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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jimmy John's Hates Unborn Babies

What’s that, you say? Who hates unborn babies, you say?? Jimmy John’s. #fact

You guys know how much I love JJ’s. I was distraught when they stopped allowing you to get peppers on the side. I tried to come up with a reasonable solution (though nobody ever took notice). I wrote a whole two part series comparing their delivery guy to Super Man and the follow up, trying to get Ouida to lift her JJ’s ban (PS – Ouida – ban away now, if you would like.) Anyway – my point is that I love them and I think they have the best sandwich on earth. Except that now I hate them and think they have the best sandwich on earth.

On my very first OB visit, when Lady Baby DMX was just a wee mouse-looking bean on the ultrasound, I said to the nurse, and then a few minutes later the doctor, “I LOVE Jimmy John’s, but I’m not supposed to eat lunch meat…right? Even though I love Jimmy John’s?” No unheated lunch meat.

Fast forward to this past Saturday when Christopher and I decided to stop at Jimmy John’s (the one on Hanes Mall Blvd.) on the way home from Durham. We were going to bring the sandwiches home and I had a plan. It was a plan that had been in the works for a while and I was actually going to act on it tonight! I was so excited. But it was foiled. When I got home I submitted the following complaint to JJ’s through their website:

I LOVE Jimmy John's. I eat there about twice a week, every week. I'm pregnant now and every pregnant person knows that you can't eat lunch meat for fear of possible listeria contamination. It's the first thing they tell you not to eat on the CDC website - (unless it is heated until steaming). Jimmy John's was literally one of my concerns at my first OB visit - "I can't eat lunch meat, but I LOVE Jimmy John's." My doctor said "just have them heat it up for you." Obviously my doctor knows nothing about Jimmy John's. It can't be freaky fast if people are taking time to toast sandwiches. 

Anyway - for the past six months I have been eating the Veggie with an occasional Tuna or BLT mixed in (as you're not really supposed to eat bacon either - nitrates, and I don't love Tuna). It's getting kind of old, especially since my favorite is the #2. 

Today we stopped at not my normal JJ's (normal is 4th street) and I thought - if they aren't busy, I'm going to go ahead and ask them if they can just make me a #2, but wrap the roast beef up separately so that I can heat the meat up when I get home. (Thinking about heating the whole sandwich - making HOT MAYO - makes me want to gag.) I walked in and there were two couples eating, nobody in line and nobody coming in behind me. I asked if they could keep the meat separate and they said no. I explained that I was pregnant and not supposed to eat lunchmeat unless it was heated first. A lovely blonde boy standing behind the cashier immediately piped up and said, "Let me go ask if we can do that." He went to the back, to I assume the manager, and came back and said they weren't allowed to. After some figuring between my husband, the blonde boy and myself, we settled on the roast beef with mayo packets - I heated up the sandwich when I got home, let it cool a little and then put the mayo on. It was good, but it would have been a ton better if the microwave hadn't made the lettuce limp and the tomatoes soggy on the bread. 

My point here is, SERIOUSLY??? Granted, while the chances are slim, eating lunch meat, as it is served in your restaurant, could kill my unborn baby. I am a totally loyal customer. I am obviously pregnant. I purposely waited to ask for this favor until I was showing so that they wouldn't think I was making up some strange story. It is pretty much unfathomable that a pregnant woman can go into your restaurant and explain a medical condition that prohibits her from eating your food, as it is - but still wants to buy it! - all she is asking for is to wrap a piece of the sandwich separately. And then is told no. That's not reasonable. 

I would love to tell you that I'm not going to eat at JJ's anymore, but that would be a lie. I love it too much. But I would really like for you, as a company, to reconsider some of these odd policies. This is not a strange condition that has been presented before you. Pregnancy is pretty darn common and I would think you would want to make your product accessible to as many people as possible. 

