Would you like some racism with your pizza?

We’ve all been there. You go up to the barista at your local coffee place or “sandwich artist” at Subway and give them your order and name. What’s written on the cup or receipt is inevitably something different. Maybe the restaurant was loud or the employee only really has a grasp of names found on novelty license places in airport gift shops. Try giving them Risë (pronounced Ree-sa) – I end up with something that looks like “Rice-uh?” And according to this Tumblr, I’m not the only one.

Last week, Minhee Cho ordered a small pepperoni pizza from her local New York City Papa John’s only to find that they messed up her name. But she found something very different. Under the “name” section, the Papa John’s employee put down “lady chinky eyes.”

Lady chinky eyes? I haven’t heard that phrase used… ever! And as horrible as that was, it just kept getting worse for Papa John’s. Unbeknownst to the cashier, Minhee works in PR.

With social media use at an all-time high, companies today need to realize that when they screw up, they’ll get exposed – big time. With Smartphones, we have access to digital cameras at the touch of a button. And on the same device, we can upload these pictures or videos to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogspot, you get the picture. And that’s exactly what happened. Minhee tweeted at Papa John’s saying “Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes,’” and attached a photo of the receipt.

Papa John’s responded to the tweet. The pizzeria, like most companies now, have a specific PR and marketing team that handles issues via Twitter and Facebook and I’m sure took time to make sure the “complaint” was real, similar to the now infamous Domino’s Pizza video. They informed Minhee and other followers that the employee was promptly fired, and contacted Minhee personally through a Twitter direct message to offer their apology. As bad as the situation was, it could have been worse. Papa John’s social media rep neutralized the issue. In a world where information is out there in a millisecond, time is the biggest factor in avoiding a scandal. Will Papa John’s be remembered for its racist snafu? Probably, but they’ve also used social media to let everyone know what they’re doing to improve their company.

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