Toys R Us says doll pricing discrepancy 'due to an operational error'
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 9:33PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 22, 2016 5:09PM EDT
UPDATE: Toys R Us has responded to this story with the following statement:
The in-store pricing discrepancy was due to an operational error. Toys“R”Us Canada sincerely apologizes for this oversight and it was absolutely not due to the dolls’ ethnicity. Once we became aware of the error, we corrected it immediately and both dolls now sell for the lower price of $22.99. We are reviewing this incident to help ensure we don't make the same operational mistake in the future.
Toys R Us is facing questions about possible racial bias after a Calgary shopper discovered the retailer is selling a white doll for more money than an identical version with darker skin.
Carolyn Wadsworth noticed the discrepancy between the two versions of the You & Me Kissing Baby Doll, and promptly asked store management why the non-white version was two dollars cheaper.
The white doll sells for $24.99, while the other version is priced at $22.99.
Wadsworth said the Toys R Us staff member she spoke to seemed “embarrassed” about the price difference.
“The lady at the store unfortunately said that she was aware, and that management had raised this issue with corporate, and that corporate hadn’t done anything about it so far.”
CTV Calgary confirmed the price difference. Staff at the Calgary-area Toys R Us store, and the company’s corporate headquarters, have not responded to a request for comment.
Wadsworth says charging more for a white doll feels like racism, even if it isn’t intended to.
“The black baby is not as valuable as the white one. I feel like that’s the message that it’s sending, and certainly the message that kids could receive,” she said.
Mount Royal University marketing professor Mohammed El Hazzouri says consumer backlash from these types of gaffes is usually brutal and swift.
He points to a recent Gap commercial where a black girl was posed passively under the arm of a more powerfully positioned white girl. The company apologized for the image after receiving a torrent of criticism on social media.
“It seems like every week there is a story about a company that messed up in an issue related to a certain group,” he said. “(Companies) need to pay attention to these things because we live in an era of political correctness and people are sensitive about these issues.”
With files from CTV Calgary