No doubt a title like that would have had numerous lawyers’ eyes start flipping over like fruit machines and landing on dollar signs, but there are two reasons why this should not be the case. First, because this is not a cartoon. Second, because this article is not about the brain enhancing or destroying properties of fast food. I’m not a scientist, and therefore nothing that I eat in a fast food restaurant can, under no circumstances, be classed as ‘research’.
No, this is a simple story about how one particular branch of the aforementioned fried chicken emporium simply made my brain hurt. This blog, like so many that have come before it, takes a look at some simple customer service issues and asks the fundamental question – “Are you F&*%ing kidding me???????”
First, let us put the situation into context. The family had just taken a short break in the West of England and I was now driving us home. The journey was meant to take a little over two hours but thanks to the usual motorway mysteries, I had already been driving for close to three. Fortunately the children had fallen asleep and so were quite content, but as it was getting late and we knew that there was no food in the house, we decided it was best to stop at a service station and grab a bite to eat.
Now I know what you’re thinking – “There’s your first mistake right there Paul,” and you’d be right. Why pay ridiculously inflated prices when you can just as easily drive into a nearby town and eat for a lot less? Clearly it’s all about convenience, because we will all gladly pay £10 for a Full English Breakfast cooked to whatever the word is for the opposite of perfection, and that’s even after we already had breakfast at home. Seriously, whatever mystical power these places have to get us to spend money, I want it – it will do wonders for my business.
But back to our chicken. As luck would have it, the service station in question has the choice of Papa John’s pizza, Burger King, KFC and their own restaurant serving food which has clearly been sitting in the display cabinet for several hours. What’s the thinking here – that after several hours behind the wheel even the most diet conscious health fanatic will succumb to the temptation to eat pure crap?
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy fast food. I know it’s not good for me, but then not everything in life is, and a world without the occasional Double Whopper is not a world I want to live in.
Well Shelly likes KFC. It started as a craving when we were expecting Felix and some six and a half years later, that craving has not gone away. So now the fun begins. I peruse the menu, trying to work out the most cost effective way to feed a family of four without being stuck with 8 portions of chips. It’s tricky, but I find a way to make it work. After all the extra bits for the children I ask for a two piece meal. Simple enough, the lady behind the counter asks the standard question – “Is that a large meal?” “No thank you,” say I, “regular will be just fine”.
I also order a two piece meal for Shelly and am given the same line of questioning, to which my answer is the same. So far, so good, but as I am a little concerned at this person’s communication skills, I ask her to read my order back to me, at which point I pick up on no less than four mistakes. That’s fine, correct errors, regroup and move on.
She brings out the drinks and I notice that one cup is much larger than the other. I ask what’s going on there and she tells me that one is for the large meal and the other is for the regular. Now stay with me here, because this is where your brain will start to hurt a little bit.
“But I didn’t order a large meal,” I say.
“Yes but we only do large here,” is the response. *
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I hope so, because it will mean my response is logical and reasonable. “Then why did you offer me a choice?”
“Well we only do the large but if people ask for it we do the regular as a special order.” Blood starting to warm to just below boiling….
“But you didn’t make that clear. You asked me if I wanted a large meal and I told you that I didn’t – twice. So why are you charging me for something I don’t want?”
“Well we only do the large meal here.” Reach for imaginary pistol….
“No you don’t. That cup there is for a regular meal. If you don’t do regular then why do you have the cups for it?”
“Well we only do the large meal here. Those are the prices on the board.” Take aim….
“I understand that, but you presented me with a choice and I chose regular. If that was not an option then you should have just told me that. I would have accepted that ‘large’ was my only option, paid the extra whatever it is and I’d be eating by now.”
The extra amount, in case any of you are wondering, is a life changing 50p. Just to be clear, my issue is not the money – why would it be? 50p may well save a life in the third world, but here it will buy me a little more cola and a few extra chips, neither of which I want right now.
At this point, the lady gives up and calls the manager over. I explain the issue and then – well you see that little asterisk that I put at the beginning of the conversation? Well that’s to indicate exactly what happened when the Manager joined in. The same robotic, illogical nonsense designed to wear down my spirit and reduce me to a fried chicken craving wreck.
Eventually I win. He gives me back my pound and the family eats and leaves.
Seriously KFC? It’s a motorway service station. People are tired, many of them irritable, and none of us want to have to read the small print in order to buy some bloody chicken.
The moral of the story? Well I’d like to think it’s obvious but it’s simply that it makes good sense to offer your customers choices. Just be sure to make good on them once that choice is made.
Now….who wants chicken?