That McDonald’s Drive-Thru Recording Really Needs to Go!


It’s time for McDonald’s to do one of two things: either make sure there’s always someone on standby to take your order the moment you drive up to its drive-thru order board, or ditch the recording that asks for your order once and for all.

Sometimes, technology doesn’t help us.

Before a year or two ago, a trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru meant you’d encounter only human beings as you placed, paid for and received your order. Then someone, likely some executive somewhere, had a “great idea.” Customers suddenly found themselves being greeted by a recording.

“Welcome to McDonald’s. Can I help you?”

I’ll ignore the non-grammatical can that should be may, because there are bigger fish — and burgers — to fry here.

Ideally, as soon as the recording plays through the speakers, the customer calls his order into the microphone, the order is displayed on an electronic tote board and the McDonald’s employee, who, I might add, never sounds anything like the Pollyanna who made the recording, asks if everything on the tote board is correct and gives the price tag.

Ideally, it speeds up the process and ensures that the customer doesn’t have to wait to be waited on.

Ideally, it’s not a bad idea.

But let’s consider reality for a moment.

Because it almost never works out that way anytime I visit a McDonald’s.

Here’s what I find: I drive up to the menu board and am greeted by the cheerful — almost too cheerful — voice. I give my order. I wait through moments of silence. The tote board stays locked on whatever it was displaying before I got there. After another second or two of an all-too-pregnant pause, the human finally turns on the mic.

And asks me to repeat my order.

Because he or she wasn’t ready to take the order when the recording asked me for it. He or she was taking the money and making change for the customer ahead of me. He or she never even heard what I said because they were waiting, face to face, on someone else.

So I have to repeat my order and hope that the second time’s a charm.

I really, really, really hate that. Perhaps, I hate it at an absolutely irrational level. But when they ask me for my order while failing to provide someone with fingers on the keypad to ring up what I say, they are wasting my time. Sure, it’s less than 30 seconds of my time, but it’s still a waste of my time.

I’d much rather wait without any greeting at all for ten seconds. I would even prefer what I get at most other restaurants, “Welcome to so-and-so, we’ll be right with you.”

No problem. I get that they’re busy.

Unlike far too many people these days, I understand that I’m not the only person on the planet and that there are other people ahead of me at any given moment.

But they’re at least making an effort to say so and let me know that they’re not going to just leave me hanging. I’d rather wait to hear an actual person running behind than a prerecorded voice that will then only force me to repeat myself because the same employee is running behind, anyway.

The recording only ticks me off.

Do things like that bug you? Would you prefer the recording that acknowledges you immediately even if you have to repeat yourself, or would you prefer a short wait until someone can actually serve you?

1 Comment

  1. I’m embarrassed to admit that I drive thru McDonalds almost every day and never get a recording. Thank God! I’d totally be complaining. Our McD’s is run like clockwork, so having to repeat orders would NOT be ok with us regulars. I don’t think they use recordings anyplace around here, though I have a vague memory of encountering a recording somewhere, followed by a ‘live’ voice saying, “Hold on just a moment please….OK, go ahead with your order.”

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.