No Cashiers = Faster BigMac?

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Joined: 07/24/10
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No Cashiers = Faster BigMac?

Do you believe that your experience at McDonalds will be faster and/or better with a touch screen cashier?

http://www.techeye.net/hardware/days-of-the-mcdonalds-cashier-could-be-numbered

The end could be in sight for a much maligned but nonetheless iconic job role, the McDonald's sales assistant, with the news that Ronald and Co will be fitting out 7,000 European outlets with touchscreens and swipe cards.
The news was broken by the Financial Times in an interview with the president of Maccy D’s European operations, Steve Easterbrook. Easterbrook said that ordering food had “not changed for 30 or 40 years” so its restaurants would be looking to modern technology.
The move aims to make the McDonald's experience more convenient, though we must say the original ‘give money, get burger’ was never really too taxing on the customer in the first place.
According to Easterbrook, bringing in touchscreens will mean that efficiency is increased. Swiping of Visa cards could also make life more simple for us increasingly catatonic fast food devourers, with the average transaction three to four seconds shorter for each customer. It makes instant gratification that little bit more instant.
For a company that flips burgers for around two million customers daily in Europe, this means even more money passing through its soon-to-be-automated tills.
It also means that, like the similar technology at supermarkets, the firm will be able to gather huge databases on customer ordering habits.
And it appears that other leading fast food chains are about to follow suit, with KFC informing us that it is currently trialling touchscreens in some UK stores. Though there are no Europe-wide plans just yet, they are “definitely looking at the technology”.
Burger King did not comment at time of publication.
Of course, while McDonald’s customers will have whole seconds shaved off the time between entering the shop and receiving their Happy Meal, it could mean jobs could be chopped.
Thankfully there are reports that the firm could be employing waiters at branches, which we presume is to provide Michelin level table service as well as to wipe down the greasy paw prints of those returning to touchscreens, to replenish their meagre ketchup supplies.

Joined: 07/24/10
Posts: 208

I guess I'm an old fart. I like a smiling face in front of me to take my order. Also, I fear getting behind someone who takes FOREVER to find the right buttons. Not taking cash anymore weirds me out too (that was in a different article reporting the same story). I don't want them collecting data on the fact that I go to their eatery 4 times per year and order a Filet o' Fish meal. That's creepy.

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

I dunno...around here it seems that McDonalds only hires those who can't get a job elsewhere. These people are slow, often wrong, and often rude. We order from McDonalds twice a month, probably, and there's usually something wrong.

It's super frustrating because our family now costs almost $40 to eat at McDonalds. I don't want to pay that much for "convenience" when it's not really convenient to get the wrong order every time.

Who knows where the errors are made though? Through the ordering system? Or during the making of the food?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm all for it. Will they have pictures and whatnot for the illiterate? I would hope so as I bet a decent percentage of their customer base can't read.

Anyone from my part of the country knows WAWA. They are one of those mega gas/convienance/hoagie/food places (though explaining them like that cheapens them, they are a good company and I like them). They moved to all touch screens a few years back and it is easy, I can get exactly what I want, and I feel like it has hastened things rather than slowing them up ~ since everyone is building a sandwich no one is standing there with a pencil and paper taking your order. I also love self check out lanes in grocery stores.

I never use cash so that part would not bother me. Honestly I don't understand whey McDonalds tracking their customer purchases/needs/wants is any different than the billion companies who already do it to you based on every purchase you make.

Joined: 01/01/06
Posts: 262

I like the idea.

I don't go that often to McD's but the last time I was there I felt a little rushed. As soon as I pulled up they wanted to know what I wanted and I add no idea...I was trying to read the big picture board, ask my kids questions, and make decisions while knowing someone was listening and waiting for me....they weren't rude about it but I was very self-conscious.

