Wal-Mart Stores Inc. today had to apologize after a vendor’s product was discovered with a caption the retailer called “appalling.”
A third-party vendor on walmart.com, the retailer’s marketplace, used a racial slur to describe the color of a product, a protective cap designed to be worn as a layer in between a person’s real hair and sewn-in hair extensions. The item was brought to light by a Twitter user.
“We are very sorry and appalled that this third-party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace,” a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said. “It’s a clear violation of our policy. The product has been removed and we’re investigating the seller to determine how this could have happened.”
The world’s largest retailer moved quickly to defuse the situation, replacing the “Add to Cart” button with a sold-out notice and disclaimer beneath the product that said, “While we aim to provide accurate product information, it is provided by manufacturers, suppliers and others, and has not been verified by us.”
This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has had to pull an offensive or controversial product from its virtual shelves. A coffee mug that said “Got Retard?” a Christmas 2016 offering. The product, which was reportedly also sold on Amazon, was “outed” on Twitter by angry parents of children with disabilities. Also in December, a Black Lives Matter T-shirt with the word “Bulletproof” emblazoned across the chest, was removed at the request of the Fraternal Order of Police. The controversial T-shirt also drew reaction from supporters of the movement. Both products were sold by third-party vendors.
Since its $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com, Wal-Mart has embraced the marketplace model of e-commerce, increasing the number of online stockkeeping units it offers by more than 30 times to 20 million-plus items.
Wal-Mart’s minimum requirements for vendors says products that are prohibited from being sold on walmart.com include, but are not limited to offensive products that are explicit, obscene or derogatory, and restricted products, including adult-oriented, gambling, government-issued and military/police related.
It could not be learned whether Wal-Mart screens or monitors third-party products to ensure that they comply with its rules.