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Food Service Staff Texting

Is it just me?? I stopped at a local take out restaurant today and I had to just walk out. The person handling the food was standing there texting, then packaging the cooked food. I was completely grossed out. Phones are dirty. People continually touch them and hold them near their mouth and I doubt most people wipe them down very often (I know I don't). I realize that many restaurants have policies against this but it doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule. Am I just being a germi-phobe or is it disgusting?

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  1. hygiene aside, it's just rude.

    1. It doesn't bother me from a germ standpoint ( I bet there are more unsanitary places those fingers have been before touching my food) but I think it is really rude and disrespectful.

      As a customer, I am getting sick to death of trying to compete for service staffs attention with all phones. Humans in the flesh should come first, IMO.

      1. I recently complained to an owner about the server texting constantly in my presence, which I thought was rude.

        The owner informed me that he had done away with his expensive lease on a POS system, and the servers texted to the expediter in the kitchen.

        It may work for the restaurant, but gives the diner the impression that the server is goofing off and disinterested in the guests.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          then the restaurant should have the servers *mention* that it's their POS system....so people don't assume they're texting their friends.

          1. re: bagelman01

            If the place can't afford a simple POS run don't walk away from it. "You know what? We can't afford kitchen towels so the line cooks just us their jackets to wipe their hands". So what will it be tonight?"

            1. re: Puffin3

              There is a good chance that I will be opening my own restaurant in the next couple of years and there is NO way that texting will be tolerated on the clock.

          2. Mobile devices are here to stay. It's the new norm and like it or not, we have to get used to it. I guess as someone who grew up in an era when using a phone booth on the street corner before sanitizing gel or personal wipes were ever heard of, the germ factor doesn't bother me. The rudeness factor does bother me though, but like I said, it's the new norm and I'll have to get used to it. Just like I've had to get used to people stopping dead on the street to check their messages, send a text, cue up a new song, etc.

            1. never thought about the germ angle, but it's extremely rude, and any manager who allows it is workflow ineffective. New technology or not, personal matters are just that. A workplace is not the environment for "LOL!" or to see how big snooki's ass is today....it can wait for chrissakes. And texting instead of the order system? What resto bagel? Isn't it faster to just walk to the kitchen?

                1. I work in the non-commerical food service industry and we've had to add clauses to our employee handbook about texting and making and receiving calls while on a shift. It's amazing how many people seem to think it's okay. Many of my employees are students and once we explain it to them, they're actually pretty okay with the rule.

                  It's also a two-way street. We've had to post signs at several of our espresso operations that we will not take an order if the person ordering is also talking on their cell phone at the same time. We've had people not pay attention to what they were ordering and then blow up at the barista when it wasn't what they actually wanted. Most of my employees are pretty good, my baristas especially, but they aren't mind readers.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I have taken entire orders from people who can't be bothered to end their call, talk about rude and belittling, your interaction with me doesn't even require you to end your cell phone conversation?

                  2. It's rude and not professional... and I certainly don't text or talk on the phone while I place my order.

                    The "germ" factor doesn't really bother me though, just the rudeness.

                    1. I certainly don't find it gross. The germ factor doesn't bother me in the least.

                      It is, however, rude and unprofessional. I don't use my phone at the table, at all. If I must make a call or send a text, I excuse myself from the table and exit the restaurant.

                      1. I find it interesting that most people assume that using a mobile phone or similar device is for personal reasons. There are restaurants and cafes, in various places around the world, in which mobile devices are used to record/transmit orders

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: KarenDW

                          I'm fairly sure the kid texting behind the counter at my local pizza shop or deli is not using his iPhone to transmit an order.

                        2. I doubt its any 'dirtier' than the cash register, few things are as dirty as money. Count me among those who feel you may be over-reacting a bit. I'm not saying its the height of hygiene, but it's not beyond the pale.

                          1. I work in the biz - and I am on my phone alot more than I should be. Today, texting is the way you communicate, especially with all my younger employees. Can you pick up this shift, can you come in earlier, can you come in later, can you pick this up on your way into work, why were we short $10 last night, where is the paperwork I left on the counter, where are you you are 15 minutes late etc etc etc. In addition my boss is constantly emailing me - which goes right to my phone.

