Hey Burger King, you’re getting timed for a reason!

Last night on the way home from camp the kids and I went through the Burger King Drive-Through.  When we were next in line for the window I noticed that the guy in front of me had his reverse lights on, so I stayed back about 10 feet – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people back up for something, forget they’re in reverse, then hit the gas.  When it was my turn at the window, the BK cashier asked me to pull forward and then back up.  I was so surprised and busy processing what she was saying and trying not to back up into the window with my mirror and asking for salt and checking the orders that I didn’t get a chance to ask her why.  But I guessed that she had asked the guy in front of me to do the same thing.  As I was leaving I looked in the review mirror I saw that the guy behind me was doing the same thing as well.  WTF?

It bothered me all night that I couldn’t figure out what the purpose was.  I went back in my mind to my McDonald’s and Arby’s days, but at both places I made the food, I didn’t work the Drive-Through.  Then, finally, it hit me: I’ve seen big timers in some restaurants, timing how long each Drive-Through order was taking.  There must be a sensor somewhere that stops the clock and starts timing the next order!  Was she asking each car to stop the clock on their order so that the restaurant’s stats would look good?

I went back this morning, in the interest of investigation – not because I was dying for a Croissan’wich.  Once again, when I got to the window, I was asked to pull forward and back up.  I said “Why?  Are you trying to stop the timer?”  She said yes.  I said something to the effect of “But that’s cheating.  How will the process get any faster if they think you’re already really fast?”  I know enough about fast food restaurants to know that they really study this stuff.  There are systems that figure out when you should drop fries based on how many cars are in the Drive-Through lines.  There are McDonald’s that have outsourced their Drive-Through order-taking jobs to call centers.  Corporate sure as hell wants to know for how long people are sitting in the Drive-Through.

The BK worker admitted that yes, it was cheating, but that the restaurant is given time goals each week and they’re not meeting them.  So I said something like, “But how will the times get faster if you don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem?”  She told me I didn’t have to pull forward if I didn’t want to.  I’m not really sure it was necessary for her to tell me that.  Was the alternative for her to hold my food hostage until I pulled forward?

When I go through a Drive-Through, I want the process to be fast.  And more often than not here in Brooklyn, the process is anything but.  So as a customer, it is absolutely not in my best interest to help Burger King trick corporate into thinking that they’re already speedy.  I’m insulted that they’d ask.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom.  All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted.  Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. says

    Wow I have not even heard of the timers. I will check it out next time and call it research instead of indulging. Ha. Have a great weekend.

  2. says

    Ah freaking ha.

    Sunday morning, after BlogHer 09, we picked up TW’s mom at the hotel she was staying at and for some god awful reason, we were all craving cheeseburgers. The closest drive thru, in a convenient area, was a Burger King. There was nobody in line at the drive thru. It was not crowded inside. It was five minutes ’til 11.

    We ordered 2 cheeseburgers and a whopper. No fries, no drinks. Just those three burgers.

    They asked me to park. I didn’t understand why.

    Now I understand why.

  3. says

    That really sucks!! Now I know why they ask me to drive up and wait for them to bring my food out to me. This is crazy. Thanks for heads-up!

  4. Molly says

    We used to stop at BK when I used to drive my son to a private high school some distance away. I remember the drive-thru order taker coming out of her booth with a stick of some kind, like a tuning fork? She would put it into some sort of groove in the pavement and twist it around; perhaps manipulating the timer as well? It was way too early on those mornings to even think about it!
    Glad now that he’s in college, walking to class!

  5. Germain says

    I work in burger king as a drive trhu cashier….and we do that sometimes. But it is not completely burger kings or mcdonalds fault… customers are really “dumb when it comes to ordering” they (corporate) gives us 2 30 seconds total to get the customer out of drive thru this icludes them coming up to the menu and deciding what they want….sometimes they are on their phone and tell us to wait…or theyll start asking their kids what they want..and tell us to hold then…also love it when they wanna pay with exact change..and are digging everywhere for loose pennies and coins. or when they have like a 40 dollar order at drive thru. it takes about two minutes to order that much food. damn rite were pulling to the parking lot…. u should look at it from our point of view. we get in trouble when our goals are not met and corporate doesnt wanna hear excuses they just wanna see the numbers and sometimes thats the only way our goals can be met….

  6. Germain says

    and why does it bother people so much when theyre told to park ur still not getting out of ur car, we bring out to u like kings and queens lol….and trust me if u come trhu drive thru ur our priority so youll get ur food faster then anyone. else that comes in the dining room…lol cant belive im actually commenting.here…jut thought id let u know what i think…

  7. says

    @Germain – I understand that point of view, I know that sometimes corporate has its head up its collective ass. And I recognize that on the odd special order it makes sense to ask a car to pull into the parking lot, especially so that the people behind don’t have to wait. But surely you’re not suggesting that what this Burger King was doing to multiple customers was OK? It’s like those schools that just give everybody a passing grade so that they can avoid the pain and trouble of actually making sure all of the kids are getting taught.

    I don’t blame this employee – if I did, I would have said exactly what BK I was at, and what time, and her name. I hope I made it clear that the system is what’s completely messed up. If management doesn’t know that this is going on, then they’re not doing their jobs. If they do know – if they told the employees to do things that way – then they aren’t good managers.

    It’s a ridiculous situation, from the top down. And you know who loses the most? The customer, who has to do stupid things at the drive through to help perpetuate a system that has been giving slow drive-thru service. From what you’ve said, it seems to me that the timer starts in the wrong place. It should start right after the menu board, where the order is taken. That way if the customer is slow or the ordering takes a long time, that won’t count against the workers. Or, if BK was smart, they would take the size of the order into account, giving an acceptable time-per-dollar-ordered guideline, so that larger orders could take longer and not penalize the restaurant. There are many ways in which BK could make this situation better, for the workers and the customers.

  8. Dan says

    @Germain – It is called law of averages. For every one of these problem customers there is another that has everything straight up. Whopper combo with dr peppr, instead of hemming and hawing for ten minutes.

