Is it deceptive to collect money for one reason, and use it for another?
Britain, much like Washington DC, imposes a 5 pent tax on all disposable plastic bags distributed by retailers. In DC, the tax is imposed to discourage shoppers from using disposable bags, and to encourage them to bring their own reusable bags to stores, to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags on the environment.
Britain is a bit different from DC in that, they expect retailers to collect this 5pent tax, and donate the funds to “good causes.” Tesco, a British grocer and convenient store, has recently come under fire for deducting over 10% of their bag tax funds for “administrative purposes.” For some context, Tesco collected almost 32 million pounds in bag tax last year, and deducted 3.4 million pounds of this money for their administrative costs.
The British government points out that no other top 10 retailer has made a deduction this large to cover administrative costs. Most other top retailers do not make deductions from this fund to cover the cost of administering the donations or customer communications. While it is not illegal for companies to hold onto this money, it could be considered immoral for Tesco to hold onto such a large portion of this money.
Ideally, to generate better press for this British retailer, they would not withhold any of this money for administrative purposes, and instead, they should donate all of it. Most would argue that withholding 10 percent of this money, is just too much.
Original Story: “Tesco criticized for deducting 3.4m pounds from plastic bag tax charity donations” The guardian, September 7, 2017