FTC enforce existing laws to eliminate the sale, distribution, and prescription of the drug thymosin alpha-1 for treating COVID-19 and to open an investigation into this malpractice. 

Fortunately for the people of the world, Tailor Made Compounding faced the scales of justice and lost. On October 29th, “Tailor Made Compounding LLC (TMC) pleaded guilty to one count of distributing unapproved new drugs throughout the United States, from October 25, 2018 through April 1, 2020, before the U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove.  Specifically, TMC pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution of selective androgen receptor modulators (“SARMS”) and other substances that the FDA had not approved for distribution in the United States.” (“Nicholasville Compounding…”) Clearly after the investigation and demands put forth by the Subcommittee of Economic and Consumer Policy, serious action was taken and Tailor Made Compounding faced their consequences. The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky is quoted explaining that it is of paramount importance to make sure that companies follow all FDA requirements. He writes that, “When pharmacies intentionally evade the FDA requirements, they are placing their own interests above those of the patients they are supposed to be serving.  The community deserves better, and I commend the work of our law enforcement partners in their diligent efforts to protect the public and disrupt this criminal conduct.” (“Nicholasville Compounding…”) He then goes on to explain that while compounding drugs are important to fulfill the needs of patients for whom normal drugs don’t work, it is still important to make sure that these drugs are fitting the important criteria necessary to ensure the safety of those that are consuming the drugs and are not taking advantage of people who are entrusting these companies literally with their lives. Delk faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for his actions in allowing Tailor Made to continue as they were. One can hope that this case and the punishments received from the unlawful actions, will set an example for those who are thinking of following down the same path and will discourage them from endangering the public in this way.

These false claims also endanger the consumers in another very real way. In an article by the FDA they  express a lot of concern regarding how these fraudulent claims are actually affecting the safety of people, “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm. It’s likely that the products do not do what they claim, and the ingredients in them could cause adverse effects and could interact with, and potentially interfere with, essential medications.” (Commissioner) So not only are these fraudulent claims taking advantage of a consumer through profiting off of something that it doesn’t actually do, these medications could really hurt the people they are giving them to through reactions to the medication. 

There has been progress since these fraudulent claims in finding a treatment for COVID-19 that is actually FDA approved. Bamlanivimab was approved by the FDA through an issuance of an emergency use authorization which skips some of the stringent time requirements usually necessary for certain drugs approvals. They detail that they recognize that they think it is worth using these treatments without knowing all the side effects and long term effects since they are using it on people who will likely die without any treatment at all. Dr. Prince writes, “they also have to fall into a category of risk that’s been identified as placing them at a higher risk for hospitalization and bad outcomes like death.” (Briar) The interesting part of this which definitely makes it more ethical and differentiates these practices from those of Tailor Made Compounding is that they are not charging the patients for the medication - so it is all free. Selection of patients is done after a review of patients symptoms and circumstances, much unlike Tailor Made who just sold it to whoever could afford the steep prices.

Bamlanivimab


Stakeholders:

The stakeholders in this case are the Tailor Made executives, the CEO of Tailor Made - Jeremy Delk, the American public, shareholders, and Tailor Made employees. The two most important ones that are truly emphasized in this case and in its ethical analysis are Jeremy Delk and the American Public. Jeremy Delk held a large stake in this because he stood to gain a lot of money from his actions. The American Public had a lot to gain in the sense of safety but in reality lost a lot in this situation by being lied to. 

Individualism:

When it comes to being the devil’s advocate, an Individualist would likely play the best actor in that role. They argue that individuals and companies are well within their rights to act as they please and maximize their profits to any extent as long as it is within the bounds of the law. In other words, things may seem morally wrong but as long as the actions aren’t breaking any laws then an Individualist would say it is totally okay for them to be doing the immoral action. This one looks at situations in black and white and there really isn’t a gray area like there is in other ethical theories. Either the actions are legal or they aren’t and that determines the verdict of whether it is okay or not. So it is very telling to know that an individualist would argue that Tailor Made Compounding’s actions were unethical. Lying about FDA approval is a federal crime. There are many laws that regulate the selling of drugs and TMC broke several of these laws which makes them unethical according to an individualist.

Utilitarianism:

A Utilitarian on the other hand gets a little more complicated in the sense that there are more factors and people to consider when analyzing whether a situation is ethical or not. From a Utilitarian perspective, they seek to maximize happiness as much as possible. So even though one person might be happy that is not enough if there are 20 other people who are very unhappy. Therefore in this instance, a utilitarian would argue that Tailor Made Compounding was acting unethically. This is because though Jeremy Delk and his executive board would profit significantly from the sale of this alleged COVID treatment/drug, the unhappiness of their customers and the American public as a whole would greatly outweigh their happiness. If someone has to pay $400 for a drug that doesn’t even work, they would immediately be extremely unhappy for wasting their money. On the next level, this lie that it works puts them in great danger since they start to assume they are immune and not taking the precautions that they should be to keep safe. This can lead to their own death, death of loved ones, and death to anyone they encounter. The unhappiness that comes from death most definitely outweighs the happiness of a few people at the top of Tailor Made Compounding who profit from the sales of this false COVID treatment. 