  9. Lucy says

    “it seems to me that the timer starts in the wrong place. It should start right after the menu board, where the order is taken. That way if the customer is slow or the ordering takes a long time, that won’t count against the workers. Or, if BK was smart, they would take the size of the order into account, giving an acceptable time-per-dollar-ordered guideline, so that larger orders could take longer and not penalize the restaurant. There are many ways in which BK could make this situation better, for the workers and the customers. ” Now if only the district managers had enough brains to figure this out and maybe send the idea up the corp. chain.

    I got stuck in a BK drive thru for 45 min one night on an order of 3 combo meals. The next day I went in to complain to the store manager. I would have complained that night, but no manager was on duty. I was told that the problem was with a lack of managers and employees having to work unsupervised. In complete stupidity I thought I could make a difference. I am a stay at home mom and this sounded like a good pet project. After 6 months as the assistant manager I can tell you that both Amy and Germain are right. We do have to cheat the system some times, especially at night when a lot of orders are getting cooked to order like Jack in the Box does. We just don’t hold product for long enough to make enough fries, or fish or whatever for more than one order at a time. It could be 20 mins between orders for that item and then it is old and can’t be served anyway. Germain is also right about ppl who waste time in line either placing the order, or changing the order, or not having their money ready.


    It was my opinion that a lot can be done inside to change the drive thru problem. More ppl in the kitchen need to be wearing the headsets so that when a special order comes in, whopper w/ cheese no onions, the cook can make it before it comes up on the screen. In our restaurant, the orders did not come up on the screen until the cashier sent it back by closing the order. There also needs to be 2 drive thru windows open during peak times, 10am-2pm and 4pm-7pm. This would greatly reduce the times during those peak meals and lower the over all daily average. Lastly, there needs to be 2 expediters working during peak times. There is no way one person can properly sling food at the dinning room and the drive thru and get every order perfect and maintain the customer service needed for that position. Even as a manager, I had a real hard time keeping up doing it by myself.

    In a perfect world, the customer knows what they want by stopping at the PRE ORDER MENU BOARD. There are 2 menu boards out there for a reason, the time doesn’t start til you pull up to the speaker. There are 2 drive thru windows open and running, first one takes your money, second one gives you your food and drink. The kitchen can start special orders before the order is finished and finally, there are enough ppl filling orders that are ready so that the order is waiting for you when you get to the second window.

    All of these things were an issue for me as a manager. Broken headsets and not enough staff for the expediters station were the biggest problem. Allowing more time for ordering delays and larger orders would only help, not hurt the problem or ignore it.

  10. says

    @Lucy – Hi Lucy, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. You make a lot of good points. Unfortunately this particular Burger King only has one menu board and one window, but it sounds like the problem is system-wide.

    I remember when I worked in McDonald’s (grill, not cashier, but I could see what was going on), it was possible to really get in a groove and handle the heavy volume when the restaurant got busy, but it was a result of a lot of training and of everybody really busting ass. I’ve never seen that kind of effort in any fast food restaurant in Brooklyn, ever. I once had to leave a McDonald’s drive-thru line after paying but BEFORE getting my food. I was on my way to JFK to pick up my husband and kids and had an extra half hour to kill, so I stopped by a drive-thru near the airport. FORTY minutes later, I still didn’t have my food. I had to leave when my husband texted me that they had landed.

  11. Drulloch says

    My $.02 from the other side of things:

    * Times DO start from the menu board, from the second you arrive. If you take 2 minutes there you’re starting with a 2 minute service time.
    * 2:30 is a typical goal for a normal day period
    * That leaves an 30 seconds for the customer to pay and give change.
    * It’s an average of 45 seconds at the window before the customer gets the money ready – so by that time you’ve already blown your time.
    * That 2:30 time is DICTATED BY THE CUSTOMERS! Any longer than that and customers complain of slowness.
    * Customers regularly exaggerate (greatly) the amount of time they wait – I’ve personally done research on this at fast food restaurants with stop watches and you’d be amazed how many people said it “took 10 minutes to get my food”! when it actually took 3-4.

    So, in short, many customers complaining that it takes so long when it really doesn’t is part of the driving force behind the stores encouraging ‘fraud’ on this minor level.

    Times vs size of order doesn’t work – what happens when somebody orders a really, really special order and then changes it at the window? It’s a long time stuck in eternity that the stores’ punished for. They’re trying to make up for slow times in many cases.

    As a customer it’s certainly your right to say you don’t want to pull up, but it’s certainly NOT your job to try to improve processes at the business by trying to bend the will of employees and managers to yours, though you’re always welcome to try!

    Like I said, my $.02.

  12. disgruntled employee says

    I worked at taco bell for about a year. We used a system where you had 3 seconds when the car drove up to greet the person, then they could take as long as they liked at the menu and when they drove to the window a 1 minute timer started counting down. Even with this system people would yell at their kids, take forever to get their money together, order at the window, which is the worst thing you can do to fast food workers, and then sit there and check their order. It IS possible to get the majority of the orders out in time, but theres also plenty of “trouble” customers who honestly are just to effing stupid to know what food they want to stuff in their mouth, and trust me its always more then they need. These people slow down the whole chain of cars and really mess with the times that corporate is brutal about.

    The bottom line is…. when dealing with fast food, the employees dont care about or like their job, the customers are never happy, the management couldnt care less or cares way too much, and its all around a terrible system perpetuated by this countries “MORE FOR LESS!!!!!!” way of thinking thats got us in the financial hole we’re in.

  13. Sal says

    This reminds me of when I worked at Burger King during my senior year of high school (1996). We never asked anyone to reverse, instead, we used our personal cars and drove around the restaurant several times to lower our average serving time. Another technique we used was the garbage compactor. This was a very heavey piece of metal we used to smash the trash down in the trash cans. It was heavy enough to trigger the sensors that would stop the clock. These techniques placed us in first place among the owner’s other Burger Kings. Later that year the district manager was looking at our tape recordings and caught us on video using the trash compactor. Our trophy was removed from our location :<

  14. SomeGuy says

    Reading a synopsis of your post at Consumerist I was prepared to judge you very harshly. I thought your handle was perhaps very apt, a “selfish mom”…You seemed like many of the self-important a-holes with an over-developed sense of entitlement that I had to deal with while working in retail-hell in high-school.

