“Your comments and suggestions are important to us and help make Walmart even better.” -Walmart
The above quote was Walmart’s Twitter response after Kristyn Washburn tweeted the company regarding the ‘Fat Girl Halloween Costume’ page found on their website. Yes, it seems Walmart posts a page for every category this Halloween season.
Walmart posted a plus-sized page on their website and named it “Fat Girl Costumes”. Upon further inspection, the page included a variety of plus-size adult costumes from gothic vampires to olympic goddesses.
The page in question has been taken down, but as we all know, the Internet never forgets. According to Jezebel, this might have been a developer’s joke that accidently went live. The ‘Fat Girl Costume’ site featured many of the same outfits from the ‘Women’s Plus Size Adult’ page on the Walmart website. There’s a section for everything these days.
— Kristyn Washburn (@ItsWithaY) October 21, 2014
Walmart’s ‘fat girl section’ and infamous ‘tweet’ went viral in a matter of minutes and the damage was permanently done. According to the Business Insider, people were absolutely furious. The page was public until just after 11am Monday morning. It’s since been taken down. The ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ page now redirects to an empty ‘Women’s Plus Size Costumes’ page.
How Walmart Responded
Walmart did not immediately respond. In fact, as you can tell by the introductory line of this blog post, they tweeted, “Your comments and suggestions are important to us and help make Walmart better”, in response to Kristyn.
Many companies automate their social media account responses, which certainly could be the case for Walmart.
A Walmart representative, Ravi Jariwala, spoke on behalf of the site saying, “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize. We are working hard to remove it as soon as possible and ensure this never happens again.
What Should Have Happened
First, a big-box behemoth such as Walmart should have never posted a ‘fat girl costume’ page on their website. Even if it was a ‘developer joke’ there should be a system in place to prevent this.
Second, Walmart shouldn’t utilize auto-responder software for Twitter. Again, a company of this size can afford to utilize social media community managers 24 hours a day.
Finally, a few things should have been done immediately: The page should have been taken down immediately, and the link should have been redirected to an “apology” page, and an apology should have been immediately released via every avenue: social media, website, press release, etc.
This is an important lesson when it comes to how businesses utilize social media. What do you think of Walmart’s response?