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Monday, May 17, 2010

Post # 110 - Whataburger Whatawasteoffood - 2-24-2010

This really happened on the way through Alabama.  It really did bug me, and not because I wanted the fries.

By the way, I live in Michigan, so there's not "one near me."  So they lie in their commercials too.
Dear Whataburger,

My kids are young and impressionable. Norma is eight-years old. Capers is six years-old. We try to teach
them right from wrong.
  • The Golden Rule.
  • Penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Better to give than receive.

A big rule in our household is “Waste not want not.” I’m sure my kids get tired of hearing about third world countries where little kids eat mud pies. It bears repeating--there are little kids in third world countries eating mud pies.

My wife, Norma and Capers were driving through Alabama to get to Florida. We stopped at one of your restaurants, because we don’t have them in lovely Michigan. Connie and I each ordered a “#1” with side salad instead of fries plus two kids’ meals.

As I dished out the food, I noticed that we were given fries instead of salads. No big deal--this happens often, in almost any restaurant. I was getting ready to walk over to the counter when the cashier walked over to our table with two side salads. She apologized. My wife said, “Do you want the fries?” She replied “yes please.”

The cashier then walked over to the waste basket, ten feet away, and threw all of those fries out. My wife and I looked at one another dumbfounded. Just then, Norma said, “Daddy—she wasted food. Doesn’t she know about the mud kids?”

Please understand—I’m trying to watch my waistline. I didn’t need the fries. But there are two principles in question here.

The first principle is that of food waste. When you’re a kid, who would you rather listen to? Your fuddy-duddy parents or the cool chick with the highlights and pierced lip? Not two days later, Capers is throwing out a plateful of spaghetti citing “the lady with the fish hook in her mouth.”

The second principle--your employee made Whataburger seem “cheap”. “If you want fries, you gotta pay, Bro.” Was she protecting for the possibility, that after our burgers and salads, we might still order fries?

Often in the food service industry, when an order is presented incorrectly, the server apologizes and says “just keep it—we’d have to throw it out anyway.” Sometimes they even go over the top and throw in a “enjoy it as a thank you for your continued loyalty.”  Everyone is happy—the minor inconvenience is replaced with a little bonus food.

I guess I’m wondering about the Whataburger Order Mistake Food Policy. What do you instruct your employees to do in this event? I could see putting the food back, if it hasn’t yet entered “Consumer Zone.”  Do you instruct your employees to grab it off of our trays and throw it in the garbage? Or worse, do you leave it up to the employee to decide, based on whether he or she “likes” us?

Either way, you left us with a bad taste in our mouths. And that taste wasn’t French Fry.



Follow-up on 3/1/2010
Hi--I sent you an email on February 24th about an odd experience at one of your locations, and never heard anything back.

You might recall my story about a man and his midwestern value family, unwittingly exposed to food waste by the fishhook lady? Unordered fries thrown in the trash a mere ten feet from my impressionable kids' eyes and ears? Thou shalt not waste? Does any of this ring a bell?

I asked if you had a policy for unordered food (food on my tray that you gave me that I didn't order).

I see three possibilities:

1) You never received my email (even though your site said you did).

2) Your elves are in the workshop creating a policy because I've exposed a chink in the Whataburger Armor.

3) You don't have a policy, and aren't planning on answering me because I'm not a short car drive away.

Which one is it?


Jerry, Connie, Norma Jean and Capers
Follow-up 3/8/2010

Dear Whatburger,

It’s been two weeks since I complained. I thought you could learn, grow, and improve as an organization. And not a single peep out of anyone there. But you were there when the wallet was out. How odd.

I send a follow-up, just in case. Not even the sound of a pin drop.

I realize I live outside of “Whataburger Territory”. Michigan has none.

Three things:

1) Restaurants in the south migrate north.

2) People in the north migrate south.

3) I have a really big mouth.

From this day forward, anytime the Whataburger name is uttered, I will squeal like a pig. I will climb the tallest mountain and share my tale with all. I’ve already converted a few loyalists.

You lost a customer for life.


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1 comment:

  1. OMG. Seriously. First of all, I would have been upset too if that happened to me. Secondly, it never fails to surprise me when a company refuses to answer a customer's complaints. Unbelievable. Do they have a toll-free consumer number? I would call and complain. Heck, I am going to call and complain for you. Now I am upset.