Kantianism:

A Kantian ultimately believes that everyone should be treated as ends in of themselves and should not be used as means for the ends of someone else. This means not manipulated, or lying to anyone in order to achieve a personal goal. In this sense a Kantian would also think that the actions of Tailor Made Compounding were unethical since Jeremy Delk and his company lied to people when they said that this drug treated COVID and was approved by the FDA when both claims were very wrong and unsupported. Jeremy Delk used the American public and endangered them in order to make as much money as possible. 

Virtue Theory:

The great Greek Philosopher Aristotle brought forward Virtue Theory which analyzed the characteristics of individuals rather than looking at a general situation. It considers values like courage, honesty, leadership, compassion, integrity, and more. It also considers the vices that one might hold like greed and selfishness. In these actions, Tailor Made Compounding displayed vices such as greed and selfishness and lacked key virtues such as honesty, compassion and integrity. They lied to their customers and were not honest, they were not compassionate since they first of all charged such high prices and second endangered their lives with these false claims. They were simply greedy and wanted to make as much money as possible without considering how everyone else would be affected. 

Justified Evaluation:

After looking at all of the ethical theories and research, they all come to the consensus that Tailor Made Compounding acted unethically in the selling and marketing of their drugs that they claimed could treat COVID-19. I agree with this consensus. I think it is extremely wrong of Tailor Made to take advantage of the people of the world who anxiously await good news of a vaccine or treatment so that they can stop living in fear of catching this infectious disease or even passing it along to a loved one. It is so wrong to play on the little hope that the people of the world have just to make extra money. While people are losing their jobs and homes because of this pandemic, Tailor Made Compounding made these horrible claims that they had a treatment for the virus just to make so much more money. Instead of being grateful for holding onto the income they already had, they had to take advantage of the little money and hope that Americans are left with today. What Tailor Made Compounding did was so wrong on so many levels and it is without a doubt that I say the actions they did deserve the most severe punishment possible. 

Action Plan:

At this point the only thing that Tailor Made Compounding can do is apologize for their actions and start fresh. They should immediately hold a press conference of some sort to apologize to the American people for lying to them and taking advantage of their hope. Perhaps they can justify their actions by saying they too strongly had hope for the compounding drugs and simply got ahead of themselves in the process. They could say that they truly believed they could help the American public go back to normal just as they so desperately want to. They would have to admit complete fault and recognize that they were very wrong. One thing I strongly believe they have to do is repay those individuals who bought the drugs and even pay them reparations for any harm they brought to their families or friends since they thought they were safe. If they want to remain profitable it will be important to explain that their intentions were pure and that they simply were so eager to help everyone that they got caught up and couldn’t wait for any approval. This can be done through the aforementioned recommendations. 



        Julia S. 

References:


Briar, Chelsea. “Revolutionary New COVID-19 Treatment Arrives in Madison County.” Local News 8, 13 Nov. 2020, localnews8.com/news/local-news/2020/11/13/revolutionary-new-covid-19-treatment-now-in-madison-county/.

Commissioner, Office of the. “There Are No FDA-Approved Drugs or Vaccines to Treat COVID-19.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/beware-fraudulent-coronavirus-tests-vaccines-and-treatments.

Dreisbach, Tom. “Web Of 'Wellness' Doctors Promote Injections Of Unproven Coronavirus Treatment.” NPR, NPR, 1 Oct. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/10/01/914433778/web-of-wellness-doctors-promote-injections-of-unproven-coronavirus-treatment

House Committee on Oversight and Reform, oversight.house.gov/ .https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2020-10-28.RK%20to%20FDA%20and%20FTC%20re%20Thymosin%20Alpha-1.pdf

“Nicholasville Compounding Pharmacy and Its Owner Plead Guilty to Unlawful Distribution of Prescription Drugs.” The United States Department of Justice, 29 Oct. 2020, www.justice.gov/usao-edky/pr/nicholasville-compounding-pharmacy-and-its-owner-plead-guilty-unlawful-distribution.



Forever 21: The Truth Behind Fast Fashion( 2013-2020)

 Ethics Case Controversy

Forever 21 is an American brand that was founded in April 1984 in Highland Park, Los Angeles California. Forever 21 is known for their cheap and trendy clothes. However they have been faced with multiple scandals throughout the years exposing how they can afford to sell their clothes for such a low price. Forever 21 is now facing the consequences of “cheap fashion”. They company has been planning on filing for bankruptcy. The longer this goes on more and more people are becoming aware of the unethical practices Forever 21 uses. It is now affecting the business of Forever 21 as a whole, people are refusing to support the unethical wages and treatment of the companies employees and are taking their money  elsewhere. 

