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As one of China’s most popular hotpot chain, haidilao has more than 190 outlets in 57 Chinese cities, as well as branches in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, and Los Angeles.|
On Aug. 25 news broke of a rat-infested kitchen at one of its Beijing outlets, and the word spread quickly on Chinese social media, especially Weibo. The story came from the Beijing-based news outlet Fawan, which conducted months of undercover reporting and shared a video from late May of the rodent infestation, with the rats crawling on counters and washbasins.
The reporters found other disturbing signs, including the uncovered bottom of a dishwasher that was clogged with oily and rotting food, and a janitor using a kitchen washbasin to clean a broom and dustpan.
But instead of denying the reports or declining to respond, within seven hours of the news coming to light, Haidilao acknowledged the problems in a statement on its official Weibo account, which has over 180,000 followers. In the post Haidilao listed a seven-point action plan, with details including the names of the staffers in charge of following through with each part. The company said that it was closing two outlets on Friday afternoon for full cleanup, and was initiating a widespread upgrade of its monitoring system. The post was liked over 18,000 times.
Haidilao’s swift and honest actions were appreciated by many. “Haidilao’s growth is a result of its consumer awareness,” read a commentary (link in Chinese) in the state mouthpiece People’s Daily today, contrasting Haidilao’s response to companies that use tricks and have bad attitudes.
On Weibo, some users were livid over the sanitation problems, but more were supportive of the hotpot chain. “Many appreciate the response since Haidilao admitted its wrongdoings,” commented one Weibo user under Haidilao’s post. “We can feel your honesty, but we are also expecting you to change—if [the sanitation] gets improved, we will still be your loyal customers. I always believed that Haidilao is a miracle in China’s service industry, and I hope you can survive this and better yourself.”
I cannot figure out why the public is so swift in supporting the hotpot chain after they admitted that their place is rat-infested. They handled the issue well by being honest up front, but do you think they can eliminate the problem? I would never trust these restaurants anymore. I mean you can make better hotpot in your kitchen, save money and not have to worry about sanitation.