Skip to comments.Food for Thought; What Wendy's learned from the fingertip hoax (Wendy CEO speaks eloquently)
Posted on 05/20/2005 10:39:22 PM PDT by CHARLITE
There's nothing quite as unnerving as becoming the target of fraud. For us at Wendy's, that nightmare became reality when a customer falsely accused the Wendy's on Monterey Road in San Jose, Calif., of putting a human fingertip in a bowl of chili. Within an hour the story was on TV news, and soon after, Wendy's was fodder for Jay Leno. It was painful for us to watch unfold.
In the early hours of this crisis, we were faced with demanding questions. How we chose to respond was critical.
The exposure of this hoax by authorities has completely vindicated Wendy's. While this has been a difficult time, we're bouncing back. We are grateful to the millions of customers who remained loyal to us as this story unfolded. We know that it will take some time before business gets entirely back to normal, but we're very encouraged by the message we're hearing from our customers and employees.
The disturbing truth for everyone in the business community is that a devastating fraud can be perpetrated by a single individual. And the ramifications to a company's reputation are frightening. What is often lost in the hoopla is the personal price paid by the employees who have mortgages, children to feed and medical bills to pay. These are innocent people just trying to earn an honest living, but who end up the real victims. It may not be possible to completely safeguard a company's profits, reputation and employees, but the lessons learned from this crisis are clear: Stay true to your values in good times and bad. This was an arduous test of our resolve as a company. But I think it's at times like this that your customers and your employees get a true measure of who you really are.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
The perps have a real future in journalism when they get out of jail!!!! Who knows, maybe they can start writing their fanciful columns while in jail.... they'll be real heroes to the idiot left....
Nice to see that Wendy's maintains the standards set by Dave Thomas. Concern for the employees is rare these days. I should go out of my way to one for lunch.
Don't forget to order your "chiliFingers" ;)
I have to go by and give them some business as well. i keep forgeting to go at lunch.
I've gone to Wendy's twice since the finger fraud unravelled, and that's the first I've gone to Wendy's in over a decade. I've ordered chili both times too. =)
I ate at Wendy's about once every two weeks before the finger claim, and about once every two weeks AFTER the finger claim. I did appreciate the free frosty last Friday.
After the State is finished with the fraudsters, I hope Wendy's sues them for everything they own, have owned, or will ever own. Don't leave a cent for the children. Instead, put them in foster homes where they may learn right from wrong.
Didn't know, Thanks for the "quickie" lesson :)
Hmmm, maybe I'll make a point of picking up a Frosty. I don't think there's anything else on their menu I'd eat, finger or no.
People like this are judgment proof...
Personally, I never believed this story and always thought it was fabricated.
I've eaten at Wendy's ever since they became the first fast food place near my work to take ATM/debit cards. I'm always too cheap to go get $10-20 and pay $2.50 in ATM fees. So Wendy's got my 4 day a week business.
I'll be a loyal customer until Sonic comes to Pittsburgh, then.... well.... no customer service improvements they could offer could keep me away from a double Sonic burger with cheese.
Then they should sue all the MSM a-holes that gleefully reported it AS FACT!
Great stories and lessons. They didn't spend their lives
I'm just glad all this crap didn't go down when Dave Thomas was alive.
That guy had class.
There are no Wendy's convenient to where I work or live, but if there was I would be stopping by once a week or so. I've always liked their Chili-Fries. Alas, the restaurants in Japan don't sell the big, juicy triple-burgers I remember fondly from the States.
Their morning menu kinda stinks, too.
This incident has several important "lessons to learn".
1. Reputations take years to build and can be damaged in an instant.
2. It is hard to prove a negative ... but it can be done.
3. Late-night talk show hosts wield a lot of power.
4. When people steal or scam from a corporation because "it's big and impersonal and won't miss the loss", lots of little people can get hurt (layoffs, loss of overtime, loss of reputation).
5. Paying off falsified, bogus lawsuits to avoid more publicity has probably caused more scams and hoaxes. Doing what Wendy's has done in this case will probably prevent this in ways we will never know.
I know that at one time, Dave Thomas was supporting a scholership program at Duke for foundlings. Sometimes when he was in Durham for that program, he'd stop by and see how the restaurants were doing. I know people who were served their Triple w/cheese by Dave himself.
I seem to recall on one of the threads about political donations that Sonic is a supporter of the Democratic Party....hardly Americas Drive In.
