Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 5.

Do you remember my post Standing Up? Talking about Truth and what it is.

The idea that everyone is entitled to their own "truth", or that there are lots of different parts that make-up "truth" for everyone, is a path of convenience; whatever works for you is good. If you say that you are "open-to-all" while claiming a specific religion or spirituality then there is no Truth. You can't have half-Truth, or near-Truth, or feel-good-Truth, or what-works-for-you-Truth. It either is, or it isn't. Truth is consistent, unchanging, and whole...

Now, hold that thought.

Last week I went to Payless to buy some new shoes. Nothing fancy, just some new summer sandals and a pair of casual flats. I walked in, found the section with my size and proceeded building my stack of entitlement. I went in for a few pair and began to justify how cute some were and how I needed those too. How I deserved more because well, I can. Because hey, they are only 20 bucks as apposed to shopping at Nordstrom where I would be paying triple.

But then I was stopped.

I looked at one box, then another. Casting a brief gaze on the multitude of boxes lining the shelves I realized the variety of brands, each with their own designed box. Odd that a store with a title of "Pay Less" would carry such a selection. When I think of what costs less, my mind goes to one. Right? One of something is less than more? It was then that I begged the question, Are these shoes fair trade?

I bought the shoes. Took them home and placed them on my shelf.

Not long after I was convicted to find out the Truth.

I nervously went to the website of Payless and emailed them. Below I have copied the emails in order to which they were sent and received.

--- Original Message ---
From: taylee.winder@gmail.com
Received: 4/5/12 5:04:31 PM CDT
To: "CustomerService@csr.payless.com" <CustomerService@csr.payless.com>
Subject: Payless.com Question
Are your shoes fair trade?

Thank you,
Taylee Winder

Payless - Milaine P customerservice@csr.payless.com Apr 5

Dear Taylee,

Thank you for contacting Payless ShoeSource.
Payless ShoeSource, Inc. makes a special effort to ensure that we conduct business with companies that do not violate basic human rights to make a profit.

Our Statement of Business Principles, which we require that factories post and certify compliance with, mandates that no forced or child labor be used in the manufacturing process. We have representatives on-site in many of the factories we do business with who keep an eye on not only the production process, but also on working conditions. In addition, in many instances we send our own people in to inspect factory working conditions.We believe workers in the factories receive fair compensation for their efforts.

As I am sure you realize since we buy merchandise for over 4,500 stores the sheer volume of our purchases allows us to achieve favorable pricing which we, in turn, pass along to our customers. We appreciate your concern about this issue, and hope this information is beneficial to you.

Thank you.
Payless ShoeSource Customer Support Center

taylee.winder@gmail.com Apr 6

to Payless

Thank you for getting back to me. I appreciate the explanation. However, I'm not sure how to read this from there not being a direct yes or no to whether your shoes are fair trade. Are you able to answer the question with a yes or no?

Thank you,
Taylee Winder
Payless - Cathlene S customerservice@csr.payless.com Apr 8

Dear Taylee,

Thank you for contacting Payless ShoeSource.
I apologize, but we are not able to answer your question any differently.

Thank you for your business and loyalty to Payless ShoeSource.

Payless ShoeSource Customer Support Center

I will admit that after I received the first response I was content. They had given me a long explanation, answering my question. That was until I read it to a friend who kindly discerned me to the truth...or the lack-there-of. They had fed me a bunch of words that made them look good. Because they had given me a drawn-out explanation, using all the key points one would look for, I was unknowingly misled and lied to.

The point of me opening with my previous post on truth in regards to religion or spirituality was because in life if there is absolute Truth, it will correspond to reality.

So what's your reality? Half-Truth, or near-Truth, or feel-good-Truth, or what-works-for-you-Truth.

Payless shoes gave me half-Truth. But that was not the Truth.

Payless shoes is not fair trade. Someone, somewhere was forced to work under harsh and unimaginable circumstances. While I felt entitled to a few new pair of shoes, a man, woman, or child had no entitlement. Slaved to work for me, for you, and the next customer to walk through the door.

Later discussion with my friend led to the tables being turned on my own sin, my own actions in Truth, my own reality. Taylee, what are you going to do now? Are you going to keep shopping at Payless and other like-minded stores? 

When you bump into the hard reality of Truth, will you dare allow it to change you?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Yes. These are the struggles I was having after I read your post last week with the link to assess "how many slaves work for you."

On the whole, my numbers were lower than many that they put beside my own...but then I got to wondering about where the products that I get are produced and how....how could I lower my number.

Jason and I began looking up fair trade clothing and the like. I want to have a better idea of how items are produced and how companies are working to better know that their standards aren't being violated all along the supply chain from materials to clothing product. And even in the best of these groups the information seems a bit muddied. Jo-in seems to encompass all of the organizations that are monitoring the best of the corporate clothing lines...some are better than others as far as what their members are required to do, how strict they are about documenting and improving conditions for workers year to year. (And then within these some organizations really seem to care and others just seem to want to be on the list...)