The Customer Service Problem at McDonald's Is a Symptom of a Much Bigger Problem


flipping burgers will never pay a "living wage".


jobs like that are where kids learn life skills.

of course, in Gommorah, life skills are scarce.

kids who don't grow up with a married mother and father are less likely to learn them.

another symptom of your failing shitty civilization.
And he'll get a big CEO bonus for this bullshit.

And when it don't work, a million dollar Golden Parachute out to fuck up some other company.
Yeah, I'm not sure how professional I felt when I was making min wage.
I know what really motivates me when I'm working for minimum wage: corporate policy about smiles.
Ooops, sorry I assumed that was typical CEO bullshit, instead of business "journalist" bullshit.
Thank you, Paul. You can say that again and again and again, but management types are paid to management speak, to create rules and models and ridiculous crap--all costing tons of money in consultant fees. All that money wasted to fix a problem that could be fixed if they spent that money paying employees better or scheduling more people each shift or providing benefits instead of claiming it is too expensive because of Obamacare.

But, oh, no, that would be so wrong, paying employees a decent wage? Employees don't deserve it, they don't work hard enough, aren't dedicated enough. Such fucking crap. The assholes at the top of the food chain are the problem. There aren't enough bonuses and salary increases and benefits for them, there can never be enough FOR THEM. They will never understand that treating your employees well means they will treat your customers well. Oh, there are a few out there that do get it, Starbucks, Costco, to name a couple, but on the whole, big businesses today just keep taking advantage of employees because they can. And they will.

I, too, work for a big box employer that has cut staff to the bone resulting in customers waiting. The few of us left aren't in great moods, though we are grateful to still have the jobs. We're tired, physically and emotionally weary. It is hard to muster up a smile. I try not to take it out on the customers, I do the best I can. I don't need to be told I'm a bad employee. Of course I am, no one can do the job of three people and do it well. I'd like to see someone in their cushy corporate job work in a store these days. They wouldn't last an hour. Even our district manager doesn't come around much anymore because she knows she'd be forced to help us on the sales floor!
Any customer who goes to McDonald's and expects an ass-kissing from the underpaid employees is an asshole. What is it about people in this country that they expect to get fawned over when paying a couple of bucks for a burger? If they get your order right and give it to you quickly, you have no reason to complain.
Every time you read another story about how the USA workforce has made such dramatic strides in "productivity," they're talking about doing more work for the same amount of pay. And yet there is this complete disconnect about the relationship between stagnant wages, increased performance expectations, and low morale.

Obviously the next discussion will be about how to make unhappy workers pretend not to be unhappy more effectively so that customers don't pick up on it.
In n' Out got their people to be friendly, and the Dick's staff rarely fuck up. Why do you think that is, clown boss? His suggestions will not only be ineffective, many will be demoralizing to the staff.

Tangentially, those customers that not only look into their bag at the counter, but drag out the inspection like a drill Sargent at bed check, really make my blood boil. Getting your order fucked up is all built into the price fuckers, play the game and stop being a dick about it!
@6: So sorry to hear about your current job situation. I hope you manage to find more fulfilling work soon! Speaking as someone who's worked for his share of large retailers, you deserve better than the way they're treating you.
Or, employees can express themselves with lots of flair
Also why you should get your fast food burgers at Dick's Drive in, or sit in if your on Queen Anne
Hey, Dumbass @1:

The current unemployment rate among teens 16 - 19 is around 23.8%; the only demographic where unemployment has actually INCREASED in the past several years.

And the reason for this is because these sorts of jobs, once considered entry-level, are now in large part performed by adults: adults with college degrees, older adults, and adults with "life skills" up the wazoo, whose previous full-time, living-wage jobs have either been off-shored or eliminated outright, thanks to your friends in corner offices and board rooms across the country.

So, if you want to go and blame anyone for this "failing, shitty civilization" that's where you need to redirect your finger-pointing ass-wipe, because that's what's forcing hundreds of thousands of otherwise competent adults to take these shitty jobs in an economic system that doesn't value the skills they've already spent a lifetime acquiring.
@1 in your world only kids flip burgers?
What @2 said.

