Customer Service 1 – McDonald’s

I have a few customer service stories to share. Most are about bad service, but one is about very good service indeed. This isn’t that story. It’s a rant, but it’s true, and it is offered here for your amusement.

A couple of years ago I took my eldest daughter L to a school friend’s party at a local fast food outlet. (It’s McDonald’s Melville, actually. I see no need to protect the guilty). As second daughter E would have been left out, I took her too. They could play on the playground together. L was being fed at the party, but I was looking after E myself. I don’t particularly like feeding them that kind of stuff, but once in a while doesn’t hurt too much.

The party was from 11:30 to 1:00. I went to order food for E and myself at about 11:55. There were queues (that’s lines to most of you) and I eventually got to the counter at about 12:05. Bear in mind that I had a four year old girl out of sight in the playground while this was going on, and although there were plenty of school mums I knew out there, it was still uncomfortable not having direct supervision. I wanted to get back out there as soon as I could, preferably with E’s food so she didn’t start getting ratty, as she does when she’s hungry.

I ordered E’s chicken nuggets & chips kid’s meal, and my double beef and bacon value meal, without any trimmings. At the same time, a woman who also had a kid at the party ordered some other stuff, including a McOz burger with extra tomato. A couple of minutes later, my tray had some of E’s stuff and my chips sitting on it. After five minutes, it also had some drinks on it. Another five minutes later, the girl said there was a delay on the burger and that she would bring it out to me, and proceeded to hand me the tray.

I put my hand on the skinny little large-surface-area fat-and-salt-magnet excuse for chips (that’s fries to most of you) that they serve at McDonald’s (“Australia’s Favourite Fries!”), and they were of course stone cold. I said, “Excuse me, do you think I could please have some warm chips?” She said “Oh, OK”, as if the idea of food going cold when left out was some kind of novelty she had never come across before, and proceeded to take away my chips and replace them. I then said, “Do you think I could have these replaced, too?”, pointing at E’s chips. Another surprised , “Oh, OK” and those got replaced too. I don’t know what the training is like at McDonald’s, but “Getting a Clue 101″ obviously isn’t one of the subjects. I didn’t bother with replacement nuggets, as I just wanted to get out there to feed and supervise my child. Likewise, I also didn’t ask for my now-partly-flat Coke to be replaced. It always comes out of the tap partly flat anyway, so what’s the difference?

So, I informed the girl that I’d be outside in the playground area and took my tray out there. E and I ate our lunches (at least as far as I could), and when we were finished there was still no sign of my burger. The woman who ordered her stuff at the same time was also waiting for her McOz with extra tomato when she finished her lunch with her kids. After a bit more waiting, I eventually decided to go back in and chase up my order. Mrs McOz asked me to follow up hers while I was in there.

I got in there to find it packed out with people waiting, and employees doing their stuff behind the counter and avoiding eye contact. Not wishing to barge in, I waited off to one side, as I could see Manager Woman with her back to me, dishing out chips into bags. I thought she would be done soon, so I waited. And waited. After she had done about 304 bags of chips, she turned around and I managed to attract her attention. I told her politely that I’d been waiting for 25 minutes for my burger, and that there was another woman outside in the same situation. She asked what the orders were for, and then she went into the kitchen to find out what’s going on. She came back out and told me she was going to have fresh ones made and brought out. I told her that I was near the playground, and that Mrs McOz was too. So out I went again.

I could see the drive-through customers being served reasonably quickly, orders coming and going even before I got to place my original order. If I had any sense, I should have abandoned the queue right then, got in my car and driven round and placed the order. So much for hindsight, on with the story.

The kids were playing away happily enough, but by the end of the party at 1:00, it was time to go. Neither missing burger had turned up. However, the clueless girl who took the order did come outside and say the Manager was sorry for the delay, the burgers would be out soon, and if we went inside we could have a free sundae. By this time, neither Mrs McOz nor myself were in the mood to hang around any longer, and certainly weren’t interested in joining the queue in the hope of eventually getting a large cup of lamb lard with added sugar, so we both declined and both requested a refund. Surprisingly politely, given the circumstances.