Forever 21 has been involved in many lawsuits regarding stealing designs,  replicating another companies product, discrimination and unlawful labor and wage conditions.  These lawsuits date back from 2001-present. Forever 21 has stolen designs from many high end brands as well as well known public figures. They have copied the well known Gucci cross body bag and replaced the Gucci label with 2 circles to replicate the look. Even though they are not copying the logo it is still Gucci’s design and therefore should only be sold by Gucci and not replicated by another brand. 

In Los Angeles, a Forever 21 employee Norma Ulloa has expressed her concern on her wage and hours. She stated she works 11 hours a day while making six dollars an hour, which is far below California’s minum wage. She is one of three hundred workers speaking out about her treatment. The company claims they inspect the manufacturing factories but if they did the employees would not be speaking out on their mistreatment. Ulloa included multiple companies in her claim for backwages, but decided not to go after Forever 21 for back wages as it would prolong the settlement. Since she did this the company noted that in her case there was “likely no valid claim”. The investigation uncovered a makeshift factory were there was barbed-wire fences so workers could not escape the factory. In result the anti-sweatshop law was passed. This law allows employees to claim back-wages from their direct employees and from manufacturers who contracted with those factories. There was also another incident in which Alba Gomez Guevara filed a wage claim against Forever 21. She claimed she made less than nine dollars an hour working in a south Los Angeles factory gluing on rhinestones onto Forever 21 shirts and packaging the finished products into Forever 21 packaging. She stated the delivery guy that picked up the clothes was an employee of Forever 21 and she knew the location of the company’s facility in which the items were dropped off. Forever 21 responded by saying they never employed or even met Guevara and that she did not provide enough information. In 2015 the Labor Commissioner's Office stated that there was not enough evidence to hold Forever 21 liable. Big companies are getting away without punishment because they take the position in that they are not involved in the production and manufacturing of the clothes , so therefore are not liable for claims against them even if a worker has stitched their label onto a garment. This is just another way for companies to get away with the unethical things they are doing. 

Forever 21 also has been caught up in a scandal were they have been purchasing cotton from the Uzbekistan Cotton Company, who uses child labor. The Uzbekistan Cotton Company is one of the biggest cotton companies in the world. They rely mostly on the work of children to harvest the cotton. The workers are given a daily quota of how much cotton they need to harvest and if they do not reach the quota they are punished. The workers are forced to live in makeshift dormitories and are given insufficient food and water. This causes them to be malnourished, frail and in danger, especially the children. In 2011 the RSN issued a cotton pledge to encourage brands to sign and agree to stop using cotton from Uzbekistan. Over 50 brands have vowed to never use Uzbekistan cotton some brands include Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, and Levi’s. However Forever 21 has stayed silent, the company claims they only purchase supplies from fair companies. This is untrue, Forever 21 uses cotton from Uzbekistan because of how cheap in cost it is. Since the apparel Forever 21 sells is so inexpensive, they use cheap materials in order to keep the prices low. There has been boycotts and petitions against the retailer. People across the world see how unethical and wrong child labor is, so they are choosing to boycott companies that are involved including Forever 21. 

 



















Stakeholders

The main stakeholder in this situation is Forever 21. They have the most to lose because there company is the one in the spotlight with all of these scandals. Along with Forever 21 the other stakeholders involved are the factories who produces Forever 21 products, the employees of the factories, the employees of Forever 21 and also the consumers who purchase products from Forever 21. 




Individualism

The goal of the Individualist theory is to maximize profit for the stakeholders (Forever 21) and to act in the best interest of them. Forever 21 continued to purchase supplies from the Uzbekistan Cotton Company because it was cheap. By purchasing supplies from Uzbekistan it allowed Forever 21 to continue to sell their products at a low affordable price while also increasing their profit. If the company bought supplies that cost more they would not make the same profit and be able to sell the products at a low price. The margin between the cost of making the product and the price they are selling it at would be closer if they did not use Uzbekistan. The act of using supplies from Uzbekistan is unethical but Forever 21 continued to purchase supplies from them because it was in the best interest of the company price wise. 



Utilitarianism

The Utilitarianism Theory states that an action is right (ethical) if it results in the happiness of the greatest number of people in a society or a group. Utilitarians believe that in order to be moral we should follow certain well-established rules or guidelines that can be relied on to produce the best results, for instance the Utility Principle. Act utilitarians believe that whenever we are deciding what to do, we should perform the action that will create the greatest net utility. In their view, the principle of utility do whatever will produce the best overall results should be applied on a case by case basis. In this case Forever 21 did not do what was going to result in the happiness of the greatest number of people. The factory workers were not happy working long shifts and receiving wages less than minimum wage. The owners of the factories were not happy employees were filing claims against them for their unethical practices. The children and workers in Uzbekistan were not happy spending long work days picking cotton and receiving unfair living treatment. The companies and individuals who accused Forever 21 of copying designs and products of theirs were also not happy when they saw Forever 21 profiting off their idea. The consumers were not happy when they found out where Forever 21 was getting their cotton supply from. Lastly Forever 21 was not happy with all of the negative backlash they were receiving from the scandals. Overall no one in this situation is happy in the end, therefore the actions of Forever 21 are indeed unethical to a Utilitarian. 