Why should they improve if all that happens is the CEO and senior execs get a bigger payout?

Class War, baby!
@6, that was a thing of beauty.

@1, congrats you win the Don't Know Most About Macroeconomics of the Day award.
If you are still eating at McDonald's you deserve to be treated like shit. After all, you're treating yourself like shit.
@14 - What do you bet that the troll has plenty of experience with McDonalds employees? What a fucktard, that one...
Business "journalist" fail: he forgot to include going forward among his many other hackneyed phrases, but I'm sure he managed to work it into his "most recent book."
Maybe we shouldn't expect good customer service when paying $4.99 for a 3,000 calorie meal.
But yet, Chik-fil-a (all other bullshit aside) pays their employees less per year on average, and their employees are, without exception in my experience, pleasent, eager to help, chipper, and all smiles.

I am not saying that these companies do not need to treat their employees better, or can not afford higher wages, but there is a lot going on apart from just wages. I would bet hiring and training practices have more to do with it.
Thank you, Paul. It is my second job, my 20+ hours a week job on top of my regular office job. I actually love working there, it use to be a "hobby" job because I loved the place. Or I use to love working there before the recession made it necessary and before they made conditions so difficult. Still, sometimes, when it is quiet, I look around and think, in a world of bad workplaces, at least I once loved it.
@6: You know, your comment makes me think of the deep class divisions in our country. The assholes who makes these policies have no earthly idea what it's like to work so fucking hard, day in and day out, in a society with less class mobility than fucking Germany. They've been cosseted their entire lives by a society that tells them they rose to their exalted positions because of merit, not privilege, and they actually fucking believe it.

The inverse of the argument, of course, is that people who don't rise to such exalted positions as "management consultant" or "Asshat in Chief" must not be worthy, and therefore it's totally ok to shit all over them. After all, if those peons chose not to go to college, right? Or chose to study English instead of Business/Marketing with a minor in Assholery, right? So they deserve to be on the receiving end of inhuman working conditions!

Ugh. A big, warm Internet hug to you for doing such tough work.
@22: of course, you would still be patronizing that bigoted sweatshop
Reward and recognize great service.

Back when I was a corporate wage slave, this item was always especially galling. So you're going to tell me how great my work is, and how much customers and management appreciate it, but then not going to actually reward me for it? Giving recognition without the compensation that goes with it in the form of a bonus or wage is nothing but a fucking insult.

Let's face it: most people don't work for fun. We work because we need to earn a living. And we work hard because we hope to earn a better living.

Recognizing our work, and inducing even more work by dangling the prospect of a better wage which never materializes—that is the essence of bad management and bad workplaces.

And people wonder why they get grouchy employees.
At least they get paid something. The thirteen interns whose names appear on the masthead of the Stranger don't get paid at all.
@22 Ah no- see, they've got religion on the benefits plan! No need to pay your employees a decent wage when you can keep them in line with thin promises of a reward in the afterlife! Praise be, greedy corporate overlords!
@22 tell that to the 200+ reviewers on Glassdoor who worked/work at Chick Fil A…
I agree with a living wage, but selling ground up tortured corpses for a living is demoralizing and psychologically damaging as well. I don't know how much Veggie Grill employees make, but they seem relatively happy.
@25: Thanks for adding nothing but misguided ad hominem to the discussion. I actually have not even be to a Chik-fil-a since the owner made those anti-gay statements, and likely many months prior to that. Try forming a point first if you have to make yourself feel better through insults.

It makes it seem less like you have absolutely nothing of value to say or add.

@28: I said at the end of my comment they can and should treat their employees better. All I am saying is that if we are just using the variable of wages, it does not offer much insight into the question posed by the original post.

