I have ranted before about the pitfalls and high level of customer disservice at Wal-Mart. This time though it is a matter of public safety. It could potentially be a matter of life and death.
April 2, 2010 – I wandered into the local Wal-Mart store (Oconee County, GA) around 8:00PM in search of something
for the Easter Bunny to leave at my house. There was a large display of egg coloring supplies on a display rack, and on that rack cartons of what appeared to be candy eggs. As I approached the display I noticed that some of these “candy eggs” seemed to be oozing out of the bottom of the cartons. That’s when it hit me that these were not candy eggs, but real eggs sitting there unrefrigerated. WHAT? NO WAY! I opened a carton and sure enough, a broken egg greeted me with open shell. What do I do? As a former restaurant manager, I know what the food safety guidelines are regarding such matters, so I touched the eggs to see if they were even still cold and they felt as if they had been sat on by a chicken.
I made my way to the customer service counter, and promptly asked to speak to a manager. I was asked if the customer service rep could help me. I explained the gravity of the situation to her and she ran to her supervisor who was also appalled. He called the manager on duty over and I explained to him the concerns in regard to food saftey and explained to him that I would not be purchasing food from his store any longer because I had no confidence that their food was being handled safely. I asked if he knew how long the eggs had been on the shelf. He informed me that the General Manager had asked them to put them out at 8:00 AM and that he had protested, but was told to put them out anyway. “That is 13 hours”, I gasped. “Someone could die if they eat those eggs”, I said. He agreed to remove the eggs from the display, and he did. I told him that I would have to trust that he was going to throw the eggs away and not put them back in the cooler. I still am not sure that they were discarded.
This morning, I contacted the General Manager and confronted him about his decision. At first he made excuses for why it was ok to leave eggs on display and told me that they were being rotated every two to three hours. Then I told him what was said by the manager the night before and the story changed to “I am sorry, I made a bad decision”. I asked him if he understood that his decision to put raw eggs out on display unrefrigerated could potentially kill someone, and he did. I explained that first I feel an obligation to my family to no longer shop in his store, because the safety of my family is more important than saving a few bucks. Next, I feel an obligation to the community to let as many people know that their food is potentially unsafe to eat. I explained that I would be notifying the Health Inspector and other health organizations, that I would be notifying local radio stations, newspapers, everyone I know on Facebook and Twitter as well as my family and friends, all of which I have done. He said that he wishes that he could take his decision back. I explained that in life we make decisions sometime that carry dire consequences, and that this one could cost his store a lot of business as well as costing someone their life. No Wal-Mart lawyer can bring back someones loved one.
I think that what bothers me most about this situation is that in 13 hours many Wal-Mart employees, managers and supervisors walked by that display and didn’t think a thing about it except for the manager that said that he protested. It bothers me that he didn’t take a stand for public safety and refuse to put the eggs out. It bothers me that no one cared enough until I explained the situation. Perhaps they don’t know any better (that’s another issue), or maybe they just don’t care. What i do know is that I will not be giving my business to a company who doesn’t have the safety of their customers at heart. I just hope, for the sake of Wal-Mart and the families involved, that some child doesn’t find one of those eggs under a bush on Easter morning, eat it and meet with ill results.
Here are some links on Egg Safety for your own education: