Thursday, August 05, 2010

Chewing Fat: 1: Why Fuddrucker's Sucks

So let's begin here: Fuddruckers at lunch today.

It's the first time i've eaten there in months. It's a shame in some ways too, because the food is really good. But the service sucks with a capital S. Sucks enough that i will likely never eat there again. I am not the first to eschew the joint either. Rumors have been around for months (as in within months of it opening) that they're going under. And today's lunchtime 'crowd' of about 20 attests to something being quite wrong.

So how did my lunch today go?

Here's the naughty bits with a little background to begin. I have not eaten there since spring because i got tired of two things: my order being constantly wrong, and perfectly obnoxious overservice masquerading as good service.

It should be obvious, i think, that if they get your order wrong that that right there amounts to bad service.

So check this scenario from my last visit before today: i'm at the counter ordering -- it's frustrating already because of the way they train their cashiers to take an order, but back to that later -- and an adult woman, who i was dismayed to see still working there today, is so distracted by something that i have to repeat my order three times, practically spelling things out for her. I was stupid and should have walked out then. Instead i proceed with my order because my lunchtime, like yours, is limited. I order a burger with their three-topping 'deal' on it. I ask for cheese, mushrooms and guacamole. Okay, it was a lot more painful than that, but i'll discuss it more when i return to the inanity of their 'procedure'.

I go to my table. The buzzing flying saucer contraption goes off. I go to get my order at the counter. It's not right. On my burger is a heaping pile of guacamole, mushrooms and grilled onions.

I'm not one to complain much about food (haha you say, what am i doing now? well, true, but this goes to show you how perturbing the whole series of events has been there), and i love onions, in fact i would have put red onions from their fixings bar on it anyway, but grilled onions sometimes do abdominally distending things to me and it felt like one of those days.

So, i says to the guy at the counter (a manager i had already come to loathe because of his routine condescension) nicely, "Look this isn't right, i ordered cheese, not onions, on here". He smiles, says, "I'm sorry sir, i'll take care of that right away."


So i am back at my table waiting, and he walks up with one of those gold star managerial springs to his gait and lays the tray on the table in front of me and slides it in front of me with a flourish like 'voila, your wish is my command'. I can see immediately that he went to the trouble to cook up a completely new burger for me, new bun, the works . . . with, right there, i can see it, it's piled on my fresh new burger, guacamole, cheese, and . . . grilled onions. No mushrooms. And i look up at him, and of course he senses something's not right again, and says "Is that right?" "No," i say, "it's the grilled onions i didn't want."

He turns a shade approaching magenta with a hint of chartreuse. "What is it you wanted then?" he says. "Mushrooms, guacamole, and cheese," i say. He grabs the tray and leaves.

While he's doing whatever he's going to do to my burger i dig in my pocket for the receipt to show him how she took my order in case he comes back with either an attitude or the wrong combo again. And sure enough there on my receipt it says 'mushrooms, guacamole, and cheese.' Twice. Yep, twice . . . along with the price - twice . . . i'd been double charged for it.

Here he comes again. His demeanor is such that other patrons turn and watch him come to my table. He drops the tray in front of me, which jumps the burger off the tray scattering mushrooms, and then he turns and walks away without a word or a look. I look at my burger . . . no fresh new burger this time, shards of grilled onions remain where they were scraped off and covered with a few crumbs of cheese. At least he got the combo right.

Well, after that i didn't go back. There had been lots of other issues at other visits, but that kinda stripped the last red off the candycane, and i lost my desire to ever go back.

Until today, when i thought maybe he and distractolady were gone and maybe in the panic of the business going downhill, maybe things had improved. Not to mention, as i said before, the food is good . . . i like the food.

So, in i go. I am one of those people (are we that rare?) who knows what i am going to order before i step up to the counter. Yup, folks who waste my time, and that of the cashier, by standing around looking at overhead menus for ten minutes while everyone else languishes in an ever-expanding line are on my list of people whose greed/selfishness should make them friendly with Dante Alighieri.

I step up to place my order, the infamous burger with cheese, mushrooms and guacamole, only instead of being able to just place an order, i have to meander the incomprehensible labyrinth of Fuddrucker's service (see notes above about the sheer pain of ordering) and the inflexible training of their waitbots.

Me: I'd like a half-pound burger with . . .

Her: Would you like the combo meal deal?

Me: No, i'd just like the burger with . . .

Her: Would you like a side with that?

Me: No, I'd like the three-topping combo thing . . .

Her: Is that a side?

Me: No, it goes on the burger.

