Monday Accident & Lesson Learned – Beverly Inman-Ebel Hurt by Metal Screw in Sandwich
Sometimes accident strike closer to home. In this case one of our frequent Summit speakers, Beverly Inman-Ebel, was hurt last month when she bit into a screw in a sandwich.
What is the lesson learned? Read Beverly’s e-mail below (reprinted by permission) and my reply and Beverly’s reply and then think what kind of response your company would give if someone was hurt by one of your products.
Seems like the accident, and the response, are good candidates for root cause analysis.
– – –
Beverly’s original e-mail:
From: Beverly J. Inman-Ebel
Subject: Beverly Inman-Ebel finds screw in Arby’s sandwich
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2006 10:14:03 -0500
Dear Clients and Friends,
I am concerned about customer service, quality control and the lack of communication between Corporate America and its ultimate consumer. Here is my story.
On October 30, 2006 I purchased an Arby’s sandwich and it contained a screw that I bit down upon. (Pictures are at http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2099380055&code=25248625&mode=invite&DCMP=isc-email-AlbumInvite.) I immediately called the store reporting the incident, leaving my name and cell number, and informing them I would come by the store with the evidence between 4:00-4:30 p.m. The store manager was not present when I arrived and the 2 people in charge refused to give me the franchise owner’s contact information. They informed me the owner had been called and the manager had my name and number. I told them I had hurt my mouth and had a dental appointment the next day.
No one called Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. On Wednesday, a local reporter told me his station would want to run the story. I refused and used Hoover’s database to locate and call a Senior Vice President of Franchises at Arby’s Restaurant Group in Atlanta. She promised that someone would call me by noon the next day or that she would call me. No one called.
The reporter called me again on Thursday, November 2nd and asked to run the story. I agreed. Reportedly, the TV crew went to the restaurant first and interviewed the manager and owner, then came and interviewed me. I was told the story would run 4 times that day. The owner called me placing blame on his managers for not calling me and on Arby‚s for the screw stating that he purchases the chicken salad mix and only cuts the apples and grapes at the restaurant. He said he would report this incident to his insurance company and they would pay for my teeth damage. The TV reporter called me minutes later to tell me the station was not going to run the story.
On Friday, November 3rd, I called again to Arby’s Restaurant Group and spoke to a representative in Customer Relations. She promised to call me back in an hour. No one called.
The insurance company has contacted me. Other than the one call from the franchise owner after a television crew appeared at his restaurant, no one from Arby’s has called me.
As a consumer, I expected to be important enough to receive immediate communication from Arby’s. I expected this to matter. Originally, all I wanted was to know how the screw really got in my sandwich, what Arby’s was going to do to prevent it from happening again, and to get my teeth fixed. Now I want to be heard and I feel I have a very small voice. If you are also concerned about customer service and/or quality control, please share this with others. They can Google my name and realize I am a real and reputable person. If you do, you make my voice a little louder.
– – –
Here was my reply:
Hope your mouth is feeling better.
On the one side, you are lucky you weren’t gulping your food. You could have swallowed the screw and choked and died or required surgery to remove it.
On the other side, it certainly isn’t luck to get a screw in your sandwich.
On the sympathy side for the owner, many franchisees aren’t real savvy about customer service and ASSUME that these kind of incidents are part of a rip-off. They may have been advised by an attorney (or the insurance company) NOT to talk to you. There are well document product tampering cases from Wendy’s (a thumb in chilli), Pepsi (syringe), Cambell’s Soup (drugs), and Tylenol (cyanide poisoning).
For the Pepsi story see:
It’s a sad world when honest people are looked at with suspicion because of the action of others, but that’s the world that we live in.
Do you mind if I post your story and my response on my blog?
– – –
From: Beverly J. Inman-Ebel
To: Mark Paradies
Subject: Re: Beverly Inman-Ebel finds screw in Arby’s sandwich
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 10:19:03 -0500
Please post it. When I called the Senior VP at Arby’s, I told her I was not suing and that I wanted to understand how it happened and what they were doing to prevent it from happening again. In my email I did not mention names of people at Arby’s that I called because I assumed they were being told by legal or the Risk Management Department to remain quiet. My point is that somewhere in their process there needs to be someone from the company who returns a call. Thanks for the reference to the Pepsi case. I am continuing to do research on this topic and will appreciate any references.
– – –
So what would your company do? Are you prepared?