Wahoo's Fish TacosFishy Customer Service from CEO of Wahoo Fish Tacos


Wahoo CEO sets low standard for customer service.

My wife and I paid over $800 to have Wahoo's cater our July 4th Party. When we opened up the various containers we realized that all of the carnitas meat (1/3 of the meat that we ordered) was missing! It was an embarrassing situation to occur in front of 100+ guests and we were not able to fully feed our guests.

To add insult to injury, when we complained about the situation to Wahoo's they acted like they did nothing wrong and treated us like we made the whole thing up! In fairness to them, someone at corporate offered us a $150 credit toward a future catering order. We very politely wrote back saying we should be refunded on a pro-rata basis for what we didn't receive and perhaps some consideration for our inconvenience and embarrassment. Two weeks later, after no response, I reached out to the CEO of Wahoo's via Linkedin. He responded as follows:

I have spoken to Ellen Orbe, my best franchise operator about the incident. she personally took care of your order, made sure that everything was delivered, gave out her cell and email for contact purpose and no one ever reached out to her about the incident . She is my right hand person for the last 5 years, we just did the California Junior Lifeguard Championships ( 2500 kids ) and are catering the Irvine Company annual meeting for 1, 500 employees . she has never missed a single catering with or without me, and her father who is in charge of franchising has already given you some compensation, which is way more than I would offer . so please let me know if you need any further assistance

Wow! Where did this CEO learn about customer service? Apparently his people are so good that they never make mistakes. In fact, what little they did offer us in compensation is way more than he would have offered!

His facts are in error as Ms. Orbe did not deliver our order nor did she provide her cell phone. My wife only met with her one time when she was originally exploring having Wahoo's cater our event. She placed the order at a later date with an employee named Zack. We had no way to get in touch with anyone on the day of the delivery (July 4th) as the local Wahoo's store was closed. Roger (who delivered the order) never gave us his cell phone. We brought this matter to his attention the very next day when we returned the catering boxes to Wahoo's and he wrote down our name and phone number for follow up.

Given our experience, the poor response, and the attitude that somehow we're wrong about this situation doesn't really incentivize us to consider using Wahoo's for future catering. For us, it's not about the money, it's the principle. We expected to be treated fairly and that there might be some ownership and consideration for the fact that we were unable to fully feed our guests which would be upsetting for any customer.

Organizations typically set the standard for customer service from the top down. To have a CEO respond to a customer complaint this way is indeed shameful. Moral to the story - make sure you open up all the food containers before allowing the delivery person to leave the scene and don't count on companies to understand what good customer service is all about.


  • Jo
    joegray100 Jul 31, 2012

    /link removed/

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    joegray100 Aug 01, 2012

    Checkout the latest updates at /link removed/

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    joegray100 Aug 01, 2012

    UPDATE 7/31

    CEO of Wahoo's makes things even worse!

    Date: 7/31/12

    From: Wing Lam
    To: Joseph Gray

    CC: Tom Orbe, Orbit

    Both Roger and Zach are also part of our catering team, we have daily inventory of all product going in and out of the stores. Our normal business practice is to give out 10% more food on catering, just to make sure we never run out.

    My questions to you are : did you personally see each guest make their plate and verify that they took the right portion ? and if anyone took seconds, did they make tacos ( probably not if you have a lot of tortillas left ) or make carnitas plate ( doubling their portions ) ?

    It’s not that we don’t make mistakes, but our team has never run out of food at any caterings in over 24 years


    Date: 7/31/12

    From: Joseph Gray
    To: Wing Lam

    CC: Tom Orbe, Orbit

    My wife and I are baffled. Your first response questioned our integrity. Now you're questioning our intelligence.

    My wife has already discussed this situation with Ms. Orbe via phone and I've already explained it to you in writing.

    Once again, for the record, we did not receive 1/3 of the meat we ordered as NO CARNITAS meat was provided. My wife unwrapped everything and personally served the meat to all our guests. She was at the front of the line portioning out the meat because she knew we didn't have enough. She had to cut the fish fillets in half for each taco and served a 1/2 portion of chicken on the tacos to stretch what we did have. Our dinner guests did NOT serve the meat themselves.

    As CEO, the way in which you've handled this matter is appalling. Instead of thanking us for choosing Wahoo's for our annual 4th of July party, and apologizing for the situation, you've chosen to question our integrity and intelligence. There's no chance that we would consider using Wahoo's services for catering again given the manner in which you and your associates have mishandled this situation. Therefore, Mr. Orbe's offer of a future discount is worthless. Your statement that what we've been offered is more than you would have offered is offensive and shows absolutely no empathy, responsibility, or tact. We understand people make mistakes and that's hardly the issue here anymore. The issue is now, how the CEO of Wahoo's is improperly handling what should have been a rather simple apology and customer service resolution.

