Yes, you read that correctly. As of this past Wednesday, July 25, 2012, Burger King is now serving greasy, oily rubber bands in their Whoppers.
At 1:36 p.m. I went to the Burger King drive-through (Ramona, CA) and ordered two Wednesday Whopper specials (which by the way, recently went up $1.00 each). We then pulled around to their back parking lot to enjoy our lunch in the shade. After consuming several bites of my Whopper, I noticed something a bit extra chewy in my mouth, but blew it off assuming it was just that white part of a tomato that was a little extra chewy sometimes. A few bites later, my boyfriend looked at my sandwich and my paper wrapper and exclaimed, “What the heck is that!” I looked down at the wrapper and the burger and found that a greasy, oily fully intact rubber band had fallen out of my burger onto the wrapper.
Needless to say, my stomach turned immediately. I instantly knew that the chewy item had been a rubber band. I grabbed the remains of my sandwich (with the remaining rubber band) and my receipt and returned to the drive-through window. I asked the young gentleman who came to the window if I could please speak with the manager. I was told that they had no manager. I told him that was an unacceptable answer and that he had better go find someone in charge.
A few minutes later, a young woman came to the window and asked if she could help me. I told her that I needed to speak with the manager immediately. She looked at my wrapper and asked if the rubber band had been in my burger. I told her, “yes, and I need to speak with the manager right now.” She told me the manager was on the phone and was not available. I told her she needed to get the manager immediately and that I would wait.
A few more minutes later, the manager appeared at the window and offered to refund my money. Before I could say anything else, he disappeared with my receipt.
Meanwhile, the drive-through was backing up and quite honestly, I didn’t care. A few more minutes and the manager was back with my refund. He then tried to grab the remains of my burger (with the rubber band) – saying he would through it away. I snatched it back from him and told him that wouldn’t be necessary, as I needed it for evidence.
I then went back to my car and tried to call 1-866-425-4745, the “How Was It? Tell Us At:” phone number listed on the receipt. What I got was a recording stating that Burger King’s survey line was no longer active and then I was disconnected.
This was not going to end here! I then pulled out my laptop and googled Burger King (bk.com). After viewing several pages and their site map, I found their “Contact Us” link under company info. I clicked on that and proceeded to fill out my complaint online – only to find that they didn’t allow enough room to give a full account of what had happened. I submitted what I wrote.
I then went digging through their site a bit further, as my stomach was now thoroughly tied in knots – knowing that I had in fact ingested one of the rubber bands. I clicked on the “Investor Relations” link and on that page I found a link to “General Corporate Contacts.” I must say, it is almost impossible to find how to contact a person at this company via the phone.
Once arriving at the “General Corporate Contacts” page, I found two phone numbers looked promising for connecting to a live person. The first was to the Corporate Office (305-378-300). I tried that number, but only got a recording. I then tried the second number, “Customer Relations” (305-378-3535), where I got another recording that suggested I call 866-394-2493 to speak with Customer Relations.
It was now 1:58 pm Pacific Time, which meant it was 4:58 pm Eastern Time (where Burger King headquarters are located). I didn’t have much hope, but waited patiently through their elevator music hoping to speak with a live person. Finally, Susan answered the phone. She was actually quite polite, did not interrupt my account of what had happened, and repeated my account of the details back to me as she typed them into her computer. She told me that my complaint would be going out to three upper levels of management. I then gave her my phone number and my e-mail address and told her that I needed a response ASAP from someone in that company, preferably by phone.
Yesterday morning: After no response from Burger King, at 9:40 am, I called the San Diego County / Environmental Health PHD Epidemiology Liaison (858-505-6814) to register my complaint. Once again, I got voicemail, but I left my message and hung up.
At 11:53 am I received a call back from the Health Department and was told that an inspector had 5 working days to investigate this complaint and would call me back by the end of that time period.
At 12:56 pm I then called the Burger King “Customer Relations” number again and spoke with Roger. He looked up my phone number and found my complaint. He confirmed that it had, in fact been sent to three levels of upper management, and told me that someone would be contacting me soon. I thanked him and hung up.
As of today, Friday, July 27, 2012 at 10:02 am, I still have not heard from anyone at Burger King. I have only had 1 meal since the “incident”, and quite honestly, I am still very nauseated.
Check back for further updates.
7/28/12 – I’ve decided to keep all updates on this post. Yesterday I contacted the following entities in regard to this story: NBC San Diego, ABC San Diego, CBS San Diego, KPBS (San Diego), San Diego Union-Tribune and I made a post on sandiego.craigslist,org. I did receive a response back from Bill Osborne at the San Diego Union-Tribune that said he was forwarding my story on to Laura Wingard, the U-T topic editor who oversees their coverage of public safety issues.
