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Etiquette for Picking up Call-Ahead

In short, are you supposed to line-up with everyone else if you have already called ahead with your order?

Details: The local burger joint is set up such that there are 2 cashiers, 1 queue for both cashiers. There are NO signs to indicate 'Call-Ahead Pick up Here' or equivalent. I always call ahead because it takes about 15 minutes for them to prepare the food. And I always go line up with everyone else and wait my turn to pay and pickup. The reason being that they have not made a specific line for 'Call-Ahead'. If there is such a sign, I would go right up. Today, the line up was about 10 people long. I was at the front. A couple walked right up to the cashier. As the cashier opened, I went up and told the couple that I was next in line. They gave me a rather impolite reply, stating the fact that I am cutting in front of them because they called ahead and basically should be first in line whenever they show up.

Should I line up next time?

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  1. I'm with you - if there's no special "pick-up only" line I always wait my turn. That couple was rude and improper. Calling ahead allows you to skip the wait for food preparation, not the line to get to the cashier.

    1. The other couple were wrong. Not only is there no sign, but you are a frequent customer and since the cashier has never explained to you that call-ahead pickups should go directly to the register, it is clear that there is no such policy at this place.

      1. I have a couple of places where I call ahead and I always wait in line. One of them usually has a line, I arrive a few minutes earlier than my pick up time to make up for the time in line.

        1. You were correct.

          In addition, the cashier should be the one who informs the other couple to get in line. It shouldn't be your responsibility to "enforce" your prerogative.

          I'd also add that I appreciate restaurants that *do* have separate "pick-up" window to speed things along.

          1. Ugh. What unpleasant people. I hope you didn't let them upset you. You're right and you have much better manners than they do.

            1. Happens at jfood's Asian take out all the time. One line for both ordering, paying and pick-up. Every now and then a newbie who called goes to the front and someone mentions it to them. Usually it is an apology and to the back. Only once has anyone tried the attitude either with the eyes or vocally. They backed off when they saw the herd of eyes.

              1. It's truly amazing to witness behavior that some people think is ok. I believe in these situations more people need to speak up like Cecilia did rather than let these people get away with skirting the rules of common courtesy that most people live by. I find that a lot of confrontation adverse people would rather stew with the tension and anxiety of allowing someone to cut the line rather than say something. I'm not advocating vigilanteism in an extreme form, but I do believe that people shouldn't feel badly about calling people out on their rude bahavior. I also believe that when someone does speak up everyone else needs to rally and support them. If the perpetrators realize that they are in a minority because the "herd of eyes" (thanks jfood) and the chorus of voices tells them so, maybe they'll start to get the point that they're not above the rules of common decency wherever they go.


                1. Thanks to everyone who replied. I am glad to see that I wasn't the odd person.

                  I actually emailed this burger joint to ask. And the response I received is that I do NOT have to line up. I can go straight to the front. I don't know if I am going to do that though. I may be the one that gets the dirty looks.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cecilia

                    You may consider calling again and asking them to place a sign up to give you some air cover.

                    1. re: jfood

                      Agree with jfood, they need to put up a sign if this is the policy.

                  2. Sorry to dissent here with the masses, but what if you came to the store and placed your order, then decided to go wait outside until your order is ready or complete an errand at a nearby store within walking distance? Wouldn't this be like calling ahead? In any instance I have ordered in any place and waited outside....when I returned to the store the worker would recognize and notify me my order was ready and thus I would proceed to the front of the line. I have never had one incident where others on line would call this unacceptable .

                    It was gracious of you to wait in line and rude for the couple to make an impolite remark to you, but there's most certainly a gray area in this topic. Unless I were instructed to come to the front, I would wait on the line too, but I can see how others believe otherwise, and upon entering, walk to the front of the line to announce they are in the house if their order is ready. I would relinquish my place in line for anyone whose food order was ready....... Don't you just hate today's *Me* society attitudes?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fourunder

                      while i see what it is that you're trying to describe, most take-out situations aren't like that. if you go up and make your order then pretty much 99% of the time (unless the restaurant is inefficient) you're right at the cash and should be paying them right then and there. then often there is a second counter/food area where one grabs the items once they're ready (whether it be by ticket, recognition, etc). i can't think of a single place where all exchanges are done in the same location (order, money, food). i often find that when waiting for food after paying after being in the line-up, it can be a bit of a crapshoot on what comes out first and then of course whomevers order comes up... well comes up. no line.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess


                        not all places are alike in operation

                        not all places require immediate payment...dine-in, yes in most cases with a counter....take-out maybe not so much from my experience.

                        a fast food burger operation on an highway is not the same as the local pizzeria or Chinese Take-Out. Actually I cannot think of one place that requires immediate payment for a take-out order in my area.....so it's quite possible this is a regional policy, I wouldn't expect the same policies in a small town/suburbia to be the same as a larger city, based on your concern of efficiency.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          perhaps it is regional or big city vs little city (though i'm tempted to say it's the latter since i'm including any experiences during travel), but i've pretty much always had to pay or received a bill (if we're talking about places with tables that will seat you while you're waiting) before the food was ever ready. and as for efficiency, it was often small independent places that weren't used to being rammed with business or had a habit of taking their time with everything and everything where they never requested payment upfront.

                    2. Just as an update to all those interested:
                      I went back to this place last week. I called ahead. When I got to the place, there was still no sign. The lineup was short, maybe 5 deep. So I lined up. Someone from this place actually came down the line, found me, and told me that my food is ready and I can just come to the front and pay. The cashier also explained to me that I can just come up next time.

                      So my guess is:
                      - my email to the owner actually made an impact
                      - I probably eat too many burgers and poutines from this place

                      The food there is great, and now that I know the owner actually was paying attention, I will be going back.