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    joegray100 Aug 01, 2012

    UPDATE 8/1/12

    AUTHOR: Joseph Gray - Temecula (United States of America)
    SUBMITTED: Wednesday, August 01, 2012

    POSTED: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
    Just when I thought Wahoo's couldn't make things any worse, I received this email last night from the Vice President of Wahoo's.

    7/31/2012 10:32 PM
    From: Tom Orbe

    Wing write this to him You indicate in your note that a simple apology And resolution should have been offered. It was offered but you choose to Ask for more and escalte as you have done in other situations that you have posted on The internet. We delervied the food and It was offered to your wife to take out the food. She declined and the delivery person Indicated what was in each pan and you accepted the order as described.

    Also a point of clarification is that your wife indicated that the food was enough to feed everyone and that she overstated that it was insufficient when she said in fact there was Enough. Curious as to why she said there was enough food for everyone and you say no. We were not open on July 4th and opened to cook For you party which of course we were glad to do. Your order was the only order that day and we are absolutely certain everything was delivered. Our reputation is excellent and maybe I don't write the best letters but our honesty and integrity is outstanding. We consider this matter closed and wish you the best.


    I wrote the following in reply to Tom Orbe, Vice President, and the CEO of Wahoo's, Wing Lam

    Tue, 31 Jul 2012 23:18:29 -0700
    From: Joseph Gray <[email protected]>
    To: Tom Orbe <[email protected]>, Wing Lam <[email protected]>


    Since this was sent to me, I'd like to share with you my thoughts.

    Sending a customer the type of response that Mr. Orbe is suggesting would certainly be consistent with the appalling manner in which Wahoo's has handled this situation. It is guaranteed to make a bad situation worse. Perhaps there is a better approach?

    It would seem you are receiving bad advice from your management which has done nothing but escalate this into something more than it should have been. It appears your management team has not been fully honest and/or has not fully researched this situation.

    I understand Roger commented to my wife, with other guests of ours present, that he had two additional deliveries on July 4th. Perhaps you should talk to him because that seems to conflict with what Mr. Orbe is representing. My wife has already suggested to Ellen that perhaps one of these other customers received our Carnitas. May I inquire as to whether anyone has bothered to check with these other customers? Perhaps not as your manager doesn't even know about the additional deliveries. Before calling into question the integrity of your customer, perhaps some basic due diligence would make sense???

    Roger didn't suggest removing the food from its containers when he arrived. He kept the trays covered in the hot box and pointed to each one describing what it was. It wasn't until a short time later, when our guests came upstairs to eat, that my wife uncovered the lids and realized that the Carnitas were missing. Roger was already on his way to another delivery at that point.

    On a side note, the one time that Ellen spoke with my wife since July 4th, she mentioned the employee who opened the Temecula store on July 5th had no Carnitas in the store and Ellen had to tell her where to go find some locally. Since the store was closed on July 4th, it brings into question what level of supply they may have had from which to create our order for July 4th. We certainly do not have any clear idea but it raises the question and is something your management should look in to.

    As for my internet posts, perhaps you and your management team should take responsibility for grossly mishandling this situation and putting the customer last. I propose that if you had not been so quick to misjudge your customer, and if you had taken this matter more seriously, none of this would be occurring. You appear to be operating under the misguided assumption that we're lying about this situation. We had plenty of witnesses that day none of which had any carnitas. Why you would even question a customer on an issue like this is baffling.

    Honesty and integrity are something one practices. I don't see it in the way you and your managers have handled this situation by choosing to mistrust your customer and listening instead to managers who clearly haven't performed proper due diligence. Perhaps the best way to treat customers is the most obvious and well known philosophy that "The customer is always right". It's also called taking the high road which is simply a smart and better way to do business.



    What will Wahoo's do for an encore? Stay tuned!

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    joegray100 Aug 02, 2012

    UPDATE 8/2/12

    Wahoo's took a step in the right direction today. I received the following from their Vice President.

