Should "Timmy's" be boycotted?

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Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture
Should "Timmy's" be boycotted?

I'm beginning to think that it's time to hit Tim Horton's where it hurts: their shareholder's pocketbooks. The close alignment of the company with the Harper Conservatives is incredibly offensive. Is it time for the peace movement and the left in general to make it clear that we are not going to accept their corporate pimping for warmongers and suspected war criminals?

 Any thoughts?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Boycott them because their entire business model is founded on exploitation and waste. Tim Hortons is the tar sands of fast food. What's more ubiquitous than Tim Hortons cups littering our landscape both literally and metaphorically? Tim Hortons represents so much of what's wrong with our phony, plastic, culture of trash.

Frmrsldr

Absolutely. Couldn't agree with you more. Don't do business with those buggers. Never have.

E.Tamaran

The Left in Canada doesn't have the follow-through for any long-term boycotts of companies. Sad but true. Examples:

Chapters/Indigo. The Left wants it boycotted because it's owned by the Reisemans (prominent Jews who support Israel, but that's not why they're being protested apparently, but the "real" reason escapes me at the moment). I've never seen any protests at Chapters.

Wal-mart ('nuff said). No protests.

McDonalds. They burn the rainforrest to provide cheap beef. No protests.

Car factories in Ontario. They cause global warming. No protests.

Banks. When was the last the Left protested outside CIBC, RBC, etc etc?

I could go on and on. Even the Olympics, being held on stolen land, aren't being protested in any serious way by the Left (or the Chiefs for that matter).

Lard Tundering Jeezus, your plan for a boycott of Tim Hortons is really cute, but it just won't happen. Sorry.

G. Muffin

E.Tamaran wrote:
Chapters/Indigo. The Left wants it boycotted because it's owned by the Reisemans (prominent Jews who support Israel, but that's not why they're being protested apparently, but the "real" reason escapes me at the moment). I've never seen any protests at Chapters.

I boycott Chapters but it's got nothing to do with Israel.  I can't standard their predatory Wal-Martesque business structure and happily pay more to buy my books at small independent bookstores. 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, boycotts are targeted, orgainized actions meant to levy economic pressure on a party to achieve policy change. What do you want to change about Tim Hortons? Get better coffee? Pay fair prices? Stop using paper cups? Stop using so much fat and salt? I'd rather just get rid of them altogether. Same with the others in E/ Tamaran's list.

I don't patronize any of those stores, but it's not because of a boycott. I do it as a matter of principle, but I don't think I'm changing anything because to do so would be to assume that consumers have any power--that we can "vote with our dollar." We don't, and we can't. There are other ways to stop the mercenary, expolitive and violent practices of these companies. Personally boycotting "roll up the rim to win" won't do the job.

G. Muffin

Why do you think consumers don't have any power, Catchfire?  For a bibliophile like myself, my Chapters "boycott" represents thousands of dollars.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Individual consumer choices have all the impact on the forces of mass consumerism as a leaf impacts the current of a fast flowing river. It doesn't. There have been successful boycotts, but those are the exceptions.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I hate Timmy's coffee, anyway - too strong. The only good restaurant coffee I've ever had comes from small independents.

G. Muffin

FM, so you're saying that my decision not to spend any money ever at Chapters has no impact upon them?  How could that be?  I agree that I'm not changing the world (and I agree that for a company the size of Chapters one person's boycott has minimal impact) but my support of independent bookstores is still worth doing.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

E.Tamaran wrote:

The Left in Canada doesn't have the follow-through for any long-term boycotts of companies. Sad but true. Examples:

Chapters/Indigo. The Left wants it boycotted because it's owned by the Reisemans (prominent Jews who support Israel, but that's not why they're being protested apparently, but the "real" reason escapes me at the moment). I've never seen any protests at Chapters.

Wal-mart ('nuff said). No protests.

McDonalds. They burn the rainforrest to provide cheap beef. No protests.

Car factories in Ontario. They cause global warming. No protests.

Banks. When was the last the Left protested outside CIBC, RBC, etc etc?

I could go on and on. Even the Olympics, being held on stolen land, aren't being protested in any serious way by the Left (or the Chiefs for that matter).

Lard Tundering Jeezus, your plan for a boycott of Tim Hortons is really cute, but it just won't happen. Sorry.

There have indeed been repeated protests at all of the first three companies on your list - and that even though your accusation doesn't hold true of Mcdonald's in Canada.

As for the rest of your list, I can't see that the 'left' shares your concerns across the board. And your last target, the 2010 Olympics, has indeed seen repeated protests, once again.

That said, I would concede that sustained boycotts have been few and far between.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

G. Pie wrote:

FM, so you're saying that my decision not to spend any money ever at Chapters has no impact upon them?  How could that be?  I agree that I'm not changing the world (and I agree that for a company the size of Chapters one person's boycott has minimal impact) but my support of independent bookstores is still worth doing.

I'm not saying that at all. I applaud your personal decision and encourage you to be a principled consumer to the extent that within our culture you must be a consumer before all else. What I'm saying is that the impact is not such as to curb the operating model of these highly profitable retailers. Wal-Mart, for example, once did a market profile where they identified what they called "conscientcious objectors"--people who just wouldn't shop at Wal-Mart. They represented a significant market, maybe, but not the very profitable market Wal-Mart could maintain at mucher lower costs without changing any business practices.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Getting elected to high office is the most effective way for progressive people to make change, although even then it's a tough row to hoe, because bureaucracies are set in their ways, as are political parties. I agree most protests are ignored after a while, especially when times are tough. And even getting elected is tough in this country - look at the NDP still the fourth party in Parliament.

susan davis

"row to hoe".......Tongue outlove it!!

i do not support any of the above named companies for all the reasons already listed.i don't think i've to mcD or TH in over 10years...

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

BB, I went to a talk by Thomas King a few weeks back. He's an incredible novelist and storyteller, and he spoke briefly of his stint through two election campaigns where he ran for the NDP in Guelph. He said that he always believed that telling stories was the only way to change things for the better, but he had been telling them for a long time and the changes he wanted seem impossibly far away. So he decided to run for public office. He called it the worst decision he ever made. He finished dead last (behind the Greens!) because he told people the truth, and an election is no time to be telling the truth. For a writer like Thomas King to give up writing for elected office would be a crime and detriment to Canada. So I'm not sure "effective" is the right adjective there.

I also don't think a boycott is an action by consumers. It is an action by civilians. It carries weight because there is a specific message behind it, and is supported by social consensus and agency. "We are this many and we want you to stop this, and this is what we will do until you hear us." A consumer, on the other hand, has no agency, because she is specifically anti-social, individual and without context. Think about the absurdity of me going into Starbucks, waiting in line, and then when it is my turn, telling the teenage help that their place of work is killing the poor and the planet. The "buy green" phenomenon has been gaining strength and numbers over the years, yet as a planet we produce, waste and consumer more than we ever have before. How can this be if consumers are more educated than ever, more ethically concerned than ever, and more enivornmentally savvy than ever?

Economics need to change, but we do this through concerted, motivated, social effort and action. By trying to devise ways where whole communities don't need or want a McDonald's or a Wal-Mart anywhere near them.

Now, this is not to say that decisions like GPie's to not shop at Chapters are not commendable--I read for a living and I wouldn't set foot in a Chapters to save my life. But I don't expect that Chapters will come crawling back to me some day, with platitudes in their mouths, swearing they've changed (actually, I do kind of expect that--see Starbucks' recent rebranding campaign) any more than I expect me not telling a racist joke, or laughing at a sexist comment a colleague makes will stop racism or sexism any time soon. Yet we should still strive to live principled lives based on conviction and the social good. But that strikes me as more of a personal, spiritual decision than one that will effect social change.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Good post, Catchfire.Smile

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks Boom Boom! This discussion reminds me of that beautiful quote from Margaret Mead:

Quote:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

She (Margaret Mead) was great, no question. Good quote, btw.

