Monday, August 08, 2011

897 The Menu

897 The Menu

Menus used to be lists of stuff at the restaurant.  They’re still that, among many other things.  But maybe not for long.

What if the restaurant eliminated the wait staff and put telephones on each table.  Order by phone and the food comes out on a conveyor belt.

“Welcome to Bill’s Fine Dining.  Please press one to order.”


If you know what you’d like for dinner, please press one.  To hear our menu of choices, please press two.

(beep beep)

Today’s special is Bill’s Fine Dining Philly Cheese Steak.  Would you like to order that? Press one for yes.


Bill’s Fine Dining Philly Cheese Steak is available in rare, medium, medium well and well done.  Please press one for rare, two for medium, three for medium well and four for well-done.

(beep beep beep beep)

Bill’s Fine Dining Philly Cheese Steak well done comes with french fries.  If you would like to upgrade to Bill’s Fine Dining Delicious onion rings for only $1.29 additional please press one.  For regular fries, press two.

(beep beep)

You have ordered Bill’s Fine Dining Philly Cheese Steak, well done with regular fries.  To confirm your order, please press one.


Would you like something to drink with that?  If so, please press one for hot drinks and two for cold.

(beep beep)

You have chosen cold drinks.  For alcoholic beverages please press one.  For soft drinks, please press two.

So it goes.  Half an hour later, the conveyor belt starts to move and there’s your food.  Except you got onion rings instead of fries, the Cheese Steak is cold and undercooked.  And they sent the wrong size beer.

So you pick up the phone.  

Welcome to Bill’s Fine Dining.  Please press one to order.

(long pause)

Main Menu:  For food menu, press one.  For customer service press two.

(Beep beep.)

“Your call is being transferred.”  Click, followed by music on hold, “Love Makes The World Go Round” by Percy Faith.”


“Welcome to Bill’s Fine Dining Customer Service.”  For questions, please press one.  For order adjustments please press two...” (beep beep) “For catering orders please press three.” (Beep beep.)  “For questions about opening your own ‘Bill’s Fine Dining Franchise...(BEEP BEEP!) please press four.” (BEEEEEP BEEEEEEP!)

“Your call is being transferred.  Please wait for the next available customer service representative.  This call may be monitored for service quality and training purposes.”


“This is Billsfinedining customerservicemy name is Ann.”  (Heavy Indian accent.)
You try to explain.  She says


You say “My order is wrong”

She says

“I’m so sorry sir.  (unintelligible.)”

You hang up, eat your mis-cooked and cold sandwich, drink your wrong size beer.

The phone rings:

“Please put your used dishes on the conveyor belt.  Thank you.”

You comply.  A little computer printer you hadn’t noticed prints your bill.  You take it to the front counter where a real live human being takes it and types in some numbers.

“Did you want to leave a tip on this, sir?”

“Are you nuts?  The food was wrong.  The drink was wrong and the customer service woman was hard to reach and impossible to understand.”

“Yes, but you didn’t put your used silverware on the conveyor belt, sir.”

“The phone told me to put my dishes on the belt and that’s what I did. It didn’t say anything about silverware.  Plus my sandwich was cooked wrong and they sent out the wrong size beer and they gave me onion rings instead of french fries.”

“I’m sorry sir, I’ll call customer service.”

“Please, no.  Just take my money and let me out of here.  And put a 20% tip on the bill.”

You walk to the door.  It’s locked.  There’s a phone.  You pick it up.  It says “thank you for visiting with us.  To unlock the door, please press one.”


“For security purposes, please enter the paid order number on your receipt using the keys on the telephone touchpad.  If you don’t have your paid order number, please wait for Bill’s Fine Dining Customer Service.”


--You think this story is far-fetched?  Just wait.  The day it turns real will soon be here.  As soon as they find the right customer service call center -- one exactly as described above.”

--Thanks to a long-time reader for providing this description of Congress:  “A nursery school for the criminally insane.”  That’s only partly right.  A nursery school has teachers.

Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that S&P proved itself dumb and blind when it approved the deals that caused the mortgage mess.  He also says, correctly, that the rating agency shouldn’t  be downgrading US debt.  But S&P raises some pithy observation in the message that goes along with the downgrade, essentially blaming the tea party for putting America in a position where it can't govern itself.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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