I don't know why you couldn't pay with cash still...our McD's has 2 car ordering lines that merge into one to pay. I asked them once how they knew who owed which amount (since one lane will sometimes move faster...) They said they had a camera that showed which amount per car. So, even if you touch-screened ordered, you'd think you could still pay at the window if necessary...though that does defeat the purpose for them of one less employee needed for that job.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

The closest I get to fast food is the Tim Hortons drive-thru, but I guess it's an okay idea. Not for me, personally, but I can see it working. It would drive me bananas to be behind someone who is slow or can't figure out how to work the machine. I'm not the most patient person in the world. I think it's like all the other self-serve checkouts and ATMs at the bank - designed to eliminate human error, extra time and ultimately the cost of employing all those 'real live people'.

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

Sorry, I'm a Luddite. It bothers me that the people who need jobs the most will be losing them over this. Plus, I am one of those people that want things that are never on the menu, like no ice and less bags.

daniellevmt's picture
Joined: 07/25/06
Posts: 213

I'm not on board with this, simply because it's going to create massive lay-offs. There are already pictures of the food on the menu.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"blather" wrote:

Sorry, I'm a Luddite. It bothers me that the people who need jobs the most will be losing them over this. Plus, I am one of those people that want things that are never on the menu, like no ice and less bags.

Agree. When they talk about "effeciency" I'm pretty sure they mean "savings for the company in not having to pay people." What do you bet the customers don't see those savings passed down to them? And I'm generally not in favor of eliminating jobs for machines.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Agree. When they talk about "effeciency" I'm pretty sure they mean "savings for the company in not having to pay people." What do you bet the customers don't see those savings passed down to them? And I'm generally not in favor of eliminating jobs for machines.

Imagine how the world would be if more industries adopted this archaic stance! We'd still have switchboard operators to make phone calls! As to savings getting passed down....aren't burgers and crap there like $.99? How much cheaper can they get? Their cheapness is part of what is destroying the health of our nation.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Potter75" wrote:

Imagine how the world would be if more industries adopted this archaic stance! We'd still have switchboard operators to make phone calls! As to savings getting passed down....aren't burgers and crap there like $.99? How much cheaper can they get? Their cheapness is part of what is destroying the health of our nation.

I think if we kept more people in the process of industry, we would be forced to have more local economies. Which I actually think is preferable. I think that the cheapness of the quality of all sorts of things (food included) is directly related to losing touch with that "archaic" view where people directly touch the things they grow, make, et cetera.

Don't worry, my husband thinks I'm nuts too.

I also highly doubt that just because the company is saving money, they will increase the quality of the food. My guess is, they won't increase the quality, and they won't decrease the cost to the customer. So what is it that I am supposed to be supporting? McDonald's execs getting higher bonuses this year at the cost of jobs? Woohoo.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I don't disagree that losing touch with local agriculture, local artisans etc are all anti-community. I don't lump mcdonalds cashiers in with that, in general, as Mcd is 100% not community or health or locally oriented in any way. The ability to remain in touch is also available to us all (easier or harder depending on our communities).......there is also nothing, not ONE thing about McD's that in any way fosters the health of our community, our individuals, or our entire planet.

And if McDonalds execs have to foot the bill to install these systems, run the risk of them not working, and ultimately they end up being profitable, well, yeah, that is how CEO's earn bonuses. Are there other industries where you are anti efficiency? Efficiency/multitasking is probably my best skill as a Mom, so I am a huge fan of it in general. (also why I suck at patience Lol

The best way to show that you don't support the idea is to never, ever eat at a McDonalds, for any reason.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"Potter75" wrote:

I don't disagree that losing touch with local agriculture, local artisans etc are all anti-community. I don't lump mcdonalds cashiers in with that, in general, as Mcd is 100% not community or health or locally oriented in any way. The ability to remain in touch is also available to us all (easier or harder depending on our communities).......there is also nothing, not ONE thing about McD's that in any way fosters the health of our community, our individuals, or our entire planet.

