One of the most effective ways a consumer can vote is with their wallet. Choosing to spend or not to spend with a business is a determinant of the business' success. However, recent calls for the boycott of BP gas stations proved to be more harmful to the small business owner than the corporate entity. A boycott, as defined by Mirriam-Webster, is "to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (as a person, store, or organization) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions". Simply translated, this is marketplace democracy in action - consumers voting with their dollars for social and economic change.
The term originated in Ireland in 1780 when English estate manager Charles Cunningham Boycott was "boycotted" by famine-threatened Irish farmers for refusing to lower rents. Since then, boycotts have become an important part of American history, used to protest everything from government involvement in industries to unfair labor practices...
Sometimes, a business may be guilty of carelessness or thoughtlessness, versus outright maliciousness. We would like to see consumers first take a chance informing the company before organizing a boycott. We read and experience unfriendly business practices on a regular basis. Our Daily Green recently read about some transgressions involving a major department store as well as a national restaurant chain. Both examples involve less than green practices which need to be rectified. Is it better for the consumer to contact the company and give them a chance to rectify the wrong or to simply stop shopping there?
An increasing number of environmental groups are using boycotts as a means of influencing corporations and effecting change.
After personally spending 15 years in retail, it's industry knowledge that the customer to worry about is the one who says nothing, but to treat the complaint as an opportunity. For every complaint, there are another 10 customers who say nothing. As an activist and concerned shopper, there is more to gain by voicing concerns versus a simple boycott. A voice of dissention is worth 10 silent voices.