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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dear Jack; a Rant

This post could alternately be entitled: Would You Freaking Let Me Finish Placing My Freaking Order Already???

I try not to eat fast food too often. It isn't good for me, and since I try to eat somewhat healthy foods for the most part, I usually feel kind of gross after I do. But when I've got a deadline, the idea of taking the time to cook usually goes out the window, and the idea of picking something up at the drive-thru becomes rather appealing. Besides, I'm already not cleaning the house or showering as much as I should be when I'm under a deadline, so I'm already a little gross in those instances, so what's the harm in adding a little more of a gross feeling from eating fast food if it saves me the time it would take to cook and wash dishes?

That's where I was late last month.

Even though I don't eat at any fast food restaurants all that often, I really don't eat at Jack-in-the-Box very often at all. It had been so long since I'd eaten there that I could no longer remember what my aversion was to them. I mean, their food is as okay as any of the other burger joints. Why didn't I ever go there? Couldn't remember, but my brother had told me that their burgers were better now. They've started seasoning them as they cook, and so they taste less like a fast food burger and more like one you'd make at home.

So, in my deadline haze, and since I couldn't remember why I avoid JitB, I decided to go there to pick up my meal and take it back to the writing cave one day.

Here's how the drive-thru experience went:

Jack's Order Taker: "Welcome to Jack-in-the-Box. My name is Fill-in-random-name-here. Would you like to try our Fill-in-random-combo-of-the-day-that-they've-been-ordered-to-push today for only $4.99?"

Me: "No thanks. Can I get a number three, small siz--"

Jack's Order Taker: "That's a number three combo. Would you like that in small, medium, or large today?"

Me: grumble beneath my breath that I was in the process of answering that very question when they interrupted me. "Small sized with a sweet te--"

Jack's Order Taker: "What drink you would like with your small combo today?"

Me: fuming from my ears at this point, as I suddenly remember why I never visit the Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru. "I want a sweet tea and regular fri--"

Jack's Order Taker: "Great, that's a number three combo, small sized with a sweet tea. Did you want regular fries or curly fries with your combo?"

Me: trying to power my way through the rest of the order to avoid any more interruptions. "Regular-fries-and-I-want-the-burger-made-with-no-sau--"

Jack's Order Taker: "Regular fries. Got it. Does the order look correct on the screen?"

Me: nearly yelling. "No, because I don't want any sauce on my burger and I was trying to tell you that if you would have just stopped interrupting me and listened for--"

Jack's Order Taker: snippy tone. "No sauce. Is the order correct on your screen now?"

Me: ripping out hair in frustration. "YES!"

Now I remember why I don't go to Jack-in-the-Box. (As a side note, the burgers do taste better now.) In fact, I can only remember one instance in the last decade or more when I've gone to a JitB drive-thru and been able to place my order without the order taker interrupting me every few seconds to ask me a question which I was already in the process of answering. I never experienced that order taker again, and I have to believe it is because the poor guy got fired for letting me get through the process without following their obsessively annoying script. Such a shame.

So Jack and your corporate executives who have created this process? It stinks. It makes placing an order take three times as long, it frustrates your customers, and it has convinced me not to go back...despite your better tasting burgers.

Are the JitB drive-thrus this bad where you live? Are there any other places you refuse to go because of annoying customer service practices?


  1. Catherine ~ I know you didn't mean to, but your post cracked me up! I don't think I have anything near me that even compares. BUT growing up in Klein, Tx - our local Whataburger had the slowest drive-thru of anywhere ever! You didn't go there unless you had an hour to spend in the drive-thru line. It's been 20 years, but I don't feel like I'm exaggerating.

    You could almost go to a 5 Star restaurant, order, and eat a 3 course meal in the same time it would take to get through Whataburger's drive thru. (Which was sooo not worth the wait.) No idea if it's a franchise issue or not, we don't have any in NC. Are they better where you live?

    1. Glad I could make you laugh. :) Whataburger is my favorite middle of the night breakfast joint. The drive thrus can be slightly slow, particularly in the middle of the night, but nothing like what you described.

  2. We don't have that chain here, Catherine, or where I grew up. I've never tried it!

    Of the two big, national burger chains, one makes my kids sick every time they eat it, and the other gets our order wrong every single time. I've given up!

    1. Ugh! Sick kiddos??? So not what you want. I do get very frustrated with getting a wrong order...and I am a very picky eater, so I rarely order anything as it comes.

  3. Bwhaha! Sorry, but that's just funny!

    I have gotten to the point that before I leave the drive-thru window, I check everything in the bag. It annoys the person at the window, and probably the driver behind me, but I don't care. I've had too many experiences where I get the food home, which is usually at least a 10 minute drive, and realize they screwed my order up. Or that's I'm MISSING food. That always sucks, because there's no way to prove you didn't eat it, once you're home! :D

    1. Olivia, I'd imagine that you usually have a number of items in a drive-thru order, too, since you've got a husband and kids. The more items involved, the greater the likelihood for a screw up. I tend to pull forward enough that the car behind me can get to the window, and then put the car in park to do my checking. That way, I'm able to run inside and gripe about how they screwed it up, and get it fixed before I leave--but I'm not holding anyone else up.