Kantianism

The Kantianism Theory states that rational decisions must be ethical. According to Kantianism to have moral worth, actions must be done strictly from duty. “Don’t lie, cheat, manipulate or harm others to get your way. Rather, use informed and rational consent from all parties.”(Salazar, 2014). Forever 21 has harmed others to get their way/succeed. The conditions in the factories where the products of the company were produced was very harmful to the workers. They sometimes worked longer than twelve hour days getting less than $4 an hour six out of seven days a week. They lived in tiny makeshift dormitories and were given insufficient food. Forever 21 did not care about harming the workers because they were profiting from their work. The brand also used manipulation to get itself out of many scandals. Forever 21 has stolen designs and ideas from countless brands. Kantians would not approve of stealing someones idea and using it at your own, this is seen as cheating and lying. Overall according to Kantianism the practices of Forever 21 are deemed unethical. 


Virtue Theory

The Virtue Theory consist of four main virtues. The four virtues need to be obtained in order for a business to be ethical. The four virtues are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Courage is the first virtue, it represents the willingness to do the right thing. Forever 21 did not display this characteristic. When the conditions of the Uzbekistan Cotton Company came out to the public many companies vowed to never purchase supplies from them again. However instead of joining in and vowing to stop using the cotton and supplies from Uzbekistan that was deemed unethical, Forever 21 stayed silent and continued to use supplies from Uzbekistan knowing the way they treat the workers. The second virtue is honesty. Forever 21 was not honest when scandals came up that they knew they had a part in them. Instead of being honest and doing the right thing, they claimed they were not responsible for what they were accused of in the claims and scandals. Forever 21 also was not honest when it came to the employees and customers. They public was not aware of how the employees were being treated in the factory and the conditions of the factories. The third virtue is temperance. This means the business had to have realistic expectations and desires. Forever 21 had expectations and desires, they wanted to sell low priced items while maximizing profit. However the way they went about doing this was not ethical. They were using unethical companies to purchase supplies off of because of how cheap in price it was. The cheaper the supplies cost the cheaper they can produce the product for, hence making a larger profit when they sell the product. The fourth virtue is justice. Justice is hard work, quality products, good ideas, and fair practices. The workers in the factories were not given fair wages. The wages were far below the minimum wage , this made it almost impossible for people to support themselves and their families. Also the conditions of the factories were not fair, there was barbed-wire fences so the workers could not escape. Stealing the designs and ideas from other customers and celebrities also was not fair. Those companies and celebrities spent time and money on their idea/product, Forever 21 had no right to copy their designs. Overall based on the Virtue Theory the practices of Forever 21 are seen as unethical. 


Justified Ethics Evaluation


In my opinion I believe that the actions of Forever 21 were unethical and unprofessional. Forever 21 is known for their inexpensive clothing, but the reality of it is they can only afford to do that because of the harsh working conditions and low wages they give their employees. Their employees are paid less than minimum wage and forced to work 12 plus hour days.  Another factor is also where they get their supplies from. Forever 21 saves a large amount of money by purchasing supplies from unethical companies. The Uzbekistan Cotton Company is one of the companies Forever 21 purchases supplies from, the company uses child labor which causes the supplies they offer to be very cheap. After finding out about the use of children and the conditions they work in, many brands vowed to stop purchasing supplies to stop supporting the use of child labor and harsh conditions. However Forever 21 stayed silent and continued to purchase supplies from Uzbekistan because it was cheap. This was very unethical of them and caused customers to boycott their store. Forever 21 acted in self interest rather than ethically. 


Action Plan

Forever 21 needs to improve the conditions of the factories that their products are being produced in. The way they are being run is very unethical and unfair to the employees. 

Forever 21 has been called out for their participation in paying their workers below the minimum wage while also creating despicable working conditions for their employees. Forever 21 needs to stop exploiting their workers and follow the state mandated minimum wage. One way Forever 21 could approach this issue is by hiring employees to do all the work involved with the production of the retail items instead of having different factories do cutting, sewing, stitching, and bagging. This has been proved successful in the company Los Angeles Apparel, founded by Dov Charney. In the article in the LA Times “Behind a $13 shirt, a $6-an-hour worker” it explains Charney successful method,  “[he is] paying workers an average of around $15 an hour to sew clothes in a sprawling warehouse in South L.A. The only way he can afford it, he says, is to cut out all the middlemen and put everyone from the sewers to the designers to the retail executives under one roof. “You want to make it yourself. That’s what my pitch is for; it’s for vertical integration,” Charney says. “It’s actually the path of least resistance, and you can make clothing less expensively than it’s made offshore”.