Now we need the same investigative team to look into the Amazon.com-defaced Koran episode.
I'm glad Wendy's didn't cave -- but I got a couple of quasi-related nitpicks.
First off, what you can earn at a Wendy's (unless you're a manager) is not usually in "pay the mortgage" class. Not a slam at Wendy's in particular, the same is true of McD, Burger King, etc. Though in multi income families of course those dollars help.
Second, I think someone who was familiar with the Wendy's of a decade or so ago might give some credence to health issues. They had a nice free refills salad bar, but it was by bringing the same foam plate back and back. People who came back for seconds would, naturally, whack the serving spoons on the plates from which they had eaten. I didn't want the extra share of cold, flu, etc. germs, and sadly gave up partaking from what was otherwise the redeeming feature of a so-so fast food restaurant. I guess the food safety folks eventually got after Wendy's for this (like they generally require taking fresh plates at buffets) since Wendy's discontinued the feature.
How interesting! Thanks for the ping!
do you want that order with or without fingernail?....
Wendy's also owns the Tim Horton Donuts chain in the NE/Canada and Baja Fresh in the west.
Not everyone has $200,000 and + mortgages around the country. That salary can pay modest 40,000 dollar mortgages.
On a "variable by demand" schedule? It's not as if you can go mowing lawns on a moment's notice to take up the slack.
There was a time when Wendy's was very family oriented. Especially when first started. However, in the mid 80's Wendy's took their eye off the ball and came very close to getting in serious trouble. That's when Dave brought Jim Near in. During the rebuild and subsequent years, that concern not only for customers, profit and growth, but for employees and their families was evident. Many people got hurt when the crash began in the mid 80's and it seemed Dave and Jim were not going to let it happen again. Near passed away and has been suceeded by two others. It slipped a little after Near, but the concept of balancing customers, profit and growth while maintain a spirit of family at the coporate level is now almost gone, especially since Dave passed away. The focus is now almsot entirely on profit as costs, especially for meat has increased. My ex wife works at corporate and the espirit that was there when she joined is largely gone. Workers now do the tasks and little more. They are stretched very thin. With outsiders nipping with large stock purchases, the upper echelons are managing by CYA instead of what's the best balance between the profits and those behind the scenes that allow those profits to flourish. It's not pretty.
I was a Wendy's buffet user from the beginning. There was always a sign that you had to get a new plate at our Wendy's.
That was helpful of them. The one I visited (situated in the Queen City, Naperville IL, so not exactly a slouch location) didn't seem to have a clue. People were always bopping the serving spoons on their dirty plates. Either the manager was skimping on the cost of plates, or it wasn't a Wendy's-wide policy. I suppose I could have complained to Wendy's, but I thought why bother.
< First off, what you can earn at a Wendy's (unless you're a manager) is not usually in "pay the mortgage" class.
The fry cooks at Wendy's in my experience tend to be younger, female and ESL types. Stop being such a Country Club Republican and look them in the eye, not down your nose for a change.
The day the story broke I made it a point to goto Wendy's and order chili. I did it the next week too. I've been back once or twice since for salad.
And that Spicy Crispy Chicken sandwich has to be available inside the Pearly Gates. Mmmm.
Me, too. He was such a truly likeable fellow. I was genuinely sad when he passed away. He was the epitome of "the American dream."
Thanks for such sensitive comments about Dave and Wendy's!
How about a Mentos? Check out this funny link:
he was also greatly responsible for Kentucky Fried Chicken's success... (along with the Colonel, of course)...
gee--i don't know... Dave became a millionaire working for Kentucky Fried Chicken before he ever started Wendy's...
I scanned the story to look for "get a true measure of who you really are" so I could finish the article. . . and that's the the last line.
You and I agree on that. I was so glad it became a regular item on the menu.
As a counter grunt?
no--he did that at another restaurant... i believe a family took him in and let him work at their restaurant... he started from the bottom doing things like sweeping the floor, washing dishes, etc... but that was not the point of my comment... the point was, not only minimum wage workers work for fast food places... some people do pay their mortgages with money earned at "fast food" companies...
the story about how Dave T. and The Colonel first connected is pretty fascinating... after Dave made his millions with Kentucky Fried, he went into a short retirement... but he just couldn't let go of the fast food business... he then came up with Wendy's...