  4. Catherine,

    Hahaha. Very funny post. We don't have a Jack-in-the-Box here, but there is a burrito place that I swear one of the job requirement is a short attention span. They have the most inefficient system I've ever seen, because they don't do it like an assembly line. Instead, they are dodging each other and forgetting what they're doing. It's like ordering from the Three Stooges, but I know that before I go in and never eat there if I'm short on time.

    A couple of weekends ago my hubby and I stopped there. Here's how my ordering experience went:

    "What kind of rice and beans do you want?"
    "Spanish rice. No beans."
    Flops the tortilla on the foil. "Do you want rice?"
    "Yes, Spanish please."
    "What kind of beans?"
    "No beans."
    She got the meat right without double checking. "What else do you want on it?"
    "Salsa only and that's all."
    "Do you want cheese?"
    "No, I only want salsa."
    "Any lettuce or tomato?"
    "No, you're done with my taco now. You can wrap it up."
    "What about sour cream?"

    LOL. And this was just the main course. I still had order a side, a drink and tell her three times my husband and I were together and to ring it up together. I figure they don't get paid enough to pay attention. :)

    1. LOL, Samantha, you're always so diplomatic in your responses to things. They can't pay attention, so clearly it is because of how little they're paid. I love that. We've got some burrito places like that around here, but luckily they're set up as an assembly line. Much more efficient.

  5. Cathrine, I had a bad experience with Taco Bell this week. The past 12 days I have been helping a friend put the pieces of her life back together. Well, she and her kids had to leave her husband and set somethings in motion. Well, we have been eating a lot of fast food during lunch time and we had to go through drive thru, because I would take her on errand while my daughter was in school and our other friend watch my little man. Can't pile everyone into a 2door civic. Anyways, we went to Taco Bell and I was waiting for my friend to tell me what she wanted. She was on the phone talking to someone important. So, the drive thru chick couldn't be patient for one cotton pickin minute as I look over the menu. My friend told me what she wanted I order it and I was going to order a little more but then I was cut off and told the price. So I was appalled by the rudeness. I could said hey I was done, but I didn't. I really want to try there new drink and have a crunch wrap supreme. Yes, I know they were super busy, they could have is that or something to effect. Ugh.
    Thank you for letting me rant a feel a little better.

    1. Goodness, Melody, sounds like you've had a tough time of it lately. But it also sounds like you've been a very good friend to someone in need. I absolutely hate it when drive-thru workers rush me when I'm at the screen. Look dude/chica--it's not like I have been sitting in my car and staring at the menu for the last twenty minutes while I waited for my turn. Couldn't see the stupid thing until my car was HERE. Grrr. Feel free to rant any time. :)

  6. Hilarious post, Catherine!

    I've never been to a JitB, and don't have one around where I live. I've gotten aggravated a time or two while ordering, and like Olivia I will check my bag before I leave.

    Honestly, we should do our ordering like this guy:


    But I'll have to learn how to play guitar first. ;)

    1. LOL, Marquita! I'll have to save that video and watch it again. Too funny. I always wonder what the drive-thru workers who drive me up the wall would do if I did something really crazy...

    2. I love this so much. He actually ended up on Ellen, if I remember correctly :)
      I love that she seems so nonplussed about it, lol!

  7. My kids love Wendy's, but the place drives me nuts. Their drive thru speaker is always broken, so you invariably have to drive around to place your order, which takes up additional time and totally defeats the purpose of quickly pulling the drive thru.

    1. I hate that, Julie. Equally as annoying? All the places that put in an order screen years ago, so that you could verify your order onscreen, yet they're always broken. What's the point of having them if you can't ever use them?

  8. My favorite is when they interrupt my order to "repeat my order". When there are four of us, this makes me want to take off my shoe and beat them.

    And it's even worse here in India - EVERYBODY does it. I've actually tried writing down our order in meticulous detail and handing it to them...they STILL ask if they can repeat the order!

    I smiled and said "I'm pretty sure that if it looks like that paper, I'm good." They repeated it anyway.

    1. Oh, Lorenda...I do like them to repeat my order back to me. Just preferably not until I'm finished. LOL. But all too often, if they don't repeat it back, then there are problems where they got something wrong. Ugh! I can feel your beat-them-with-a-shoe frustration, though.

  9. Hilarious :) (Though not at the time to you, I'm sure!)

    My favorite local place is Steve's Hot dogs: they have a table with order sheets and pencils and you just circle what you want. So fast, so efficient, and I have never had a single mistake!

    Back in the day when I used to have to travel with work, I learned most of the time, its faster just to go in!

    1. Order sheets sound delightful. There are far too few of those places around, and you'd think that it would make it easier on everyone involved.