 They also need to start purchasing supplies from companies that are ethical. Forever 21 is continuously giving their dollar to suppliers who use child labor. As previously noted, purchasing supplies from Uzbekistan supports child labor and harsh working conditions. Even though these tactics save Forever 21 a large amount of money, a company should not be operating unethically in this day in age. Forever 21 needs to make extreme adjustments and changes to the way they operate and manage their company.  Finding another company to purchase supplies from will cost more money, however it will be ethical. With a dramatically fast changing world of consumerism, it is easy to find all the clothing you need for cheap thanks to companies like Forever 21, but unfortunately many tend to turn a blind eye to the harsh and unethical origins of the clothes on their skin. If more regulations and pressure is put on companies to produce their clothing ethically this issues can be resolves. For example the loop hole of Forever 21 identifying themself as a retail rather than a manufacturer needs to be addressed. Forever 21 needs to start using suppliers that enforce ethical labor practices, tt is time the well-being of a human life is put before the search of low cost production. 



















ButcherBox Bad Reviews reveal Customer Service Nightmares (2018-Present)




ETHICS CASE CONTROVERSY

ButcherBox is an online subscription-based meat delivery service that offers consumers high quality meats without having to have a local butcher shop. The company was founded in 2015 in Boston, Ma by Mike Salguero and Mike Filbey. Since then, the company has grown to over 160 employees and have generated an estimated revenue of $43.5M per year (Growjo). 
In the early stages of their company through today, the founders have intentionally limited the stakeholders in their company as much as possible. ButcherBox founder and CEO, Mike Salguero, states that, “Even before the success of our Kickstarter campaign, we wanted… farmers, the supply chain, employees, and ButcherBox members to be the only stakeholders to whom we answer. Because of that belief, we haven’t raised money from outside investors” (Salguero 1). As a result, there is the highest level of dependence on their sales revenue from their customers in order to survive. Being a very relatively new company, they are looking to attract customers who have likely never heard of their name who have little prior knowledge of their reputation. A 2017 survey on consumer behavior revealed that, “93% of consumers say that online reviews have an impact on their purchase decisions” (Fullerton, 1). This means that consumers will not want to blindly choose to join their service. Potential consumers then must determine their trust almost entirely on online reviews. For ButcherBox, online reviews can either make or break their company. 
In the early years of operation for ButcherBox, their service was a growing success and the reviews reflected as such. This allowed their operation to expand as well. Over the past year, their reviews have become much more mixed. The nature of these reviews has been very suspicious and may be an indication that their “honest reviews” may not be exactly what they seem. On the popular review site, Influenster, ButcherBox has a seemingly unalarming average star rating of just over 3.5/5 stars. I looked closer into how this average was distributed and reading into the responses of consumers in addition to if these reviews come from people who are recognized by the site to be experts with a high number of reviews. It became clear that the reviews are significantly favoring either one star reviews or five star reviews. This is a common occurrence because it is often the passionate consumers that take the time to leave reviews, their passion leaning to passionately good or passionately bad. The site allows viewers to see the total number of reviews the particular person has left on their site. When looking through good and bad reviews, what is extremely unordinary is the distribution of responses from experienced reviewers (as acknowledged by the site) and those who have ButcherBox as their only review. The site distinguishes reviewers based on their amount of reviews posted throughout their time on the site. This is to give their viewers more trust in particularly experienced reviewers’ judgement. Those who are reviewing for their first time can be seen as the most likely ‘honest reviews’ because it wouldn’t make sense for a company to pay or incentivize for good ratings from reviewers with no experience or credibility. 
Of all 80 of ButcherBox’s one star reviews left on this site, 75 of them are from first time reviewers and only 3 come from “experts”. On the opposite side, of all 162 five star reviews, only 6 were from first time reviewers and 46 come from “experts”. It is alarming that only 3% of the highest reviews (5 star ratings) come from the reviewers who have no likelihood of having any incentives, but yet 94% of the worst reviews (1 star ratings) come from reviewers with no likelihood of having any incentives. This indicates that the common consumers, those who’s reviews have no extra influence to potential customers, make up almost all of ButcherBox’s bad reviews and represent the most honest experience. If all of the reviews were honest, based solely on the consumer experience, and not influenced by the company at all, it would make sense that the people with the most influence have the same response as those with the least influence, but this is not the case. There are over 15 times more “Foodie Experts” who left 5 stars than 1 star (Influenster). 











