Retail giant Harvey Norman has been blasted over a ‘racist’ sign stating their mattresses do not have coronavirus because they are made in Australia.
Victorian man Michael Ryan saw the sign outside the Albury store on Saturday before uploading it to Twitter.
The photo received disapproving comments from outraged social media users who condemned the multinational chain for trying to capitalise on the crisis.
‘Fixed it for you: “No coronaviruses in any mattresses but we’ll shamelessly exploit misinformation for commercial gain”. FFS!’ one man wrote.
‘This is disgusting! Would definitely NOT buy from any store advertising this way,’ some else added.
Another comment read: ‘No money for Harvey Norman. No money for racists.’
‘The store had Better throw out all the other made in China products then,’ a fourth person quipped.
The furniture, bedding, and electrical goods company commented on Mr Ryan’s post asking which store was responsible, before reporting back an hour later that the franchisee had removed the sign.
In a later statement, Harvey Norman said the store operator acted alone and apologised for the incident.
‘Albury franchisee acted in isolation without any consultation or communication beyond their store,’ a Harvey Norman spokesperson said on Twitter.
‘As soon as the company was made aware, the sign was immediately removed and the franchisee told this was unacceptable. Our apologies.’
But many people felt the Australian-owned enterprise’s apology was not enough.
‘Well done. Did Albury store owner also apologize?’ a woman asked.
‘Surely there is something in the franchise’s contract to prevent this from happening,’ one man wrote.
Another added: ‘But you’ll stop short at disciplinary action, because the dirty secret is that while you’re aware of the bad PR and optics of that sign, there’s not a zero tolerance culture towards it within Harvey Norman.’
As of Saturday, 724 people have died and there are currently 34,878 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, that began in Wuhan in December.
Last week, Sydney cafe Casanova by Cucina 105 came under fire for writing ‘the coronavirus won’t last long because it was made in China’ on an instore display cabinet.