Coca-Cola apologized this week to a customer in Alberta, Canada, after she found a rude message written on her bottle cap. But almost as surprising is the explanation for it.
Blake Loates cracked open her Vitaminwater only to be greeted by the words “YOU RETARD.”
She said the cap was particularly hurtful because her younger sister, Fiona, has cerebral palsy and autism, according to Metro Calgary.
Loates’ father, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., responded by writing Coca-Cola an angry letter.
“What would you do if you opened up your bottle of Vitamin Water and on the bottom of the lid it read, “YOU RETARD”?” Doug Loates wrote. “Think about it. I bet you’d be pissed off if you had a Fiona in your life… Can you imagine if SHE had opened this bottle?”
But Coca-Cola says there’s an explanation for the goof-up. The company says the cap was the result of a random pairing of an English and French word. See, “retard” means “late” or “delayed” in French. So the cap was most likely supposed to say “you’re late.”
“The word’s English connotation was missed during the review process,” said a spokesperson.
“We have spoken to the family to offer our sincerest apologies and to explain the production process to them,” Shannon Denny, director of brand communications for Coca-Cola Refreshment Canada, told ABC News.
“This is certainly not an excuse in any way for what has occurred. We wanted them to know that this was in no way intentional and was a mistake on our part during the review process. We also wanted to share that the promotion has since been cancelled and we are no longer producing bottles with those caps,” Denny said.
Denny said the company plans to post an apology to social network sites including Facebook and Twitter.
“It was never our intention to offend anyone with this promotion,” said Denny. “This was a mistake during the review process and we are taking steps to investigate and rectify the situation. We hope that our consumers can accept our profound apologies.”
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