And if McDonalds execs have to foot the bill to install these systems, run the risk of them not working, and ultimately they end up being profitable, well, yeah, that is how CEO's earn bonuses. Are there other industries where you are anti efficiency? Efficiency/multitasking is probably my best skill as a Mom, so I am a huge fan of it in general. (also why I suck at patience Lol

The best way to show that you don't support the idea is to never, ever eat at a McDonalds, for any reason.

Done! (Although that's not a huge sacrifice because the idea of eating at McDonald's makes me feel sick to my stomach.)

Other industries where I am anti-efficiency? Yeah, pretty much all of them, at least the ones that make consumer goods. You know that show "How It's Made" where they go through and film axes and cars and waffles being made in a factory? DH loves that show which is why I've had this conversation with him like 10000x times. I hate watching all of that stuff being made by machines. I seriously believe that is the downfall of our environment and our economy.

Now, I agree that McDonalds is hardly a paragon of local business. But I am still opposed to the idea of eliminating jobs for machines wherever that happens on principle. It's not like I'm going to say "Oh, McDonald's, they suck anyway, so jobs schmobs."

As for execs running the risks and reaping the rewards...yeah, not compelling to me. I don't really care if the CEO of McDonald's gets a bigger bonus this year. Meh. I'd rather people have jobs.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't care if he gets a bonus or not either. I'm just explaining why if he did his job (increase profits and efficiency) he deserved one.

As to the rest, I just can't agree. I don't pine away longingly for the days of seamstress sweatshops and the like. I like technology and have zero interest in going back to the pre industrial revolution pastoral ideal.

I would also like to see studies on how this may actually affect jobs. I'm willing to bet it won't effect many. With Wawa, when they introduced them they could make more food in less time, probably requiring more workers instead of less. I have to get the kids to bed but will come back at naptime Smile

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I'll admit that my feelings on the matter are a little half-baked. I don't have any studies or numbers to back myself up (although I doubt Wawa hired more workers due to increased efficiency unless the reduced wait times actually increased demand for their sandwiches.)

I'll also admit that there are some areas where I want the highest tech possible. I can't imagine what would happen if medical supply/pharma companies started hand making each medicine. I imagine the supply would drop dramatically, the price might raise dramatically (although the price NOW hardly seems tied to the cost of production) and people would start dying off like flies. So I admit, there are some flaws in my theory.

I think what I am looking for is some kind of middle ground, where people aren't cut for the sole purpose of lining the company coffers. I just have no idea what that would look like.

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

D@mn, I love a Big Mac.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

While in the short term this might lead to job loss, in the long term I think it would save jobs. Companies need to be able to compete. If they can not compete they go out of business. If a company can save money buy having to have less workers then they are free to grow and expand. That means opening more stores (which creates jobs in construction, cooks, people to clean them...) and staying in business. Forcing companies to have employees that they do not need will drive them out of business and have a massive loss of jobs instead of just a few lost jobs.

As far as personally, I like the idea. If I could type my order in there would be a ton less mistakes. It also would make things easier for people that are Hard of Hearing and have a hard time ordering.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think what I am looking for is some kind of middle ground, where people aren't cut for the sole purpose of lining the company coffers. I just have no idea what that would look like.

I completely agree with this. I think what it would look like is the grocery store where there are a few self-serve lanes and a few full-serve lanes. I personally like to let someone else ring up & bag my stuff because I'm too busy trying to keep my baby from shoplifting candy bars. :oops: I love chatting with the cashiers at Trader Joe's, I've swapped a number of great recipes, they recommend things I haven't tried yet, tell me about fun things to do with the kids, etc. But I get why people like the self-serve lines, they're fast (ours limit you to 15 items & they accept cash) and efficient (no chatty cashier, you can use produce codes if you know them, and you bag your items as you swipe them.)

Some things are absolutely better when they are automated, drug & automobile production, phone calls, and I love online banking because I remember standing in a hellish line at 3pm on Friday with my grandma to get cash for the weekend. But just because some things *could* be automated, doesn't mean they should be. We need to keep a human touch to some things, and we need to provide low-end jobs for people who can't or don't want to work at other places. I used to manage a fast food restaurant, and two of my best employees were senior citizens who worked not so much to supplement their income but because they enjoyed interacting with the people. I like being able to ask if the iced tea is warm or cold, because that affects how much ice I want in my cup, how would a computer know that?

