The Kioskification of McDonald’s

When It Works, I Suppose It’s Great. but When it Breaks Down…

Robyn Sinead Sheppard

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Photo of Self-Service kiosks at a McDonald’s

I rarely go to McDonald’s. I don’t have a car, and the idea of hopping on a city bus bound for the nearest one might sound appealing, but where I live, riding the bus to Mickey D’s, eating a meal, and then riding the bus home again is close to a 4-hour round trip, involving transfers in both directions.

So my trips to the golden arches are few and far between.

But my friend, roommate, and landlord Ed has a car, which is how I get my groceries. For some reason last week, we both had errands to run, which took us by a McDonald’s. I looked at Ed, he looked at me, and we decided it was breakfast time.

We always eat inside, so in we went. Ed headed to the counter and placed his order. I, on the other hand, am always intrigued by new technology, so I went to the newly installed kiosk to order my usual: Sausage McMuffin with Egg, coffee, and hash browns.

And waited. And waited. Finally, after 10 minutes, I went to the counter to see what was happening with my order. It seems it hadn’t arrived. Somehow, between the kiosk and the counter — a distance of some 10 feet — my order had been lost.

So much for ordering at the kiosk being faster.

I had to re-order my meal at the counter and wait another 5 minutes before I was able to eat.

Oh, and here’s a “gotcha:” Ordering at the counter cost 15 cents more than the same meal totaled at the kiosk. It’s obviously an incentive to get you to use the kiosk, but when the system screws up, I get penalized, and that sucks.

Meanwhile, Ed had already finished his meal by the time I finally got to sit down to eat mine.

So McDonald’s, I’m putting you on the same notice I put everyone else with self-service ideas. It’s the same notice I put grocery stores and other self-checkout places: If you want me to act as an employee, i.e., entering my order via a kiosk, paying at a self-checkout station, or anything similar, you can either pay me for acting as an employee or give me a discount. After all, I’m saving you labor costs, so it’s only fair that you pass on some of those savings to me.

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Robyn Sinead Sheppard

A happily retired technical writer, I write in order to understand what I'm thinking. I'm walking wounded from the Sexual Revolution.