Stations Turned On, Customers Turned Off

, , , , , | Working | April 2, 2021

I’ve been driving for a few hours coming home from a trip. Around lunchtime, I stop at a fast food place to use the restroom and get lunch. The restaurant has a pair of self-service ordering stations set up in front of the registers. I decide to use one of the stations in hopes of bypassing some of the lunch rush line so I can get my food and get back on the road a little bit quicker. I put in my order, pay with my debit card, take my receipt, and step to the side to wait for my order.

With the lunch rush, I know my order will take a bit longer than usual, but after ten minutes with no food, I step up to the counter when there’s a gap between customers.

Employee: “Welcome to [Restaurant]. What can I get for you?”

Me: “I put in my order at the self-service station about ten minutes ago. I’m still waiting for my food.”

Employee: “Oh. We just installed those systems, but there seems to be something wrong with the software. They’re turned off right now.”

Me: “No, they’re not turned off. I just used one of the machines, and it seemed like it worked perfectly fine. It even gave me a receipt.”

Employee: “Well, it shouldn’t have done that. Would you like to place an order now?”

Me: “Can I just give you my receipt from the machine and have you put my order in? I already paid at the machine; that’s how I got the receipt.”

Employee: “Sir, the machine is turned off right now.”

Me: “No, it’s not. Look at the screen. You can see from here that it’s lit up like it’s working perfectly fine.”

Employee: “Sir…”

Me: “Is there a manager I can speak to?”

The manager makes his way to the front counter and refuses to budge at my insistence that the self-serve order machine was turned on. Finally, he looks over at the machines and sees the screens fully lit up.

Manager: *With an indifferent shrug* “Oh. I guess nobody turned them off yet. I don’t know how you got that receipt, but I’ll give you your food this time.”

So, with my quick five-minute lunch stop now having taken over thirty minutes, I finally got my food and got back out to my car… only to find out that, of course, they had gotten my order completely wrong.

I walked back into the restaurant with the incorrect order — the self-service order screens were still fully lit and had not been turned off at all, in case anyone was wondering — shoved my way to the front of the line at the cash register, told the cashier — very loudly — that my order was wrong, and demanded the correct food. The same manager came back to the counter and tried to argue with me, but I shouted him down until he put my order in and then waited right there at the cash register — where I could see into the kitchen, because at this point, I was paranoid about someone spitting in my food or something — to the annoyance of several customers behind me. When my new order was brought out, I checked to make sure it was correct — still standing right there at the cash register — and finally headed back out to my car after verifying everything.

Yes, I was an a**hole about it, but I did finally get my correct order. I also took some petty satisfaction that most of the customers in line behind me had left without placing their order; whether they left because I was being an a**hole or because they saw how sleazy the manager was, I can’t say, but at least the restaurant lost a lot of lunch rush business that day.

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