Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fast Food Nation

Yet another sign of globalization, or rather Americanization in Singapore is the re-entry of Wendy's into Singapore. As a kid, I remember Wendy's being in town. There was also Hardee's and Denny's. They disappeared though. It just didn't work then. I suppose there wasn't enough wealth for Singaporeans at that point to support such a large fast food market. Anyway, Wendy's is back and apparently, there are 35 outlets in Singapore planned for the next 10 years.

Packrat loves anything that reminds him of the USA. It isn't so much that he is a sucker for anything American although he does seem to have a soft spot for all things American. So, when we saw a double-decker bus that had the Wendy's ad on it, he was determined to hunt it down.

Hunt it down we did. Last night.

And as I stated on my Facebook, I suffered much aggro trying to order my burger.

This is why. (I am going to compare it to Macs because Macs has the most consistent service around and generally they don't screw up your orders)

  1. It only had 2 counters. Thus the queues took forever, although there were other reasons why the queues took forever too. Read on.
  2. Unlike Macs, that takes your orders and it appears on a screen at the back for the staff to organise the order and the counter can get on with clearing the lines, at Wendy's, they take your order and it stays on the cashier's screen till it is serviced. This means, you and the counter staff spend some minutes staring blankly at one another trying to see who would flinch first.
  3. As a result of 2), I spent half an hour waiting in line with 5 people in front of me and the service staff staring blankly at us from behind the counter.
  4. I am so grateful to be the next up at the counter, I decide to try and help the counter staff. He asked the customer in front of me if he had 5 cents (all their meals end with 5 cents, so I suspect they were running out of 5 cent change). Since I had about 6 minutes on average to kill before it was my turn to order, I dug around in my wallet for a 5 cent coin. My order was $9.65. I gave the server $10.05. I was due to get 40 cents in change. Easy Peasy. But when I looked at my change, my brain could not compute. I got the right change. It was just a matter of the denominations the change came in. One 20 cent coin, One 10 cent coin and TWO 5 cent coins!
  5. The servers obviously did not pay attention when they were in kindergarten and were taught to fit the right size containers with the covers. I ordered a large drink. That should then mean that the cup should be capped by a large cover. But no, Mr Vapid, Blank Look Server had to go through the 2 smaller sizes before finding the shoe that fit.
  6. Repeating that I was taking away my order 3 times still led to my order being placed on a tray.
  7. Repeating that I wanted a Large sized combo with a Fanta Grape still led to my being asked if I wanted a Medium Coke 3 times.
  8. Each server, in a dark green shirt, was supervised by a guy in a light green shirt (assistant managers, I hear they are still hiring!), supervised by a guy in a black shirt who is supervised by ONE American dude who looks like he wants to fry up his whole staff because even though he announced loudly enough for me to hear, that there weren't any more baked spuds left, there were still orders being taken for them.
  9. With so many staff milling behind the counter, there were only two people preparing the burgers.
  10. Mr Vapid, Blank Look Counter Boy is told by Mr Black Shirt that he can take the next order while waiting for the previous order to be furnished. He proceeds to do so and puts all the food on the tray. Mr Black Shirt tells him he must collect payment before putting food on the tray. So he proceeds to take everything off the tray and put it back behind him on the warmers.
So, 10 reasons why I grew increasingly agitated and while I don't want to appear racist, my half an hour in the queue made me feel extremely Aryan and feeling that a Final Solution is sometimes justified (however politically incorrect and violating of human rights it is).

To make it worse, the large box of fries I ordered was only half filled, with fries that were over salted and smelt overwhelmingly of peanut oil. The burger, in all its square patty glory, was fair enough I guess and I can't quite comment on it because we ate it quite late.

All in, I'm not sure how it would ever make it here big if it is so inefficient. I felt like I was in a fast food joint in some back water Malaysian townlet rather than in the CBD in Singapore. Obviously, the staff needs to be trained more, the kitchen facilities need to be larger and better organised and at least have free wireless so people standing in the queue for extended periods of time can Facebook and Twitter as they wait. Or perhaps, that's why they don't or it would be splashed all over cyber space how wonderful the waiting game is.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:17

6 thoughts...

6 thoughts...

At 5:44 am Blogger mariposa said...

Yes, even here in America & Canada, McDonald's still beats all the other fast-food chains in consistency of service. But, there'll be slight variance from state to state; for instance in Oregon, the service staff are benign, polite, friendly, and won't rush you. The moment you cross the border to California, everything speeds up and encounters are more curt, crisp and focused on efficiency. In some small town in the middle of nowhere, sometimes they can run out of certain menu items and things are slow and laidback; but they can afford the time because there won't be any queue.

An interesting thing I first noticed after coming here is that in the McDonald's in Canada, everything is in English and French. The moment you cross the border to USA, everything is in English and Spanish.

There's one particular BK near my place that's really lackadaisical in service. I used to lurrve the BK croissanwich breakfasts back in Sgp, but at this outlet here the croissanwiches seem microwaved from frozen--in short, pretty stale. Haven't been to Wendy's often enough to note the service. There's also A&Ws too. I still remember A&W as the first fastfood restaurant in Singapore. My brother took me there when he was a teen and me just a kid. I ate a Coney-Dog and had a Root Beer!

YY.

 
At 11:09 pm Blogger joshua said...

Yet another sign is rampant americanized spelling of words like Americanisation. ;)

 
At 11:29 pm Blogger Aud :) said...

maybe the counter boy really IS stupid. slow on the uptake. haha.
oh dear and i had wanted to go and try it too..
i'll go when there's no lunchtime crowd. heh.

 
At 11:36 pm Blogger Daphne said...

umm. the comment at the end abt Malaysia was totally uncalled for.

i loved Wendy's as a kid living in Jakarta, n will definitely be visiting the one(s) in Singapore soon, despite this review.

hope ur next visit will be better!

 
At 4:40 pm Blogger Heetler said...

I can totally share your sentiments, 'cos I'd been to Wendy's too and encountered similar experience.
I waited for so long I almost wanted to kill people, and it didn't justify my wait at all 'cos the staff there were of zero efficiency.

Eg:
It was supposed to be a cashier taking orders, and another helping to load the food onto the tray. But after taking orders, the cashier went to help the other staff load the food as well. It totally slowed down the whole process, keeping a super long queue of patrons waiting.
And the staff still don't seem anxious at all that they are holding up everybody's time, as they continue doing things slowly in their own way.

Also, the food was quite a disappointment as well.
I ordered the 2-piece spicy chicken, only to get super dry chicken that wasn't spicy at all.

It'll only reflect real bad on Wendy's reputation, should the management not do anything to improve the service standards.

 
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