Mihir Bijur, a 32-year-old marketing professional from Kandivli, and his wife Sulbha ordered a meal for two from a Kandivli outlet of McDonald’s, the US-based fast food giant. Bijur was polishing off the fries in his meal when he found a metallic screw, shiny at the head and rusted at the bottom, sitting innocently amid other fries in the bag.
“We had called for home delivery from the Growel’s 101 Mall branch of McDonald’s on the night of December 12,” said Bijur. “But a half-rusted screw is the last thing I expected from this meal. Fries are a food item that we do not have the habit of pouring out in a tray and eating. We munch them directly from the packet. I was so shocked that I did not know what to do. Then I logged in on social networking sites and talked freely about what had happened.”
Online, a lot of other people shared similar experiences they had had with the food chain, Bijur said, but it was his first, and he was furious. “The incident had the potential to injure/hospitalise me or, in an extreme case, cost me my life,” as he would later tell McDonald’s.
The bosses at the food giant must have picked up on his complaints on online public forums, for six days later, he got an email from one Gauri Karnik from McDonald’s India, West and South. But Bijur could not find an apology in the polite jargon that McDonald’s sent him as their response. What was there was a stock reply – acknowledging nothing and saying even less – which Bijur felt might as well have been prepared by a machine, going by the way it read.
It said, “We regret to learn that your recent experience with our home delivery system was not up to your expectations. The quality of our food is very important and... we are committed to serving the highest quality... We have discussed your feedback with the concerned restaurant manager/ department for the necessary action... We will make sure that apt measures are taken to ensure that the high level of service standards, for which McDonald’s is renowned the world over, are consistently maintained.”
Bijur did not like this “grievance template” response. On December 23, he hit back in an email, telling them how he did not “appreciate the fact that you’re underplaying what has happened and the intensity of it”, how he was not okay with simply ‘sharing feedback’”, and how if this were the US or the UK, “heads would roll by now. Why are Indian lives being treated as less deserving?” He then demanded an apology from the management, and not “a Sr PR exec”.
The firm had also tried to pacify him by placing him a phone call. “But even when they called me up, their words did not convince me at all. Instead of simply being human, they chose to go by the rulebook. What I believe is, you obviously cannot take responsibility for everything that happens to the food from the time it’s grown on the farm till it’s served to the customer. But being a big and popular brand, they should have at least accepted what had happened, instead of negating it. If such a thing can slip through, anything else can. Had I eaten it, I do not know where I would have landed.”
When MiD DAY contacted Gauri Karnik, who had sent the email to Bijur, she said she was not authorised to talk to us. She did, however, acknowledge the email we had sent her last Monday, and added that it had been forwarded to the department concerned, which would get back to us. We have not yet received any correspondence or clarification from McDonald’s, nor has Bijur received an apology.
Law book says
Advocate Sanjay Shukla, who has handled many consumer complaints, said, “The couple should go and register an FIR, and then a complaint with the consumer forum. If there had been any damage to them after eating the food, they would have been able to ask for compensation. But in this case, there was no damage, so they cannot ask for compensation. They can only ask the company for an apology.”
In bad taste
Bloody bandaid: An upstate New York man found a bloody bandaid baked into the crust of his Pizza Hut pizza in June of 2011. He sued after the company failed to address his concerns.
Fly in yogurt: A Chinese woman found a fly in her yogurt in July 2011. When she asked for compensation, the manufacturer asked her to prove that the fly had died before she opened the container - by getting the insect autopsied.
Razor blade in Wal-Mart ice cream: An East Texas woman found a razor blade in a carton of Walmart ice cream in February 2011. Walmart customer service was contacted, and she was told,
“I’m sorry, I hope your day gets better.”
Paperclips in muffins: At the height of the Beijing Olympics, reporters pounced on the Chinese food industry after athletes found paperclips in muffins served to them at an official function.
Syringe in Burger King burger: In June of 2001, 22-year-old Angelina Cruz bit into a burger from Burger King - and got pricked in the tongue by a syringe. Citing HIV fears, she sued the chain for
Glass in sandwich: In May, 2013, a gospel singer from Brooklyn, New York, sued McDonald’s, claiming her voice was ruined after she bit into a piece of glass while eating a chicken sandwich from the fast food chain.
Bone in burger: In July 2010, a woman in Chicago sued McDonald's, alleging that she was served a double-cheeseburger with bone. She claimed that after biting down onto a bone in her burger, she needed extensive dental surgery to repair her teeth.
Plastic in cookie: In September 2012, Oklahoma native Katherine Ashowo claims she bit into a razor-sharp piece of plastic baked into a McDonald's chocolate chip cookie. The plastic cut her tongue and drew blood before she could spit it out.
Nose ring in burrito: In November 2012, Frances Rosario found a nose ring in her daughter’s breakfast burrito at an Atlanta area McDonald’s. Rosario said she was rebuffed by McDonald’s staff and received no response from McDonald’s corporate office.
Dead frog in spinach greens: Londoner Sarah Moss was disturbed to find a dead frog in her bag of spinach greens that she'd purchased from grocery chain Tesco. Tesco at first refused to compensate Moss, but ended up forking over a £10 gift voucher. Worms in KFC sandwich: A family found live worms in a KFC fried chicken sandwich at an outpost in Kerala in early October 2012 - prompting a huge investigations of the KFCs throughout the region.