Diogenes Diogenes's picture

Some years ago I worked near a Tim Horton's and bought 2-3 large double-doubles per day.  And about once a week I bought a box of donuts for for the people (and me) in the department at my own expense.  During one of their "roll-up-the-rim-to-win" promotions, I managed to win a free donut after puchasing maybe 70 cups of coffee. Woo-hoo!

I eventually handed my winning "rolled up rim" stub to the drive-thru person as she handed me my first double-double of the day.  She informed me that the contest had expired on the weekend.  I said "but it's just a donut!".  It didn't matter.

A couple of years back TH experienced a PR nightmare after it was widely reported that an employee had been fired for giving a free timbit to the fussing toddler of a regular customer.  The employee was recorded on video camera commiting this unspeakable act, interrogated by 3 middle management dweebs, shown the video evidence, and asked to sign a confession (which she did) and was promptly fired.

Three weeks later, at another Tim Hortons's franchise, employees demanded that a pregnant homeless person who was consuming a meal paid for by an investment banker who took pity on the woman, leave the premises because her presence made the other customers uncomfortable.

This was followed by a class action lawsuit, filed by a number of Tim Horton's franchisees, that claimed that the switch to factory made "pre-cooked" donuts that are micro-waved on site, which was supposed to lower costs and increase profits, had achieved the opposite effects. It made a mockery of the "Always fresh" company slogan; the cost of the precooked product are higher than the uncooked product; and donut sales dropped.  Who wants to eat microwaved donuts?  Comfort food for those who have no time for comfort?

Can somebody explain to me why Canadians hold Tim Horton's in such high regard? I just don't get it. No company has done more to deserve less.

nussy

Because they make great coffee.....and food. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

TH's makes terrible coffee! I don't mind their food so much, some of it is quite good. The reason for their popularity is their stuff is relatively cheap (compared to Starbucks perhaps) and convenient (located where it's easy to get to by car, bike, or walking, just like MacDonald's).

Caissa

I'm drinking a Tims at the moment from a franchsie held by Aramark. This si what happens when universities enetr into exclusive contracts with corporations.

I think some of Tims allure to Canadians is its link to hockey. Many of us remember watching the late Tim Horton play.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Canadians love Tim Hortons because it is the dark underbelly partner of everything we have been told we love about being Canadian: instead of diverse, tolerant and multicultural, TH is beige, conformist, and corporate. Every Timmys (they've eliminated the apostrophe, dontcha know) across the country looks exactly the same, serves the same donuts (literally the same--they've all been made in Winnepeg or something) and makes the same "coffee." The anxiety of the charade that Canadians must play every day, that we celebrate diversity and social justice utterly evaporates at the prospect of paying just $1.95 for a bitter double-double and a hunk baked frozen lard. Tim Hortons makes the fantasy of Canadianness palatable.

Sunny Canuck Sunny Canuck's picture

I don't understand how a boycott is different from individual consumer choice not to consume a particular product. A single individual choosing to abstain from Timmy's in favour of (insert alternative) is a boycott of "one", no? What am I missing...

Personally, Tim's coffee is horrible when compared to even the most standard home-percholated brews. Nevertheless, when opportunity presents itself, I do occasionally enjoy a "large regular" on the way up to the cottage... or the slopes. There's a nostalgic comfort in how "routine" and "reliable" Tims is that I believe drives the insane demand for the product. You're not just drinking crappy coffee and nuked doughnuts, you're buying the predictable, safe, comfort that goes along with it.

Any boycott of something so culturally, and personally bound is not likely to succeed. People have far more to care/worry about these days than whether or not their $2 is being spent in an environmentally, economically, politically responsible manner.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Sunny Canuck wrote:
I don't understand how a boycott is different from individual consumer choice not to consume a particular product. A single individual choosing to abstain from Timmy's in favour of (insert alternative) is a boycott of "one", no? What am I missing...

A boycott of one makes as much sense as a strike action of one: to have power, it needs to be social. Did you read my (longish) post above, SC? I try to elaborate on the difference between a boycott (an organized, social movement) and abstention (a personal, spiritual choice).

