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Nov 20, 2013 11:02 AM

McDonald's exploring new ways of making buying a burger a long, baffling ordeal.

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  1. This sounds like they are moving closer to the Burger King special orders don't upset us model.

    As a point of reference, Wawa has customers order custom sandwiches using a touch screen.

    Seems like they are testing both custom burgers, as well as changing the workflow for checkers.

    1. Outsourcing customer service to the customer.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chileheadmike

        I always felt the Wawa touch screen system was intended so that the food preparer need not speak English. I have no proof of this but it makes complete sense.

        1. re: GraydonCarter

          Don't they have to read the ticket to know what to put on the sandwich? To me it sounds like it should be an easier and faster way to take orders, and ultimately use fewer people. But the Wawa system requires you to order, pay and then pick up the sandwich. Wonder if McDonalds will consider moving to this two tier system (kind of like the way I used to buy things in Russia under the Soviet regime... ).

          1. re: GraydonCarter

            I like the Wawa touch screen system because it lets me know exactly what's available. I also lose my patience waiting behind someone ordering verbally who is taking too long. On the other hand, the whole setup is very cold and impersonal.

            Wawas in my area don't have a problem finding employees who speak English.

        2. Why the extreme negativity towards McD?

          5 Replies
          1. re: carolinadawg

            For me, what was once a simple transaction has now become a painful, tedious, error-ridden ordeal I have a difficult time justifying. A former McDonalds exec spelled it out in an interview: once managers at McD's become senior executives, they don't want to sell burgers anymore. They want to sell a "dining experience." This seems to be happening across the chain burger landscape; it's gotten so that they're so out of ideas, Burger King and McD's are trying to mimic eachothers burgers. Again. In management speak, they've abandoned their core competencies and are experiencing mission creep.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              Have you actually tried the new iPad ordering system you are so vociferously slamming?

              1. re: carolinadawg

                Do I want a staph infection with my fries?

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  I have no idea. I don't opine on issues about which I have no knowledge or personal experience.

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Doesn't everybody nowadays carry a stylus in their pockets/handbags?
                    I do! :-)
                    ( but for different reasons than mentioned here)

            2. The store manager said the patty is "chargrilled" but I'll bet it is just cooked on the fryer top. They are just using a frozen Quarter Pounder patty.

              The thing that makes a burger really good at BGR or Five Guys or Shake Shack is that it is a real, fresh, ground beef burger, not a frozen patty.

              5 Replies
              1. re: GraydonCarter

                But what they are really going for here is customization.. they are not just saying that a big mac has to have two all supposedly beef hockey pucks lettuce shreds plastic cheez insipid tomatoes secret sauce on a sesame seed sponge but you can customize it. ... in other words have it your way without having to go to Burger King.

                1. re: cwdonald


                  What's attractive about In N Out is that you can customize your burger with as many pattys as you can afford. This system stops at two pattys. And I don't see people paying $8-9 for a frozen burger with no fries. It's probably a moot point since the costs associated with rolling this out to a majority of stores is prohibitive. This just seems like another way of capturing a Millennial market share that associates your product with cheap junk. You can now customize this junk, but it doesn't change the fact that it's junk.


                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Costs may or may not be prohibitive. Remember the costs will be born by franchisees rather than the parent company for franchise stores.

                    And while you are right its not as much customization as In and out.. thats irrelevant, at least on the East coast as we dont have them, and never will.

                    I agree that it doesnt improve the product, but it does change the purchase experience, and giving a personalized burger may make it more competitive with Wendys Burger King and Five Guys.

                    It also potentially changes the whole purchase experience if you select the product yourself on a touch screen rather than ordering and having a person take the order. I think ultimately you may see this as a labor saving move. If it is a labor saving move, you can clearly cost justify the software.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      I can't imagine franchise stores will be lining up to make this kind of capital investment, regardless of the promised labor savings. Wendy's franchises made a big stink when they had to upgrade their bun toasters. And while tech does alter the labor equation, you're now stuck with tech that has to be maintained and upgraded. There's a McD's near me with a soundproof play room with four video game terminals. None of them are ever on because all four are broken.

                2. re: GraydonCarter

                  Do people go to McDonalds for real, fresh, ground beef that tastes like something? I don't go to Taco Bell for authentic Mexican cuisine. I go because it's fast and cheap and they're open late. Problem is, lately, they're dropping Dollar Menu items so it's no longer cheap and they keep adding items that I don't want, clogging the already choked ordering system so that people have to pull out of the drive thru and wait for their "fast" food only to discover they give you the wrong thing. The hassle just isn't worth the price or time so I find myself paying more to eat a better product at the local 5G or Shake Shack which is probably better for me in the long run anyway. Thanks McDonalds!

                3. Given my many experiences of trying to order a burger with anything but the standard toppings, and the blank looks I get from kids behind the register at complex ideas like "extra onions", I'll welcome any way to streamline the ordering process. This sounds like a smart way to try taking the language barrier out of the equation.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                    I haven't had a McDonald's hamburger since December 1985. I went across the street to McD's on my lunch break. There was no language barrier at the time. By the time I got my requested two plain hamburgers I was running late and they tasted like liver. I was puzzled why it took longer to prepare two burgers that needed less work than the standard order but I decided then that they didn't need my business.

                    As an aside, regarding the "language barrier" issue, a few years ago I was in Paris and went to Quick Burger several times. With my very minimal French, the counter help understood me when i asked for "deux hamburgers plein, s'l vous plait." When back in California, the "language barrier" was firmly in place at Burger King when I ordered a "plain hamburger." The person behind the counter stared at me as if I were from Mars or France. LOL