Giant corporations tend to have oversights slip through the cracks, simply because it's hard to avoid mistakes the bigger something gets. Walmart is a monster of a company compared to most—it has the highest revenue in the world, and is responsible for a staggering 2.3 million employees—so slip-ups are expected. But some errors call for a bit more than a "Whoops, our bad."
On Monday, one of those massive errors hit the brand's website. Spotted by CSN New England's Kwani Lunis, a brown cap on the retailer's website was listed with, well, you can see the awful label for yourself:
Though there's really no saving yourself from this, this could (and should) have been the end of the mistake. But the repeated use of the slur throughout the page—including in the product description and the original URL for the cap—makes it look even worse, because it shows someone repeatedly and intentionally inserted the slur into the website.
Understandably, this sparked quite a bit of outrage on social media. Reactions on how to interpret the slur's placement were mixed; while some compared it to accidental corporate mistakes of the past, others saw it as a broader indictment of Walmart's cultural atmosphere.
When someone shows you who they are, belive them. https://t.co/GNs3H26kdh— Beard Gang BeezY (@BeezY_StoneCold) July 17, 2017
Ohhhhh no no no no no https://t.co/WlDkjQja5M— Andrew Hammond (@ahammsportsgeek) July 17, 2017
Well, someone is getting fired. pic.twitter.com/B5yVrcINa3— Stephen Quavo (@A_A_Ron_Rodgers) July 17, 2017
Walmart we need answers pic.twitter.com/P3xg0K7EMc— primadonna. (@tropiccvsh) July 17, 2017
What brown? pic.twitter.com/Fo00TUYMmx— King (@noooommmaa) July 17, 2017
Walmart eventually stepped in to clean up the mess after the roasting. If you follow the original link for the product, you're now greeted by a message that apologizes to the customer for the site having "technical difficulties." I suppose that's one way of putting it.
The company has also formally apologized for not catching this sooner... sort of. In a statement provided to several media outlets, as well as on their Twitter page, Walmart appeared to put the responsibility on the third-party seller who listed the item on their website.
“We are very sorry and appalled that this third party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace," said a company spokeswoman. “It is a clear violation of our policy, and has been removed, and we are investigating the seller to determine how this could have happened.”
If Walmart was really interested in showing contrition, they would probably work to review their broader policies on third-party sales. After all, this is the same company that came under fire last December, when it allowed another seller to list coffee mugs with messages such as "Got Hitler?" on their website.
When other people are routinely exploiting your lackadaisical approach to third-party sales in order to promote racial slurs and prejudice, it's already past time to get your shit together. Walmart already has a negative reputation as an exploitative killer of small businesses. Most people probably don't want to associate the place they stop for groceries with bigotry.