Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Journalist Giving His View

Left in the lurch
WHEN the regional sales manager, sporting the rank of vice president in a multinational company, engages in malpractice in the market, can the latter be held liable?

Apparently not in the view of this giant European multinational company whose RSM in Central Luzon and her husband have allegedly duped six wholesalers or major distributors into losing millions in a clever discount scheme.

The RSM had been doing great, surpassing the MNC’s sales targets for which Central Luzon bagged the “Best Area Award” in 2007 and 2008. Why she suddenly went missing in the third quarter of 2009 have been recently uncovered.

It was discovered that the RSM had instructed distributors under her to give eight-percent to 12-percent discount to a particular client, it turned out connected to her husband.

As the distributors themselves were entitled to only a four-percent discount, they stood to lose six-to-eight percent. So they balked but eventually agreed on the RSM’s written assurance — on MNC letterhead — of a refund.

Thus, the serial bulk repeat orders for the MNC’s consumer products by the husband-favored customer who, it was soon found out, touted the same discount scheme to Metro Manila wholesalers — enabling them to undersell the MNC’s metropolitan distributors.

Talk of a conjugal sting operation, Jose, not to mention that soon enough the checks issued by the husband-favored customer to Central Luzon distributors started to bounce and, worse yet, bounced right back to the missing RSM’s bank account.

As even the most shrewdly plan of mouse and man, to paraphrase the adage, has gone woefully awry — the RSM-supervised and gypped CL distributors have had to desperately turn to the European MNC for restitution.

No dice, Jose. Aside from token assistance to defray the legal fees, the MNC has abdicated its duty to be its RSM’s keeper, leaving the CL distributors in a lurch.

The MNC is renowned for its virtually incalculable resources. Reports say that its 2008 profit from global operation is in the neighborhood of $16 billion. Its products, by the way, include coffee, milk (powder and liquid), coffee creamer, chocolate, ice cream, food and beverage.

So, in the Yuletide spirit that hopefully also animates corporate social responsibility, I believe the situation isn’t as forlorn as it seems.

A lawyer-friend, 42 years in corporate and criminal law practice, agrees that the MNC properly approached could be persuaded to feel bound by the acts of its missing rogue RSM.

Indubitably, he says, the RSM’s dealings with the distributors in Central Luzon were for and in behalf of her employer, given the authority that the MNC has given her.

Thus, in light of what has befallen the distributors, it might not have happened if the MNC had counter-checked its RSM’s conduct in the market. Why shouldn’t the MNC be liable for the distributors’ losses if due to its negligence?

Paging the Department of Trade and Industry and Securities and Exchange Commission legal departments.


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