Maybe it’s always been this way and I’ve only recently noticed. But getting an order correct at fast food drive-thru is really a vanishing art these days. When we go through the drive-thru and our order is correct, it’s the exception rather than the rule. Here’s my take on a few of our favorite places:
McDonald’s - They used to be one of the better ones until some knucklehead marketer back at corporate came up with the idea to add a “DOUBLE CHECKED” sticker to each bag. The last thing these employees need is another task to complete while trying to fulfill orders. Who has time to put stickers on the bags when you’ve got hot fries to bag? If I worked here, I’d put the stickers on the bags during the down times. Their people are either really nice or can’t get you out of there any faster. I like that the manager gets his or her own special shirt. If they happen to take your order you can usually just drive home.
Arbys - At least they make it interesting. Every order is a new adventure. We’ve ordered chicken strips and received roast beef sandwiches. On a positive note, when they do make a mistake it’s usually in your favor. I don’t know how many times we’ve come home with an extra sandwich and fries. But definitely check your bag before pulling away. That Market Fresh sandwich you ordered just very may well have turned into an order of Jalapeno Poppers. Lots of mistakes but in an endearing sort of way.
Taco Time – Good thing our kids like their food so much. Like Arby’s they make things interesting but in a bad sort of way. Mistakes never seem to favor you. Not the place to go if you’re in a hurry as it takes long enough that you feel everything was made from scratch. It’s odd they make so many mistakes here because they have a relatively simple menu. The difficulty we’ve had with them is getting soft and crisp bean burritos mixed up. Or just not including items and coming home short handed. They also don’t take Amex which is annoying. I took the kids here last night and they charged 37 cents to use Visa. Huh? You’re going inside to straighten out your order regardless so just avoid the drive thru all-together and grab a table.
Jack in the Box - I’ve not had any problems with these guys, but I don’t go here very often anymore since I started Atkins. They have good burgers but don’t go here trying to order the Chicken Caesar Salad or a Roast Beef and Swiss wrap as Kim found out. They have some of the most laid back employees I’ve ever seen. Uniforms must be optional. If you go here late at night you’re bound to see friends of workers hanging around. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I’ve been served by one of these unofficial helpers. One of my favorite things about Jack in the Box is the picture of the random dessert near the drive-thru window. One month it’s a slice of key lime pie. The next month it’s cheese cake. Just seems a bit too classy an offering for this place.
Wendy’s – Consistently the best drive-thru experience of them all. They have a really good Caesar salad and I like that the kids meals have options other than fries. Our kids love the mandarin oranges. They have the dual drive thru windows like McDonald’s and take Amex. A few times when we’ve had to wait longer than normal they have tossed in something extra. The only downside I can think of is the picture of the triple burger makes me sick to my stomach. Oh ya, and they got rid of the fruit bowl they used to offer last year.
Taco Bell - We used to go here often and had our share of mix-ups but they try hard. A couple of things make me laugh here. The first is the LED sign near the drive-thru window that has, in big red numbers, the amount of your order. Just below the amount is a sign that says something like, “If you’re asked to pay anything other than the above amount, please contact this number”. Makes me wonder if they recruit ex-cons or something. The second thing is the big countdown timer that’s prominently displayed. I’m sure other establishments have a similar timer, but Taco Bell wants to make sure every drive-thru customer sees that their employees are under the gun to fill your order. I don’t think I could handle a job that every transaction I handle is being timed and recorded.
Dairy Queen – Another place we used to go often before Aktins. Not for the food but for the ice cream. They know how to please the kids by handing out suckers, double cupping your shakes or putting the ice cream in a cup lid, making it easier for kids to eat. And any place that gives out “dog cones” can’t be too bad. We never loved their food but we liked their treats a lot.