The high quantity of low reviews from everyday people draws scepticism about full length articles written about the service over the same timeline. Within public sites that contain a large number of reviews by normal customers, again referencing Influenster for example, nearly 25% of the hundreds of reviews gave ButcherBox the lowest possible score. Yet, through the multiple highly regarded full length articles, there is no mention of any issues experienced by such a large quantity of normal customers. These professional reviews only contain the highest recommendations and no complaints. It makes it clear that the professional bloggers would not have identified any problems if there were any because they were being paid to review this way. If this were not the case, professional reviews/articles would be a reflection of the average responses, which were not perfect by any means.
ButcherBox, being a new, relatively unknown company with virtually no capital being generated from outside investment, as stated by the CEO, has to operate off of their sales from subscriptions alone. Those subscriptions are dependent on their reviews on popular sites such as Influenster. One unhappy customer review describes this experience in saying, “I really just thought that the customer service was the worst experience that I have ever had as a consumer”, and another stating simply, “Terrible experience- Lack of customer service and care” (Influenster, 1). Increasing quantities of bad reviews would be enough to severely diminish the company’s income as a result of potential new consumers being deterred by these reviews. ButcherBox then may have needed to balance this out by paying expert reviewers to leave positive ratings for their company as it would help to keep a good enough average star rating and have far more influence than those who have no review experience to encourage new customers to join. The tactic of paying for good reviews has become a very large market for many companies as they are able to do so without getting caught. Like most companies, ButcherBox has not been caught for this despite their online reviews indicating this.





STAKEHOLDERS


The stakeholders involved in this controversy are the users of ButcherBox who are at risk of wasting their money on a service that is unsatisfactory for what they expected to be paying for as a result of reading dishonest reviews prior to their purchase. The owner of the company, Mike Salguero and the company itself have their money and sales revenue at stake and have this as their primary motivation to tamper with reviews in such a way. The potential customers who look at online reviews to help them make their purchasing decisions have stake in this controversy because potential customers are likely researching whether or not it is worth their hard earned money and they are influenced by such reviews. The food bloggers that write articles about the service have their reputations at stake if they describe an inaccurate representation of the experience. The final stakeholders in this controversy would be the butchers who source the meat to this service. These local butchers have their reputation at stake if they are associated with an unsatisfactory service provided by ButcherBox.


INDIVIDUALISM 


The act of paying for positive reviews is unethical in terms of Milton Friedman’s concept of individualism. This ethical theory states, “that responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom” (Friedman, 1). By this principle, a decision made by a business to increase profits is ethical and it is the responsibility of the executives to make such decisions, assuming that they abide by the law of the land.
 In the case of ButcherBox, paying for positive reviews would not be considered ethical by Friedman’s views because this action, although a strategy intended to benefit profit, does not obey the law of the land as it goes against federal laws and those embodied in ethical custom. In the case of federal legislation, “Under 15 U.S. Code § 45, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the power to stop and penalize parties ‘using unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.’ This makes it a crime to break official rules imposed by the FTC. And the FTC forbids the use of fake testimonials” (Stemler, 1). 
In the case of ‘laws’ from the perspective of ethical customs, the action of paying for good reviews is unethical as it is dishonest and can essentially trick people into spending their money on a service that they otherwise may have decided was not worth the financial cost. The act of paying for reviews could also be argued as unethical from the perspective of improving profit as well because it would not increase long term profit because customers would join because of good reviews, be disappointed with the service, and cancel the order and likely leave another bad review. It would be more profitable long term if ButcherBox used whatever money may have been contributed to these reviews and instead put it towards their customer service. This would then be an improvement in customer experience, improve customer retention, and likely result in good honest reviews.


UTILITARIANISM 


From a utilitarian perspective, ButcherBox executives are acting unethical. Utilitarianism wants business actions aimed at maximizing happiness for in the long run for all conscious human beings affected by that business action (Salazar 19). The act of paying for good reviews does not maximize happiness for any party involved. For the customers who subscribe to the service, they will not be happy with the customer service or overall experience as it would not meet their expectations based on the dishonest reviews that they read. Since the act of paying for reviews is not yet proven in this case because it is very easy to get away with this, even when considering all reviews to be honest, customers are showing that they are being led to believe the quality and service is much higher than when they join. New customers are unhappy and subscriptions are cancelled.
For the ButcherBox executives, it may initially seem as if paying for good reviews would improve happiness for them, but it would not be the ethical utilitarian solution because it would not maximize happiness. The amount of happiness that they gain from the paid review is not going to equal the happiness that they would feel if they knew the reviews were truthful and genuine. They would then know that they are doing a great job and that customers who subscribe based on those reviews will not be let down because they would have an accurate idea of the quality of service. Paying for reviews also puts the company at risk of being caught which would certainly have a negative impact on their sales and subsequent happiness. Whether there is a future scandal exposed from these reviews or not still means that there is a higher expectation going into the experience than what is received. Since the misleading reviews contribute to customer unhappiness, the butcher shops that source the products used by ButcherBox would be unhappy because the quality of their meats may be completely overlooked by the customer and their products would only be associated with a service that created a negative customer experience for them. This would look bad for their reputation as a result, even though their products may be very high quality. 
In addition to the consequences of paid reviews, the consequences of the poor service and care would go against utilitarian views. Customers would be unhappy with the disregard for customer service and would then also be unhappy with the difference between what they read online and what the actual experience was like. For the company, their poor customer service could be considered to make them happy because they likely don’t want to suffer the financial expense of hiring more customer service staff or reimbursing customers to their satisfaction. Despite this, the financial burden of improving service quality would be an investment that maximizes their long term happiness as it would improve business and reviews over time and likely result in a higher number of new customers and profit. 