Her: So, no side?

Me: Well, I do want an order of chips and salsa.

Her: As a side?

Me: Sure.

Her: Or as an appetizer?

Me: I'll take it as an appetizer.

Her: Any sides?

Me: NO. I want cheese, guacamole and mushrooms on the burger.

Her: How would you like your burger?

Me: [it's too late, but i should've said 'with cheese, guacamole and mushrooms' . . .] Medium.

Her: And would you like anything on your burger?

Me: Sure. I . . . would . . . like . . . the . . . three . . . topping . . . combo . . .

Her: Okay. And what will you have?

Me: gucmle, mshrms n' chz.

Her: Okay, that's guacamole, mushrooms and cheese?

Me: Yes!

Her: What kind of cheese?

Me: Bleu.

Her: Would you like something to drink?

By now six or seven people, also likely on short lunch breaks, have piled up behind me.

Me: Water.

Her: Water? Really?

Me: Yzzzzzzz, wtttrrrrrrr.

Okay, a couple of short digressions here: first, i always drink water with my meals. It's not about cheapness -- the dang burger costs $10, or about shorting a waitress, since there are none here, but back to 'that' concept another time -- but because i like to savor the food and water is better for that, and in desperately trying to keep from buying a new belt i'm pretending to do healthy things.

Digression two. At this point she is about to ask for my name. Ostensibly to either a) use it to get me my order, and/or b) to somehow personalize this whole process of going dental on me; only, a) i forget they do this, and b) i never give out my real name. I know . . . i'm a privacy freak . . . but i also somehow feel much better when people like distractolady and slimy-gold-star-manager guy not only can't pretend to be buds with me by mispronouncing my name, but i get some weird deep satisfaction in having them call me something stupid when my friends are around.

Top that off with the sheer nonsense of giving my name anyway when they're just going to hand me that buzzy UFO thingie to alert me to my meal being ready, and we have a perfect storm of bad service on the immediate horizon.

Her: Your name sir?

Me: Uh . . . uh . . . okay . . . Bob . . .

Her: Well OOOkAY Mr. Bob, here's your cup, and Mr. Bob [wink] here's your receipt, and Mr. Bob don't forget this [the buzzy contraption]. Somehow i don't think your name is really Bob. [to those right behind me] Do you all think his name is really Bob? [livid, i turn to go] Well, goodbye Mr. Bob, have a wonderful meal. [giggles]

I almost want to go back just so i can wait to be asked my name and say 'you can't have it', just to see how it messes up their protocol [coming soon -- how my refusal to give a phone number causes earthquakes at Pier One]. And if, as i suspect, they say they have to have a name, i'll say 'goodbye, i'll spend my money somewhere else.'

To pretend to be fair, part of the fault is with boilerplate software on the cash register, but simple intuitive training, and some short term memory would make you guys a much better serviced place, and then maybe, different than today, you'd have a lunch crowd larger than 20 . . . if you truly are foundering here, i suspect your crap service is why.

I've now let three other people read this before posting it on the blog, and all three said they no longer eat at Fuddrucker's . . . various reasons, but all come back to it being an unpleasant experience.

I'll be back all week with a lot more thoughts on why Fudd's sucks, and experiences with other restaurants in Kerrville.


"Chewing Fat" is an irregular discourse on the things and folks that make my world a less friendly, less nice, less safe, less livable place -- especially greed, selfishness, rudeness, unsafe drivers, authority figures with an authority/superiority complex, bigots, haters, sexists, xenophobes, homophobes, fringe conservatives and demagogues, liberals who do fringe conservative and demagoguish things, and certain raw shellfish. That's right, you can expect me to be mr. irony as i get nasty about the nasty things i see around me. Feel free to disagree with me, but, fair warning, hater and troll posts get zapped before they ever hit the internets (although i do get a little buzz from thinking about haters spending so much time vomiting out some long vile rant, only to see it vanish into cybervapor -- muah!).

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At 4:27 PM, Blogger phlezk said...

That was pretty hilarious, dude! Crazy experience. What the hell is with her and the "bob" thing? Feck off, I say! I've noticed the overservice there too, it's quite ridiculous. I've only eaten there twice in my entire life, looks like I'll make it no more.

At 4:08 PM, Blogger 'Rebel' Rod said...

Great read Tony! Hilarious in a very frustrating way. They are truly obnoxious there.

Kyle and I went there the other day. I'm not joking; we were the only one's in there and - 1st they asked me my name, 2nd - they gave me one of those "buzzy things"!

I laughed all the way to my table

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is messed up!


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