How do you say "Bueno size it!" in Gujarati?

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Steven Roemerman noticed an unusual accent at the Mexican fast food drive-thru:

We decided to eat Taco Bueno for lunch today because it's well...more Bueno. I pulled into the drive through and noticed something interesting. Based on his accent, I determined that the gentleman who was taking my order was Indian. No not Oklahoma Indian...India Indian.

I became suspicious; when I pulled forward to pay, I asked if the gal who took my money if the person that took my order was actually in the building. She said no, that he was in a call center somewhere. "I'm not sure where," she said. I thought to myself, "Yeah, I know where it is." I bet you $10 bucks Taco Bueno's drive through call center is in India. "Thank you, come again."

Steven's e-mailed query to TB HQ about the call center location received a lengthy and polite reply but no direct answer:

Our intention is not to deprive the hard working citizens of the Tulsa community employment, but to find a solution to a lack of applicants willing to work in the quick service environment. The call center is a test to see if it can be a solution by having someone full-time, 100% dedicated, to just taking drive-thru orders. It is a response to guests' needs, but if it fails to help, we will discontinue. We have been listening to feedback for years from our guests about being shorthanded, having long waits, and inaccurate orders.

The note makes reference to other tests Taco Bueno is conducting. It's interesting click through and read the whole thing. In the comments, David Schuttler wonders if Sonic is next. I was at a Sonic the other morning, and the manager was having to take orders and deliver them because someone didn't show up to work that day. Sonic could have done a lot more business if they had someone somewhere concentrating only on order-taking.

Some questions:

What does it say about the economy that businesses are still having trouble finding workers? Are things not that bad or are people still too complacent?

What does it say about American workers if call center agents from a different culture who speak English as a second (or third) language and have probably never seen a Muchaco can do a better job of getting a food order right?

Finally, on the jump page, here's a classic from the Dr. Demento vault -- Stevens & Grdnic's "Fast Food" (1982):

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S. Lee Author Profile Page said:

I highly recommend Arnolds near 51st and Union. Real people. All right there in the building.

Our intention is not to deprive the hard working citizens of the Tulsa community employment, but to find a solution to a lack of applicants willing to work in the quick service environment.

That is such a load of horse squeeze. I spent years and years in the fast food environment; I know exactly what they mean by those words.

What they mean is, "We can't find enough people to do the job at the price we want to pay."

There are plenty of people who will do it. They just don't want to do it for minimum wage.

Shortly before I left the fast-food business, I--as a management person--was working seventy hours a week (and getting paid for fifty); I told our district manager that we needed to hire more management staff.

"But there's no one out there," he said.

I said, "Well, Quik Trip always seems to have plenty of people, and they always seem happy to be there."

His answer reveals all the psychology behind this kind of crud that you will ever need to know:

"But you don't understand! Quik Trip pays more and has better benefits!"

In other words, we're going to pay what we want to pay, and if we overwork our existing staff and/or hose our customers, that's okay. We've gotten along for years this way, and we'll always get along this way.

Soon after that, I finally changed jobs and haven't looked back.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

Hey Michael, hope you don't mind some word play on your blog. :)

New TacoGujarati Combo Platters:

Punjaco Platter
Mumbaco Platter
Yogarrito Platter
Double TajMahacharito Platter
Pradeshidillas Platter
ChandraguptaTexiMelts Platter

Taco Bueno? *Sigh* You really need to learn what cheap Tex-Mex really tastes like.

And would it have killed you to park and go in? ;)

I hate idling the car in a long line, so I almost always park and go in, but a drive-thru is easier if there are kids strapped into car seats. That's one of the nice things about Sonic -- you can park your car while you wait to be served, but you don't have to herd the whole family in and back out.

Jeff, love the word play! How about a side of chipotle chipati? Or naan nachos? I think I need to listen to Rowan Atkinson's Indian waiter monologue again.

Man of the West, good point about QuikTrip. Businesses that value their employees -- that hire good people and work to keep them happy seem to prosper in an enduring way. Companies that view every employee as disposable lose the good ones faster than they lose the bad ones, and have to pay the cost of training over and over again. Doesn't make sense to me.

S. Lee -- Arnold's is great. I don't get over there enough.

J.P. Garrett said:

This is all my fault! I complained to Taco Bueno Corporate about their lousy service, and this is how they react?

I can certainly understand Man of the West's frustration from his days on the fast-food-front-line. He is undoubtedly correct in his assessment that Taco Bueno has either discovered or decided it cannot find reliable workers "at the wage they want to pay." That wage is at least federally-mandated minimum wage for, at best, a minimally skilled job of taking orders on a headset and punching them into a computer, hopefully with a modicum of politeness and concern for customer service.

The problem is that the order-taking job is inherently intermittent, so this employee is also required to multitask with kitchen and window duties. The result is that both tasks are performed poorly. To make matters worse, the employees willing to take this job seem to almost always have a really lousy attitude.

After suffering through more twenty minute waits and screwed up orders than anyone should have to endure, I parked and went inside to complain to the manager. I politely told him that I loved Taco Bueno and had been a loyal customer of his store for more than a decade, but the level of service had been going downhill for a long time. He just stared at me and didn’t say a word. I was forced to take my appetite elsewhere.

I wrote to Taco Bueno Corporate Headquarters to let them know that I felt mistreated. I never got a reply.

I boycotted my beloved Bueno for almost a year. Last month I decided to give them another chance and I immediately noticed a monumental difference. The voice on the intercom had an accent that I couldn’t identify, but it was clear, understandable and courteous. I said “Thank You.” It said “You’re Welcome.” The line moved fast. The order was correct.

I applaud Taco Bueno for taking a heartfelt complaint and making the customer experience better. I should point out that “outsourcing” the order-taker is nothing new or unique – “King of the Hill” had an episode about it earlier this season. If some surly teenager from Bixby lost a job – well, too bad. Where else can you buy a delicious tostada and two burritos for four dollars?

Would you rather it cost five dollars?

Mike Mansur said:

What a wonderful example of how technology and the free market can increase productivity (I.E. an increase in the quality or quantify of output related to the inputs required.)! Go Bueno!

Regarding your question on what it says about the economy, Michael:
I think there is another possibility besides things not being that bad or people being too complacent. I think the third option is that the class of people who are in the market for an “order taker” type job are also very likely to qualify for government aid/welfare. So, perhaps the shortage in low-skill, low-compensation workers is due to the government providing them incentive to not be productive.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 24, 2009 9:50 PM.

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