The Ugly Truth About Unethical Business Practices

Author: John Alson
Updated on November 06, 2020

Like other aspects of life, ethics are equally important while doing business. These are the ethics that actually build the credibility of any brand. If you perform any unethical activity, it leads to more unethical activities and hence your business would suffer because of your un-ethical attitude.


What is unethical in business?

It is very important to answer this question before opting for ethical ways because without knowing, what should not be done, you cannot do what should be done.

This articles aims at discussing some of the most common unethical practices and also the solution to how one can avoid them

Unethical marketing practices

Those who believe in ethical marketing focus on telling the customers truth about their products and services. They keep in mind the preferences of their customers and stand honest and true to it. If at any point they gamble or mislead their customer, which is the starting point of their downfall.

Some marketers unknowingly do unethical things and suffer because of this. Unethical marketing destroys the repetition badly. If you want to avoid unethical marketing, continue reading to find what is considered unfair in the business world.

Unethical practices in businesses are mainly classified into the following three categories.

  • Unethical practices towards customers
  • Unethical practices towards employs
  • Unfair competition

Unethical practices towards customers

Business owners do unethical practices to trap their customers and think that their unfair move will go un-noticed.

False Product Claims

This practice involves painting the product by telling the customers such features about it that does not exist. Exaggerating the qualities of the product, telling fake stories, and stretching the truth all are unethical. Especially, when someone gives fake proof of the product activity. Like someone promoting the fat reducing pills will tell the customer fake stories about its benefits and will narrate the stories that actually never happened. Hiding the side-effects of the product also come under false product claim.

We are living in the digital world, a majority of business has now become online. It is easy to get product reviews from customers and most businesses use fake reviews for trapping the customers. However, now many sites have started doing practices to avoid such fake or promotional reviews. Those who give promotional reviews are directed to mention that the review is promotional.

So, if you want to grow your business tell the pros and cons of your product. Be honest with people to let them trust you.

Exploiting emotions

Some marketers exploit the emotion to wake the urge in them to buy their product. The emotions may be of any type. The marketers make people feel like if they don’t buy their product, they have not enjoyed their life.

Marketers need to let people buy their products without exploiting the emotions of consumers.

Conditions in the user agreement

Whenever we install any application, we are asked to agree to certain terms of condition. How many times have you read those terms of conditions? Probably never. Because we are always in a hurry and we don’t have time to read the long paragraphs of conditions. Some brands put unethical terms of conditions and people agree to it, without even reading it. These conditions may involve selling your data to a third party. Such conditions are liable to get sue. So, avoid such hidden unethical terms of conditions.


You would have observed that when you do online shopping from any brand, they start sending you emails and messages even without your permission. Such messages and emails cause the flooding of notifications and also emails which sometimes result in missing some really important email.

So, the marketers need to ask the customers whether they really want their email updates or not.

Plagiarized content

We are living in the digital era, where marketing s done through content. It is illegal and unethical to copy the content of any other brand without giving credit.

If you like the content, simply create your unique content like that.

Fake marketing

This is a very common type of unethical marketing practice. Some online websites showcase the original product, charge the original price, but deliver the worst second-hand quality product. In my opinion, nothing can harm your business then this kind of unethical business practice.

Either the brands should showcase the product they are delivering, or they should deliver what they are displaying. Otherwise, they are simply cutting their hand with their ax.

Unethical practices towards employs

Another type of unethical practice in marketing is towards employees. This may result in poor quality products.

Bad working conditions

Bad working conditions involve not providing employees with a proper working environment. Like in the time of the pandemic. Not providing the proper masks to the employees may result in the spread of the virus and ultimately the company results in loss due to the slow speed of production caused by the decrease in the number of employees.

Proper working conditions means in summers the employs must not feel hot and in winters they must not feel cold. They must be provided with refreshments and a proper system of washroom and restroom.

Sexual harassment

This is a very major issue in the workplace. The moments like METOO has shown that to how much extent this has affected the employees. Sexual harassment usually comes from the top members of the organization.

Ensure the ideal workplace environment if you want productivity and efficiency.

Unfair competition

Defaming the competitor

This is a very common type of unethical practice that is observed. Brands to defame the competitor brand, are always in pursuit of finding some information that may defame their competitor. In this digital world, defamation is done by spreading negative news and doing fake negative comments on the business pages of competitors.

Those involved in this wicked activity are fined heavily once they get disclosed.


To get better business deals and not allowing the competitors to do a good project is also an unethical marketing practice. The company does this by bribing the government officials or the responsible person involved in the deal.

Final words

You may sell a product, you may win a business deal, you may get the employees to work through unethical practices, but the success gained through this method does not last long. So, always try to be fair and ethical in your marketing practices.

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John Alson

About the Author: John Alson

John Alson is an experienced business consultant and a contributing editor at He has extensive experience in business strategy and planning, sales management, marketing, business development, and corporate communications. He has been involved in a variety of public and private sector roles including management consultant, project management and marketing manager, and is now focusing on sharing his knowledge and experience with the community through the