Elizabeth has an irritating camp-drop-off thing every day this week. So, to keep morale up, I’ve twice this week gone through the McDonald’s drive-through after dropping her off. This is how I know that they’re doing a new thing, which is that if your breakfast sandwich isn’t ready within 60 seconds after you pay, you get a coupon for a free one next time. They give you a little timer to hold and everything.
There are so many things wrong with this idea.
1. Now, instead of being cheerful and efficient and a joy to deal with, the employees are frazzled and tense.
2. The image of them HURRYING with my Sausage McMuffin is not a positive one. DO NOT UNDERCOOK IT. DO NOT UNDERTOAST IT.
3. And besides, I know perfectly well that they will NOT hurry with it: instead they will be forced to make huge piles of them ahead of time.
4. The first time I went through the drive-through, my timer DID RUN OUT. And the employee at the window took the timer from me without glancing at it and tossed it into a bin and closed the window. No coupon. I didn’t even CARE about the coupon until she didn’t give it to me.
5. I thought maybe she just didn’t notice; also, that she was probably in a huge hurry to get to the next customer in time. But today I went through again, and not only did the timer run out, they had to have me pull over to the side for several minutes. The employee took the timer from me, apologized for the delay; no coupon. Do I have to…TELL THEM about their own promotion? Surely the act of taking the timer back from me is enough cueing.
6. Also, the Sausage McMuffin was tepid. So why was there a delay in the first place? I’d thought at least the delay would mean a nice fresh one. I guess this doesn’t really count as a sixth thing wrong with the idea.
6. Customer expectations are now raised. Before, I don’t know if we minded waiting a minute and a half in a drive-through line. Now, our attention has been drawn to it, and we feel discontented. When the promotion is over, we will still be feeling discontented.
Anyway, I hate the whole thing. I recently read part of an article that said that McDonald’s is in serious financial trouble. I don’t want them to go out of business: I would seriously miss the Sausage McMuffins, and the McNuggets with the hot mustard sauce they discontinued and then brought back. But I can REALLY SEE why they’re in trouble: they keep making really silly decisions.
For example, that hot mustard sauce I just mentioned. Perhaps this was a single customer service rep, but when I emailed them to cast my vote for undoing that decision, and said that without that sauce I would no longer take the kids to McDonald’s (that sauce is the only thing that makes me willing to eat lunch there), she shruggily responded that most of their customers preferred different sauces, and she hoped to serve me again soon. Meanwhile, the internet was filled with laments about the sauce.
Tip for a business that would like to stay in business: if you are not going to listen to customer feedback, you should still PRETEND to. It’s free! Here’s how easy it would be: “Thank you for your letter about the hot mustard sauce. Customer feedback is extremely important to our decisions, and I will forward your letter immediately to the appropriate department for their review. At McDonald’s, we want to make sure we keep current and fresh with new and exciting flavor options, but we also want to make sure we don’t get rid of customer favorites.” There. That took me less than the time I had to wait for a Sausage McMuffin. Use it as a form letter, and then continue to toss customer feedback in the trash: same action, same cost to the company, but different feeling for the customer.
Another decision they made recently was to charge the same amount for water as for soda. I am all for it when a business wants to charge a small fee to cover the cup, the ice, the straw, whatever—like, 10 cents or 25 cents for a cup of ice water would be okay. But THE SAME PRICE AS FOR SODA is wrong.
Another was to take the fries off the value menu. It meant I stopped buying fries.
They’ve taught me not to bother giving them feedback on these things. Instead we mostly go to Wendy’s.