When I was growing up, visiting a fast food drive through, or sit down, was a treat. Momma was a stay-at-home mother and most often preferred to prepare our meals with her own hands than rely on those operating a fryer. However, more and more modern fast food chains are beginning to take cues from consumers who demand healthier options and modifications to traditional fast food offerings. With the emergence of whole chicken breast 'burger' substitutions, and widely popular side salad 'combo' options, more and more consumers are turning to fast food when they feel strapped for time. Whether you're a fast food junkie, or only stop in to indulge a craving now and then, there are a few things about fast food that seemed to have never changed; the service.
Portion Size: In the early 2000s a shocking documentary was released bringing consumer attention to portion size and the fast food industry's enabling impact on modern obesity epidemics. As a result, 'extra' size upgrades that once cost a mere couple of coins left major chain menus, and greasy or fried side favorites actually increased in average price per serving. Since then consumers have become more discerning about the consistency of portioning in packages and presentation. Have you ever pulled out your fries, in two different sizes, and noted the portions looked almost identical (like the photo above?)
Many fried sides, such as french fries are often placed in open containers, and literally tossed into the bags or boxes the order is presented in. You may find half your french fries are actually residing on the bottom of the bag, rather than in the box. If you don't have a side by side comparison of portion sizes, it can be hard to present a case for under-portioning. Most employees are taught to tell consumers that the 'contents settle' or the packages 'expand' and portion appearance may vary from time to time. However, as the customer you have the right to satisfaction; simply hand the employee the offending side and ask them to scoop you a fresh one; more often than not they will deliberately overfill the container simply to see you satisfied.
Incorrect Orders: Even at the locations where I find I receive best service, I still have trouble with incorrect orders from time to time. As a consumer, unless you have worked the industry recently, it is easy to forget that there are many people working to get your order to you, quickly. The more people processing an order, naturally, the more opportunities for errors. To help avoid simple order mistakes always, ask the order taker to repeat your order back to you, double check your order immediately upon receipt, take note of repeated mistakes and emphasize your specific concerns at the time of ordering.
Do not worry about the precious seconds of time building on the car waiting before you; when you receive your food take the extra moment to double check your order for all it's components, and any condiments, or even straws/napkins you may need. Many national chains are being instructed not to provide, or offer, even ketchup to a customer without prompt, and one of the most common left out fast food aids is the napkin!
General Service Complaints: A fast food restaurant generally does not have the motivation for good service a sit-down, or gratuity base establishment would. However, most major national chains do have internal rewards programs for good service and general performance targets (low waste, feedback card responses, average order time.) Many fast food issues are often a result of a single instance of poor team communication or a bad shift. As frustrating as an incorrect order can be, it often shouldn't call for you to speak with a manager or contact corporate.
Product Presentation: Lastly, many consumers feel that fast food is improperly portrayed in menu board photos and advertisements. Seeing a beautifully handcrafted, stacked, burger and receiving the grease stained, smashed, wrapper is never ideal; but the reality of the nature of the business. If you are eating fast food, you should either assume the presentation will be haphazard, but compositionaly accurate to the product's description, or frequent establishments that spend the extra time in packaging to help preserve product continuity. In most cases this means ordering premium items that are served in more sturdy boxes.
What Daughter Says: Though the nature of 'fast food' is to be quick and frugal; it is still a business, and should be expected to run like one.