Customers waiting on refunds for bad tamales

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Some customers of Amapola's are still waiting for refunds on tainted tamales they purchased ahead of this past holiday weekend.

Hundreds of Amapola's Downey and South L.A. customers discovered their tamales wrapped in masa crumbled and wouldn't cook.

"We knew something was wrong because we had been cooking it for over six hours," said Soledad Sepulveda.

The market's SVP/CFO Carlos Galvan held a press conference Monday afternoon to apologize to customers. 

"There are people who depend on us. Because it's not just for their Christmas dinners this is for their livelihood. We have people who come here and provide for their own families. We let them down as well," said Galvan.

Galvan said they ran out of cash Monday to refund customers. 

"Since today was a bank holiday there was no way for us to go to the bank and get cash," said Galvan.

He gave workers a break Tuesday before they resumed refunding Wednesday.  And he originally said they wouldn't require customers to bring receipts. 

As of Wednesday morning however, the store is saying it will require receipts for refunds.

Galvan says they are still investigating what happened. 

And now...so is L.A. County Public Health. 

The company also says expect very long lines on Wednesday but stress there is no time limit on getting the refund.

Earlier:

“It never cooked, it’s still raw,” Emilio Gomez said as he showed off bags full of tamales that his family can’t eat for Christmas. The Gomez family spent hours in the kitchen helping their mom make the tamales that never cooked right.

“She thought it was her fault she got really depressed and started crying she thought she ruined Christmas,” Gomez said. “She’s actually happy now that she knows it wasn’t her.”

Hundreds of other frustrated customers are returning to Amapola market in Downey to show their bad product to the store owner. He said, it’s the corn masa which is used to wrap the tamale, that’s the problem. 

“This is the first time in 55 years that this has happened to us and we’re devastated,” Carlos Galvan Jr., Amapola Vice President, said. “We don’t know why it happened.”

The family run market had lines out the door two days ago with customers who waited hours to buy masa to make their traditional tamales in time for Christmas.

“My mom sent me out here to stand in line for 2 to 3 hours just for the masa,” Gomez said.

After waiting hours in line and spending hours to prepare and cook the tamales, Carlos Alvarado said his mom just gave up.

“They weren’t even burnt and they weren’t even cooked they were just dissolving it was weird because she does them every year and we come here every year,” Alvarado said.

Many people thought they were cooking it wrong, that’s until word of the bad masa spread quickly on social media.

Iraset Lopez, who ate it raw said, she had a bad reaction. “I’m pregnant and I had to eat them like that and I got sick,” Lopez said. “I had diarrhea and I had vomiting.”

Angry customers are now demanding refunds. The only meal they had for Christmas, now in the trash.

“They want their money back, we’re giving them their money back and no questions asked,” Galvan said.

Galvan said his stores in Downey and South Los Angeles were affected.

He’s already refunded hundreds of customers and will reopen for refunds on Monday morning.

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