I was expecting a pretty quick response, but I had to submit the complaint four different ways before I heard something. This morning (five days later) I had an email from customer service saying they were sorry I had a bad experience and hoped I would give them another chance. AND THEN went on to tell me all the many reasons, in detail (including an entire paragraph each on #1 consistency, #2 speed, and #3 simplicity), why the manager was right for not giving me my meat on the side. She did say they “train our people to give the customer what they want the first time, then explain the menu for the next visit.” Really? So that’s the only place here that you have gone wrong, JJ’s? That he didn’t appease me once? She also noted that they would be sending a business coach over to that location to make sure that the manager’s approach is corrected. LAME! (I really wish I could copy her whole email here for you – it was ridiculous, but it had one of those stupid privacy notices at the bottom of it and that’s the last thing I need – Jimmy John’s contacting me to tell me take my blog post down AND that they hate Lady Baby DMX.)

Needing to have the last word, I wrote back (Please note she stated, under #3 simplicity, that it would be too much trouble to keep "appropriate containers" on hand to package ingredients separately and under #1 consistency she noted that it would confuse customers if one person took a sandwich back to their office with SPROUTS on the side of the sandwich - then the next person might also expect them on the side of the sandwich. Yeah. Okay, crazy lady. I'm really sure that would send people scratching their heads. They don't think anything about leaving off the tomatoes on Christopher's sandwich. So does that mean when Christopher takes his sandwich back to his office, his coworkers are confused when they order a sub and there are tomatoes on it? I think not.):

Hi Heather, 

Thank you for your response. So as I understand your email, you will be sending a business coach to that location to tell the manager that he should have appeased me once, while making it clear he wouldn't again? That seems like a bigger waste of your money than the $0.005 sheet of paper (ahem, I'm sorry - "appropriate container") it would have taken to wrap my roast beef separately. Please - save your paper money and your business coach money and just send him an email congratulating him on sticking to the "Consistency/Speed/Simplicity" motto.

Also amusing is your reference of sprouts - which you don't serve anymore after a salmonella incident. Jimmy John's dropped sprouts (a produce item with known increased salmonella risk), yet you are perfectly fine telling a pregnant person, essentially to eat it how it is or don't eat it at all. Who cares about listeria. Nice. 

How about training your owners and managers to have some compassion and use their best judgment in special circumstances? Thank goodness for the ADA - otherwise I'm sure you would be telling that blind person to tie their service dog up to the lamppost outside. It's cute - the sandwich makers might take time out of their sandwich making to look up at it, thus affecting the Speed component. And what if they got distracted by the dog and put the tomato on top of the meat instead of under it?? Now Speed AND Consistency are out the window! ACK!  

If you will now excuse me, I have a blog post to write. 


P.S. I will still eat Jimmy John's. It will be with disdain and contempt, but I will eat there. (The disdain and contempt will come ON THE SIDE because I can add those ingredients anywhere I want.)

And before any of you smarties out there tell me that JJ’s goes through their meat so quickly that it’s unlikely there would be a listeria contamination, let me mention – I get that. Totally get it, totally believe it. But how stupid and guilty would I feel if I we were wrong?? 

You know who loves the pregnant ladies? Firehouse Subs. They heat their meat until steaming. And everyone knows firemen save babies - not feed them listeria meat. PLUS! The Firehouse Subs here in Winston (on Stratford) has one of those fancy drink machines with PLENTY of caffeine free drink options! Everyone go show Firehouse Subs and their delicious steaming meat some love. (That’s what she said.) 


  1. There is too much awesome here for me to adequately do it justice with mere words. The end is almost the best, but the second response to Heather might be the winner. I love this.

  2. Ginger you are too much! Very funny post though. It's hard to believe that you would get an email like that from someone who is supposed to be in customer service. I can't believe she did not offer you a free sub at least. One other benefit to Firehouse is that when your sweet bundle of joy is old enough to eat a sub, they have kids eat free days!

  3. I think pregnancy has made you funnier! Love this.

  4. When I was knocked up, I always ordered the JJ vegetarian plus bacon. I ordered this many times, and every single time they felt compelled to tell me that bacon was a meat and therefore it was no longer vegetarian. Really? Thanks.