    Allow me to digress a moment, and say I was a very responsible and hard worker, so I was quickly promoted to assistant manager. I also appeared a few years younger than my 18 years of age. You struck me as one of the types who were always hyper-vigilant that this “young whippersnapper”, who was probably lazy and incompetent was going to rip them off, screw up in some way, et cetera et cetera…They would be continually second guessing everything I did; “why are you ringing it up that way…why are you doing this…at this other store they do it that way…I was in here the other day and the old lady did it another way…blah blah blah”..

    It’s certainly important to be vigilant because “rip-offs” and “screw-ups” do happen, and myself like many others in retail appreciate it when a customer “has our back” so to speak and points out a mistake like double-ringing or something…that is if they are polite and just say something like “whoops, seems like you double-ringed” instead of “YOU RANG THAT UP TWICE, YOU BETTER TAKE THAT OFF YOU RANG IT UP TWICE HOW COULD YOU!!”. But these people seemed divorced from reality…to them the retail world is populated by inferior beings who lack the ability to reason, don’t care about customers, will rip them off if possible, et cetera…and I can see why they may think that…but they suffer from ignorance of what we have to work with…It was particularly frustrating when I would have to perform some involved ringing procedure to enable them to use a few coupons together (which technically are supposed to be one-per-purchase), and they would still freak out even after I explained what I was doing and why….

    …but I’ve blabbed enough and far off point….You seem more reasonable than you first struck me (allow me to say you could have expressed yourself better in your initial post), but you still seem blissfully ignorant of reality.

    Your points are reasonable enough, but the problem is we live in reality and it is not a “reasonable” world. The coporations have set up this timing system because it is neccesary on some level…I think we all realize that. It’s a good idea in theory, although in application it has it’s flaws…On the “front lines” they are painfully aware of these flaws, and sometimes must perform little cheats to keep everything flowing, because timing is not the only metric here. The thing is coporate realizes this, but there’s just too much momentum to switch to another system, they would have to change a lot of equipment, software, training, it would be very very expensive (perhaps it is worth it, but there will always be resistence to such large spending)…

    Copororate realizes this little “cheating” is going on, but they let it continue because they can’t let up the “squeeze”…they are trying to wring as much money out of you and these wage slaves as possible…and probably reason something like “if we give an inch, they’ll take a mile” (which is perhaps true to an extent)…So we must push them on these metrics, and we cannot ever say “ok perhaps we were being unreasonable with this metric…” or change it because that might open up a back door to some other type of cheating! A cheating that would be worse for the customer even.

    Your primary complaint seems to be that this system is completely untenable because customers are *constantly* being asked to back up, if it were here or there, you can understand that….and I can agree with that…but permit me to doubt that that is actually the case. It’s probably something they do when they reach the end of a certain time-period and are not meeting quota, or during certain busy times of the day or week…so they are not making customers do it “all the time”….and I’m sure they are trying to find ways so they don’t have to do it anymore. It becomes a question of balance.

    So it seems to me you’re taking this position that “well I know why they do it, and it’s not really a big deal, but IT’S NOT THE BEST WAY TO DO IT”…well welcome to reality honey. No doubt you find it romantic in some way to be a “reasonable” person who can see the flaws in all these “systems” and thinks we should do things the “best way”…but the fact of the matter is there are many factors you are unaware of…many constraints…and the system yoy think is “better” probably has a whole set of problems of it’s own…

    So perhaps you’re not so different from those people I spoke of before, you suffer the same ignorance as them, although you are much more pleasant and polite. But I say to you what I could not say to them in the interest of professionalism “Back off m’am, I know what I’m doing”

    If someone poor wage-slave makes a request of you…and it’s not hurting you, and is not a lot of trouble, and they’re not forcing you to do it, and it’s not illegal (distinct from “not allowed”) ….just do it….or not if you really feel that strongly about it. Even ask for an explanation…but for goodness’ sake when you get said explanation just shut up about it.

  15. says

    @Sal – Your comment is hilarious for so many reasons. It reminds me of a bit Jon Stewart did about some country protesting some other country – there were elaborate flags, presidents burned in effigy, etc. He pointed out that if only the protesters could take their amazing and organized flag- and effigy-making talents and translate them into something useful, they wouldn’t be living in the kind of country that blamed all of its problems on someone else.

    I love the solutions you guys came up with. I also love that there was a trophy.

  16. says

    Wow……Fast Food workers are not as lazy as they seem….they are actually working harder to have more time to do a poor job making you some crap to eat. It is a good thing you are here StupidMom…..where would the wrold be without watchdogs like yourself….getting their fries 45 seconds later than they should be. I bet fuming about this nearly burned up one of the ten million calories you fucking hog down each week in the drive through.

    You will probably be awarded the Burger King medal of honor for this.

  17. I am Sam says

    Who.. the.. hell.. cares?

    You probably got some nice pubic hair and spit with your food as well. And you deserved it.


  18. Jen O says

    Hey disgruntled employee, the reason that customer’s check the bags before leaving is because they are never right! Not ever! If we don’t check it we get home, unpack the food and find out half the order is missing.

  19. Curtus says

    I work at a burger king and i can understand what the employee is saying. Corporate is very strict and stores what to be on the goal or else they loose points. when it comes to evaluation time every point counts. Late night is the worst when everything is clean and u have an order five mins to close and that can be 5 mins to make and put together and hand it out. A good SOS (speed of service) is about 2;30 for the month

  20. says

    You are a total bitch, seriously I honestly wish I would never have seen this, I hope the person that wrote this stupid ass article reads this comment so that the time I wasted reading your crap; you waste reading the crap I am writing right now. Are you really so bored and so much of a bitch that you honestly want to fuck over people that make minimum wage making food for you and your fat ass family? Seriously, I am sure you feel real powerful saying “No, I am not moving forward” but, seriously you should find somewhere else to get your shits and giggles. Either that or make your own food, they didn’t tell you had to, they asked you to. Excluding that corporate does not care, it is used as a means to see what the average time is, but since food in the morning and late at night are made completely to order as opposed to during mid-day and dinner when the food is made before you order it. Seriously, relax breathe out and stop being an asshole just because you can.

  21. Joe Painter says

    so you’re the bitch who’s fucking complaining over every fucking little thing every god damn place i go – fuck off

  22. Dov says

    maybe I am just paranoid but I wouldn’t be making the minimum wage worker who is making my food out of my sight’s job harder. one of my rules is don’t tick off the cook.

