Ethical Performance
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McDonald’s Japan launches complaint app

April 2015

After a year in which product quality and service issues have undermined the brand, McDonald’s Japan is to introduce a new smartphone app for customer complaints as it looks to restore the reputation for quality that once helped define the company.

Over the past year, the chain has come in for heavy criticism from both consumers and media for a series of incidents in which unexpected foreign objects have been discovered in some of its meals. In January, the company admitted they were unable to ascertain how a human tooth came to be found in a serving of French Fries last September; in December a piece of vinyl was found among a helping of Chicken McNuggets; earlier, a metal fragment cropped up in some pancakes.

Other contamination incidents have also been reported, including the discovery of dental materials in McDonald’s hamburgers. The company’s response to these incidents, and its failure to discover causes only added to its troubles.

These problems arose as the company was recovering from the disastrous revelations that a Chinese supplier was mixing out-dated meat and sweepings from the floor with fresh meat in order to make the company’s Mcburgers and Mcnuggets.

To make matters worse, McDonald’s did not follow the well-established protocols for how a company in Japan should announce bad news and, apologise. This suggested that the company was not treating the issue properly and was failing to take responsibility for the products it sold.

Luckily for McDonald’s there were no reports of sickness else it might have risked the fate of Snow Brand, a once-respected Japanese food company that was forced out of business when it tried to cover up failings at one of its factories that made many people ill.

“We will introduce a new smartphone app that customers can use to post their feelings, opinions and requests, aiming at strengthening our ability to listen to customers’ voices,” McDonald’s Japan Holdings, the parent company, said in a statement.

McDonald’s also said it is reviewing procedures for dealing with suspected cases of product tampering and will draft new rules on communication with customers.

The moves comes as sales nationwide fall, profits plunge, and the burger giant’s reputation suffers. In February, the firm said it had lost a worse than expected JPY 21.8bn in 2014, its first red ink in 11 years. Nationwide same-store sales this January were down 39% year on year. In February, sales dropped 28.7%.

McDonald's Japan | Asia | Corporate Responsibility


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