    This really did crack me up - never tried firehouse subs but I might thanks to your suggestion!

  5. Ouida - what are you confused about?

    Lisa - I did NOT know this! This is certainly fantastic news!

    Jen - bwhahahahaha! That is hilarious! Also Firehouse is delicious. And I thought that even before the JJ's debacle.

  6. As the former star of one of my favorite TV shows would say, "Winning"!!!! La Ninja has won the war no matter how many of JJ's throwing stars come flying her way!

  7. I am 8 weeks pregnant and nothing tastes good- all I wanted was jimmy johns- I just called my local store and asked if they could put turkey on the side and they said no!!! Which then resulted in me hanging up and crying. I just read somewhere else online that there's no nitrates in their turkey but who knows.....a totally ridiculous and unacceptable aberration from the motto that the "customer is always right" ...especially the pregnant customer. I too will probably eat there again, but until then, Jimmy Johns, you can kiss my a*#! That is all.

    1. After having to quit JJ's/only eat the veggie sandwich for a while, it lost its allure. I still eat it occasionally - and enjoy it - but my JJ's obsession never returned. My daughter is 18 months now and I still don't know if that makes me happy or sad.

      Good luck over the next 32 weeks and check out Firehouse! They really are yummy!

  8. My pregnant wife often frequents SUBWAY, as they DO heat their meats upon request. (Now with fewer yoga mat ingredients!)

    Thanks for sharing your experience Ginger, it's made me rethink my own allegiance to JJ's. My biggest beef with them has always been that they waste 1/2 their bread with most of their sandwiches - unless you request LBI (Leave the Bread In) they'll hand rip out the bread's soft innards and toss them out!

    Let's hope the market weeds out stupid procedures like these. Jimmy are you listening? I'd love to hear an rebuttal from JJ himself on this.

  9. Agreed on Firehouse. I don't even have to ask anymore, they look at my 8 month preggo belly and say"double steam?" Score! Screw Jimmy Johns for their lack of caring and understanding. I'll take listeria free over fast and bacteria laden any day. Way to be douchebags, JJ.

  10. I would totally agree with the Firehouse Subs recommendation because the one and only sandwich I had there was awesome but something in it also gave me salmonella :( Never again :(

  11. Thanks for writing this. I agree it is silly. It scares me that on many blogs about this topic people are writing, "Just eat it.... [I] ate it weekly and had no problems." Before you just eat it, just read one blog about someone who lost, or almost lost, their baby because of listeria. Not worth it. Jimmy John's change your policy. This IS a public health concern. I don't mind waiting the extra 10 seconds in line.

  12. Just called Jimmy Johns to order a JJBLT, but with the special request that they heat the bacon before they put it on the sandwich (I should have read this threat beforehand!). I was put on hold for the sales associate to go talk to the manager, then told when he came back "um, yeah, sorry, Jimmy Johns doesn't do that.. it's [stuttering] not our policy.." I just said "Thanks" and hung up. I can't believe that Jimmy Johns can't do one small extra step to make pregnant women feel safe and less anxious during what is already a quite stressful time in their life. I'm also quite sad- Jimmy Johns was a favorite of mine! Not anymore.

  13. So, I just found out that I'm 8 weeks pregnant and thought about all the things I can't/shouldn't eat, including nasal decongestants. Today everyone at work ordered JJ's, and I too am obsessed with their #8. I devoured my sandwich (with sprouts) and a few hours later realized what I had done and almost collapsed with guilt. I told my mom that I'm bad at being pregnant haha. I think next time, I will just take the meat out of the sandwich and heat it in the microwave, then put it back in the sandwich. It's much faster than bothering with crushing disappointment.
    Ginger, you're HILARIOUS and I'm super glad you told them what was what. With all the people talking about this insufficient policy of theirs, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a class-action law suit for discrimination against pregnant women. It would fall under the ADA act also, but medical conditions like pregnancy are included. Thanks for keeping your awesome blog up!