Last night, I fell victim to ill-conceived fast-food gimmickry in the form of the Coca-Cola Freestyle® drink machine at a Wendy’s® restaurant near my home.
My foray into fast-food gimmickry began a few days earlier while driving by a just-opened Wendy’s® a few miles from my home. It was then that I noticed the message on a brightly-colored banner positioned near the street in front of the restaurant: “Over 100 Drink Flavors!”
After passing the restaurant several times during the days that followed, I finally succumbed to the less-than-subliminal pressure of that banner and went inside to buy a bag of burgers for my family AND to find out how the folks at Wendy’s® would fulfill their corporate promise of a plethora of drink flavors.
Unlike the traditional self-serve set up featuring a half-dozen drink choices on each side of an ice delivery system, the new system features a sleek touchscreen via which customers can concoct a mixture of their own choosing from a full-scale menu of carbonated and non-carbonated drink options.
As something of a germaphobe, I couldn’t help but think about how many people might touch the touchscreen on the high-tech drink machine during a given day. And how many had washed their hands — or not — before touching it?
That wasn’t an issue with the old-style fountain drink delivery systems that, when operated properly, allow one to push the side of his cup against a metal bars and cause ice and fluids to enter said cup and result in no direct contact between a customer’s hand and the machine.
And what about the lines? Another problem I noticed with this system is that it serves only one customer at a time, kind of like the DMV.
During the five minutes or so that I waited for my carry-out food order to be prepared, I observed as many as three customers at a time waiting in line to use the high-tech, high-touch machine — and the evening rush of customers had not yet arrived.
In addition, I observed that the system had to be “fixed” — that is, a manager had to use a password to get into the machine’s control panel and make some sort of adjustments — at least once during those five minutes. Customers waiting for the machine to be returned to working order had no other options as the one-hole wonder was, as far as I could see, the only customer-accessible drink-dispensing station in the restaurant.
What’s the solution for “Joe Customer” if fast-food restaurants like Wendy’s® stick with the new touch-screen machine, I suppose he can just call the restaurant months ahead of his next fast-food visit to schedule an appointment at the drink machine.
Wait! That’s kind of like what they will have to do with ObamaCare.
If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Follow me on Twitter @BloggingMachine. Thanks in advance for your support!