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

Not sure if it will really save people "time" in the long run. I know when we go to PA and we stop to a Sheetz, we sometimes will get food and you have the touch screen that you order thru. You still pay a person, but your ordering is thru a touch screen. It seems to take several minutes for me to find the right buttons to order a simple hotdog with mustard and sourkraut (sp). It would be SO much faster to just tell someone that knew the right buttons to hit what I wanted.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I guess I don't get this big fear that hoards of McDonalds cashiers are going to be pounding the pavement looking for jobs. I mean, aren't the people getting these billion dollar jobs creating manufacturing and maintaining these terminals employing people as well? Without technological advance and change, would they not be out of work instead?

Also, forgive me as I don't eat there....but don't humans still have to pour the drinks and bag the fries and defrost the chickenish things they call nuggets? I mean, I really don't see this touchscreen taking away jobs any more than I see the advent of the debit card taking away jobs because people no longer had to make change. Maybe I'm just not looking at this right?

Joined: 07/24/10
Posts: 208

"Emilys4Guppies" wrote:

I dunno...around here it seems that McDonalds only hires those who can't get a job elsewhere. These people are slow, often wrong, and often rude. We order from McDonalds twice a month, probably, and there's usually something wrong.

It's super frustrating because our family now costs almost $40 to eat at McDonalds. I don't want to pay that much for "convenience" when it's not really convenient to get the wrong order every time.

Who knows where the errors are made though? Through the ordering system? Or during the making of the food?

Em, I know this is a huge generalization, but I've found that I get better service on my side of the border. Maybe it's because people here don't have nice sized unemployment, welfare, and healthcare programs to fall back on like they do in Canada, so there is a bit more of an incentive to keep that job at McD's. Also, maybe it's the incredibly crappy economy in California, but I can honestly say that I have not encountered a service employee with a rotten attitude for months now. That's JME though.

Also, don't you guys have $1.49 happy meal night? We have that on Th and Sun. from 4-8 p.m. I take the kids to that every 2-3 months as a treat. I usually order 6 of them and get out of there for under $10.

Joined: 07/24/10
Posts: 208

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

The closest I get to fast food is the Tim Hortons drive-thru, but I guess it's an okay idea. Not for me, personally, but I can see it working. It would drive me bananas to be behind someone who is slow or can't figure out how to work the machine. I'm not the most patient person in the world. I think it's like all the other self-serve checkouts and ATMs at the bank - designed to eliminate human error, extra time and ultimately the cost of employing all those 'real live people'.

That would be me too. I would be screaming to myself in my car, "OMG! What is your freakin' problem? Order your burger, fries, and drink and go! Hurry UP already!" but then I'd get up there and need to order no cheese on my Filet O' Fish and not be able to find that button.

I like when they have both the person and the self check out. Sometimes you need help, like when you fly with kids and need to make sure they're sitting next to you. I remember one time I was flying with United because my MIL booked us on Air Canada and they're partners. The guy insisted that we do self check in after I told him that we were going to need help. So, we waited in this huge line to get to the self check in terminal and then surprise surprise, the computer couldn't check us in because we were officially on an Air Canada flight...or whatever reason. So, we were directed to go stand in an even longer line to see an actual person. There was ONE person working that line and it was taking forever and I was getting more and more pissed off. Then the guy directing the self check in line started letting people in our same situation cut in front of the person check in line and I flipped out and march up there and they tried to accuse me of not waiting my turn etc. OMG, I unleashed on that lady. That was one day I was NOT embarrassed to lose my temper.

Computers won't do everything. You have to have some people available to take care of the customers that need or want it.

