Have Customers Become a Pain in the Ass?

I am back.

Sorry I have been away so long but I returned to work for a while. Yes I went back to the food industry and got my hands dirty again. I loved it!!

No I did not love the 14 hour days or the constant running back and forth, unable to even sit down. I did not love the fact that I was surviving on pain killers for my feet and back and the ever present worry who would show up for their shift today.

I especially did not like the way the customers have changed over the last few years. Their cell phones rule their lives to the point of being rude to the service staff and the other customers behind them. The number of times a customer has walked up to place an order talking on the phone and literally stood there chatting while the service person is trying to take their order only to receive dirty looks from the phone user with no regard for the 10 or 15 people behind them.

To clarify, the food establishment had a super high volume grill, artisan wood fired pizza and pastas done sauté style as well as fresh made deli sandwiches, southern food and heaps of catering. The lineup often went right back out the exit doors.

The level of arrogance and the way the average customer treats service staff today is almost criminal. Maybe it was because I was working in a high end tourist town where arrogance is a badge of distinction along with the lack of ability to read a menu prior to getting to the service area. Team that with more than 70% of the customers wanting something not on the menu and in this high volume establishment wait times went through the roof. Before you ask, yes we did put into play many ways of expediting order taking including line order taking but when Mrs. Smyth from the country club insists she has fried aardvark tails on her burger and won’t move until she gets them…. Well you get the idea.

What I did love was the people that put up with this day and day out, with hardly a complaint and a smile on their faces. These are the people who make the food business worth it, the people that work 12 to 14 hour days, 7 days a week through the season only to have the tax man take just about everything extra they have earned that week and just shrug and get on with it.

These are the people who can handle six months of damn hard work and still have a smile while handling Mrs. Smyth and her fried aardvark tails, sending her off happily without them and knowing she will be back tomorrow looking for sautéed shrimp testicles on her pizza.

Proposed Minimum Wage Increase

Restaurant Minimum Wage Increase 

Money by Junior Libby

The United States Federal Government is calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00. This call has put the business world into a tailspin. Every employer of minimum wage workers are up in arms and yelling about the damage this proposed wage increase will do to an already fragile economy.

One of the largest employers in the minimum wage bracket is the restaurant industry. Seminars are being held on the affects of the wage increase, training sessions on cost cutting measures are being implemented and management are looking at staffing levels to see if they can cut staff in order to keep profits at pre increase levels.

Enough!!!! I am sick of this bullshit!!

Ok, a little strong but we here in the US have dug ourselves a huge hole and there is no way to climb out of it. Let’s look at a few facts.

The US has one of the lowest pay scales in the Western world.

You cannot live on $7.25 per hour. This is not a living wage.

Tips are the only way wait staff can survive financially.

The majority of food service staff don’t get tips. (Think fast food and back of house)

People complain that 47% of the population don’t pay tax, don’t contribute to the running of the country and are a burden on the rest who do pay tax. That is very true but here is the problem. If you pay a large percentage of the population a wage that is below poverty level then you cannot expect them to contribute to the country because they have nothing left at the end of the week to give to the tax man. Damn it, they can’t even feed their kids!

I have been lucky enough to work in several countries with differing attitudes to their workforce and from what I see; we treat our workers like crap.

There are many parts of the Western world where the minimum wage is close to $16.00 to $20.00 per hour for an adult full time worker, more on weekends and holidays and they get 4 weeks paid vacation per year. Part time workers get higher hourly rates than that and there are just as many successful restaurants and businesses as here in the US.  These countries also do not encourage tipping for restaurant staff because there is no need to and the menu price is what you pay, inclusive of tax, no tips allowed! The US and maybe a few others are the only countries that give prices without tax. The thing about a minimum wage that actually allows the recipient to live a reasonable life is the fact that everyone pays tax, yep everyone! Those same minimum wage people can also afford to frequent more restaurants and other businesses, spreading the wealth and contributing to the GDP. The other interesting thing about these countries is they fared better in the financial crisis than we did; in fact one did not even go into recession. Many economists agree that we have to adjust the federal minimum wage laws.

I am not saying that we throw out a system that has brought the country to a level of greatness that few can match but maybe it is time for a few changes that will lessen the poverty level for workers that put in a full work week and deserve better from the lucky country. Maybe we can learn from others and ensure that our system grows not only financially but socially as well.

As of this post the US house has voted down the proposed increase to the minimum wage. How can they look themselves in the eye every morning without becoming ill.

Taco Bell Pulls Ad For 2013 Superbowl

Taco Bell 2013 Superbowl Commercial Pulled Due To Complaints 

As I have said on a previous post, what is wrong with the QSR marketing people these days? If you read my rant you would know what I am talking about.

We all know that the Superbowl commercials are really expensive and the companies that can afford the millions per ad go all out to ensure their ads are memorable and they get their monies worth. This includes spending a lot more on production, talent and creative.

The point of the Superbowl ads are to be as hard hitting as possible and to elicit a response from the consumer. Hopefully that response is to go out and buy whatever product is being advertised. Some of the advertisers stretch the boundaries of good taste or get a little creative and ethereal but millions wait to see the end result the best ad makers the in the world can offer. No one can deny the power and depth of the Ram Trucks ad, the awwww factor of the Budweiser Clydesdale ad and the squirm in your seat Go Daddy offer.

There were a couple of ads that weren’t and the one that I am talking about is the Taco Bell Variety 12 pack ad. This ad shows someone arriving for a Super bowl party with a vegetable platter and the not so enthusiastic response along with a voice over stating that turning up for a Superbowl party with a veg platter is not really appreciated. You get the idea.

OMG how offensive can you get!! Angry veggie fans complained so much about  the ad that mocks vegetable eaters that Taco Bell made the decision not to air the ad and wasted enough money to feed a small town for a year. Why? Because the veg heads of the world decided that a commercial degrading vegetables should not go to air. The Center for Science in the Public Interest were the main culprits and no, I will not give you a link to their site because they don’t deserve it.

It’s the Superbowl! One of the few days a year when people relax, eat wings and other foods that are bad for you and watch a great game of football. What is wrong with that. There should be at least a few days a year that can be totally veg free. It is your choice to eat vegetables or not, not some quasi official organization that believes the American consumer is stupid and needs to be told what to eat, when and how much.

What You Eat Is Your Choice

Now don’t get all righteous on me, I fully understand that we have an obesity epidemic and a lot more can be done to educate people on healthy eating habits but it comes down to personal choice not the likes and dislikes of The Center for Science in the Public Interest or any other organization that thinks it’s point of view is the only one that should be listened to. As a protest I will refuse to eat vegetables for a week!! That is until the other quasi official organization that I am married to puts her foot down, lets me know what an idiot I am and tells me to shut up and eat my vegetables!

One other comment. Taco Bell, you need to grow a pair and stop listening to these minority interest groups.

Here is the offending ad.  Let’s hear your thoughts on this.