Attempted explanation gets called “lame excuse.”

Food in Japan is supposed to both taste good and look good, and that even goes for the offerings at humble convenience stores. Actually, considering that at a convenience store you’re seeing the finished foodstuff before you purchase it, you could argue that it’s even more important for their products to be visually appealing.

So recently 7-Eleven has found itself the target of complaints regarding its 334-yen (US$3.20) Atsuyakitamago Mix Sand, which translates to “Thick Omelet Mixed Sandwich.” The problem, though, isn’t that it looks bad on the shelf. As a matter of fact, pre-purchase it looks pretty much like it does on 7-Eleven’s website, shown here.

The controversy started when Japanese Twitter user @kou17 bought one and opened up not only the wrapping, but the sandwich itself. See how the cross-section makes it look like there’s a thick wedge of sweet and savory Japanese-style tamagoyaki omelet waiting for you? Well, when he took off the outer slice of bread…

…he saw a depressingly thin sliver of egg running the length of the sandwich slice, followed by plenty unoccupied bread and a much smaller piece of egg than anyone would have suspected looking at the packaging.

In a country where consumers expect companies to be trustworthy, the photo sparked several angry reactions, and calls for explanations. 7-Eleven customer service representatives have since told reporters that a cutting error is to blame for the way what online commenters have dubbed the “Paper Tiger Sandwich,” looked.

In the preparation process, first a whole square sandwich is made, then cut diagonally into triangles before packaging. Before cutting, the representatives said, the egg must have placed off-center, resulting in the strip running the length of the cut being thinner than it should have been.

That explanation hasn’t entirely quelled online anger that the sandwich’s packaging and presentation is misleading, though. As shown in the diagram below from Japanese Twitter user @rafflesia9696, 7-Eleven is saying the sandwich should have looked like the one in the center, but an error made it look like the one on the right. However, any customer looking at the unopened sandwich would expect it to look like the one on the left, with the omelet covering the majority of the bread space.

So 7-Eleven’s explanation is only riling people up more who see it as tantamount to saying “Sorry, we meant to trick you in a different way,” and Twitter reactions have included:

“Laughing at loud at the lame excuse 7-Eleven has for the Paper Tiger Sandwich.”
“Are they serious? Their excuse is like something a preschooler would try to pull.”
“Not buying that sandwich ever again.”

When asked why the sandwich is made with two separate egg pieces, the 7-Eleven representative simply said “All I can say is that that is how the product was planned.”

In 7-Eleven’s defense, the highly competitive nature of the Japanese convenience store industry often makes chains extremely reluctant to raise prices, and downsizing products isn’t an uncommon way to deal with cost pressures. Still, a little more transparency about what customers are getting for their purchases would definitely be appreciated, and probably a wise move if 7-Eleven wants to stay a step ahead of its eggy sandwich rivals.

Sources: Maidona News via Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko, Business Journal via Hachima Kiko, Twitter
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