Open Letter to the Boss

When Profits come before Ethics, Businesses Fail
Hey Boss, 

How are you doing?  You don't mind if I still call you "Boss", right?  I am, after all, still working for you - diligently doing my job... you know, improving YOUR products for YOUR COMPANY. Maybe you didn't know we were going to do this on a public forum, but then again, I didn't know I was going to be doing it for free either.  So here we are. I'm OK with this arrangement, and I know you must be too.

So, let's get started.  I've already collected a few of the complaints we need to examine carefully.  Some go back many years and the issues are still cropping up in recent complaints.  I know you know about the "seal failure" issues since you have been to the factory in China to address them at least twice that I know of.  Any guesses on how to fix this issue?  More glass cleaner recommendations?  Maybe Customer Service needs to get even tougher with these customers... What do they expect, after all - glass doors that can be cleaned? You also have stated customers will have to live with blemished tracks based on a China visit.  So, generally, it sounds like product quality is down a little at the moment.

Let's move on to safety.  I know you don't like losing 15 cents each on structural brackets, and you know how I feel about safety issues.  When TSDC's factory in China knocked off Simpson Strong Tie brackets you felt you could save a fortune by avoiding testing of this structural component.  When I objected, and insisted we purchase the bracket from Simpson, you fought me on this. Unfortunately, now that we have taken this issue to the public, I'm going to have to INSIST that you stop making brackets that are identical to Simpson's brackets. You don't have to listen to me, of course.  We can wait to see if anyone who cares about this reads this blog. But you're not paying me nothing - just to sit on my butt, so I'll make sure this issue is taken care of one way or another, don't worry.

And I haven't forgotten about our engineering documents, our ADA issues and installation contracts.  I'll be covering all of those issues here soon as well as product quality and possibly fraud. There is, as you know, no shortage of engineering problems at TSDC that need to be discussed on this blog and with government agencies.  I promise to get to those as quickly as possible.  And again, by doing this on a public forum, there's a much better chance these issues will be addressed... again, one way or another.  It's a win/win, don't you agree?

But to focus on engineering issues would be to ignore the many other issues we have discovered in the complaints against TSDC.  Did you know you have terrible customer service?  Customers claim they make a purchase, often having to pay in advance, and have absolutely no support afterward.  The complaints page repeats this over and over.  People also complain about the "fine print" on your sales contracts.  I will blow it up for them here as a service to you.

Morale seems to be down too as many of your sales people are reported as being "rude" even "racist".  Are you treating and paying your sales people well enough to get top quality people?  How about your managers?  How is your "turnover"?  Maybe we should ask your HR department?  How do you treat your most loyal employees? Hopefully, a few will feel comfortable enough to comment here someday.

I think it's good to look at TSDC from the "outside" as I am doing.  I think the overall problem here is one of the suspension of any ethics which directly impact profits.  It's ethical to ensure something is safe by testing it before selling it (but that costs money).  It's unethical to "assume" something is safe until it fails in the field (but that's free - until someone is injured).  It's that simple... but it's also unethical to ask employees to participate in your unethical practices.

So ethics is an area where we apparently disagree, but again, we're in public now so we can agree to disagree.  And that's where I see this blog going.  It will be a blog about business ethics and what small companies are doing wrong ethically that hurts them in the long run.  Thanks to my experience at The Sliding Door Company, I have a lot of examples from a company that exemplifies what NOT to do if you want to be successful.  Unethical business behavior comes from small-minded, selfish thinking and serves nobody.  

Whistleblowing isn't as thankless a job as you might think.  I like my new job as your personal whistleblower.  I know you will thank me someday - for taking the time and effort to devote myself so fully to The Sliding Door Company.  It is, after all, what you wanted from me all along.

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