On Thursday, June 8, 2006, I went to the
Wendy’s on Hwy 72 in Loudon, Tennessee, to purchase two combo
meals. I don’t eat at your restaurants very often any more.
It’s more economical and healthier to simply cook at home.
But on that day, my husband and daughter had attended a show in another
city and had dined at a table-service restaurant close to the
convention center, so economy wasn’t a concern. Food and
convenience were the uppermost priorities. My son likes
Wendy’s, so that’s where I went.
The odd thing is that my sister – who
lives and works in Las Vegas – had been complaining to me
recently about the drive-thru service at her nearest Wendy’s
franchise. “They keep interrupting me,” she said,
“It’s terribly annoying. If the person on the
intercom would just listen, I could place my order so much more
I laughed at her, and once she called me on the
cell phone while she got her lunch, just so I could hear the girl at
her Wendy’s interrupting her and making her answer stupid
questions that really slowed down the process of ordering. How silly!
That was so funny!
wasn’t so amusing when, on the aforementioned date at about
8:00 in the evening, I ran into exactly the same thing (and worse) at
my nearest Wendy’s. I had the order memorized so I could tell
the cashier in the most speedy and expeditious manner what my son and I
required in the way of sustenance. It was quite simple. My son wanted a
#2 combo (ketchup, mustard, pickles, and tomato) with Dr. Pepper to
drink. I wanted a #1 combo (mustard, extra mustard, tomato) with a diet
drink. I have known for years that Wendy’s prefers to have
the condiments listed in alphabetical order. Just to be considerate, I
always get that part arranged first in my mind.
I pulled up to the intercom and the attending
cashier very politely asked, “May I take your
I replied, “Yes, I’d like a #2
combo with –…”
She interrupted immediately and demanded,
“What to drink with that?”
I said, “Dr. Pepper, and
–…” but she interrupted yet again.
The menu at this Wendy’s – and,
indeed, every Wendy’s at which I’ve ever dined
– has only one price per combo meal. There’s a
splashy graphic about “Biggie Size,” but
that’s off to one side. The very idea that the size of the
combo is a priority – when the menu indicates only one size
and one commensurate price – is mindboggling. I asked the
girl if the other sizes cost a price not represented on the menu. She
allowed that the mediums and larges were more costly, so I replied that
I wanted a small, since that was the posted price, and I certainly
didn’t want to spend any money unnecessarily.
At this point, the girl demanded, “Will
that be all?”
I had not even told her “ketchup,
mustard, pickles, tomato” for the Double currently on order,
so I asked her if she would like to know which condiments to put on the
This question set off an entirely different
conversation – first, we had to define the word
“condiments,” with which this cashier was not
familiar. Secondly, she interrupted immediately after the word
“ketchup,” demanding again if this “would
be all,” not waiting to hear if the burger required any more
In the midst of that raging debate, she even asked
if I wanted cheese on the Double. The menu clearly states that cheese
is an integral part of this particular dish, and at that point I had to
wonder if I needed to specify that the whole thing should be served on
I’m afraid it took quite a very long time
to order this one combo dinner. When the girl asked again if that would
be all, I said yes, despite the fact that I had not actually ordered
the second combo meal. We had already spent several minutes ironing out
the myriad details of a single combo meal – details which,
honestly, shouldn’t have required clarification. The menu
states only one size. The menu states only one price. The menu states
that cheese is part of the base Double. I shouldn’t have to
debate these minor details for several minutes. I simply
didn’t have the time to waste on ordering another meal while
knowing my son was at home, hungry, and waiting for some food.
To say the whole ordeal was an unsatisfactory
transaction is an understatement of the most diplomatic variety.
I’ve waited a few days to sort out
exactly what unsettles me about my disappointing incident at the local
Wendy’s. Many of my friends – to whom I told this
tale on my blog – were of the opinion that I should write you
an irate letter full of venom and fire, demanding recompense. But I
don’t want compensation. To be honest, that meal was days
ago, and what I needed at that time was food in a timely manner.
Compensation now would literally be, “too little, too
late.” It was just a fast-food meal. It isn’t like
getting a poorly prepared filet mignon at a gourmet restaurant, where,
if I had been treated as rudely and ridiculously, I would have
registered a vehement complaint.
No, my concern is that it is apparently becoming
company policy from Wendy’s International to chase customers
away at the drive-thru with ridiculous questions and rude
interruptions. I encountered the same irrational behavior that my
sister is experiencing on the other side of the continent.
I commend you on your recent steps to make your
menu selections healthier, but I honestly do not know if I’ll
give my nearest Wendy’s another chance to confound and
frustrate me. Too many competing fast-food restaurants actually do
listen to me, and I’m inclined to give them, not
Wendy’s, my admittedly irregular business. I can only hope
that my letter will give you an opportunity to review your training
regimen for your employees who must interact with customers. Healthier
food doesn’t mean much if I can’t convince your
cashiers to listen to me so I can place a relatively simple order.
Please consider training your cashiers to listen to
customers. I understand that new personnel may have difficulty
memorizing the entire menu, but for this problem to be so widespread,
it comes across as a corporate flaw, not an individual one.