BUSINESS
12/10/2014 11:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Black Barbies Don't Always Cost The Same As White Barbies

This story was originally published on CNBC.

barbie 1

Why are black Barbies priced differently than white Barbies?

It's a tough question and one that some of America's biggest retailers are having to answer amid the biggest shopping time of the year.

For example, Tuesday afternoon Wal-Mart's website listed an African-American ice skater Barbie for $11.87 while the Caucasian version costs just $9.88.

The retailing giant said the pricing discrepancy was an unintended error.

"They should always be the same price, across all ethnicities," a Wal-Mart spokesman said Tuesday evening. "This is just a pricing error. We corrected it immediately."

In fact, the retailer vowed to make up the price difference with a gift card for any customer who purchased the more expensive African-American doll. The spokesman said he didn't know how long the prices had been different or how many shoppers might have purchased them at the wrong prices.

barbie 2

This isn't the first time Wal-Mart's website has gotten it into hot water. Before Halloween, the company listed 'Fat Girl Costumes' section online as a section. It removed it after the category sparked outrage.

Meanwhile, over at privately held Toys R Us, the same African-American Barbie skating doll was on sale for $10.99—less than the $14.99 price of the white Barbie.

barbie 3

barbie 4

"It is our policy to price like dolls of all ethnicities the same. We will ensure the pricing is corrected," Kathleen Waugh, vice president, Corporate Communications at Toys R Us told CNBC in an e-mail.

Mattel, the maker of the Barbie dolls, did not respond to CNBC's requests for a comment.

Discount retailer Target already caught heat from its own case of Barbie pricing discrepancy. The retailer originally priced its African-American fashion design marker Barbie at $49.99—more than twice the sale price of the $23.49 white version, reported WCPO's website.

Target is now selling both Barbies for $20.99.

"It is never our intention to offend our guests with our product assortment," a Target spokesman said, in a statement. "Both dolls should have reflected the same pricing, however, due to a systems issue this change did not occur."

CONVERSATIONS