(crossposted at BobCesca.com)
I know that there are million reasons not to frequent McDonald’s restaurants. There are nutritional reasons. There are political reasons. There are environmental, ethical, and anti-corporate reasons.
I have stopped going because their customer service has become the suck.
The main reason I went at all in the past few years is that I have two kids who are seven and nine. For some of you, this explanation will suffice. For others, no explanation is possible. But that’s why I went.
I think I’m a standard Joe BigMac sort of American. I ate at McDonald’s about a million times as a kid and I have the diabetes to prove it. (In fairness to Ronald and the Hamburglar, my brother Kenny was there with me most of those times and he doesn’t show any signs of being diabetic.) I also worked at McDonald’s in my teens, while living in my car in Ventura, California.
Today, I work a full time job and my wife Lauren stays at home all day with kids. (We homeschool.) At the end of the day, we have errands to do – bills, groceries and that stuff. In the course of running around town with the kids bored in the back of the minivan, McDonald’s seems like a safe bet. Get a Happy Meal, figure out who gets what toy and a problem is solved for a few bucks.
Except in the past year or so, I’ve had growing irritation every time I go. They just can’t get the order right. Here’s the order – you tell me how hard this is…
I’d like a Happy Meal with a hamburger. I’d like ketchup only on the hamburger. Chocolate milk for the drink. Thank you.
That was it. But a good percentage of the time, the burger would be a regular hamburger with onions, pickle, mustard and ketchup. Or a cheeseburger with all that stuff and cheese, too. Or it would have only ketchup but so much fucking ketchup that the bun was literally dripping ketchup like a particulary gory CSI episode.
And my kids would cry.
So Lauren and I learned. She would check the burger to see if it was correct. If we didn’t check, it was always wrong. Voodoo perhaps but I swear it’s true. I learned to order ‘ketchup only, but not too much – easy ketchup’ after I learned that McDonald’s actually has an ‘Easy Ketchup’ button on their cash register.
I realized that there are restaurants I never have this problem at. In-N-Out Burger cheerfully gets my order correct every single time. Lauren has a Starbucks addiction that’s in remission but the thirty times I week I used to go there, they were spot on day in and day out. Jersey Mike’s Sub shop has employees that are friendly, accurate and even chop my tomatoes on my tuna sandwich without a seeming care in the world.
McDonald’s used to have a reputation for this kind of customer service. Really, it’s what made their fortune – consistent and friendly service. That seems gone.
Even their french fries are bad about every fifth time. Like I said, I worked there so I know when fries have sat too long and gone limp, greasy and slightly stiff.
When McDonald’s can’t do fries right, it’s time to go.