OTOH, at the end of their six months or so of interning (because, you know, internships aren't permanent), they'll walk out the door with some actual skills that will help them to leverage somewhat higher-paying jobs than they would have otherwise, in addition to receiving credits toward the college degrees most of them are undoubtedly pursuing at the same time.
I worked at a certain Landmark theater in Seattle when Washington raised its minimum wage to, I think it was $4.25 and hour. To address this cost concern, HQ down in Texas decided they'd send up a corporate rep to give us employees what was their polite, buzzword-addled version of Alec Baldwin's Glengarry speech—actually warning us we'd have to work "that much harder" now that we're all getting "a raise." I almost felt bad for the woman we were all laughing so hard.
@29: I never even came close to saying that Chik-fil-a is a generous, employment Shangri-La, or even that it was a good place to work, or that they treat their employees well. Damn, I even specifically said that they can and should do better, and that they are paid less than McDonald's employees.

All I said was that they have customer service that is worlds better than McDonalds, in my experiences. I mean, do people just shut their brains off around here when "Chik-fil-a" is mentioned and just go into some kind of weird attack mode? I expect much better reading comprehension from Sloggers.

Also, pretty much all I am seeing in the first couple pages of your link are glowing reviews, so I think you should find a new one that proves your point. But since I never said Chik-fil-a is a good place to work, I do not really give a shit anyway.
"What is it about people in this country that they expect to get fawned over when paying a couple of bucks for a burger?"

The Japanese manage to do it.
@14: Perfect. Thank you.
Correction for next week's issue: "Last week we referred to Chris Derose's article on McDonalds as 'Fucking unvelievable' when it is, sadly, extremely believable. We regret the error."
except i suggest you spell unbelievable correctly
Costco has been slammed several times in various slog posts in the past (Hi Goldy!), but in my experience, I've consistently received amazing and cheerful service from Costco employees. It is no coincidence that Costco has some of the most generous salary and benefits in the retail sector. They seem happy because they are happy. Costco isn't perfect, but it is one big corp that I feel good about supporting. Costco makes tons of money, and is completely successful as a big-ass-corp. Why isn't treating workers with some respect a business strategy that other big retailers emulate?
It can be frustrating when a restaurant employee gets your order wrong. from The Daily Astorian
@30 - Thank you for inserting your holier-than-thou VeganReligion bullshit into yet another conversation. I have some cut up dead animal flesh simmering in a coconut curry sauce as we speak! Yay!

You would think so, wouldn't you? But, at the same time Costco is doing right by their employees, they are under constant pressure from their shareholders to trim wages & benefits in order to increase stock value. The fact that management has resisted to-date is admirable, but one wonders how long they can keep doing so given the ravenous desire for "profit uber alles" that permeates our contemporary economic system.
@30 - Stop projecting your mental issues onto others.

I was preparing to say something similar, except that I don't think Costco's human shareholders are exerting that pressure. It's the mutual fund managers, "investors", banksters, and The Street who constantly badger Costco.

They can't stand it that the company makes money hand over fist -- and makes money for its real-person shareholders -- while flouting their (mis)advice.
@39: Not coincidentally, there was a story a week or two back about McD's removing Costco from their benchmarks for executive compensation because they drive the average too low.

@42: Same story also notes that Costco shares have led their competitors' by 1% on average over the last 5 years, while McD's have been almost 3% below their competition in the same period. Kind of hard for shareholders to argue that screwing the employees is going to help Costco's bottom line.

Story at Quartz:…
#12: I came here for that, thanks!
As someone who's first job was making $3.35/hr at McD's, I can tell you with certainty that I didn't give two shits about customers or their food. Did I fear losing that job? No, I did not.
@32: Bullshit. They don't get college credit in almost all cases. And the only skills they hone are taking orders from hipsters and compiling calendar items.

It's free labor for the Stranger, and they should be ashamed. No way could Savage defend it if you put him on the spot.

You tell em Pridge!

Let us help you out, old chap....

"And the reason for this is because these sorts of jobs, once considered entry-level, are now in large part performed by adults: adults with college degrees (in art or English) or , older adults, and adults with "life skills" up the wazoo, whose job skills, sadly, did not keep up with the demands of the modern economy."


