North Carolina dealership Lumberton Honda faced an online backlash after an employee referred to a Black customer with a derogatory term on a Facebook post about the woman's car purchase Thursday.
The post on the dealership's Facebook page included a photograph of customer Trinity Bethune, who had just purchased her first vehicle at the store, with the caption "Congratulations Bon Quisha." The post has since been deleted. The Lumberton Honda employee who made the post has been fired, a person who answered the phone at the dealership but declined to be identified told Automotive News on Monday.
"Bon Quisha" is seen as a slur used to make fun of Black names.
Bethune responded to the Facebook post with a comment saying, "I'm not sure if this is a 'joke' or something but my name is definitely Trinity Bethune. I'm very offended by this post, it's almost a racial slur. If I'm not addressed by MY name then please don't address me at all."
The dealership posted an apology on its page Friday, stating the action does not represent the views or culture of the company.
"Lumberton Honda and our entire staff sincerely apologize and regret the recent inappropriate post towards one of our valued customers," the statement said. "Lumberton Honda has been a part of the community for over 18 years, serving thousands of customers of all ethnicities. This incident reminds us that there is always room for improvement.
"Again, please accept our sincere apology. We are truly sorry."
The episode quickly went viral Friday and over the weekend after Bethune's brother, Tyrone Jacob, posted screenshots of the original post before the apology and called out the dealership's action as "completely intentional, disgusting, and unfair."
"Typing Bon Quisha requires effort and intent. I'm outraged that she was publicly humiliated without a public/private apology," Jacob said in his post. "She's not well at the moment. If you know her, please send love her way."
Jacob's post suggested the family was considering legal action against the dealership.
The story was quickly picked up by local newspapers, TV stations and other news outlets, including the Associated Press, Black Enterprise and Yahoo News. The dealership also received thousands of negative comments and reviews on social media channels and online review sites. Yelp, for instance, temporarily disabled reviews about Lumberton Honda, saying it was investigating.
"While racism has no place on Yelp and we unequivocally reject racism or discrimination in any form, all reviews on Yelp must reflect an actual first-hand consumer experience (even if that means disabling the ability for users to express points of view we might agree with)," Yelp said in a post on Lumberton Honda's page on the platform.
American Honda Motor Co. spokesman Marcos Frommer responded to inquiries from Automotive News about the incident with a statement that read: "Honda condemns discrimination of any kind, and we expect our independently-owned dealers to uphold our principles. An employee of the dealer posted the comment in question. We communicated with the dealer principal and they took immediate action to address this matter."