August 15, 2007
FTC Has One of Those Ooops Moments
The agency is challenging the purchase of Wild Oats Markets by Whole Foods Market in federal court. The Washington Post is reporting that the documents that were submitted detailing evidence amounting to trade secrets was improperly redacted. That is, the hidden material was easily unhidden. The agency corrected the mistake with a subsequent posting. But, as we all know, faster than you can say Shazzan, once the genie is out of the bottle, he's not going back in.
The Associated Press managed to get copies of the compromised documents before they were withdrawn. According to the Post report, the document revealed (and we quote):
- The opening of a Whole Foods store can cut revenue 30 percent or more in nearby Wild Oats stores.
- Whole Foods set "ground rules" barring suppliers from selling directly to Wal-Mart. "It wants Wal-Mart to have to go through distributors because that raises Wal-Mart's costs," the document said.
- Company documents labeled "Project Goldmine" predicted that buying Wild Oats and shutting down certain stores would increase revenue 85 to 90 percent at nearby Whole Foods stores.
- The takeover will send as many as 80 to 90 percent of Wild Oats shoppers to Whole Foods stores, according to Whole Foods documents cited by the government. "As a result, they will unambiguously be worse off," because of increased prices, the FTC argued.
The unfortunate disclosure only reinforces the concept that those who use software should know how it really works. Otherwise bad things can happen. It also sheds a little light on corporate methods that affect consumers. What candor.
August 15, 2007 | Permalink
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