"Adults" who are working as non-managerial positions at McDonalds are not contributing enough to the economy to justify a "living wage" (or paid health care...)

Either they don't have the job skills to get a decent wage or they don't have the life skills to find work that matches their skills.

At least they get paid something. The thirteen interns whose names appear on the masthead of the Stranger don't get paid at all.

Hey, look on the bright side. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves too.
41/43: You seriously think being around these products all day is irrelevant to happiness and mental stress? I'd say being content with this is a sign of serious mental illness / psychopathy.………
@52: Wow, I never thought of it that way. You're right.

Said nobody, ever.
Once again, raku my dear, this isn't about something choosing to be around meat. This is about you being a pushy vegan zealot, which is no better than a religious zealot, a gun zealot, or any other kind or zealot.

Why do you vegans like watching dead animals so much. You are a bunch of fuckign sickos.

You can avoid the animal cruelity issue by paying attention to where you buy your meat.
I recomend this guy

53-55: This is about workers who sell the cheapest torture meat money can buy. Of course it's at least partially about what the workers actually do. Your psychological defenses are so convoluted and bizarre.

55: "Humane" meat is hardly any better than what McDonald's does.
@56: Aaand once again I have to wonder if you're a parody created by dittoheads. (Don't feel bad, I've had the same thoughts about Mudede.)

In either case, if you're not...sheesh. Thankfully you have to live in that brain, rather than I.
My very first job as a 16 year old in 1985 was at Wendy's. At the time the minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 hr. Because I was one of few employees able to calculate change in my head I was regularly assigned to the drive thru, where that skill was needed since there was no change maker. I regularly supplemented my meager wages via not doing a final ring-up some orders and pocketing the money. I didn't, and don't, feel the slightest bit guilty about it. That job was bullshit.
@ 56, can you recognize the benefits to pasture-raising livestock vs. feedlots?
The first rule of Vegan Club is: Always talk about Vegan Club!

Q: How can you tell if someone's a vegan?
A: Oh, don't worry... they'll tell you!
@60 I was once quoted in a school newspaper as saying, "Let's kill all the vegans and make a casserole out of them." I deny the making the remark, but maybe I shouldn't.

Not according to the ones with whom I've interacted over the years. They felt they were receiving plenty of value in exchange for their brief stint of labor: experience, opportunity, connections, recommendations - so, who am I to tell them they're not?

Besides, what is an intern in essence but a volunteer? Would you posit that there is no intrinsic value in the act of volunteering, even for a for-profit enterprise? If so, I would have to most heartily beg to differ, speaking as someone who spends a goodly portion of his non-working waking hours engaged in volunteer activities.
@56 - I admire your principles. But the same reasoning by which you determine that animal life isn't meaningfully distinct from, say, human life (reasoning with which I agree, by the way; more on that in a minute) is easily extended to say that it also isn't meaningfully distinct from plant life, or bacterial or viral organisms. Have you taken antibiotics? Used medicated shampoo to get rid of lice? Do you eat onions?

You may suggest that such equivalencies aren't to be taken seriously, but why are they less serious than asking us to assume that the life of a cow is something about which we should be morally concerned?

The fact is, the only reason I don't eat you, or you me, is that we have a social contract with one another. That is largely a function of our being the same species, thus sharing the same essential properties and modes of communication; there's no more reason that we should have a contract with the cow than there is for the lion to have a contract with the gazelle.

So kudos for your choices. But don't frame them as moral imperatives.
@62: All that may be true, but they're still being taken advantage of by a for-profit business that is in fact breaking the law.

