Apr 4, 2014

Do you want it fresh, fast, or honest?

I know not many will read this and those that do probably won't recognize themselves in it. Rest assured, anybody who has ever worked fast food will recognize these customers and hopefully recognize it if this is how they have behaved themselves.

1. Food is only fresh for a limited time. For example, where I work, fries are good for seven minutes from the time they come out of the fryer. If it's a slow period, chances are we aren't going to keep a lot up because they will go bad before we can sell them. Constantly throwing them out raises food costs for us, which in turn raises it for you! You can either have it fresh or have it fast, but rarely do you truly get both. I'd much rather wait 3 minutes for fresh and hot fries then get cold ones that have been sitting for a half an hour just to get through the drive thru in 30 seconds.

2. It's never free. Many restaurants are changing to the format of charging for any and all extra sauces. A few don't. However, you will notice these are usually the stores that have higher priced menu items. This is because it's never free, it has to be accounted for somehow. And when customers take advantage of this by asking for a huge handful of sauces to take home and save for their own food, that handful comes from the store's overall food budget. That has to be made up somewhere, usually by prices on the menu going up. And frankly, it's ridiculous to ask for 20 packets of ketchup for a single burger.

3. Don't make false complaints to get free food. If you have a legitimate concern, then please do ask for a replacement. Mistakes do happen. Considering how quickly most fast food places are expected to get the food out, mistakes happen often. Most places will happily replace mistakes, but if you are one of those that constantly complain to get free food, make no mistake- We DO notice you. And we DO keep track of the scam artists. I've worked at several different fast food chains and one of the things they all had in common was called service times. This is usually a set amount of seconds that we are supposed to have the food ready and out to the customer. However, special orders will typically require more time to get ready. It's called fast food not instant food.

When you are labeled as a "complainer" that regularly lies to get free food, you go on a watch list. Chances are the one time something really is wrong with your food, it won't get replaced because you've lied about it so many times we no longer can afford you as a customer.

4. Many fast food restaurants are franchises. Let me explain what this means. The stores have individual owners, much like the smaller mom and pop places. However, they pay a franchise "fee" to be able to use the corporate logo and menus. They are limited to a point on what they can serve as they also have to agree to adhere to certain corporate standards, such as having certain common menu items at all times or having certain items on sale during a nationwide promotion. There is a reason that every single coupon states quite clearly at the bottom "at participating locations"...this is because NOT all stores participate in a given promotion, and certainly not at the same time. Where I work there are two locations within blocks of each other that are owned by separate owners. These two different locations have coupons out at different times and different menu items featured.

5. Do not expect expired coupons to be honored just because such and such store did it at such and such time. This is entirely based on the discretion of the store managers and/or owners.

6. Don't assume that all fast food workers are ignorant or incapable of handling a higher paying job. I myself hold a bachelor's degree but as the employment opportunities are somewhat limited in my field, I still work in fast food.

7. The nicer you are...the nicer we are. We will smile. We say thank you. But if you have a piss poor attitude, chances are you will not receive our best customer service. Our jobs are harder then you think and much more stressful. Most fast food chains serve up to or over a hundred customers a day. You are not the only customer we deal with on a daily basis but we still try to make each customer feel important. It is first come, first serve at the majority of fast food restaurants. However, this can vary depending on your order. If someone else has a smaller order, they may receive their food first. If a customer is hard of hearing, it is our job to make sure they have just as good of an experience as you do. This may mean it takes us longer to take their order then it does yours.

8. Don't constantly order things that are no longer on the menu. If we have the items, we will try our best to make it for you. Be aware that menu items constantly change. This is a common denominator of all fast food chains. Each one is looking for the next big "hit" on their menu. 90% of the advertised items will say for a limited time only and this is because it is only intended as a test run. If it does well enough, chances are it will come back. Take the McRib for example. McDonald's brings it back every year but it's not a constant menu item. This keeps interest in the item at a higher level. People look forward to it coming out and getting something not available all the time. This is a marketing ploy that all fast food stores use. These are decisions that usually come down from the corporate level. Individual stores have no control over whether to offer these items or not. And it's rare that individual stores get to decide on pricing either.

9. We are not your momma. Just because we are fast food does not mean we want to be your maid. Use common courtesy. If you are in a fast food restaurant that normally brings the food to your table, then please have a seat. If you are not, don't expect a waitress because that's not what we are. Don't expect to go into a restaurant that serves food on plastic trays and get a full service experience like a fancy restaurant because that's not what most do. Please throw your own garbage away, don't leave it on the tables or floor. If you bring in a child (which is good training for those fancier restaurants) then don't let them throw food all over and not even attempt to clean any of it up. That's just rude. Would you let a relative come to your house and smash food on the floor and just leave it? Well maybe you would, but it's not our fault your relatives act that way.

10. Respect. Respect what we do. Know the hours of operation. Know what to expect from our menu. Understand that just because it might have the name of a large food chain that does not mean it operates exactly the same. For example; I went to a McDonald's in Kansas quite a few years ago and was astonished to realize that they served soup as my local one never did. But because it was owned by an "owner" and not the "corporation" they had a different menu, only some of the items were the same.

It's easy to tell who has worked in food service and who has not. Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time working in the industry is noticeable. We can tell who you are because you are the ones who collect your garbage and keep your kids reigned in. You are the ones who smile and are patient and understanding if we are dealing with a customer in front of you who is being difficult. You are the ones who we love to serve and have as regular customers because you are the ones who make our jobs bearable. Be one of those. Be a solution to the ever rising prices, not the cause of them.

Try putting yourself in another customers shoes. If you had a disability, wouldn't you want someone to take the time to get your order correct? Or the employee's shoes. Wouldn't you want to be treated with respect? Many businesses like fast food chains rely on repeat customers, but we want quality customers. Ones who enjoy eating at our stores and enjoy the overall experience. That can't happen if people continue to try and cheat the system or act like they are the single most important customer in the place.

And probably the most important one of all...don't be the person that every single fast food worker despises!! That one person who makes a habit of coming in less than 2 minutes to close and orders a huge amount of food, knowing that we have to stay open later just for them. Or enters the dining room, knowing it's closing in five minutes and gets all comfortable with their phones, tablets, computers, etc., to take advantage of the free wifi. Or of course, the ones that clearly recognize what they are doing and do it anyway just to be an ass.


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