Dozens of Twitter users shared screenshots of emails from Walmart containing a racial slur Monday. Concluding that Walmart, or at least one of its employees, was behind the messages, many quickly lashed out at the retail mega-giant.
According to Walmart, however, someone outside the company orchestrated the incident by using the victims’ emails to set up fake accounts. From there, it seems, Walmart automatically sent out welcome messages to these “new members,” greeting them with the racial slur that those behind the attack set as their first name.
“We were shocked and appalled to see these offensive and unacceptable emails,” a Walmart spokesperson told CNN. “We’re looking into our sign-up process to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Walmart did not share how many fake accounts were created. It has since blocked emails containing the racial slur from being sent from its domain, according to Reuters.
Multiple Twitter accounts have started sharing apology emails they have received from Walmart. The messages, signed by chief customer officer Janey Whiteside, apologize for the “offensive and unacceptable email” and assure the recipients that their accounts will be deleted.
“Again, we know the email sent was appalling and strongly believe those words should never be used,” Whiteside wrote. “We’re looking into all available means to hold those responsible accountable.”
The incident comes amid a period of continued growth for Walmart. The big-box retailer reported its first-quarter earnings last week, touting a 2.7 percent increase in sales year-over-year. Compared to 2019, sales were up 16 percent. And though net income fell 31.6 percent, the company’s adjusted earnings per share came in well ahead of consensus expectations.
Walmart’s performance inspired the company to raise its full-year outlook. It is now expecting net sales to increase “low-to-mid single digits” instead of the previous “low single digits.” Additionally, while initial projections called for earnings per share to be “flat to up slightly,” the metric is now anticipated to increase in the “high single-digits.”