As I’m writing this post I’m sitting in McDonald’s (@McD_Canada). I’m out on a study date with my mom. This is weird on so many levels. It feels strange because my mom is the one studying. She’s studying to get her certification to become a Financial Adviser. She has giant textbooks full of numbers and tiny print spread out before her as she sighs, rubs her forehead, and scribbles notes.
|My mom, hard at work studying for her upcoming test.|
It also feels odd because this particular McDonald’s is the one nearby to the highschool I attended some eighteen years ago. My memories are of everything being in trademarked McDonald’s yellow, the place packed with uniformed highschool students during the lunch hour.
|Loving the free Wi-Fi, & the cappuccino’s not bad either.|
So being in here now, it feels a bit disjointed. Though I’m digging the new McCafe thing that McDonald’s has going on. Comfy seating, broken up into cozy nooks, and free Wi-Fi. Not to mention cappuccino, lattes, mocha, fresh ground coffee, and “gourmet” tea. Though I’ve got to wonder what it’s like in here on a school day at lunch time?
When we first got here I went up to the counter and ordered as directed by my mom, “a tea with two milks”. A bit of confusion followed. The clerk punched something into the register and asked, “What kind of cones?” I was bewildered, “Pardon?” “You want a tea with two cones?” the counter guy repeats back to me. “I’m sorry? Cones? I want TWO MILKS. Did I say it it wrong? I’m ordering for someone else….” He says, “Oh, ok, I thought you said cones.” I got thrown off by this and ordered myself a black coffee. Normally I love a good mocha, but I’m watching my sugar intake as I wait on the verdict from my glucose test, so I had to pass. Darn it.
The clerk is punching tons of buttons on the register, trying to cancel my two ice cream cones. Looking up at the board I remember what I actually wanted to order. “Wait, instead of a coffee can I please get a cappuccino. I mean since I haven’t paid yet, can you change that?” The clerk shoots me a look and punches a bunch more buttons. Skim milk or 2%? Did I still want a large? As I’m paying I notice he has the order marked to go. “For here please”, I say. I take a look at his name tag, Ted. Ted is probably 17 years old, and he doesn’t seem overjoyed to be working at McDonald’s on this particular evening.
He gives me another look, places a tray on the counter and heads off to make my mom’s tea. A second or two later he yells out “Ouch!” His co-worker is laughing at him. He says, “It’s not funny. I got hot water on my hand!” Another fellow sets my cappuccino on the tray. Ted comes up, puts my mom’s tea on the tray and says “I got hot water on myself”. I’m not sure how to reply to this. “Are you ok?”, I ask. “The cup is wet on the outside because I burned myself.”, he says. A bit at a loss I say, “Thank you” and bring the tray over to the table where my mom is waiting.
Then I realize, he never offered me any sweetener. Well, maybe it’s over with the condiments… um, straws, lids, napkins. Nope. No sugar. No sweetener. Nothing. I head back to the counter where I get the same clerk. Ted gives me a “Oh you again?” look. “Do you have sweetener?” I ask. “Sugar?”, he says. “No, not sugar, sweetener — Equal.” He pulls out a yellow packet of not-Equal. I shake my head no. “Do you have Equal?” I ask. “More?”, he says. “No, do you have Equal?” “Pardon?” he asks and then he removes the mic from his ear so he can hear me. I almost want to laugh. This is why this fellow seemed so clueless, he couldn’t hear me with the drive-through mic in his ear. He tells me all they have is the yellow packet he already offered me, and turns to head back into the kitchen area. Alright, since I’ve given up sugar and they don’t have Equal, I guess I’m having my cappuccino sweetener free.
|You can grab fountain pop and ketchup at the beverage counter, but not sweeteners.|
After hanging out for a bit, chatting, typing, and studying, with my mom, I head up for drinks round two. This time my mom asks for an Apple Pie to go with her tea. Poor Ted. It’s just not his night. Apparently hearing over the mic wasn’t actually the issue. he’s just sort of clueless. I place my order and he says, “So basically the same thing you got last time?” I say “Yes, but with an Apple Pie.” He says, “Okay, that will be $2.23.” “No. That can’t be right, I just spent five something for the two drinks earlier.” “You did?” he asks. For a moment I wonder if I overpaid for my first round of drinks. Ted looks lost. I think to grab the earlier recipe to show him, but I just tossed it in the recycling bin prior to heading up to order my drinks. I look up at the menu, wait a sec… “Ok, look, the large cappuccino by itself is over $3.” “Oh,” he says. After a long pause he follows up with “I didn’t charge you for the cappuccino.” He taps some buttons on the register. “I put it in as a sample cappuccino.” He mumbles something I can’t quite make out, something about mistyping because his fingers hurt. Followed by, “You would have got it for free.” Then he looks at me like I’m nuts and says, “Well, at least you’re honest, I guess.”