  23. says

    @Dov – No, you’re definitely not paranoid. I’ve worked in six restaurants and I know all too well what pissed-off employees will do to the customers who are pissing them off. I knew that if I wrote about this I wouldn’t be going back there for that very reason. But I was also careful not to identify the restaurant, because I recognize that there’s a big difference between a systemic problem and a problem with one person. I definitely don’t expect the employee to be at all happy with me, but I hope she does recognize that I think the system doesn’t work for her either.

  24. Matt says

    Easy for you to say, they’re working a dead end minimum wage job. Who cares if they cheat, or if they’re even a few second late with your food? If you have issues with the speed of your transaction why are you blaming an understaffed shift? Why aren’t you angry at the corporation for not providing more workers?

    I’m profoundly shocked at just how little thought you’ve given this. Your actions are indeed selfish, they’re also ignorant.

  25. says

    @Matt – Because it perpetuates a timing system that clearly isn’t working, at any level. Of all of the comments that I’ve read both on my site and Consumerist, no matter whether the comments come from someone who supports cheating the system or not, nobody, at all, is defending the system. If it can be gamed, if it can be cheated, and if it is done at the rate that it is apparently being done, then the system is completely pointless and corporate should do something about it.

  26. Sean says

    Wow. It’s not secret really. I worked at a few different Burger Kings (and a McDonald’s) during and right after high school. I was an assistant manager for 2-3 of those years.

    Let me tell you, if there is one metric our district managers cared about, it was our drive thru times. As Germaine stated, our target was 2minutes and 30seconds. The timer started the moment you pull up to the speaker. 2:30 is a reasonable target for sure. The problem is, the times aren’t married to anything else – there is no context. The DMs can get a print out of every single time, but there is nothing to tell them why the times are what they are.

    Sure, there are lazy fast food workers. Having worked and managed in the industry, I can pick them out as soon as I walk in to a place. And let me tell you, in those instances where I wait 10+ minutes for a basic order – I let them know how horrible they are at their job.

    Really the only way to “improve” the process, is to put people in the restaurant who actually work. When I worked morning/lunch shift in drive thru, we could easily run 100+ cars/hour through the drive thru. All it takes is people being good at their job. it’s not hard, but you have to have some brain power to not get lost.

    So here’s a few tips for you, the fast-food drive-thru consumer:

    1. When you get to the speaker, stfu, put your stupid cell phone down – your friend can wait to hear to about your crappy marriage for a couple minutes. Why do you get ticked when the order taker asks you to hold on, but it’s a-ok to ask them to hold on for like 5 freaking minutes while you finish your conversation on the phone?

    2. Don’t say “hello, anyone there?!?!?!” They know you are there. They hear your beat up car’s motor in their ear. Oh and the stupid rap crap you are listening to on the radio. If they haven’t said anything yet, it’s probably because they are busting their chops trying to get the food out for the people in front of you. In many drive-thrus, the person taking your order is also taking money and bagging food at the same time. Drive-thru workers multi-task better than most high paid office workers (I know, I am now one of those)

    3. If you have a loud car, cut the damn thing off. Most guys who drive diesel trucks do this already. Most other people in their beat up camaro don’t. They should.

    4.People like to look down on most fast food employees. You think you have a bad day when you boss chews you out? Try getting chewed out by multiple people, for something you have no control over, in front of all the other customers while standing on your feet for 8 hours. yeah. Your day doesn’t compare – sorry.

    5. If you are ordering for more than 3-4 people – go inside. Large orders make drive-thru workers mad. Why? Well, you just posted an article about it. it screws up the times that they are busting their chops to keep down.

    6. Have your money ready, if possible.

    7.If you demand everything “fresh” (you know, “I want hot fries. I want my whopper FOB (fresh off the broiler), etc) then expect to wait. Fries take (IIRC) like 3 minutes to cook. Fish and chicken are around 4 minutes. Burgers only take about 30 seconds.

    8. Don’t think you’re smart by asking for “fries no salt” thinking you will get fresh fries. Chances are, they are just going to drop the old fries back in the grease to cook off the salt. Why? Because in almost every instance it’s not because the person is trying to watch their sodium (they’re eating fast food for crying out loud), it’s because they “think” they are smart. They’re not.

    9. Be courteous. People remember the kindness. It makes their day a little brighter, and they are more likely to “go the extra mile” for you next time. Even more so, they remember the a-holes more. Expect bad service next time (or possibly something in your food). It happens.

    10. When the people handling your food are wearing gloves, you get dirtier food. Period. If I scratch my nether regions (outside my pants, now lol) w/o gloves on and then go make your food, you are going to go ape s**t. But if I have gloves on, you probably don’t care. It’s a false sense of security, and the food industry knows this. They don’t wear them for cleanliness, they do it to shut you up because you have no clue wtf you are talking about. Yeah, the health department mandates them in many instances, but they know people don’t change their gloves everytime they touch a non-food surface. Think about this for a minute – most fast food employees will wash their hands or at least go pump a squirt of the sanitizer into their hands after doing something like that – if they don’t have gloves on. If they have gloves on, they won’t. Then they would have to change their gloves (they are a pain in the butt to get on when your hands aren’t 100% dry). Oh yeah, and hands sweat in gloves. Gloves have tiny little holes in them to allow hands to breath. Sweat comes through the gloves. On to your food. Thought your food was safe because the handler had gloves on, huh? Nope.

  27. KJ says

    1000 people and a growing number more agree that “this may fall under the category of ‘Things Normal People Should Really Not Be Caring About’.”

  28. jeremiah says

    click-thru from The Consumerist.

    So you went to BK and harassed the kid behind the window. Good on you- that’s quality work.

  29. says

    @Sean – Thanks Sean, I appreciate you taking the time to write that. And I’ll assume that you were using the term “you” interchangeably and weren’t directing all of that at me. :-) Although I will say the one that I’m guilty of is often forgetting to get my money ready until I get to the window – unless there’s one of those little signs stuck in the ground on the way to the window reminding me. Simple things like that help the process a lot.

