A McReview of the New McDonalds “Create Your Taste” Burger Option #yqr

So, to celebrate the first day of school, we decided to take Pace to McDonalds for supper.

I’d forgotten that Regina’s Rochdale McDonalds location (and perhaps others in the city?) have installed the new “Build Your Taste” machines which are like giant iPad-like, self-serve touchscreen machines.

I’m sure we could’ve figured it out but a staff member was over quickly to help us out and show us the basics of using the machine – adding, deleting, scrolling – things to our order.

We ordered a couple standard Happy Meals for Pace and Sasha but then Shea and I both went for the “Create Your Taste” option to try it out.

Thoughts?

  • In the past, I’ve never asked if they’ll do this when you order at the counter like usual.  But these machines have an option for “lettuce wrap” instead of a bun right up front which is useful for the low-carb crowd.
  • We picked “Create Your Own” but I think they also had some pre-loaded options for various combos – “Sweet Thai Angus Burger” and “Spicy Sriracha Chicken” or whatever.
  • It felt a bit sneaky that they don’t tell you which add-ons are free (pickles) and which cost extra (bacon) until you click to add them.  You can always remove them but that seemed somewhat misleading.
  • We did luck out though that they were having a promotion (not sure when it started or for how long) that if you tried the “Create Your Taste” option, they’d give you a free side and drink (maybe a $2 value each?) as an incentive for people to try this new technology out.
  • Our burgers came to about $8/each which is about what I’d pay for a full meal regularly (Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with fries and drink).  So the free side/drink helped but overall, you’re going to pay a couple bucks more for the pleasure of customizing your own order.
  • The screen had lots of unusual options by McDonald’s standards as the chain tries to be a bit more upscale – dijon mustard or tomato pesto on your burger, your highness?
  • We were also a bit surprised to hear this new option meant we could either pick-up our order at the front counter when it was ready or have…table service.  (What???)
  • Being the high class family that we are, we opted for table service.  We were given one of those table number things, similar to what you get at say, Red Lobster (also classy!), when you’re at the bar waiting to hear that your table is ready.
  • One employee excitedly told us that our fries would “even come in a basket”.
  • Our food was brought eventually but it seemed much slower to come out than it would if we’d just ordered at the counter and wait for a couple seconds for them to move it onto our plastic tray from the hot lights like we’ve done McDonalds for 100 years.
  • Also, maybe because it was supper rush and we weren’t the only parents with the brilliant idea to take our kids to McDonalds after the first day of school but our food came out in two sets quite far apart – first Shea’s burger and one Happy Meal then my burger and another Happy Meal.  (If anyone from McDonalds is reading this, here’s a pro tip – if you have a group of two adults and two kids in your establishment, *always* bring out the kids’ food first.  And if both kids order the same thing and you only bring one Happy Meal, do not set it between them as your server may lose an arm, not unlike someone being a bit stupidbrave reaching outside a shark cage with a piece of fresh meat!)
  • Finally, we’d both ordered side salads but Shea’s arrived with fries.  To their credit, the staff caught this before we even mentioned it to them and mine came out with a salad as requested and they also brought one for Shea.  Plus we got to keep the fries – bonus!
  • Speaking of tips, having table service while sitting in the gaudy plastic environs of McDonald’s left me a bit confused about whether I should tip my server or not.  I did (and quite generously all things considered – as far as I can tell, this one person was responsible for table service for the whole restaurant) but I also spent a lot of time thinking about the impact of automation on the workforce and the notion of “Shadow Work”
  • Again, the line was blurry between “fast food self serve” and “table service” but I did go to the fountain machine to get refills at one point rather than asking our server to do it.
  • She handed us a small business card with her name and a web site URL and we’re supposed to review our experience – not sure if it’s about her or the new technology or the food or a bit of all of the above?
  • McDonalds missed a huge opportunity by not installing the somewhat similar self-serve, touchscreen Coke Freestyle machines to go with the new approach to ordering.  (I heard about these being in the US a while back but only just encountered them recently at a local Cineplex when Shea and I were out for a movie night.)
  • Pace and I went up to get dessert and this time, I didn’t seem to get an option to ask for table service (is that only for “main” courses?) so I was told (er, my receipt told me) to go to the counter to pick up my cookies and ice cream treat.
  • But when I got to the counter, I noticed a log jam of people waiting.  It appears they’d redesigned their front counter so where there used to be 2 or 3 tills where you could place an order, there was only one.  And now, everyone, whether they’d used the machines or had ordered directly at the counter, was waiting to pick up their food at this one busy pick-up counter.  In the previous set-up, if I’d order cookies and ice cream, I’d have paid and had them on my tray in about a minute, tops.  This way left me waiting for probably 5-10 minutes before I got my order (not sure if this was also partly due to their ice cream machine being down but humans actually tell you that when you’re ordering whereas machines still don’t. So I also had to do an extra dance to get a refund of the ice cream treat I’d ordered on top of everything.)

Overall, it was an interesting experience but it also left me somewhat anxious for the future.  In one way, it’s cool to have a lot more control and choice and to see how technology is changing how we interact with companies and other organizations.

But it feels like there are a lot of kinks to work out and the technology still has a long ways to go before it can replace the intelligence, anticipation and smiles of a human face!

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  1. From Head Tale - First Lines From My First Blog Post In Every Month of 2016 on 30 Dec 2016 at 6:42 pm

    […] September – “So, to celebrate the first day of school, we decided to take Pace to McDonald’s for supper.” […]

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