    Mr Gray,

    For more than 20 years, Wahoo’s Fish Taco has been committed to sharing our love of food with the local community. We value all of our customers and appreciate any feedback that is provided including the insights you have shared with us. Without our customers, Wahoo’s would not be the company it is today. We are committed to addressing your concern and have reviewed your request carefully. We understand that your concern was for the missing carnitas which would have been valued at a total cost of $150 (60 tacos at $2.50 each). In good faith and in the spirit of resolving this in a matter satisfactory to you, we will refund $265, one-third the cost of your entire order immediately. A check has been mailed to cover the costs. We hope the resolution is satisfactory to you and your family.

    Tom Orbe

    Tom Orbe
    Wahoo's Fish Taco
    Vice President
    2855 Pullman Street,
    Santa Ana, Ca 92705


    I responded as follows:

    Mr. Orbe,

    I would like you, Mr. Lam, and everyone involved at Wahoo's to understand that our escalation of this issue has been about defending principle which means a great deal more than money. The tremendous amount of time I have invested over the past few days to get Wahoo's to do what's right should be an indication. Who in their right mind would spend this kind of time over a couple hundred dollars? I could have already approached our credit card provider to ask for a charge back and I could have provided them with all of our correspondence to date. I'm quite sure they would be equally appalled at the way Wahoo's has chosen to handle this matter and I know they would have agreed to issue the charge back. I propose if this situation had anything to do with money, I would have done that already.

    To be very clear, all we ever expected was for Wahoo's to take responsibility, apologize for the situation, and make an appropriate gesture that demonstrates your sincerity. We never expected to have our integrity called into question which is the only reason this matter has escalated.

    I appreciate you now offering us 1 of these 3 things but one might think you're only doing this because of my recent public escalation of this matter.

    If Wahoo's is sincere about this situation, then perhaps you will find our 3 requests to be reasonable. If an apology is to be forthcoming it should include some acknowledgement of how inappropriate it was of Wahoo's to question the integrity of my wife and I.

    As for demonstrating sincerity, we're not looking for anything more for ourselves beyond the minimum which I requested on 7/15. However, I would like Wahoo's to consider providing free catering to a non-profit group of our choosing in the Temecula area.

    Joseph Gray

    0 Votes
  • Jo
    joegray100 Aug 03, 2012

    UPDATE 8/3/12

    Received the following email today:

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: RE: Washoo's
    Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2012 11:14:07 -0700
    From: Tom Orbe, Vice President
    Organization: Wahoos Fish Taco
    To: Joseph Gray

    Good morning Mr. Gray,

    Thank you for your reply to our letter attempting to resolve the issue with your Wahoo’s catering order. Wahoo’s takes full responsibility for the issue and is eager to resolve this matter with you. We had hoped that you would agree that an appropriate and fair gesture was our offering not only to reimburse you for the cost related to the missing caritas, which would have been valued at a total cost of $150 (60 tacos at $2.50 each), but instead a refund for one-third the cost of your entire order in the amount of $265. In good faith and in the spirit of resolving this in a matter promptly, we still remain committed to doing so and have sent the check. As you may know, a cornerstone of Wahoo’s commitment is our support of non-profit and charitable efforts in each community we serve and we will continue to support the dozens of charities we are associated with. We hope you will agree that our offering to reimburse you for one-third of the catering costs and our apology for the issue is an appropriate gesture in resolving this and we consider this matter concluded.

    Thank you,
    My response back to Mr. Orbe:

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: Washoo's
    Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2012 21:51:38 -0700
    From: Joseph & Patty Gray
    To: Tom Orbe, Vice President


    Perhaps my wife and I are old fashion but we were both raised with the understanding that when one offers a proper apology there is generally some acknowledgement of the wrong done. Ie: We apologize for... provides the following definition of an apology:
    a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another

    If it helps, here is a list of what we feel Wahoo's did wrong in this matter:

    1. When we reported that we did not receive the carnitas on July 4th, our integrity was called into question first by Ellen Orbe and then by your CEO, Wing Lam.
    2. The obvious, we didn't receive the carnitas and we were not able to fully feed our guests on July 4th.
    3. On numerous occasions Wahoo's failed to respond to this situation in a professional manner and treated us unfairly.
    4. We had to file complaints and start an internet campaign before Wahoo's began to change its unprofessional posture in this matter. That effort required a significant time investment on our part. We never should never have been put in this type of position in the first place.

    I see in your email that you've stated that you hope Wahoo's apology for the issue is an appropriate gesture. We don't feel that this statement itself meets the definition of a proper apology.

    I've already explained that this issue has less to do with money and more to do with the CEO of Wahoo's questioning our integrity in this matter.

    If Wahoo's is willing to admit that it handled this situation improperly and provide a proper apology, we too are eager to resolve this matter.


    0 Votes

Post your comment