Just because they don't mind doesn't mean they're not being screwed.
If you are eating at McDonald's you are getting what you deserve and if you are stupid enough to work at McDonald's you are positively getting what you deserve.
Although I never go to fast food places unless I'm accompanying someone who absolutely insists (against my protest) that we stop in at one, I actually find surly and lousy service at such places gratifying. Sucky job = sucky service. That is exactly as it should be.
It's unAmerican to pay workers a living wage. What is the government for, after all?
That's a bullshit cop out. You want to complain about wages, fine. But if you accept a job from someone with a definite description and set of expectations then you you need to do your job and meet those expectations, not arbitrarily decide how half-assed you're going to do it based on your level of disgruntlement. If you can't bring yourself to be polite and get orders right quickly with a smile, which is part of the job in fast food, here's a bit of advice: Don't take the job. It's the employer who decides what the job and acceptable level of competence is, not the employee.

That's one of the problems with U.S. society today - we're too quick to excuse irresponsibility and sloth and then try to blame our behaviors on someone else when we are all fully reponsible for our own actions. "Oh, the poor little thing! I don't blame him if he left out half your order and got your change wrong. He's only making $7.70 an hour! How could he help it?" Again, horseshit. you don't like the job, complain or leave. Or form a union. Or petition Congress to raise wages. Or don't take it to begin with. Whatever. But you can't accept and be entrusted with a job and then just decide you're going to start making your own rules about how that job is performed.
I worked at a local coffee company when I moved to Seattle 18 years ago (no, not that one). I quickly gained a following of customers who waited for me to serve them, I knew everyone's names and greeted them personally. Customers came to me to buy coffee beans because I could help them find the right beans for them, or nudge them out of their comfort zones when they wanted to experiment. I also had the highest sales for espresso/coffee machines and accessories, outselling nearly the rest of the staff by myself.

Then I had my 3-month performance review. Not a word about my accomplishments, but I was marked down because I didn't "smile enough". I didn't get a raise because I didn't smile enough. That's the kind of thinking that this man indulged in. Just smile, and everyone will be happy.

Luckily, I was able to find a much better job and moved on, before I smacked that manager in her always-smiling face.
If you get anything greater than disinterested courtesy at McDonald's you should be grateful. Along with piss poor wages, the person who took your order probably also suspects that their time card is being altered, and they have no control whatsoever over their schedule or lives. Oh, and no health insurance or the kind of health insurance where it's literally not worth the paper it's printed on. How nice would you be to your clients if this was happening to you?
63: Of course it's a moral imperative not to harm or torture animals when we don't need to. That's why people who abuse dogs or eat cats go to jail. It's why Michael Vick went to jail for dog fighting. It's one of the easiest moral questions. Don't harm animals needlessly, and if you need to (eg, if you're starving and have no alternative), treat them as well as you can. The only reason why meat is sold in the rich world is tradition, and the only reason McDonald's gets away with animal torture is willful ignorance by customers.
@71 - Torture is one thing; "harm" is another. Why no moral imperative to avoid harming bacteria? What is the nature and basis of social contracts with species who do not have the common vocabulary to enter into those contracts consensually with us? Do wild predators recognize these contracts when we're in their habitat?

You toss axioms about like a fundamentalist. There are no self-evident truths.
@71 - You really could just type "blah blah blah VEGAN!!!!1!!!1!!" in place of all of your comments. You'd save yourself a lot of time, and probably actually change more minds.
Why the fuck does someone have to be cheerful when serving you a whopper or ringing up a 56 pack of TP at the Costco?

Americans don't want service, they want slaves. Read any number of Yelp reviews for an insight to people's shitty existence where they expect a soda to never be less than 1/4 empty.
@1: You REALLY ought to get out more, Sparky.
When did socialism take over? Work hard and you'll succeed. Complain like a little bitch and you'll always be just that. What the hell is so hard about that? Don't like your job, quit the m-fer and find one you like. Or see my earlier statement and be a little bitch and complain away. Companies don't owe you a g.d. thing. Management doesn't owe you a g.d. thing. Show up on time, do what your told and s.t.f.u. When you deserve $15/hr you'll get $15/hr. Not a g.d. second before. I think the most valuable thing a job at McDonalds provides is the incentive the get the heck out of there and find something better. If you have to languish at McDonalds for wages too long then you are too g.d. stupid to: 1. Know better or 2. Do better.