To Patronize or To Protest

Chick-fil-A just received the highest customer satisfaction score of any fast-food chain that American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has measured over its 21-year history.

The fast-food chain scored an 87 out of 100 in terms of customer satisfaction, making it not only the highest-scoring fast-food chain this year, but also the highest scoring company out of the more than 300 large companies that ACSI measures.

David VanAmburg, managing director of the ACSI, notes, “They do one thing and they do it well — chicken.”

Wall Street Journal food writer Charles Passy puts it, “The Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich — grilled or fried — is one of those Great American Things.”

So the chain certainly has its supporters and a well-earned reputation.

However, it also has its detractors.

One point of concern for some individuals is the President of Chick-fil-A has come out publicly against gay marriage.

Another point of concern is the questionable nutritional value of some of its menu items.

I think having such detractors comes with being a successful company; it is in the public eye and anything it does is scrutinized by people looking to find fault.

The question at hand though is what do you do if you like Chick-fil-A’s food, but don’t agree with its stance on a social issue or the fact that some of its food may be quite unhealthy?

Do you stop going to stores where you may disagree with one of the products the company sells or with the personal views of the owner of a business, do you stand outside and protest such businesses, or do you continue to patronize such companies?

It’s a tough question to answer, at least in my mind.

Here’s a couple of personal examples.

Whole Foods is one of my go-to places for food shopping, along with Mom’s Organic. As a vegan, I find that Whole Foods offers me lots of healthy choices that support my diet. On the other hand, Whole Foods also sells many products, such as meat, fish, and dairy that I do not believe belong in our diet.

In addition, John Mackey, the founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, while also a fellow vegan, also has some personal views that I disagree with, such as his beliefs about climate change and the role of unions in the workplace.

So given all this, does this mean I should stop shopping at Whole Foods because it sells products I don’t eat and its CEO has some opinions that I disagree with?

Well, since actions speak louder than words, I can tell you that I continue to shop at Whole Foods. I think supporting a store that caters to my needs is a key way to make sure that store continues to do so.

Another example, this time hypothetical, but easy to imagine, would be what I would do if I found out Bruce Springsteen was in favor of the death penalty (which he is not, by the way).

Since I am strongly against the death penalty, does that mean I should stop listening to Bruce’s music and going to his concerts? Should I stand outside Citizen’s Bank Park with a protest sign when he is performing there? Or can I continue listening to his music and going to his concerts while still disagreeing with him. Or is doing so implicitly endorsing his views.

As I said, it’s a hypothetical situation, but my guess is that I would continue to listen to his music and go to his concerts, while stil letting my anti-death penalty views be known.

Maybe the reasons for my choices are because Whole Foods and Bruce are two of my favorite things, and so perhaps I might be more lenient in overlooking some of the issues noted above. But what if there was a small convenience store where the owner is a known racist. In that type of situation, it would probably be much easier for me to not shop at such a store.

Do my actions regarding Whole Foods and Bruce mean that I don’t stand up for my principles? Or does it mean that I’ve decided to pick and choose my battles, and these aren’t ones I’ve decided to fight?

I obviously think it is the second reason, but either way, making such choices involves some level of cognitive dissonance, which is never easy to cope with.

So I’ll continue to occasionally struggle with such decisions, but in the meantime, thank you Bruce for not supporting the death penalty.


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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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