Another five minutes later, Miss Clueless came out with a $3.95 refund. However, she seemed completely baffled by the concept that there were two people who both needed refunds, despite the fact that she had been told about that 5 minutes earlier, so she couldn’t work out who it was supposed to be for. Eventually, I took the money, politely declined a second offer of lamb lard with added delay, and left with my kids. Mrs McOz was still waiting for her refund when I left. For all I know, one day in the distant future they will discover her skeleton and those of her kids, still sitting on that bench waiting for their $4.25 refund.

If the manager had any sense, given that she had two customers already annoyed by a 25 minute delay, she should have either done the orders herself or stood over the guys in the kitchen for the 2 minutes it takes to assemble a burger, then brought them out herself, with profuse apologies and vouchers for free stuff. The fact that she didn’t do that, and she quite astonishingly allowed the situation to repeat itself immediately after having had it brought to her attention, shows that she was even more clueless than the girl who took the order in the first place and then forgot about it. Some degree of cluelessness isn’t unusual in a 16-year-old girl working in a busy Macdonald’s, but Manager Woman was supposed to be the manager. Well, she managed to get a lot of chips into bags, so maybe that’s all that is required in that position.

Actually, that’s not quite true. She also managed to annoy not only two customers-of-the-moment, but two customers with five kids of Macdonald’s party age between them, who had actually held at least two kids’ parties there in the past, and who never will again. Plus, the other parents saw what was going on and won’t be too keen on going back. They will tell other parents, and so on. Plus, it’s now on a blog. How to lose bulk customers in one easy step.

McDonald’s Melville – The Place Where It Takes Over An Hour To Not Be Served With A Burger. Twice!

As I was leaving, we Hungry Parents had this little exchange:

Steve: “They call it fast food.”
Mrs McOz: “Faster than what?”
Steve: “Faster than starting with a cow and a field of wheat.”

3 comments to Customer Service 1 – McDonald’s

  • stephen

    I’ve got a McDonald’s story for you. This was in a small town in the U.S. We were passing through, and some members of my party needed to use the facilities and my wife wanted a soft drink so she could take some medicine. So I went in and stood in a long slow line while everyone else took care of business.

    When I finally was able to place my order, I ordered a single “value meal” (Sandwich, Fries, Drink), and PRE-PAID for the food, WITH CASH. (The capital letters are for emphasis – pay attention)

    As I started to step aside so the next customer could place an order, I paused and asked the teenage girl for my drink cup (my wife was standing there waiting on the drink by this point) and the drink fountain was in the eating area for self service. She said “No, we do not hand out the cups until your food order is ready”. I was so shocked, I stepped aside and said “OK” for a second. Then very quickly reversed that thought and interrupted the next potential customer and told the girl “No, I want my cup now!”

    Again, she repeated the “policy”.

    If I could have reached the cups or walked behind the counter without jumping over, I would have retrieved my own cup at that point. So instead I asked for the manager. The manager repeated the “policy” once more. I asked “why?” and she would not give me an answer. At this point, the food should have been ready, but instead we stood there and argued for another minute or so until I demanded a refund. So the manager, instead of handling it herself, tells the girl to do it – the girl is so flustered at this point, she cannot figure out how to do the refund and we had to call the manager again.

    So by this point, I have let everyone in the McDonald’s know exactly what is going on. That I have PAID FOR A DRINK and the manager IS REFUSING TO SERVE IT TO ME.

    It took another minute or so for them to FINALLY figure out the refund, and even then, they could not count and tried to shortchange me twice.

    An online complaint to McDonald’s corporate (complete with the manager’s name) produced no reply. Ever.

    Why do they have a policy of not handing out drink cups until the meal is served? My only guess is that they are SO SLOW, that people would drink 2 or 3 refills while waiting on their meal. Ok, that is an exaggeration, but seriously I still do not understand even today.

  • Interestingly, my online complaint to McDonald’s corporate also produced no reply. Ever.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Go on Steve, you can do it!
    Write articles on how CAD is good/bad for our health. How constant change plays with our minds and how cloud and software licencing are responsible for our nightmares etc. :-)

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