Papa John's apologizes for new low in butt-dialing

The pizza chain apologizes on Facebook after two of its delivery men butt-dialed an African-American customer and offered racist songs and epithets.

The receipt posted as proof of purchase by the customer. Channel 6 Orlando/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

People's inability to keep their cell phones secure is often a source of humor.

Who hasn't received a butt-dial at some point and listened to their friends or their florists chatting away, singing, or even talking to themselves?

One customer of Papa John's in Sanford, Fla., however, received a butt-dial of a more painful nature.

As Click Orlando reports, this customer received a voice mail lasting several minutes which began with a Papa John's driver talking to a colleague and complaining that he hadn't been tipped. The customer says he tipped the "usual" 21 percent.

"I guess that's the only requirement for being a n***** in Sanford. Yeah, they give me five bucks. They're fine outstanding African-American gentlemen of the community," says the driver on the voice mail.

The driver's definition of the word "gentleman" then became somewhat strained, as he and his co-worker began to adapt well-known songs with racist lyrics.

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The customer posted proof of the incoming call and the voice mail onto YouTube and WorldStarHipHop.

This reached the ears of Papa John's CEO, John Schnatter, who reacted Monday (the incident actually occurred May 19).

He took to both the YouTube comments and to the company's Facebook page in order to announce both employees had been fired and to distance his company from their attitudes.

On YouTube, he wrote:

I, too, am extremely appalled by these former employees' actions and sincerely appreciate it being brought to our attention. The thinking of these people is counter to mine and my company's values and we will not tolerate it. We immediately terminated those involved and will continue to educate all on our team. I personally have reached out to the customer to share my deepest apology.

The customer posted the driver's cell phone number on YouTube, and several media organizations have tried to contact him, but without success.

Some might be astonished how regularly butt-dialing succeeds in getting people into trouble.

Last week, police in Fresno, Calif. said that two men who allegedly robbed drugs and other items from a parked car butt-dialed the whole experience to a 911 dispatcher .

It's unclear how one of these men's phones might have chosen 911 for their butt-dial. But, in the case of the Papa John's delivery man, it seems that "last number dialed" might have been the random choice.

On Facebook and YouTube, many customers have expressed support for Schnatter's reaction to his employees' behavior. Both his Facebook and YouTube postings appeared Monday as the story gained national attention.

Though Schnatter replied to the YouTube posting I linked to above, that posting has now been removed, as some comments violated YouTube's policy on messages of a threatening nature. Other copies of the voice mail -- for example here -- still remain.

Papa John's has had to battle for its reputation on social media before. Last year, it used Twitter to respond to a receipt begin posted which described a customer as "Lady Chinky Eyes." The employee responsible for that was also fired.

This time, however, the rumblings may go on for some time. Sanford made national news by being at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting. The trial of the man accused of shooting him -- George Zimmerman begins this summer.

One can imagine that news organizations will attempt to get both the customer and the Papa John's driver on camera to tell more.

Some might think, though, that the driver has already -- however accidentally -- broadcast enough.

 

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