by Sergio Vinocur

Does Wal-Mart really care about the community? Isn’t Wal-Mart even the least bit concerned about correcting Priority Violations? Where do the complaint forms and ‘letters to the President’ end up? I used to be a loyal Wal-Mart customer, until 2 weeks ago. Please read the following email I sent to the President.

The Complaint
Subject: Radio Grill – Health Department Priority Violation Code 12
Importance: High

December 14, 1999

Letter to the President

RE: Health Department Violation
Radio Grill
Wal-Mart, Store #1441
9365 Fields Ertel Road
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 583-9330

On Saturday, December 11, 1999 at 1:35pm, I went to buy 2 grilled chicken sandwiches for my wife from the Radio Grill in Store #1441. The employee working at that time was a young girl. I saw her exchanging cash and then handling food without washing her hands. She did not wear gloves.

It turned my stomach to see her grab those chicken patties with her contaminated hands. I brought it to her attention, but she showed no concern. I proceeded to the service desk and filled out a complaint form and addressed it to “Manager Hammock.”

I spoke with a Mr. Stevens and handed him the complaint form. His exact words to me were, “She should know better than that.” Then he said that it would be taken care of.

I left the store without the sandwiches.

My wife was still hungry, so we came back at 4:20pm. I naively believed that things had been taken care of. This time was even worse. The lady in front of me had ordered a hot dog. The employee put the cooked hot dog on a bun and took it to a table in the back to garnish it. While it was on the table, the hot dog rolled off the bun and fell off.

The employee picked up the hot dog with her contaminated hands and placed it back on the bun. She continued garnishing it as if nothing had happened. Again, I proceeded to the service desk. This time, I spoke with Hazel. She informed me that the employee’s name was Regina. I told her this was a serious Health Department violation. She didn’t appear to care.

Wal-Mart lost my business twice.

I took my wife out to eat elsewhere.

What I and others witnessed at Store #1441 that afternoon were Priority Violations Code 12 which require immediate correction. Otherwise, Radio Grill could face closure and/or fines. I have several questions for the staff at Store #1441:

What training did Regina receive on handling food before my first visit?

Between my visits?

After my second visit?

Did these violations result from inadequate training?

Lack of the necessary tools?

Employee negligence?

What containment and corrective actions have been implemented and when?

What other actions have been implemented to prevent recurrence?

What disciplinary actions were given to those who after having been advised of the violation, responded indifferently to it?

Why haven’t I heard from Manager Hammock yet addressing my complaint letter?

If I do not get a satisfactory response to all these questions within 24 hours, I will forward this e-mail to the Health Department. If necessary, I will instigate an investigate on how many people have become ill after eating at Radio Grill. The ramification of not properly addressing this violation and this e-mail could really snowball you.


Sergio Vinocur

Even though I filled complaint form (with my name, address, and phone number), and I spoke personally to several managers/associates, the following e-mail has been the only communication that I have received from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart Responds?
Thank you for your electronic mail message. Our goal is to forward your message to the proper department. In order to expedite your message, we must have all the information listed below:

1) your name
2) address
3) city/state/zip
4) daytime telephone number

Please include the needed information and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.

Wal-Mart appreciates your business and your correspondence.


The Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

To date, I have not heard back from Wal-Mart. I have already contacted the Hamilton County General Health District (Health Department) and I filed a complaint against Radio Grill. It’s unfortunate that I now associate the word ‘hot dog’, with Wal-Mart’s slogan, “Roll ’em back, move ’em out!” Remembering what I saw that day still really turns my stomach.