                            It's very hard to enforce no cell phone policies in this day and age, especially when the managers NEED to be on them all to frequently. It is unhygenic and it is rude but the times are a changing....

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: joe777cool

                              but all of that needs to be done between customers -- not while I'm waiting to give you my patronage -- it's a matter of respect, and unless there's a POS system that you tell me about, I'm going to assume that you have decided that I simply am not as important as whomever is at the other end of the communication.

                              Which I interpret as an invitation to take my business elsewhere.

                              I see it no different than talking on the phone, smoking, eating, or chatting with your co-workers -- it's called shirking.

                            2. It certainly is rude of the employee. However, it's really truly very hard to get anyone working for minimum wage to really care if it's rude or not. I know all the hardworking ethical people on here may find that hard to believe, but it's just the way it is. Fire the person making $8/hr because they're texting on the job and chances are the person you get to replace them will be doing the same, or worse. It's a get what you pay for type of deal. At $8/hr, they could care less about sneaking in some texts and know that they can just grab another $8/hr job at the fast food joint down the road if you fire them.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Rick

                                Very good point, Rick.

                                In my experience, this also extends to servers from dives up through those restaurants just below fine dining. Often these servers are working well below minimum wage, supplementing with tips. If they write off patrons as rude or unlikely to tip well, then out comes the phone, or texting friends may just be more important at the moment than the diners - especially at that wage. Plus, if they get fired they can get the same job at the place just down the road.

                                I see this often at some bars where I am a regular. I always get immediate service because I tip well, but the server will not hesitate to finish up a text conversation while not as generous patrons wait.

                                1. re: MonMauler

                                  And to those first-timers at a restaurant, do they get the texting treatment too since they have yet to leave a tip?

                                  It's quite irritating, but a customer these days is the same way. The difference is, in the customer's eyes, one side is thus getting paid to text.

                                  1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                    talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy....if I'm a first-timer, and you take it upon yourself to assume I'm a lousy tipper and therefore proceed to basically blow me off...I promise I will leave a lousy tip, if I leave a tip at all.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is my experience, however, that my regular tenders make an immediate judgment based on looks and mannerisms, and they will serve according to the judgment they made on this brief interaction.

                                2. Add it to the list of "no no's" for a workplace...especially in direct dealing with the public. The only way to control it is to document that it's not tolerated. AGree with OP on hygeine and rudeness counts, fer sure.

                                  1. I've been to a handful of restaurants that used wireless devices (ipod touch/ipad/phones) to send orders to the POS system. In my experience, it's pretty obvious when waitstaff are using devices to take orders vs. texting friends. When using the device for orders, they still make eye contact and engage with the guest. It really isn't much different than writing to order on a note pad.

                                    1. Yes, it's not sanitary, but more than that, it's incredibly rude. It takes a lot to offend me when I am eating in a casual or fast food type restaurant, but when I was waiting at the counter and could see my food sitting on the pickup counter while the person who was supposed to bring it to me stood there and texted for 3 minutes, I filed a complaint. This person's co-worker was giving the evil eye to him the whole time, too. I got a prompt response to my complaint, an assurance it would not happen again, and a certificate for a free meal.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: laskiblue

                                        " I got a prompt response to my complaint, an assurance it would not happen again,"

                                        But the sad thing is it WILL happen again. I never thought I would have to navigate my way around pedestrians stopping dead in their tracks to answer/initiate a text, but it happens all day long on my commute to and from work. Texting is becoming a part of our lives and will be fully integrated into our everyday lives just like talking to one another is. So, the employee in your story will go on texting while working, no matter how many reprimands. Eventually, the manager will have to make a decision as to whether to fire the employee or not. It's the same with employees talking to one another while a customer waits; it's just as rude, but somewhat more accepted. Believe me, I am not happy about any of this and still demand first-rate customer service when I am paying for something, but in the back of my mind I just know this behavior will become more and more accepted, especially as the owner and manager positions of restaurants and retail stores are filled by a generation of people who know nothing other than texting all day long.

                                      2. Not bothered at all about germs - if I was fussed about possible germ issues, I would never get takeaway or eat in a restaurant. But I want staff to be doing their job, serving me, not texting/chatting to their friends.