I will NEVER fly United again after that incident. I'll gladly give my money to AlaskaAir or other airlines who will have a person to check me in if that's what I want or need that day. I appreciate service. I like a "Hi, how are you? What can I get/do for you today?" when I spend my money. BUT, I also appreciate being able to get money at midnight in my PJ's at the ATM.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"daniellevmt" wrote:

I'm not on board with this, simply because it's going to create massive lay-offs.

Not to be all "cite"?-y...but do you have a cite for this? I went looking for info on Wawa and layoffs and could not find any resulting from the switch to touchscreen ordering (which took place several years ago so may have provided a glimpse of how this switch could affect McD)........I'm really curious about the ultimate implications from this. If it was shown that true "massive lay-offs", are going to be created I might be willing to reconsider my position........I just can't find anything indicating that.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

"Potter75" wrote:

Anyone from my part of the country knows WAWA.

All I have to say in this thread is that I love Wawa. I have one less than a mile away from my house and it's so yummy to order guilty food after a night of drinking and having fun with my friends:D:D:D:D

Joined: 05/31/06
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"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

All I have to say in this thread is that I love Wawa. I have one less than a mile away from my house and it's so yummy to order guilty food after a night of drinking and having fun with my friends:D:D:D:D

I'll meet you at DW and hit up a Wawa anytime. They introduced the milkshakes when I was pregnant with my first kid. I think that I drank every one sold in the tri state area Smile

daniellevmt's picture
Joined: 07/25/06
Posts: 213

No, I don't have anything to cite, and I'm certain it would take me much too long to find something to your liking. It's just common sense that adding touch screens=no need for cashiers, therefore, people will be losing jobs.

Whether or not McD's is bad for people or the health of our nation, it's not going anywhere. Therefore, let people keep their jobs.

daniellevmt's picture
Joined: 07/25/06
Posts: 213

"Potter75" wrote:

Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't care if he gets a bonus or not either. I'm just explaining why if he did his job (increase profits and efficiency) he deserved one.

As to the rest, I just can't agree. I don't pine away longingly for the days of seamstress sweatshops and the like. I like technology and have zero interest in going back to the pre industrial revolution pastoral ideal.

I would also like to see studies on how this may actually affect jobs. I'm willing to bet it won't effect many. With Wawa, when they introduced them they could make more food in less time, probably requiring more workers instead of less. I have to get the kids to bed but will come back at naptime Smile

I disagree. I personally love something handmade (obviously not from a sweatshop) and will pay more for something that IS handmade, because it usually means it's better quality and I love to support local artisans and small businesses. And this is totally an aside, because McD's obviously fits into neither category.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"daniellevmt" wrote:

No, I don't have anything to cite, and I'm certain it would take me much too long to find something to your liking. It's just common sense that adding touch screens=no need for cashiers, therefore, people will be losing jobs.

Whether or not McD's is bad for people or the health of our nation, it's not going anywhere. Therefore, let people keep their jobs.

I don't know that it is about "my liking", I'm open to seeing anything as this is a debate, you made a statement, and I am simply curious, as a debater, to see if there is any accuracy behind it. If it takes up too much time to back up your claim, I totally understand.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"daniellevmt" wrote:

I disagree. I personally love something handmade (obviously not from a sweatshop) and will pay more for something that IS handmade, because it usually means it's better quality and I love to support local artisans and small businesses. And this is totally an aside, because McD's obviously fits into neither category.

Yes, that is a luxury. If you want to grind your own flour and slay your own chickens rather than getting them from the supermarket you love, more power to you. I don't. I like technology. I like to browse handmade goods on etsy from the luxury of my heated home and my internet connection.

I also am so glad I didn't have to hand make my house or my car. That would have sucked. Therefore I reject the notion that any decision ever which *may* lead to less human workers in one area (like cashiers) but more in another (like the tech sector in creating and manufacturing and maintaining these terminals) is automatically terrible. That would be how a child thinks. Progress. Change. As inevitable as McD's, no?

