Walmart’s Chinese Flip-Flops Cause Chemical Burns?

August 3, 2007

Chinese Flip Flops Bought at Walmart for a Photo ShootSpeaking of cheap Chinese crap merchandise, Kerry Stiles of the Ocala, Florida area, has ugly feet. Very ugly feet. They didn’t start out that way. In April, she bought two pairs of Chinese flip-flops at a Florida Walmart. The blue pair on the beach were for a photo shoot. Kerry has a photography studio, LaMana Photography, which specializes in wedding photography.
Chinese Flip Flops Bought at Walmart, Worn by Kerry StilesShe bought an identical yellow pair of flip-flops for personal use. That’s where the trouble started. After wearing the yellow flip-flops intermittently in June, she developed what would appear to be chemical burns (or some type of contact dermatitis) on her feet, corresponding to the strap locations of the flip-flops. It’s important to note that Kerry says she isn’t allergic to either rubber or latex.

Kerry's Feet After Wearing the Chinese Flip Flops

She explains: “I wore them here and there for a little while at a time. My feet would be red but I just thought it was because the straps were maybe tight, or they were new, or the first flip flops of the year; I chalked it off to tender feet. Let me make this perfectly clear, AS SOON AS I REALIZED THERE WAS A PROBLEM I STOPPED WEARING THE SHOES. In total, I wore the shoes maybe 10 to 12 times.”

Soon, her feet were an ugly, oozing, painful mess. Walking was painful. Her photographs document 27 days of pain. She says she called Walmart’s home office and, on 2 July, received voicemail asking her to go to the Walmart in Summerfield, FL. Ms. Stiles says she went promptly, within 15 to 30 minutes of receiving the message. There, the general manager, someone named Richard, had her talk with Mike Sidel, a training manager. Things did not go well.

Chinese Flip Flops Still on Walmart Shelves, 13 July 2007She writes: “IN MY OPINION, I couldn’t believe how rude and mean and obnoxious Mike was to me. He acted like I was making it all up. I tried to show him my injuries so he would take it a bit more seriously and he turned his head away. . .[in] my opinion, so that he could say he never saw it. In fact, it is my opinion that everyone in the office was acting as if I were the ‘bad guy.’ I told him the details and he filled out a report.”

“He asked me, ‘Well, what do you want me to do about this?’ I told him that ‘if there was, in fact, a problem with the shoes, that I wanted to make sure someone knows so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.’ He told me ‘Well, nothing will come of this because you bought them in April and you are just now reporting this?’ When I tried to explain the timeline to him, he didn’t want to listen and turned his back on me so I just quit talking.” She left after insisting on a copy of the incident report. Walmart doesn’t have a nurse on duty?

A 3 July trip to Community Health Services of Ocala netted Kerry a cream for the “rash” and an opinion that the flip-flops were the cause of the “rash.”

A 3 July letter from Walmart’s insurance company, Claims Management, Inc., apparently suggested that she contact the manufacturer, Fuqing Yong Chao Shoes & Leather Goods, Ltd. . .in the Yuxi Industrial Zone, Fuqing, Fujian Province, China. As Ms. Stiles put it: “So what, I am supposed to call China?? Because the product that Walmart sold me burnt or hurt my feet?!”

Making Chinese Crap for AmericansOn the Yong Chao Shoes website (now gone, surprise, surprise), Yong Chao describes itself as “. . .a Sino-foreign contractual joint venture. . .Specializing in production of various types of sand shoes, YongChao is equipped with 13 mechanized production lines. . .with 80 thousand pairs daily production capacity. All our products are exported to USA, the Europe and Japan, ect [sic].” It also claims to have a “perfect quality management department.” Uh-huh. The deleted website used to show pictures of “perfect” flip-flops in groups of green, yellow and pink-flowered flip-flops).

By 9 July, the “rash” was not improving. In her log, Kerry writes: “I spent some more hours on the phone today trying to get another doctor’s appointment because my feet are getting worse. It isn’t a rash so that stupid cream is not doing anything at all. I have been told no appointment ’til October, we don’t even see people who are uninsured, we are not taking any new patients at this time. . .I have heard it all today.

“But I finally found an urgent care place that is the low low price of $135.00. I felt like I hit the lotto!

“So I jumped in the car and went there, and will have her final report later this week. She said that it is a reaction from the flip flops, and she has never seen anything like that. I was given 10 days worth of antibiotics, and a script for steroids which I will have filled tomorrow. My feet are killing me. I am walking on the sides of them because the skin rips open if I try to walk on them like normal.”

Since then, Kerry has heard from at least 13 other people who bought the same types of Chinese flip-flops at Walmart and had the same results: itching, blistering, redness, oozing, scabbing, etc. As of 31 July, the flip-flops are still on Walmart shelves. Caveat emptor.

Read about more crappy Chinese products.

Photo credit: Kerry Stiles

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