"Computer error" sinks online T-shirt business

An online t-shirt company with offices in the UK has been knocked out of business after a “computer error” resulted in it advertising its wares on Amazon glorifying rape, murder and sex crimes.

Design firm Solid Gold Bomb certainly lived up to its name.  Suddenly on Amazon, dozens of t-shirts appeared with offensive slogans such as “Keep Calm and Rape A Lot”, “Keep Calm and Knife Her” and “Keep Calm and Kill Her”.

Who could forget those other memorable classics “Keep Calm and Grope On” and “Keep Calm and Choke Her”?

The shirts were distributed through Amazon, which has now suspended its account after an uproar that saw the company accused of making cash from domestic violence.

Solid Gold Bomb was founded in Melbourne by Michael Fowler, who told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was completely oblivious to the outcry until he read about it on the company’s Facebook page.

Before the blow up he was getting 300 to 1,700 orders a day – but since the scandal broke, sales dropped to 20 on Tuesday and as low as three on Monday. He will probably have to shut down the company on Friday.

Fowler, who has plastered Solid Gold Bomb’s website with an apology message, blames a “computer error” for the debacle.

What supposedly happened was that he created a range of parody “Keep Calm” T-shirts and so wrote a “three-line script” that would harness electronic dictionaries and verb lists to automatically generate phrases for the shirts. He ended up with thousands of different options on Amazon through what Fowler claims is a “100 percent automated” process.

He did not realise that this process could create offensive T-shirts or that any were on sale until the scandal blew up and he had cancelled orders he had received for the shirts since Saturday.

“As a father, husband, brother and son, I would never promote such product … this was never my intention and I am extremely sorry for the trouble this carelessness caused,” he wrote in his apology message.