Today, 7/28/12, I also posted on the Community Buzz @ RamonaVoices.com. I also sent an e-mail regarding this story to KUSI – San Diego.
I am having a really hard time understanding why 1) Burger King does not care what goes on in their stores and how dangerous this could potentially be to any customer or 2) why anyone else does not really seem appalled at this.
Does everyone in this country just “NOT CARE” anymore, about anyone??? Just because it happened to someone else does not mean it can’t happen to you!
Monday, July 30, 2012, 11:16 a.m.
Still no response from Burger King. No e-mail; No phone call. Heck, for all they know I am laying on the floor dead. Just not sure how else to get this across to America. Any suggestions?
8/1/12: 8:36 am PT
I called the Burger King Customer Relations line again. Once again, I spoke with Roger. We seemed quite surprised that I still had not heard from someone at Burger King. He told me that he would once again send an e-mail to the Corporate Office, the General Manager and the District Manager. He apologized for someone in the company not getting back to me and I told him that I understood that this was not “his” fault. I did tell him, again, that this was alarming to me. One would think that Burger King would not want this to happen to another customer and that they would have investigated this incident promptly and at least given me the courtesy of a phone call.
At 8:58 am this morning, I received a phone call from Greg Novak of the San Diego Health Department. He stated that he had in fact gone to the Ramona Burger King to investigate what had happened. He said he was unable to determine if the contamination occurred from a supplier or from the restaurant itself. He did state that he encountered great difficulty conversing with the manager at that store due to the manager’s lack of English. Unfortunately he had to speak with the assistant manager to have any dialog. I agreed with Mr. Novak, as I had encountered the same experience on Wed., July 25th. There were no employees that spoke and/or understood English well enough in that store. Mr. Novak advised me to keep the sandwich in question frozen should he or I need it in the future. He thanked me for bringing my concerns to his attention, especially since there have been recent findings of needles in airline food. I told Mr. Novak that I had posted my food contamination incident on this blog, as well as notified several news organizations. He said that was a good idea. He also suggested that I contact Burger King again, via e-mail.
It is now 11:22 a.m., Wednesday, August 1, 2012 and I still have not heard back from Burger King. Waiting patiently (if that is what you want to call it).
Tuesday, August 7, 2012: Still have not heard back from anyone at Burger King nor from any local media. Does this give you any idea how people get sick in this country?
Thursday, August 16, 2012: Still no word from Burger King. Wow! They need an education in customer service 101. I once again called their “Customer Relations” line at 12:19 PM, PT. This time I spoke with a guy by the name of Mark. He stated that he was able to confirm all of my previous calls to Burger King and that each call had been logged and sent to the 3 upper levels of management. He also told me, once again, that this call would be sent to the 3 upper levels of management. My comment was, BK could have had a janitor call me by now (like I would even know who was really calling) to apologize for the contamination of my food and “say” they would look into things, but obviously the “3 upper levels” of management could care less. I also told Mark that the San Diego Health Department had gone to the Ramona store and at least they had reported back to me. He seemed somewhat indifferent – no shock there. I told Mark that I expected a response from BK by tomorrow, 8/17/12, or that I would be left with very few alternatives. He said he couldn’t give me a timeframe when someone would or ever get back to me.
So, on that note, I still have the burger on ice and will no longer patiently wait for BK’s response after tomorrow.
Please, please, please do not patron Burger King – this is how they truly feel about their customers. They could really care less about what they feed and/or sell you, and even less if you have an unfortunate experience. Talk about how to get bad PR, this company is doing their darndest to accomplish that.
Friday, August 17, 2012; 10:54 AM:
I just received a call from Mr. Victor Lozano, Burger King Regional Manager. He stated that he was calling to express his apologies for the delay in returning my several phone calls and e-mail regarding the “rubber band” incident. He informed me that the Manager at the Ramona store was being removed for lack of communication of this incident to the Home / Regional Franchise office. Mr. Lozano was not aware of the recent San Diego Health Department inspection that was performed due to my complaint. I gave Mr. Lozano the phone number and name of the investigator, Greg Novak, so he could follow up with them, as well.
All in all, it is a shame that someone needs to send an e-mail and make 4 phone calls and threaten to call a lawyer for a company of Burger King’s size, in order to receive a return call of apology, if nothing else. I can honestly say, I will never eat at Burger King again – anywhere!