Free Severed Head With Purchase; Do or Don't?

Last Updated Oct 4, 2007 5:56 PM EDT

dead-mouse.jpgIn an earlier post, we noted how maintenance crew workers for China Airlines painted over the logo on one of their planes after it caught on fire to protect the brand's reputation. That's certainly one way to do it. Arkansas-based Allen Canning Company takes a different approach to preserving its reputation. After Marianne Watson of Utah found a severed mouse head in a can of green beans, Allen offered the woman $100 as a "gesture of goodwill" -- goodwill and bribery, that is.

Watson isn't having it. She refuses to sign anything, and wants to draw attention to the situation so Allen will either withdraw the cans, or express some sort of action plan beyond keeping her quiet. Allen spokesman James Phillips called the situation an isolated incident and said the mouse was most likely picked up during harvest, not in the canning factory. (He assured Watson he has every reason to believe the rest of the mouse in still in the field, not in other people's cans.) Phillips said:

"We apologize as much as we can, but we also do everything known from a technology standpoint and personnel standpoint to prevent it from happening. But inevitably, occasionally, things like this occur."
Although this very well may be an isolated incident, the "Stuff happens. We do our best. What else can we do?" approach probably does little to compensate for an unpleasant and unsanitary experience -- especially when it follows a modest financial incentive.

On the other hand, Wal-Mart, which sold the can to Watson, promised to investigate the situation, despite also believing the incident to be isolated. A representative recommended she keep the mouse head on ice until the situation is resolved. The result? Watson will continue to shop at Wal-Mart...though she will likely be staying out of the frozen food section while there's a severed head in her freezer.

(Dead Mouse image by semarr)