Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wendy’s Biggie Problem at the Drive-Through

This week another issue that affects all U.S. drivers who insist on using Wendy's drive-throughs: Malfunctioning Wendy's drive-through windows that result in frustrated customers, employees and millions of dollars of free food being given away every year.

Quick re-cap on Wendy's: Founded in Columbus, Ohio by good-guy Dave Thomas in 1969 and slowly but surely built into the third largest burger chain. Peaked with those "Where's the Beef?" commercials in the 80s and began its decline when apple dumplings were taken off the menu. Heirs to the family business, including namesake Wendy, not really interested in running the business. Corporate heirs to the business not really interested in running the business. Bought by Arby's & friends, who presumably are interested in running the business.

And late last year somebody mentioned above took federal bailout money – I'm almost certain – so it's high time for federal intervention over this drive-through issue.

Here's how it doesn't work:

You drive up to a Wendy's drive-through in almost any large U.S. city, and you order from the $1.31 Value Menu (No word on what happened to the 99-cent Value Menu, and the 131st penny solicited is probably Arby's hare-brained influence ... as in the "extra" penny goes to Margaret, the 80-year-old lady with her pants pulled up to her ribcage who walks around compulsively wiping tables off all day). You order your Biggie whatever, feeling silly that you've once again forgotten your vow not to say that silly word in public again, and then at the pick-up window you don't get your Biggie whatever, but something completely different.

Or you're missing half your order.

Or you have two of something instead of six of something.

Or six of something instead of two of something.

You explain to the drive-through folks, who nod their heads and smile as if they understand and then shovel extra food at you until you leave.

You're happy you got the free food but still perturbed ... the twelve cars that have backed up behind you are really perturbed ... and another American corporation has thrown another bit of its bottom line right out the window.

I've figured out how this is happening, Wendy's.

You have been putting people who speak only Spanish on drive-through duty in cities where most people speak only English.

The people who speak only Spanish, your employees, don't understand the people who speak only English: most of your U.S. customers who don't live in Miami or Los Angeles.

It's a Biggie Mess.

Your restaurants in Japan are already closing their doors. I didn't read beyond the headline, but I have no doubt this is because you have somehow managed to staff your Japanese drive-throughs with Spanish-only-speaking people as well. Unlike Americans, you can't make Japanese folks happy by just giving them free food. There is no papering-over incompetence in that country.

This nonsense has got to stop.

Your UnHumble Car Czar is fully aware that all of these know-it-alls in the private sector continue to rail on talk radio and web forums against government intervention in business as they sit at home unemployed, having run their businesses into the ground without any government intervention.

But I'm going to intervene here.

Wendy's: In the name of Dave and square hamburgers, quit putting Mexicans who don't speak English on your drive-through windows.

And while you're at it, bring back the apple dumpling.

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