KANTIANISM 


Although the case of ButcherBox would also not be ethical through the Kantian perspective, Kantianism differs from utilitarianism in terms of decision making. Utilitarianism makes decisions based on consequences while Kantianism bases decisions on goodwill (Salazar 21). This theory focuses on the intention and motivation behind the action rather than the result of the action. 
In the case of ButcherBox the act of paying for reviews would have the intention of being deceitful to the customers/potential customers who read the fake reviews in order to convince them to pay for the service. This would have been a deliberate attempt to profit off of a lie at the expense of the unsuspecting customer. This would be the opposite of actions based on goodwill. This comes across as them trying to cover up their own incompetence rather than actually addressing the issues that may be causing the customers to have such a negative experience with their product. This is an attempt to gain profit short term as the good reviews and articles may help them gain new customers, but these new customers would have higher expectations than what they are going to experience because their expectations were based on dishonest accounts of the company. These new customers would then not return to the service going forward and likely would express their dissatisfaction in the form of an honest bad review. This would ultimately do more harm than good for the company. The correlation to kantianism from this comes from the business’s intention to be dishonest and gain a positive reputation the cheap way rather than providing that level of quality. This would mean that they did so without considering the impact on their customers and the company as a whole that is not going to benefit in the long term. That motivation would deem this unethical from a kantian perspective.


VIRTUE THEORY 

The virtue theory is another way to determine the ethical nature of an event based on the character of the parties involved. Virtue theory evaluates the actions based on how it reflects who they are. ButcherBox has failed to demonstrate the virtues of honesty, justice, and intelligence. Beyond this, their actions reflect the vices of greed and selfishness. 
When looking at the virtue of honesty, ButcherBox goes against this with the deceitful reviews of their service. This action is something that ButcherBox has not faced consequences or backlash for as they have yet to be accused of this. While the reviews draw great suspicion of this, even if it is not the case, ButcherBox is still being dishonest because they are willingly providing customers with service that is not a reflection of how they perceive themselves and are being perceived by bloggers and expert reviewers. The reviews bring in new customers so they get their profit, but they do not care to provide the quality of service that the customer was led to expect. 
This case demonstrates ButcherBox’s failure to satisfy the virtue of justice. The company benefits from reviews that are not a representation of the service that they are willing to provide. This gives the public the perception that they are much more considerate than they have proven themselves to be through the honest reviews of bad service. The virtue of justice would be met had they acknowledged how they are regarded in these reviews and blogs and demonstrated an equal level of service that accurately represents how they are being portrayed. Instead, they are benefiting from the positive articles that when compared to the reality of the reviews from everyday people it is clear that they are undeserving of their praise and the profit it generates. There would be justice for the customer if the service reflected the high praise from the articles or if the articles represented the poor quality of the service. 
The ButcherBox case does not reflect the virtue of intelligence as they are setting themselves up to suffer in the long term. If they were intelligent, the profits generated from the subscriptions would go further into maximizing the quality of customer service. This would create a better overall consumer experience and honest positive reviews would result. These reviews would encourage new members to join where they would be met with that same level of satisfactory service thus creating a cycle of positive customer experiences that encourages the growth of the brand. Instead, they neglect to put the necessary attention towards their customer service which would save money, but severely hurt future income. All of these actions demonstrate the vices of greed and selfishness because they would rather save their earnings than improve their service and the experience of their paying customers who are let down as a result. The customers are left to feel as though they had been lied to as the company just takes their money.


JUSTIFICATION ETHICS EVALUATION 


I don't see ButcherBox to be ethical in the way that they do business. The perspective of utilitarianism, kantianism, and virtues theory demonstrate this conclusion and from three different angles, the services provided by ButcherBox are unethical. Even though the suspicion of illegally paying for dishonest reviews has yet to be identified by a court or the justice system, Their poor service is showing that they are profit motivated at the expense of the customers and a willing lack of maximizing happiness as a result. The kantian perspective sees their incompitent service as a reflection of their intent to screw over the customer because it saves them money and would deem them unethical. The short and long term unhappiness for the customers, company, and suppliers that would come as a consequence of their actions makes the utilitarian view deem them unethical as well. Individualism states that their only obligation is to maximize profit, but yet they only do this in the short term by banking on overly generous reviews whether they prove to be paid for or not. By failing to sufficiently meet such expectations due to their neglect for customer service, they create their own problem of bad reviews and reputation which turns current customers away due to unhappiness, and potential customers away who read the reviews.