    When I worked at McDonald’s, more often than not I worked the breakfast shift (had to be there at 4:45 when I was opening, tons of fun). We had a lot of older customers who would come in and order dry biscuits, or one big pancake instead of three normal-sized ones. It was a PITA, but we worked it out with those half dozen customers that as long as they didn’t come during the morning rush, we would do it.

  30. Sean says

    No, not directed at you. It was a generalized “you”. :)

    As for special requests – hey we took them, and were happy to make them sometimes. Even the “fries no salt” didn’t bother us – if it was asked for with the order, and not when they pulled up to the window and we had already taken their money (you might be amazed at what people order at the window).

    We had all kinds of special orders (it’s BK after all) and that was fine. A lot of it is *how* you order it. My biggest pet peeve was the people who would order something, get it, then come back with a major attitude because their food was wrong. Even though it was given to them *exactly* how they verbally ordered it.

    Anyhow, as for the DT times – yeah it helps if you help the employees get your food out faster. It helps that I worked DT for so long, but as soon as I order something, I toss my wallet on the console – I usually pay via Debit card. if I am paying with cash, I rummage around while pulling through the line. It helps a lot as far as speed of service.

    And there could be many reasons for “gaming” the system as far as the times go. Maybe the early crew was short because 2 people called out and they only had two people (the manager included) to run the entire store until 9-10am or later. I have been stuck with that scenario when I was the opening manager. Luckily the guy I usually opened with was a fast worker and I could work front and DT at the same time and still beat times :)

    And yes, drive thru gets absolute priority. Ever wonder why it takes like 10 minutes to get your food inside, when only two people are in front of you – while 5+ cars have been in and out of DT in that time? Because DT gets priority. DT food is made first usually, if possible.

    Anyhow, I’m rambling now and I need to get back to work :p

  31. Drulloch says

    @Jen O

    ‘Never’? Yet you continue to return to the restaurant. Interesting.

    Exactly… customers exaggerate CONSTANTLY, especially when they feel they might get free food or a reqard in return.

  32. says

    This article is an example for how small-minded and petty Americans have become. Seriously? You’re all getting upset over how some minimum-wage kids are trying to prevent getting fired by their pimply-faced assistant Manager at Burger King? You’re uncovering the great burger conspiracy that prevents you from getting your meat 20 seconds faster? Nice work!

    Meanwhile, there is a world out there with actually *important* issues.

    My advice: if someone asks you to back up and pull forward … Give some poor kid a break and do it.

  33. says

    Saw your post mentioned in a few spots and decided to comment with the originator!

    I had a similar thing happen to me about a year ago – also at a BK here in Dallas, TX. However, instead of having me back up, the server asked me to pull forward to a designated area and they would bring my food to me momentarily.

    I have no problem doing this when there’s someone waiting in line behind me. However, I checked my rear-view mirror, noticed no one was behind me, and then said “No, I prefer to wait here.”

    The server looked stunned. “Sir, would you please pull forward and we’ll bring your order to you.”

    Me: “Nope. There’s no one behind me, so there’s no point in pulling forward. I’ll move if someone comes up behind me.”

    And I didn’t budge. My order came to me in about 3 minutes (as I recall, it was something deep-fried that would take some time if not pre-prepared). I thanked the server and drove away from my only parking spot.

    Of course, I probably ate spit, but that’s a different issue.

  34. Brittany says

    Ok, I work at Burger King and I can tell you exactly why we do this.
    Due to our horrible economy, BK as well as everywhere else has taken
    major cutbacks, and its target is its employees.
    On an average day it will be just me in the kitchen. An order will
    come through and take about 45 seconds to decide what they want,
    most people will order multiple sandwiches.An average order is 3 sandwiches
    I’d say. Now if the person before you orders 3, person behind you gets 3, I’m looking at 9 things to make, run around to cook enough fries, maybe some one
    gets onion rings.
    Now I’m just one person, making all this food. It takes people roughly 40 seconds
    to order, and additional 15 seconds to drive up the the window, probably about 10
    seconds to scrounge up change.
    The thing is, it isn’t BK that is cheating, it is us getting tired of being hounded
    by our managers that we are slow workers, when reality it is people driving through not knowing what they want to eat, being indecisive, talking on their phones, ordering $30+ of fattening, disgusting flame broiled carcass, driving to the window just to tell us “Oh can you add another triple whopper to that?”
    By the time an order comes through, I have less than a minute to make it, even
    if that person just ordered 4 sandwiches.
    The bottom line is this, stop being a lazy selfish mom that feeds her kids diseased, factory farmed abused, heart attacks in a wrapper, and cook for
    your own damn kids.

  35. says

    Amy, you’re a bitch. Give the kids a break, you can soak up your husbands money without giving honest hard working people a hard time. Seriously. Also, a blog titled “selfish mom” is not a job. It’s not a career. Don’t kid yourself. If you think you can do better, why not get a REAL job? Being a mom is easy, I’m a father of 3, my wife works too. Quit being a bitch and just help the kids out or ask for some free fries or something.

    -I don’t expect you to respond to this because you don’t respond to any other of the people who are approaching you this way. Enjoy your little bubble of a world on the internet. Bitch.

    I have to get back to WORK. Because I really do have a JOB.

  36. says

    @Brittany – Interesting. Someone who claims to work for Burger King calls the food “fattening, disgusting flame broiled carcass” and “diseased, factory farmed abused, heart attacks in a wrapper.”

    I certainly wouldn’t want someone with that kind of attitude towards the food she’s being paid to prepare getting anywhere near my food. Luckily I don’t live anywhere near Flagler County, FL.

    I know that people from Burger King corporate have been monitoring this thread. If you’d like any more information about “Brittany” please let me know.

  37. Brittany says


    Good thing I don’t live near Flagler either.
    Besides, just because I work for the company doesn’t
    mean I’m not entitled to my own personal beliefs. BK
    hired me knowing my beliefs.
    And you know what, I do what I do because I need to survive.
    Do you think a vegetarian wants to be in a 98 degree kitchen
    10 hours a day, with meat splattering on my face, burning my
    arms and fingers, making hardly minimum wage.
    So save me your little threats, because an internet blog with some girl
    named “Brittany” isn’t going to get you very far.

