In the case of Wal-Mart recently, the cost to me in terms of my time has been increased to the point where it's become cheaper for me to do my grocery shopping at a regular grocery store (in terms of time spent in the checkout line AND time spent walking through the store to find what I want) and I'm finding lower price other items on-line (not only the dollar price, but it does seem to take a lot less time to check out, even for those obnoxious sites that demand you register with them.)
And, of course, on-line merchants they don't hassle you about boxes. What a strange thing to hear about them being stingy with their empty, trashed boxes.
- So maybe they're recycling them, but I believe that recycling cardboard costs more than it produces (as evidenced by the fact that no one will pay for your used cardboard boxes - if it made any economic sense, a market would have emerged to draw whatever economic benefit could be had from it.) So the recycling has to be a public relations thing, and given that, it should follow that to give the boxes to a customer (who would, btw, be making a more efficient recycling use of the box than could possibly result from crushing it in a compactor) and it builds more goodwill since they would be materially benefiting a specific individual directly.
- Maybe it's a legal liability thing. Perhaps if they gave the box to Erin and she threw out her back because she completely filled a 10 cubic foot box with books and tried to pick it up, some creative lawyer could weave a legal theory of liability out of whole cloth. While we seem to have become a much more litigious society in the past several decades, I still have a hard time accepting the BS fear of some lawsuit-happy crank being the basis for modifying ones behavior in daily life. Trying to appease those people is like trying to appease fanatical religious terrorists - the truth is that the justifications for their actions that they come up with are lies - they don't really care about us being sinful or what not, they hate us for not bowing down to them, and until we turn over out lives to their care, they will continue to come after us.
So, from Wal-Mart and the Internet to recycling and lawsuits, to not letting the terrorists win.... forget tangents, I'm off on cosecants....