The woman who makes and sells a “cereal killer” ceramic bowl that generated social media backlash for Amazon.com Inc. says she had no idea Amazon would be promoting her handmade product.
Desirae DeBellis owns and operates Dab-A-Do’s, selling handmade craft items through Etsy and Amazon. At 10 a.m. Central Sunday, just hours after 49 patrons at a gay nightclub in Orlando were gunned down, Amazon tweeted a photo of a Da-Ba-Do’s bowl with the words “cereal killer” and red paint splatter that looks like bloodstains, along with “#Guilty” as the hashtag. Amazon deleted the tweet about an hour later, but not before dozens of Twitter users responded, calling it “offensive” and “insensitive.” DeBellis says Amazon did not notify her that it planned to tweet an image of her product or a link to it.
“If the Orlando tragedy did not happen, I would have been honored for Amazon selecting my item to tweet about and feature. Unfortunately, I feel that somehow I’ve gotten the short end of the stick, thanks to poor timing on Amazon’s part. I have potentially lost [hundreds] in sales because someone was not diligent,” she says in an email to Internet Retailer.
“No amount of money can compare to losing a life and I truly feel sorry and sad for all the lives that were lost in Orlando,” she says. “But simply, I depend on the revenue I make from my items to help support my family.”
Amazon created the tweet using social media marketing platform Sprinklr, and DeBellis says the retailer and the vendor should take responsibility for the tweet. An Amazon representative says the retailer has no comment. Sprinklr did not return requests for comment.
Amazon removed the “cereal killer” bowl product listing later Sunday and sent an email to DeBellis.
“My item was removed from their catalog because it was identified as prohibited for listing or sale due to their Offensive Products policy,” DeBellis says.
While DeBellis’s cereal bowl has been removed, Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide continues to sell other products with “cereal killer” on them, including spoons and T-shirts. DeBellis says she has sold about 40 of her bowls in the past three months on Handmade at Amazon, and they are her top-selling product on the site. She reached out to Amazon for clarification about why it pulled her product but has received only an automatic response that Amazon had received her message, she says.
DeBellis has the same “cereal killer” bowl listed on online marketplace Etsy Inc., No. 23 in the 2016 Top 500. An Etsy spokesman says “we can’t comment on specific items, sellers or categories, but we vigorously maintain the integrity of our marketplace and welcome feedback from our community,” and highlighted the company’s prohibited items page. Etsy’s site includes a section stating, “we do not allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others, including credible threats of harm or violence towards self or others.”
Debellis says she hopes to hear more from Amazon, but she’s not optimistic. “This incident has broken my faith in Amazon,” she says. “I can only hope that they will allow my item back on Amazon and in some way offer an apology to me.”