  38. says

    @Brittany – I’m a vegetarian too, Brittany. Have been for more than 30 years. I worked the grill at McDonald’s and sliced meat and assembled sandwiches at Arby’s. And served meat as a waitress for years. As a matter of fact, I quit McDonald’s largely because there was a corporate rule that the kitchen workers were only allowed to have drinks on their breaks. So I stood up myself, quit a shitty situation, and made sure that everyone from my boss to corporate knew why. I hope the rule has changed. The grill was a miserable place to work and something as simple as a cup of water would have made a world of difference.

    But your attitude towards your job and your customers is disgusting. Perhaps if you didn’t have such a terrible attitude you wouldn’t be stuck in a job you obviously hate, merely surviving. Be pissed at me, the customers, or the world in general all you want, but you’re the one who sounds miserable.

  39. Brittany says


    I’m not the one making petty complaints about fast food.
    If you want a service where you can stuff your face with
    food that takes under 2 minutes to get, then the least you
    can do is take your foot off the brake and slide your car forward 6 feet.

  40. Jon says

    Why are you getting so mad over something that doesn’t concern you? You have no idea how those employees are treated. Many of them are just trying to survive and are being constantly harassed with unrealistic goals and expectations, just like Brittany.

    I’d just like to ask at this point, exactly how do you and/or your husband earn a living?

  41. says

    @Jon – I’d like you to point to exactly where I claimed to be “mad” in my post. I claimed to be insulted, and I was. I was insulted that an employee in an industry where service standards have gone way down in my lifetime would ask me to be complicit in making the restaurant’s numbers look good. Period. Then my post got picked up by Consumerist, and I’ve had days of entertainment watching people project feelings and even facts onto my post that simply aren’t there. So I can’t answer a question that isn’t valid.

    The thing that has stupefied me during this entire episode is how many people who work at fast food restaurants are defending a system that actually makes things harder for them. You’re meeting the goals by cheating? Guess what? Those suits up in corporate that you hate so much are going to find ways to shave even more time off of the already unrealistic expectations. That doesn’t help the workers or the customers.

    I worked at a McDonald’s and an Arby’s but even if I didn’t, I’d still be qualified to comment on what’s going on, because I’m the customer. Frankly, the inner workings of the restaurant shouldn’t even be apparent to a customer. When they are, then something has gone wrong.

    As for asking what my husband and I do, I work online and my husband works in finance (a career that he ended up in after four years of a state school, a post-graduate degree that we’re still paying for eleven years later, and no connections, just hard work). Before that, I worked in half a dozen restaurants as either a food preparer (fast food) or a waitress (two different Perkins, a Bob Evans) and a hostess (a hotel restaurant). I also worked the front desk and concierge lounge in a hotel for three years, had several office jobs, including in a law firm and a state agency, a lifeguard, a public safety dispatcher, and a few years of extra work in film and television. And I spent a couple of years entertaining at kids’ birthday parties. And probably others that I’m forgetting, since I worked up until the time I had kids. So there you go.

    Now a question for you: what does that have to do with this discussion? Are you going to try to claim that I’m some out of touch spoiled mom who has no right to criticize people who have real jobs? If you are, don’t waste your time. I have slaved over the grill at McDonald’s. I have cleaned the disgusting bathrooms at several restaurants where I worked, without complaint, because I knew that it would be part of the job when I was hired. I’ve dealt with rich ten-year-olds who called me names and have cleaned vomit out of pools. I’ve put up with thousands of customers who ranged from polite to completely obnoxious. I’ve had great bosses and terrible bosses. And when I’ve come up against a policy that I thought was asinine I’ve spoken up. And I worked hard. And I respected the customers. And I advanced and got raises and got better jobs so that I was no longer merely “surviving.”

    I purposely did not identify the employee or the restaurant, because I think it’s the system that’s at fault. So I would ask you: why are you defending a system that doesn’t work in an industry that treats its employees horribly?

  42. Jon says

    Honestly, why are you screwing with these people? They make minimum wage. They are just trying to do their jobs. Maybe you should consider that the times they are asked to meet aren’t realistic. Maybe you should consider that their managers don’t give a crap if those times aren’t realistic. They are serving you for a measly paycheck, and in an economy like this, I assure you that there are people there that would rather not be. Hell, I’m sure there are always people working there that wish they could be doing something better. But they are WORKING for a living. Don’t make things harder for them. And honestly, what does it hurt you to back up and pull up to reset their timer? If you don’t like it, don’t do it or walk into the restaurant and stand in line. This blog should be called “Selfish Bitch.” Shame on you.

  43. Jason says

    I had this same issue at a burger king last weekend. It was midnight, and the employees were working EXTREMELY slow, it was by far the slowest drive through I’ve ever been to, there were 3 cars in front of me and it took over 20 minutes. There were enough employees in there that this should have taken maybe 3 minutes a car at most, but instead I waited there for 20 minutes. I find this inexcusable, these employees were trying to work half as slow and get credit for working at normal speed.

  44. kbec says

    I went to the Macdonalds drivethru today. It was 11.15am and I was the only car there. I ordered my food – nothing complicated. The staff then politely said there is a short wait can you go over and park in the waiting space. I politely said I will if someone comes up behind me but as i am the only car here in the drive through i will wait here until the point comes that i hold someone up. The staff member then started this argument saying I had to move or i wouldn’t get my food. I said well f##k you then give me my money back i’ll go to BK. At which she disappeared and came back with my food within about 10 seconds – not even enough time to spit in it .

    It begs the question – what would you prefer a 1 minute wait at Macdonalds with rude staff or a 5 minute wait at BK with polite staff.

  45. Backward Logic. says

    Wow. How is it possible there are so many dickheads worried about someone worried about drive-thrus?

    You are going out of your way to bitch about someone going out of their way to bitch. It gives me chills. And no, I am not included because I am not telling YOU your comments are petty and a waste of time. I am simply pointing out the hypocrisy that should be obvious.

    I completely agree with Amy on this. The system is NOT working if the number of doctored statistics is so much greater than the number of accurate statistics. You can bitch all you want about how she’s wasting her time, but that’s always going to be a waste of your own time. You haven’t identified a problem nor proposed a solution. You instead seek to stop someone from voicing their concerns simply because you can only relate to the -other- side and not hers.