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

"Potter75" wrote:

I'll meet you at DW and hit up a Wawa anytime. They introduced the milkshakes when I was pregnant with my first kid. I think that I drank every one sold in the tri state area Smile

Hehe! I love their egg salad sammiches, and their selection of wraps. I like how they have guilty food but also healthy choices too, like the containers of fruit and veggies. If you're serious about meeting at DW, just PM me (we have no set date, all I know is that I do want to take him one day, heh). We can let the kids get on a few rides together:).

I guess I can answer the original debate. It makes me think of the grocery stores and there are always cashiers around to assist. I think a better option may be to have some touch screens in McD's and also one cashier open and one more cashier to assist anyone that may need help. I really don't think anyone would lose their job, but maybe a few hours would be cut here and there. Either way, I am sure there is always something to do at McD's, whether it's to clean the dining area, the kids' play areas, do dishes, clean the milkshake machines, etc. If anyone works in fast food right now, I would love to hear your opinion on the debate.

Lemongirl's picture
Joined: 10/27/07
Posts: 220

"The Great Vagina" wrote:

I like a smiling face in front of me to take my order.

This made me me giggle - this article mainly seems to apply to the UK - you've clearly never experienced customer service over here. A smile? Ha!!! Lucky if they look at you full stop.

As for the debate - I dislike the idea that they are doing this to cut down on employees, but seems to be the way things are going over here. Many supermarkets etc seem to know have primarily self service checkouts instead of cashiers.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

I'm one who's ok with some being self-serve and at least one not. I find it very convenient if I have only a couple items to ring through and I'm in a hurry. But if I have a large order with coupons at a grocery store, I hate self-checkouts with a passion for these scenarios. Something always goes wrong. As for getting the order right in fast food, I find it more of an issue of them not reading the order correctly than it being listed incorrectly. But their attitude is always positive in my experience. And what if I have a coupon for the drive-thru? I know I'd get frustrated as my patience is limited when going through a drive-thru not only for the slow customers in front of me, but the slowness and frustration of me trying to get my order entered correctly, especially if I have a coupon. But I can see it working better in Europe (at least where I've been) as they already order food through walls and don't usually use coupons. How many McDonalds do they have there that actually have drive-thrus? I wonder what the ratio is compared to here.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

"mommytoMR.FACE" wrote:

I really don't think anyone would lose their job, but maybe a few hours would be cut here and there. Either way, I am sure there is always something to do at McD's, whether it's to clean the dining area, the kids' play areas, do dishes, clean the milkshake machines, etc. If anyone works in fast food right now, I would love to hear your opinion on the debate.

Definitely! It's not so much that entire positions would be cut; people would just do different jobs. I managed a fast food restaurant back in the 80s. On slow shifts we'd have a crew of four: cashier who would also clean & stock the front are, two cooks who would also clean & stock the back area, and a supervisor who would do whatever needed to be done. On the busiest shifts we'd have a crew of 10: one drive-thru, two cashiers, four cooks, one bagger, one person in the dining area who would also clean & stock the restrooms & beverage bar, and a supervisor. The busy times only last about 2-3 hours so you schedule shifts earlier & later so they overlap at the busiest times. As soon as it slows down, you pull a cook to clean & stock the back area & then send him home, or pull the bagger to break the cashiers & then send him home. If we hadn't needed the cashiers, I just would have scheduled differently, and maybe not replaced someone who quit.

Dewey's picture
Joined: 12/29/01
Posts: 195

"Emilys4Guppies" wrote:

I dunno...around here it seems that McDonalds only hires those who can't get a job elsewhere. These people are slow, often wrong, and often rude. We order from McDonalds twice a month, probably, and there's usually something wrong.

It's super frustrating because our family now costs almost $40 to eat at McDonalds. I don't want to pay that much for "convenience" when it's not really convenient to get the wrong order every time.

Who knows where the errors are made though? Through the ordering system? Or during the making of the food?

:eek: I thought this was just an issue with our local McDonalds. :eek: