Walmart's Bad Week

Just when Walmart thinks its on a roll, bad headlines about its behavior toward employees or small towns faded to the background, it gets pulled back in like Al Pacino to the family business.

The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau says Walmart’s ad claims that consumers can save $2,500 a year by shopping at Walmart turns out to be bullhockey.

Turns out the claim, based on a dubious (in my opinion)Global Insight study, made the claim based on shopping at all stores in a market after the presence of a Walmart drove prices down at competing retailers. Oops.

The NAD in its statement said the implied claim in the ads was precisely that: “Families that shop at Wal-Mart will save $2,500 per year more than families [that] shop at other stores.”

And then there is Walmart earning Worst-Person-in-the-World status from MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. The retailer successfully sued a former employee, paralyzed and in need of 24-hour care from an automobile accident, to lay a claim on more than $400,000 she received from the trucking company that caused the accident. Walmart sued the lady on the basis of recovering medical expenses Walmart insurance paid for. The company sued the lady for more than the settlement provided, meaning her estate would be bankrupt and at least some of her residual property would have to be sold to make up the difference. The kicker was that the lady’s son was recently killed in Iraq.

Only after the company was pilloried for its hubris did it relent and announce it wouldn’t clean the lady out.

Having once been a public relations executive myself, let me just say…way to stay ahead of your PR problem!!

Is there no communication between the legal side of the company and the PR/Marketing side of the house?