    The bottom line is this: The customer didn’t apply for a job there. It is the employee’s JOB to adhere to the rules and stick to the system, and it falls under their responsibility to shoulder the blame when something goes wrong, even if there is a valid reason. It is NEVER ok to shoulder the problem onto the customer. Some more reputable establishments take this VERY seriously. I have worked in two fairly fancy restaurants and let me tell you, if you do something as petty as bringing food out 30 seconds too early (customer’s salad plates have not been pulled by server or busser), you could lose a shift or worse.

    Meanwhile fast food continues to lower the standards by which they operate, and for some reason their wage slaves feel they have to defend it, just because they were forced to work there. Sounds like Stockholm syndrome to me :)

    P.S.- When your posts come across like they’re from a high school dropout who works at a fast food joint- well, it’s very convincing and all, but perhaps you could leave the debates to people with a larger vocabulary.

  46. Backward Logic. says

    I completely forgot- I found this page because I did go to “BK” tonight (yikes, right?) and had the same experience. Normally they have limited it to asking me to pull around and park, but tonight they surprised me and asked me to actually back up and pull forward, when there was a car at the speaker who could pull forward at any time. It’s not a safe situation and the parking there is terrible. It’s a 5 or 6 year old strip mall parking lot in a neighboring town and all of the (very limited) parking in front is taken up by the employees themselves. Obviously they can’t guess which car mine is when I am forced to park in another store’s spaces, so I am then forced to either get out of the car or drive back over to them after sitting in a parking space for 15 seconds. It’s a waste of gas and time, and it creates a dangerous situation. Around here there are a ton of school children on foot and customers walking to the Starbucks and such, and it’s a risk every time you turn a corner or pull into a parking spot. I’m not usually this inhuman, but I’m starting to hope someone gets hurt while a customer is helping them cheat, just so corporate HAS to address the problem. Yeah, that’s mean, oh well.

  47. Michael says

    So I read most of the responses to this whole DT time travesty, but not all of them because I figured I’d lost enough brain cells for one night. I work at burger king myself, and have been there for almost 3 years, I mainly work in the Drive Thru also. The store I work at is a Corporate owned store, and we recently were given a new store manager, and a new district or regional manager. Also the store I work at is the busier or 2 stores in my town. Knowing this, we are still required to keep our drive thru times under 2:30, and if not, we do get in some trouble, like write ups and even worse hours cut. Im also one of two of the only crew members on nights that works drive thru, so being up there a lot I feel like I should have a bit of a say so in this, and whether or not anyone pays attention to this or what I don’t care. And I’m not looking for an argument or anything I just want to share my knowledge of how things work. The average customer pulls up to the call box and the order taker has 3 seconds with to “greet” the customer. After that the majority of customers respond with an “ummm” or “hold on a minute” and proceed to sit in silence, or ask around the car what everyone wants. This process can usually take from 30 seconds to 3 or 4 minutes. (I had a woman come through the other night and sat and argued on the phone with her children for 6 minutes before ordering and she only order 3 sandwiches) And I can only do so much to speed their requests up without irritating the customer and having them be rude to me, or driving off altogether which in turn runs up the time on the timer a good deal. After the customer finishes ordering, if they’re alone in line, the rest of the process usually takes a good minute or two, depending on how much and what they ordered and how long it takes for the money to be exchanged and the food to get out the window. On average for last month in our store on nights we had a 4something drive thru time. Which I know is horrible, I don’t need reminded, but i also know that I did everything in my power besides screaming at the people and throwing their food to them for free to get them their food in a quick manner. There are a few things that could help this process, and in turn get YOU your food faster like; Asking everyone what they want before getting to the restaurant, what else are you going to talk about on the way? Its been the same food for the last 40 years, pick something! If you know you have a very large order, come inside! It makes things a lot easier for us, and you. You aren’t pulled up, you get your food just as fast, and can make sure it’s all there inside before you leave. Not hard concept to grasp. And if you have such a big order, and your in that big of a hurry and don’t feel like using the drive thru, then use that 40 dollars to go get real groceries and cook at home. Also, if you want your sandwich with no lettuce, no tomatoes, light mayo, extra onions, cut in fourths, with extra cheese, get over it. Come in with your crazy orders so it’s not holding the line up and you can once again make sure its right. Same thing with not being sure of what you want again, come in, theres a board you can stand and stare at for as long as you want in there, and noone will bother you. Now on the other side, it would be a lot quicker with more crew members working on the inside. More people to make food, get things cooked, and collect money and pass orders out. But corporate rules are you can only have so many hours for crew members in a week. So the manager has to make a decision going off of sales of the week before to see where to put more people, they arent mind readers people, don’t get mad at us because you went to a basketball game and went to eat at burger king with the rest of the team, and had to wait 15 minutes on your chicken fries because there were only 3 people working. Sorry. As for the pulling back and forth, I know some managers that have done that, yes it’s cheating, but its not really a BIG deal. It takes an average of 6 cars going the whole line in under 2:30 to drop the drive thru time 1 second for the day. Sure your doing us a tiny favor, which never hurts anyone, think of it as your good deed for the day, or whatever. To me it’s not that big of a deal, and when we pull you up there usually good reason for it. We have a set amount of each item we cook, according to the computer which again goes by sales for the day before, and if we dont have that amount, waste goes up. Which eventually, when your waste is up, means you don’t get a bonus. And who doesn’t want a bonus? So if you come through and order 3 tendercrisp sandwiches (keep in mind they take about 5 minutes to cook) and we only have 1 or 2, we’re going to need to cook more right? So you’ll probably get 3 freshly cooked ones instead of 2 that have been sitting there for god knows how long, so it’s a good thing right? All we ask is you pull up, and we’ll walk the order out to you, it’s not taking any longer for you to get your food, your not getting any more or less, and we aren’t doing innapropriate things to it. It’s just so we don’t get in trouble. As for not pulling up because noones behind you, that doesn’t make sense really, doesn’t matter if anyones there or not, your the one on the timer, so we need you to move along, while we make your food, fast and fresh for you! Also, corporate rules about pulling people forward (yes there are some) are if theyre waiting more than like 3 or 4 minutes on something to cook, we can pull you up. If your waiting on something, and someones behind you and their order is done, we can pull you up. The pulling up and back thing is kind of stupid, it doesn’t do much good, and I wouldn’t have anyone do it, but in turn it does help some, if you get enough people to do it. And if you refuse to pull up, or won’t move back and forth, trust me they’re going to have someone on the shift go out and drive around the store a few times when you leave, so either way they’ll find a way to cheat the timer. If they’re that desperate to meet times, which some managers can be. I don’t know if this helped any or not, but I hope it cleared some things up. Again I didn’t read all the other comments, and Im not trying to argue with anyone, because arguing does not good whatsoever, because noone ever changes their minds about anything, but I just thought I’d give my opinion on the subject.