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The last TH donut I had was around 1994. I've had their coffee since, but only when absolutely nothing else was available. Their soup and sandwiches are acceptable. I truly hate TH's coffee.

Unionist

Boom Boom wrote:

TH's makes terrible coffee! I don't mind their food so much, some of it is quite good.

Agree - on both counts - as long as by "food" we don't include the hunks of fried fat that pass for pastry. I occasionally grab one of their sandwiches when nothing else is availabe. But I will not touch their swill aka "coffee". I've boycotted abstained from it for years. It's not a political statement. It's a matter of survival.

Edited after reading Catchfire's post below.

 

saganisking

you know who loves Tim Hortons coffee, working people and people with lower income in general - construction workers, paramedics, taxi drivers, drifters, painters, nurses, low level office drones ect

I agree with the person who said familarity has alot to do with it. 

As a bit of a hip person myself I can see how it would be nice if most people were less vulgar and had more refined tastes, but then who could snobs feel superior to.

Tongue out

Unionist

You have an odd idea of "lower income", saganisking, based on the occupations you listed... Nurses? Painters?

 

saganisking

I once worked for a house painter who was a recovering meth addict, he lived in a trailer and ran his small business out of it too. It was he, I and another person he employed, none of us made that much money.  I said working people and low income people.  I konw more than a few nurses personally which might explain that.  I should throw in - in relation to my earlier post  - I consider drifter to be an admirable but low paying and difficult career, so how we view money or income could be slightly different.

If you wake up in the morning and do what you want to do, then you're a success.

Bob Dylan

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

The point is that everyone likes Tim Hortons. All Canadians. Middle-income, low-income, whatever. They might have lower cultural capital--University kids hang out at Starbucks, and the real hipsters at Italian cafes--but Tim Hortons is mainstream, man: cheap and bland. Like everything else mainstream.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Yes, because the corporatized environment of Tim Hortons, with its externalized costs, low wages, minimum protections, poor quality coffee, standardized and antiseptic atmosphere, and its high fat, high sodium delivery system of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, is at the forefront of advancing workers' rights and interests. Sure. What was it they said about a sucker born every thread?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

There was a Tim's near the hospital residence (in Sept-Iles) where I resided for a week last month - the only all-night restaurant in the area, so I made use of it. The coffee was what I expected: awful. The soup and sandwiches were okay, I didn't detect a strong salt taste in anything. I switched from coffee to their hot chocolate and survived. I looked at the parking lot each time I went in, and saw some expensive cars and trucks. The pastries on Tim's shelves all looked pretty awful - clearly they were sugary and fatty.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

You don't necessarily taste the sodium but there is a soduim content in all fast food. Even Coca-Cola's Dasani tap water contains sodium.

Have a look

 

 

saganisking

You said it Catchfire!  Kerouac's On the Road is straight from the fridge.  Some people's minds have been opened  though most never will but I'm olk with that  -I like regular tv watching bourgeois(or wannabe) square minivan driving(or bus taking) people and their whole crass, unsophisticated, way of life, even though I don't live it myself.

FM  - "standardized and antiseptic atmosphere "  I know, wouldn't it be cooler if they had old sofas, with local artists work on the walls and fair trade coffee ...  I can totally see my dad going in there - yeah - no.

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

One soup and sandwich at Tim's will have almost twice the daily recommended sodium.

 

http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~facilities/documents/TimHortonsNutritionGui...

saganisking

it's true their food isn't very healthy  - but are homemade donuts really much healthier? - ones that taste good I mean.

saganisking

Are Ichyban noodles healthy? sorry for the thread drift.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Whole foods are saganisking.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Yes, the food you make at home from raw ingredients are likely to be much healthier.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I can't tell if you are being satirical, sik. What does On the Road have to do with anything? Do you know what I mean when I say "cultural capital"? Hint: it's a rather cynical term.

I think you are trying to hone in on cultural elitists and the gap between them and working-class folk, but sadly you are caricaturing both. You are also perhaps missing one of the fundamental social contradictions of capitalism: make people free to choose and then give them one choice. Choice without option. Welcome to Timmys. How can I help you?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

One soup and sandwich at Tim's will have almost twice the daily recommended sodium.

 

http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~facilities/documents/TimHortonsNutritionGui...

Wow. An eye opener. I'll take that with me.Frown

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I often find there is this general sense that the poor eat crappy food. And it's true, because crappy food just happens to be cheaper. But there are always those who will then defend crappy food as almost holy as it is the food of the poor. One can almost imagine a right leaning bleeding heart standing to insist grewl is what fed the poor in the day of Dickens.

But, of course, we know there is a substantial cost to cheap food:

Quote:
The highest-earning Canadians can look forward to 10 more years of healthy living than their poorest counterparts, according to a new report released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

Rich live longer

Anyone sincerely concerned about the welfare of the working poor would be demanding healthier food choices rather than defending the corporate merchants of slow death and disease.

saganisking

I may be a bit nonsencical but I'm not making fun at all,  I mentioned On the Road because it's well known and has influenced many young people over the decades to drop out of the mainstream culture and open their mind to different ways of living. 

The truth is that other choices do exist - they're obviously not well advertised and on every corner or they wouldn't be cool now would they.

saganisking

Eating healthy meals doesn't have to be that expensive - the bigger problem is getting groceries without a car, having the time to prepare meals,  - also eating is a family ritual that is passed down and bad habits can be hard to break for generations

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:
Anyone sincerely concerned about the welfare of the working poor would be demanding healthier food choices rather than defending the corporate merchants of slow death and disease.

Amen. brother. Ain't no corporate entities here other than the contractors building the new road. And they all eat in a locally-owned small family restaurant. The only time I see crappy food is when I go out to the hospital. I have a veggie garden and the two local stores don't carry crap (although their "wild pacific salmon" comes from China!).

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

saganisking wrote:

Eating healthy meals doesn't have to be that expensive - the bigger problem is getting groceries without a car, having the time to prepare meals,  - also eating is a family ritual that is passed down and bad habits can be hard to break for generations

I agree eating healthy doesn't have to be that expensive. It doesn't have to involve grocery stores either, but your point on transportation and lack of options is well taken. There are urban areas called food deserts because of the lack of grocery retailers. But again, this is part of enforced paradigm not of our own making. There are other options. One of the most overlooked options, in large part because of our atomized societies, is buying groups and co-ops. If we stopped thinking of our lives and each other in terms of islands but rather in terms of connected individuals with mutual interests, it becomes possible to think outside the box.

saganisking

Absolutely FM - sometimes I think that will be the only thing that can save our species.  The problem as Sartre put it - Hell is other people

also just becasue I love the quote

"If you're lonely when you're alone you're in bad company"

Not everyone is equal, everyone should be treated equally under the law but you might chose some rather than others to paddle in your war canoe if you know what I mean

saganisking

as per my war canoe analogy -  when I wrote that I was thinking of life as a race to be won or lost - but I don't actually think that - it still may work in a way

FM -  I see a hint of Christianity(the original) in your call for a "love thy neighbour as thy self" type of sacrifice from the populace.

Islander

For a boycott to be effective, it needs to be specifically targetted in nature, and offer the company some sort of incentive (ie - the end of the boycott) for it to change its policies.  Claiming that one will never, ever buy from Tim Horton's or Wal Mart under any circumstances won't do much to affect change - the companies know that nothing they do will help win that customer.  A boycott of Tim Horton's until they close the Kandahar outlet might get somewhere.

Mick

My coworkers and I occasionally boycott Tims in an outraged protest over their flagrant violations of serving unripe tomatoes on their sandwiches.

However, we have found a more vigilant "order to rule" strategy brings better results. Now every time we go in we ask to inspect the tomatoes that they put on our sandwiches and if they are green and disgusting, we insist on new slices.

We are appalled that the policy seems to be to not throw out the green tomatoes but instead to put them back for the next unsuspecting patron.

Please join us in our campaign for red tomatoes now!!

 

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