4 Major Walmart Controversies That Led to Boycotts

Customers are up in arms. Here's how the drama started.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Despite being among the top retail giants (which reportedly rakes in over $610 billion per year in revenue), Walmart often finds itself under fire for shopper-experience issues, most notable among them self-checkout gripes. However, in recent months, customers have started calling for boycotts—and it's not for the reasons you might think. Wondering what's causing the chain's fanbase to waver? Read on to learn the four major Walmart controversies that have recently caused a viral stir among customers.

RELATED: Walmart and Target Anti-Theft Measures Could Be "Final Nail in the Coffin," Shoppers Say.

When they wouldn't accept Apple Pay.

Woman giving cash when paying at a supermarket

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, contactless payment has skyrocketed in popularity. In fact, a 2023 survey from Mastercard Contactless Consumer Polling recently found that more than half of Americans now use some form of contactless payment, CNBC reported.

However, Walmart has decided not to accept Apple Pay or other mobile wallets, rendering your payment apps all but useless in the store. Customers took note of the inconvenience on social media and began calling for a boycott of the shopping chain as a result.

"I think we should collectively boycott Walmart for not having Apple Pay," one customer said in an Oct. 15 post on X, formerly known as Twitter. Another person wrote, "Boycott Walmart until they get Apple Pay. It's 2023."

However, it should be noted that Walmart accepts its own contactless payment option, Walmart Pay, which is available via the store's app.

When receipt checks stopped customers from leaving.

Women shopping at the supermarket and looks at receipt total

Customers were similarly outraged when a new self-checkout system led to some shoppers being held up at the exit doors.

As the policy goes, customers are meant to scan their items at the self-checkout kiosk, receive a receipt, then proceed to the exit and hand it over to a representative to be checked for proof of purchase. This caused some chaos at the exits when the kiosks failed to produce a receipt, some shoppers say.

In fact, in an Oct. 30 post, one TikTok user named Mary (@tateandmary) recounted being stopped at the doors for over 20 minutes while the problem was resolved.

"I pay for everything, everything's bagged, put it in the cart. I'm walking past them, and they're like 'Ma'am, I need to see your receipt,'" she shares. "They watched me pay for it," she says in the video, which has since gone viral. "It was ridiculous."

RELATED: Walmart Making Major Changes to Hundreds of Stores—Here's What to Expect.

When they monetized more screens with third-party ads.

A close up of a Walmart self checkout counter
ZikG / Shutterstock

Walmart's self-checkout kiosks were already a source of drama. Then, the retailer made the controversial decision to push more third-party advertisements on checkout screens, on digital devices being sold throughout the stores, and over the audio system heard throughout the aisles.

"Our Closed-loop Measurement can even verify when self-checkout ads influence a later purchase on our digital properties or the next time they walk in," says Walmart Connect's website.

The news seemed to ruffle feathers among Walmart's customer base. "One more reason to never go there," one user wrote in an X post on Aug. 4 in regards to the news. Another person added in a repost, "Agreed. Not a single penny—this solidifies it. I detest ads."

When delivery orders came up short.

walmart box on doorstep
Shutterstock/The Toidi

When you spend your hard-earned money, you expect to get what you paid for. However, some Walmart customers found those expectations dashed after ordering from Walmart's grocery delivery service, The Sun reports.

"Walmart can count their days & never have to worry about me again," one disappointed shopper wrote on X on Jan. 23. "Definitely boycotting!! How'd I order $120 worth of items got about $22 worth delivered along with cat food and cat litter that I didn't order."

Though the company offered a refund for the missing items and $5 off the customer's next purchase, that customer still vowed never to shop at the store again and called on others to do the same. And it seems shoppers are still having issues.

"My grocery delivery is missing so much stuff I'm cancelling Walmart +," wrote an X user on Feb. 5. A day prior, another user said, "@Walmart I come back after 13 months and your delivery services have not only not improved, they've gotten WORSE. Never again."

For more shopping news sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under
 •  •  •