Pizza Hut: Customer's Facebook story was fabricated, but negative impact on their business is real

Updated: Jan. 15, 2017 at 6:11 PM CST
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This is the original Facebook post falsely claiming Pizza Hut threw out a veteran. (Source:...
This is the original Facebook post falsely claiming Pizza Hut threw out a veteran. (Source: Facebook)
Pizza Hut issued this response to the customer incident. (Source: Facebook)
Pizza Hut issued this response to the customer incident. (Source: Facebook)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Huntsville Pizza Hut is reeling after they say a man made up a negative story, posted it to Facebook, and got thousands of shares. Pizza Hut managers are reacting and hoping to clear the air about the "fabricated incident."

Pizza Hut customer Caleb Lee made a Facebook post claiming he asked for a military discount. When he didn't see it on his receipt, he asked to speak to a store manager, according to his Facebook post. The post went on to say that the "corporate manager" cursed at him and told him to leave his store.

Store managers at the 4802 University Dr. NW location said the military man's story was made up.

According to a statement the franchise released, they tried to reach out to Lee on social media, but he removed himself from Facebook.

Pizza Hut's statement says that managers conducted a thorough investigation. The store reviewed surveillance footage and confirmed the individual was a customer that day and did ask for a military discount. Pizza Hut states the rest of Lee's story doesn't check out: They said he wasn't approached by anybody else and he left the establishment.

The restaurant's statement goes on to say the establishment has the utmost respect for all customers. That includes military, law enforcement, firefighters and responders.

Here is Pizza Hut's statement in full:

We want to thank everyone for your concerns with the situation that has been made up on Facebook. We have had a thorough investigation about the matter and have reviewed all video surveillance footage of the day the individual claims it occurred. Caleb Lee is in fact a customer of ours and did come in and have buffet with us on Jan 12th between 1-2pm. When Mr Lee finished enjoying his meal he paid for his meal, at which time, he did ask if we gave a military discount. His server and the store manager explained we did not offer a discount. Mr Lee paid for his meal and exited the facility. Mr Lee was never approached by any other person during his visit with us. It is very unfortunate that he felt the need to fabricate a story and post it to social media. We have tried to contact Mr. Lee, but we are unable to as he has removed himself from all social media. As anyone could guess, this has had a very negative impact on our business and reputation. As a Pizza Hut Franchise, we have been serving our communities, here in Huntsville, AL, since 1967. We have always had the utmost respect for all customers, including all uniformed professions, be it Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighters or Responders. Any actions like what was stated would have resulted in immediate termination of any employee no matter the position they hold. We will continue as always to serve our guests with the utmost respect today and in the future.

WAFF 48 News reached out to that particular store to confirm that their statement was authentic. Managers confirmed it was released by that franchise location at 4802 University Dr.

As a franchise, managers have never had a need to create a Facebook page specific to that location. On Sunday, they created a page just to release their response and clear the air. That Facebook page is no longer available.

WAFF 48 has asked for an interview with the franchise and the surveillance video. However, they say because of corporate rules, they have to get explicit permission from their headquarters to be interviewed by local media. That process is underway.

According to that statement, Pizza Hut managers this situation has had a very negative impact on their reputation and their business.

The restaurant promises that if this incident, or anything like it, ever occurs now or in the future, they will fire that employee immediately.

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