  48. Michael says

    Well I geuss i basically restated seans post, sorry! :D But I read througha few more of the comments, and basically your all right. In my own opinion, drive thrus shouldnt be timed, it would make everything a hell of a lot easier. Riight? Most of seans post is true also, but amy is also correct in the fact that the workers shouldn’t be cheating, but there are cheaters everywhere, even in big office buildings, they probably arent as easily noticed though. I know I get upset if I wait too long for my food,but I also dont mind being asked to pull forward, just another one of those “hey it happens” things. But oh well, who am I to say anything about it, I’m just an 18 year old college kid working at good old Burger King, paying for college and everything else I want in life haha, but remember, whether you get pulled up, backed up, the wrong food, overcharged, undercharged, too much food, not enough food, or waiting an hour for a double cheeseburger, it’s always a great day at BK, would you like to try a value meal today? :D

  49. says

    My brother worked at a fast food joint and he told me people would get piaaed off when having to park for getting their fast food. The ones that would get posses off or give any attitude they would mess with their food. When I asked what they would do he told me they would add a squirt to their food. I asked a squirt of what? He said either bodily fluid or can be bleach or cleaning product or even a pesticide. That is why I never say shit to my server regardless!!!!

  50. Sean P. says

    @Jon – If we’re all about fair treatment here, maybe laying off using “bitch” to describe a female we don’t agree with would be a reasonable tactic. Noticing the way it has been used in these comments, always by males btw, its use demonstrates its equitability to hate speech– as in the use has been both sinister and revelatory of deeper issues in the psyche of the poster.

  51. ashley says

    this isn’t really fair, you know. think of everyone who pulls up to the drive thru window and asks the person to wait a minute. even if they have their order done in 30 seconds, it means nothing if they’re at the menu board for 200.

    not to mention, it’s fast food. you’re paying mere dollars for food and you’re being served by people who aren’t paid enough money to live. it’s not like they work there because they’re passionate about burgers, they’re just trying to keep their bosses from firing them for circumstances beyond their control to support themselves.

  52. Wally says

    I work at a Wendy’s, and I do not have people go forward and then back up. I have them just pull forward to be closer to the door (and off the timer). I am actually instructed by my manager to do so. Corporate does want a certain time to be met no matter what: size of order or customer disposition. They have no way of knowing if a person has never been to a Wendy’s before or is on the phone or talking to a mini-van full of kids. They can’t know and they certainly don’t care. I’m not sure how they expect a bunch of minimum-wage workers to be able to speed up the reading abilities of equally economically-disadvantaged persons ordering food.
    It’s weird how a big line always forms behind a $40-order car…
    I did see once a QSR with a timer that started when a car reached the window. I don’t remember where it was, but I was thoroughly impressed and wanted to apply there right away.

    Tip to all people who have to work in fast food to make ends (still not quite) meet, work lunchtime. People order more quickly because they know what they want and want to leave quickly, and there are more workers there to fill the orders faster.

    • Wally says

      @Wally: I forgot to add this: it is “fast food” after all, not instant food. Wait just a few minutes so we can actually have the food ready. No, seven doubles is not an order we can pop out like a newspaper printer prints the dailies. So pull up and wait while we cook it! Or do you really want the old stuff we just tossed out because you can’t wait for some fresh meat?

  53. Wally says

    OK, I better stop forgetting things: it was corporate policy to NOT pull people up, but we employees were still told by the bottom-rung managers to pull customers up when their food wasn’t ready by the time they got to the window. Tell the DM about it, and somebody’s head would roll…

  54. sunderbug says

    In my opinion, if all burgerkings, or for that matter all fast food resteraunts would quit cheating the system so corporate could get the actual stats that should be there, then it would be better,things would be better for everyone. As a company owner, I cant be everywhere watching everything and i depend on these kinds of stats to weed out non-production to improve my business, therefore creating more jobs. when employees cheat the system they are in essence taking money out of other peoples pockets by pissing off customers thereby sending them to my competitors.

  55. Beauty says

    maybe I am just paranoid but I wouldn’t be making the minimum wage worker who is making my food out of my sight’s job harder. one of my rules is don’t tick off the cook.it’s not like they work there because they’re passionate about burgers, they’re just trying to keep their bosses from firing them for circumstances beyond their control to support themselves.

    • says

      @Beauty: Hi Beauty, thanks for your comment. Normally I would agree with you if it was just a token amount of rudeness or a mistake in the order. But this, to me, went beyond that – I was being inconvenienced to help trick a system that clearly wasn’t gauging what it is supposed to gauge. I’ve worked in two fast food places among my many restaurant jobs, and while I completely understand that they’re shitty jobs for nowhere near enough pay, that doesn’t give someone a blanket excuse not to do it as best she can. Since I agree that this issue as a whole was beyond this worker’s control, I would’ve happily talked to a manager. This worker’s life wasn’t being made any easier by this system either, and hopefully someone from higher up in Burger King read this.

  56. says

    It blows my mind how much of a big deal this is to you. People are starving and you’re whining about what fast food restaurants are ‘doing to the customer.’ They’re not hurting you in any way. I worked in fast food for 5 years, and not all, but alot of people in there are working VERY hard, and as fast as they can to bring you your food, which is apparently a major issue. The times that corporate decides are wildly unfair. And they DO start at the menu boards. Did you notice how some places have two windows? That is another attempt to help the time, and get more orders in. You try assembling 24 tacos in under 3 minutes.

    I don’t even understand how this is ‘useful information’ or something to ‘watch out for.’ This is ridiculous and sad.

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