A former Walmart director claims the company lied about results and online growth in order to, “win the e-commerce war at all costs,” according to a lawsuit. The news comes just a day after Walmart announced a big push to spread its online grocery delivery and online ordering services to the vast majority of its US stores in a bid to fend off rival big box stores, as well as Amazon.
According to Bloomberg, Tri Huynh, a former director of business development for Walmart, raised concerns about possible improper practices the company was using to show e-commerce growth, its progress ahead of competing retailers, and how competitive the company was against Amazon. Huynh claims he was terminated in January 2017 as a result.
These practices, according to the lawsuit, included mislabeling or improperly categorizing products so that vendors would have to pay higher commissions, and inflating sales by not reporting items that were returned by customers. All of this, Huynh alleges, allowed Walmart to show artificial growth against its competitors.
“This litigation is based on allegations by a disgruntled former associate, who was let go as part of an overall restructuring,” a Walmart spokesperson told The Verge in an email. “We take allegations like this seriously and looked into them when they were brought to our attention. The investigation found nothing to suggest that the company acted improperly. We intend to vigorously defend the company against these claims.”
Walmart reported in February its US e-commerce sales grew 23 percent over fiscal year 2017 and its online revenue increased 44 percent.
Update at 5:41 PM ET: Added statement from Walmart