He then takes the orders of the next three people in line while I stand there waiting for my drinks. Wow, I’m thinking, McDonald’s is pretty busy at 9:45p.m. on a Sunday! Then I start to get a little antsy as the fellow next in line just got his food and left and I’m still waiting for my tea. Um. Ted, what are you doing? His co-worker comes up and asks him pretty much just that. He umms, and says, “Well, I thought YOU were going to get her order.” “I can’t get her order if you don’t tell me what it is.”, she argues back, as I stand there feeling awkward. He finally heads over to make my mom’s tea, and burns his hand AGAIN. Another co-worker comes around the corner as he is scalding himself with hot water and says “You have got to be kidding me. You didn’t just do that again?” Poor kid. “How’s the hand?” I ask. “Hurts,” he says. He makes me my cappuccino and sends me on my way.
As I am heading back to my seat the next fellow in line is ordering from a different clerk. He places a vague order for “something coffee and really sweet”. She sells him on a mocha, and gives him a McCafe card. Buy six drinks and get the seventh free. Hey wait, I just bought two cappuccinos, and no one offered me a card. Oh Ted, you are so not on the ball. I head back to the counter, ask for a card, and get my two punches.
|Yummy cappuccino, topped with fresh skim milk froth.|
While I was waiting for my drinks I had a chance to admire the new McCafe machines. SHINY. There are clear glass cones at the top full of fresh coffee beans. They feed directly into the machine, which grinds the beans, fresh for each cup. How cool is that? It’s pretty slick looking. It’s makes tasty beverages too. Fresh espresso topped with frothed skim milk. Smooth. It definitely tastes better then the cappuccinos my pod machine makes at home. Is it three something a cup good? That’s open for debate. As a treat, it’s a win. Though I’m still pining for my mocha.
We finish up our drinks, and my mom says it’s time to head home. I want to get a picture of that cool new McCafe coffee making machine. I head over to the counter camera in hand. It’s almost 11 p.m. and the place is now dead. One of the clerks is leaning over the counter working on some paper work. I want to take a picture of pretty much right where she’s standing so I say, “Would it be okay if I take a photo of your coffee machine?” She’s confused, so I go on to clarify that I’m writing an article about the new McCafe and I’d like to take a picture of the machine. She says, “Umm… I don’t think you’re allowed to do. I’d have to ask the manager first and get back to you.” I tell her I’ll wait. She heads into the back. While I’m waiting Ted asks me who the article is for. “It’s going to be published online. It’s for a company called Collective Bias.” “Oh… Is it a good article or a bad article?” he asks nervously. I shrug. “You didn’t put in it that I burned myself, did you?” I feel a bit sheepish but I don’t lie, “Yes, I did.” “Oh man.”, he says, scuffling his feet into the floor.
I was hoping the manager might make an appearance at the counter so that I could ask about them carrying Equal. No such luck. Another counter girl gets the message over the mic and relays it to me, “No, sorry. No photos. We can’t allow that.” I say thank you and head out feeling pretty awkward about the whole blowing my cover and asking for a picture thing.
There were no comment cards available, so once I got home I took up the offer on the back of my receipt: “Complete our survey for a chance to win a weekly prize of $1,000.” Offer my feedback, and get a chance at a cash prize? Why, certainly!
|Their survey was short on space to type text, and mostly consisted of check boxes. I did “indicate that I did not receive the appropriate condiments, dressing, napkins or utensils”, but the questions were pretty vague.|
Overall, it was a nice night out. It was great spending quiet time with my mom, sans kids. The service could have been better, but I’ve had worse. My mom and I weren’t the only people hanging out for the evening. I saw several other folks with netbooks or laptops, who were obviously enjoying the free Wi-Fi access. The new McCafe atmosphere is really relaxing. Though I did find it awkward that they keep the sugar and sweetener under the counter. To me it would be far easier if they had it out in the beverage area. I was also rather disappointed with the fact that they didn’t have Equal sweetener available. My cappuccino was still quite drinkable without the added sweetness, but it would have been a more satisfying treat if I could have sprinkled a little sweetener in it. I tried to voice my disappointment in the lack of Equal sweetener by taking the customer satisfaction survey, but there really wasn’t a spot to make my opinion know.
Would I head back? Definitely! Free Wi-Fi, tasty drinks, and the fact that this particular McDonald’s is about a five minute walk from my house; all of this adds up to me already plotting on when I can make a return visit.
Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias and EqualCanada, but as always my thoughts and words are my own, and were not influenced by the company or the compensation provided.