COMPANY ACTION PLAN


ButcherBox has the opportunity to take action and refocus their priorities to better ethically operate. They are at risk of digging a further hole for themselves. The action plan to address the issues begins with a prioritization of customer service. This will require them to focus a much larger amount of funds towards this part of their operation. The company, at this point, likely does not feel as though they have the extra funds from sales to put towards customer service in the way that would be necessary to eliminate a vast majority of the bad customer experiences that it creates. The improvement to their customer service will result in an increase in positive reviews coming from regular people who have satisfactory experiences with their communication with the company. It is poor customer service that is most likely to provoke people to leave a bad review because it is oftentimes very frustrating as it makes customers feel as if they are not valued. The positive reviews that will result from this will be a big factor in getting an increasing number of new members that likely all looked for validation in customer reviews prior to their purchase. The new increase in subscriptions means an increase in revenue that can be used to maintain higher funding for this department so there aren't future issues. As a result, putting the extra funds into customer service will be an investment that could allow them to be more ethical. The new funds generated by this action will pay for the higher customer service funding to continue and build upon itself. 
In order to begin this process, ButcherBox will require more capital to put towards this without taking away from another important aspect of the business. To do this, ButcherBox should look to outside investors to provide the capital in return for stake in the company. This is a common factor in almost all entrepreneurial ventures, but is something that CEO, Mike Salguero, has intentionally avoided since the start of the business. This means that those within the company have 100% ownership. I believe that in order to be profitable in the future, the company will need to be able to put far more funds towards customer service than they are able to at this moment. If Salguero is willing to sell a small portion of ownership for a large sum of new capital in order to begin this action plan, the benefits that the company will see to their business as a result will make his now smaller stake in his company worth far more than what 100% would be worth without significant change.
How does this action and result affect the ethics of ButcherBox? The increase in funding towards customer service changes the company’s character. They would be showing that they are willing to spend their income for the purpose of maximizing happiness for consumers. This will maximize profit for the company and in return maximize happiness for the company as well. As the happy customers then translate their experiences into positive reviews, new customers are influenced to join with the expectations set by the good reviews. The new action by the company will allow them to actually meet the expectations set by the reviews which only repeats that process as the new customers share their experiences online. This is how happiness can be maximized for future customers as well. 
This action can be beneficial for all stakeholders as the company will do this with the motivation to increase future profit rather than save current funds. This action will be within the confines of federal and common ethical law which would satisfy the ethical view of Friedman’s theory on individualism. The plan will have a consequence of an increase in happiness for all stakeholders which would satisfy a utilitarian perspective. That will be done with the motivation of bettering the success of the company and increasing the quality of customer experience and consideration. This would be a demonstration of how they would be acting on goodwill and improved character, thus satisfying the ethical views of kantianism. Finally, it will satisfy the virtues that they currently lack, as it will be an honest and intelligent action that demonstrates justice for themselves, their customers, and their suppliers. Their reviews and service will be an accurate representation of one another and will both set and satisfy consumer expectations. This will also shift their focus towards a better experience for those who decide to subscribe to their service. As a result, ButcherBox can eliminate the vices of greed and selfishness within their operation as they will begin to value their customers above their own success and in turn both can create maximum happiness for all.

REFERENCES 


Crawford, Elizabeth. “5 Tips for a Successful Kickstarter Campaign from Grass Fed Meat 
Delivery Startup Butcher Box.” Foodnavigator.com, William Reed Business Media Ltd., 1 Oct. 2015, www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2015/10/01/5-tips-for-a-successful-Kickstarter-campaign-from-Butcher-Box.  

Friedman, Milton. “A Friedman Doctrine‐- The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase 
Its Profits.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Sept. 1970, www.nytimes.com/1970/09/13/archives/a-friedman-doctrine-the-social-responsibility-of-business-is-to.html

Fullerton, Laurie. “Online Reviews Impact Purchasing Decisions for over 93% of Consumers, 
Report Suggests.” The Drum, The Drum, 27 Mar. 2017, www.thedrum.com/news/2017/03/27/online-reviews-impact-purchasing-decisions-over-93-consumers-report-suggests

Growjo. ButcherBox Competitors, Revenue and Alternatives
https://growjo.com/company/ButcherBox.   

Salazar, Heather. The Business Ethics Case Manual. N.d.

Salguero, Mike. “Mike Salguero, Author at ButcherBox.” ButcherBox, 24 Jan. 2018, 
www.butcherbox.com/author/mikes/

Stemler, Sam. “Are Paid or Fake Testimonials Illegal?” Boast, 18 Feb. 2020, 
https://boast.io/paid-fake-testimonials-illegal/

Twitter, Twitter, https://twitter.com/butcherbox

Vavala, Lauren. “July 2019 ButcherBox Review.” Delicious Little Bites, 8 July 2019, 
https://deliciouslittlebites.com/july-2019-butcher-box/.