Wing Lam of Wahoo's Fish Taco Adds a Side of Road Opposition to His Latest Ford Commercial

Categories: 241 Toll Road, TV
Photo by Meranda Carter/
OC Weekly
Give Wahoo's Fish Taco co-founder Wing Lam credit for working his Mexican food chain into widely seen television commercials for other companies. In 2000, he and his righteous whiskers appeared in a national spot for Merrill Lynch and its small business services. Lately, Lam and his Wahoo's van have turned up in Southern California Ford Dealers ads touting the vehicle made for small businesses.

But in the most-recent Ford commercial, Lam sneaks in a political message.

First, here's the commercial you may have already seen:

Here's the one with the provocative tee:

Save Trestles, of course, is the loose-knit coalition of surfers, environmentalists and other do-gooders fighting to stop the Foothill-South (241) Toll Road from carving into ecologically sensitive lands and mucking up the world-famous Trestles surf beach.

It's unclear whether Lam's silent demonstration will be enough to push back the millions and millions noisy toll road builders are spending for a project whose first, 4-mile stretch is already winning approval from the Orange County officials they've bought and paid for.

But you've got to love this tee shirt opposing a road turning up in an ad for vehicles that could one day traverse it:


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Wahoo CEO sets low standard for customer service.


My wife and I paid over $800 to have Wahoo's cater our July 4th Party.  When we opened up the various containers we realized that all of the carnitas meat (1/3 of the meat that we ordered) was missing!  It was an embarrassing situation to occur in front of 100+ guests and we were not able to fully feed our guests. 


To add insult to injury, when we complained about the situation to Wahoo's they acted like they did nothing wrong and treated us like we made the whole thing up!  In fairness to them, someone at corporate offered us a $150 credit toward a future catering order.  We very politely wrote back saying we should be refunded on a pro-rata basis for what we didn't receive and perhaps some consideration for our inconvenience and embarrassment.  Two weeks later, after no response, I reached out to the CEO of Wahoo's via Linkedin.  He responded as follows:


     I have spoken to Ellen Orbe , my best franchise operator about the incident. she personally took care of your order , made sure that everything was delivered , gave out her cell and email for contact purpose and no one ever reached out to her about the incident . She is my right hand person for the last 5 years , we just did the California Junior Lifeguard Championships ( 2500 kids ) and are catering the Irvine Company annual meeting for 1,500 employees . she has never missed a single catering with or without me , and her father who is in charge of franchising has already given you some compensation , which is way more than I would offer . so please let me know if you need any further assistance.


Wow!  Where did this CEO learn about customer service?  Apparently his people are so good that they never make mistakes.  In fact, what little they did offer us in compensation is way more than he would have offered!


His facts are in error as Ms. Orbe did not deliver our order nor did she provide her cell phone.  My wife only met with her one time when she was originally exploring having Wahoo's cater our event.  She placed the order at a later date with an employee named Zack.  We had no way to get in touch with anyone on the day of the delivery (July 4th) as the local Wahoo's store was closed.  Roger (who delivered the order) never gave us his cell phone.  We brought this matter to his attention the very next day when we returned the catering boxes to Wahoo's and he wrote down our name and phone number for follow up. 

Given our experience, the poor response, and the attitude that somehow we're wrong about this situation doesn't really incentivize us to consider using Wahoo's for future catering.  For us, it's not about the money, it's the principle.  We expected to be treated fairly and that there might be some ownership and consideration for the fact that we were unable to fully feed our guests which would be upsetting for any customer. 


Organizations typically set the standard for customer service from the top down.  To have a CEO respond to a customer complaint this way is indeed shameful.  Moral to the story - make sure you open up all the food containers before allowing the delivery person to leave the scene and don't count on companies to understand what good customer service is all about.


If he really feels this way, someone should ask Wing Lam why he partnered with The Toll Roads a few months back to offer free tacos to all of their drivers.


DUDE!  Saving Trestles is awesome. Driving thru traffic sucks.  Free Tacos are better!  Build them Toll Roads!

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