I am tired of being rushed through fast food drive thrus only to find my order is wrong, my fries are cold and my ice is melted. I understand that speed is the driving factor behind fast food restaurants, hence why we call it “fast food” but speed should not come at the sacrifice of quality and good customer service. Fast food employees need to slow down, take a breath and complete the order properly – even if it takes just a few moments longer.
I understand why it is important to get the drive-thru food orders complete on time. In fact, I used to work in fast food and I totally sympathize with employees of these restaurants. It is not an easy business to be in. However, I also know that in many of these newer restaurants, timer systems are put in place to track the efficiency of the drive-thru orders and I think this may be one of the reasons behind increasingly poor, rushed service that I have been getting from fast food restaurants all over the country over the past few years.
These timer systems were created with good intentions; to keep fast food fast. They all work basically the same way: you place your order and timer begins. Once the timer has reached the pre-designated time that the order should take, a beep or alarm will sound signifying to the employees that an order is taking too long and they need to check on it. Sounds like a pretty good system, right?
Well, it is… when used correctly. The problem is that with these new systems, there is paper documentation and when a store is falling behind on their expectations, someone has to answer for it so very often you see cheating taking place. You may be asked to pull ahead and told your order will be brought out to you. Well, at this point, the timer reads it as if you have already gotten your food.
The “pull ahead” method was invented to help speed the flow of traffic when one car has a big order that takes longer and others behind it are completed already. However, it often gets abused as a means of “beating the clock”. You could still have to wait 10-15 minutes or more for your food but the restaurant is coming out looking like they’re meeting time crunches.
All this rushing also means that the food is sloppy. I get a burger, not properly wrapped, crammed into a bag with other items crushed on top of it and squeezed into my bag which is then shoved out the drive thru window at me as if we are playing Hot Potato.
Said squished burger looks like total crap with the meat hanging off one end and the lettuce falling out the other and way too much freaking mustard plastered all over the middle. Not exactly appetizing…. If I knew I was going to have to put the burger together myself, I could have just cooked it at home.
Anyway, I try to be pretty understanding since I know how hard these fast food employees work and for low pay and little to no thanks but I have to say that my biggest complaint is that they are all just trying to do things a little bit too fast. In fact, the last time I went through a drive thru, the poor little girl was talking so fast without breaths in-between I feared her head might explode right then and there – all over my soda. I really wanted to tell her to relax, I wasn’t in that big of a hurry and that’s when her manager came up behind her shoving all of my food in a bag in a huff and yelling about how something was taking to long… Wow… someone should tell him to relax.
Anyway, I know one rant isn’t going to change the fast food industry so with that I’d like to add that I am writing the head offices of each fast food restaurant which I have encountered these problems at with a proposal on how they can still have fast food service- but accurate orders. Perhaps they will take my “customer comments” seriously. Here is my take on some popular fast food restaurants and the problems I have experienced with being rushed a tad bit too much:
Wendy’s has the “Beat the Buzzer” approach – After placing your order to a friendly voice, pulling around to the first window to pay and then up to the second window, you proceed to watch the workers inside run around like chickens that have lost their heads to shove your order in the bag as quickly as possible, push it out the window to you with a hurried, “Have a great day!” and then close the window in your face in hopes that you pull away before the timer buzzes. Too bad Wendy’s also has that “Condiments upon request” policy. Uhh, can I get some ketchup please? Once I actually had to honk my horn to get a straw for my drink. No one wanted to come back to the window.
Burger King has “Does-that-complete-your-order-itis” – They are so excited to take your order and begin preparing your food, they don’t even give you time to finish ordering. I pull up to ordering board and begin ordering after the greeting:
“Yes, can I please get a cheeseburger kid’s meal with a Sprite and-“
$2.97, please pull ahead!
“Thanks, but I’m not finished yet.”
Oh, go ahead then.
“Yes, can I also get another cheeseburger kid’s meal with no pickles with a -“
(Wow lady, stop interrupting!) “-with a Dr. Pepper please and “
$6.15 at your first window!
“Thanks, um, still not done yet. Can I also get a number one…”
There wasn’t even anyone else in line behind me. And it’s not like I speak unusually slow or anything. They are just so eager to complete my order I get interrupted constantly while placing it.
McDonald’s Abuses the Please-Pull-Ahead-Policy- I order a Big Mac with no pickles. After paying for my order, I am asked to please pull ahead into one of the designated drive-thru parking areas to wait for my “special order”. The car behind me is also pulled ahead and parked. The next car after that, also parked. The forth car is told to “pull up to the newspaper stand” to wait for their order. It took me 15 minutes to get a Big Mac with no pickles. I guarantee if I complained and records were pulled, it would say I received my Big Mac in under 5 minutes from the time the order was placed.
I know fast food will never be perfect. It’s cheap and it’s quick- that’s the whole purpose of getting fast food. However, I think there is so much pressure on the fast aspect that they are forgetting to give proper food. When employees are rude, or overly hurried, food is poorly prepared, orders are incorrect and customers are unhappy, there is a problem. I don’t necessarily blame this on the actual employees of the local fast food joint. In fact, I feel a bit sorry for them. I blame the leaders of the companies that are pressing these restaurants to higher and higher standards but not necessarily giving them the proper tools or training to achieve it. I feel too many companies are pushing the FAST and forgetting the CUSTOMER.
Maybe it’s time for fast food to slow down just a little bit and get their act together.