What was the Accusation?

Like many retailers, directs buyers of products to other “similar” items that might be of interest to them.  However, the cross-selling feature of the website created great controversy when buyers of the films Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes were directed to buy the films “Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream/Assassination of MLK” and “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.” The problem was first identified by a blogger in Oregon, who posted news of the combination under the heading “So Wrong.” In response to the crisis, President of Carter Cast stated that through “human error” the items were simply grouped together as similar because they were both box sets and there was no racist motivation behind the cross listing.  Mona Williams, Vice-President of Communication for Walmart, said she was “heartsick” about the whole situation and expressed she was “deeply sorry.”  She indicated that the system clearly wasn’t working and would be shut down until alternative solutions could be found.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Corrective Action, Shifting Blame




Carter Cast (President of

There was nobody here who maliciously put together that combination, Cast said by phone from’s headquarters in Brisbane, Calif. I know the person was well-intended in trying to get the I Have a Dream speech out as a cross-sell.

We are looking at a bunch of different solutions right now.

Mona Williams (VP of Communication):

“It’s just simply not working correctly.”

“We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem.”

“’s item mapping process does not work correctly and at this point is mapping seemingly random combinations of titles. We were horrified to discover that some hurtful and offensive combinations are being mapped together…We are deeply sorry that this happened.”


Kabel, M. (2006, January 6). Wal-Mart ends automated movie suggestions. USA Today. Retrieved from:

Mui, Y. Q. (2006, January 6). Wal-Mart web site makes racial connections. Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Wal-Mart blames human error for offensive link (2006, January 6). NBC News. Retrieved from:

Wal-Mart: ‘Offensive’ links not meant to be (2006, January 9). Fox News. Retrieved from: