Monday, March 28, 2005

Would You Like Bluegrass With That?

"The band has been packing the house each week for nearly two years. The music starts at 7, but people start claiming their seats around 5. Anyone arriving after 6:30 will probably have to stand."

That doesn't sound like a McDonald's ... but it is. The McChronicles has often wondered why McDonald's doesn't do something like this. We now see that a few of them do. Every region should have something like this - at least during the summer. Find out more about this awesome concept.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Great Service!

A McChronicles team FLEW through the New Hartford, NY drive thru at 1PM today. The cars ahead moved right along, the order was taken professionally, the sandwich looked and tasted perfect, and the people were very polite.

A McChronicles pet peeve is being handed a dripping cup of soda and having to contaminate a cupholder with the mess. During this visit, the outside of the cup was perfectly dry. Very much appreciated. Good job. Thank you.

Time For A Little Spring Cleaning (Please)

Over and over again the McChronicles is reminded (in visits to numerous McDonald's) that the management feels it is acceptable to expose the customers to mops, brooms, mop buckets, abandoned "danger" signs, rakes, racks, snow heaps, and the such. These can be found both within and outside of the stores, in the drive thrus and in the dining rooms.

Once in a while it is understandable (like with the case of the ice-damaged rain gutters at the New Hartford, NY store - they have been picked up). But when it is an every-day occurrence it just subtracts from the experience.

It is so easy to eliminate the negative impact that customers receive. McDonald's, please show some pride and clean house.

Service is great at McDonald's in New Hartford, NY, as is the food quality (in general). What needs a little attention is the "presentation". This drive thru view greets everyone and tells us all about the style of the people who run the store.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Greenville, SC McDonald's: Small Problems In An Otherwise Good Store

Greenville, SC: A Favorite Stop for one of the McChronicles Field Teams.

Nice Job Greenville!

Greenville, SC Dining Room. A little untidy.

Perfect Fry Packing in Greenville, SC.

Small Problems

Location: Greenville, SC
Store Address: Woodruff Rd & Highway 14
Time: 1 PM
Outside Appearance: Overall good, but there was some misc. trash in the parking lot.
Service Time: 1 minute 58 sec
Stated Order: 2 cheese burgers, 1 small fry and a small drink to go.
Order Filled: 2 cheese burgers, 1 Med fry and a small drink to go. Loose one point for not listening to the customer.
Overall Customer Rating: Good

On the cash register, a text message stated that the average service time was 58 seconds. The McChronicles' order, start to finish timed out at 2 minutes, 10 seconds. The average is one thing. The standard deviation is also a key issue.

The dining room looked good with one exception. Trash was piling up on the trash bin. Chronic issue: Often the trash does not slide easily off the tray. The McChronicles notes people just leaving the whole mess on the top of the bin - versus fighting with it. Loose one point.

Upon opening the bag, the field reporter was greeted by:
" a perfect pack job. Not a single fry out of the corral. The wrap job on the cheese burgers was 10 for 10. Add five points!!!!!"

During this visit expectations were met. The experience was rated "good". The crew did their job right, nothing extra. Key points that the Field Team noted include (what really matters to customers):

  • Optimal toasting on the bun, take note of the bun edge
  • The perfect distribution of salt granules on the fries
  • Messy dining room

McChronicles Note: (and we find ourselves asking this over and over) Why does it take so long to deliver a 2 cheeseburger special? A standard product right off the menu board should be FAST!

Dawna Lentz Follow-Up (Abandoned Quiznos)

See the posting below on the abandoned Quiznos. Then follow this link for some resolution on the story. What a heroic story of devotion to a store and to the customers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Looking Great!

Clinton, NY: Looking Great!

Winter is rough in Upstate New York. The region is just thawing out - and as the snow and ice recede, McDonald's exteriors and landscaping are exposed. You'd think that the stores would look really bad - and many do. But the Clinton, NY store is an exception. The colors are vibrant, the landscaping is clean and orderly, and the place looks festive!

The McChronicles suggests that the Clinton team lend a hand to the New Hartford, NY store and help them:

  1. remove the ice and snow from the sidewalk and parking lot
  2. remove the cleaning equipment from the drive thru area
  3. mop the floor
  4. clean the parking lot

New Hartford offers GREAT service, they just need to clean up.

Great job Clinton!

An Avatar of Customer Devotion

An incredible story is told in the Seattle Times (written by Shirleen Holt). You've got to read about the dedication and commitment of a young Quiznos manager as she endured total abandonment by her store owner. She kept the store open in spite of amazing odds. The McChronicles LOVES this kind of commitment. Kudos to Dawna Lentz.

An Avatar of Customer Service:

Inconsistent & Damaged

Greenville, SC
Woodruff Road

Online Time: Not Reported
Order Wait: 1.25 minutes
Quality: Great
Service: Fair
Cleanliness: Good
Theme: Local College Colors

The field team reported that all went fairly well during this visit. The cashier asked if the order was "for here or to go" three times (annoying). As for the sandwiches, we quote, "One cheeseburger with hasty wrap job and looked slightly mishandled (ie crushed)".

But, is this OK? What if your bank teller asked you if you wanted your money in tens or twenties three times? What if your bills were wadded up? Why do we accept this? Why do McDonald's managers allow this? Why do the company's executives allow the franchisees to get away with this?

As customers, we seem to be expected to accept it.

The field team ended their report with this suggestion:

"Point to ponder: McD's could maybe consider upgrading the quality of their buns and fries. They seem flimsy in comparison to other fast food places. (Hope this is not considered bashing - meant as constructive criticism." True McChronicles form - passionate, positive, constructive, and loyal to McDonald's. Thanks Team!

Come On!

Here we go again!

The McChronicles team has filed numerous reports of sub-par product quality recently. Most of these reports occur when there is extremely low customer traffic in the store (no rush) and when the sandwich was prepared to order.

The basic issue is that the products are crushed, smeared, messy, and sometimes have the stuff that's supposed to be on the inside on the outside!

At the risk of repeating an earlier posting, this is a very poor reflection on the overall quality of the product and the company. Customers are picky - they appreciate good quality. They all think they are buying the items depicted in the ads and on the menu boards. It is NOT OK to sell them something inferior while accepting full price.

Bashed! Posted by Hello

Inside Out! Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005

© 2005
 Posted by Hello

"Dirty Dining"

The McChronicles viewed with great interest NBC Dateline's expose of the USA's top 10 fast food restaurants, titled, "Dirty Dining" (aired this evening, 13 March). Key information delivered:
  • Americans eat over 61 million fast food meals every day
  • The USA has >200,000 fast food restaurants
  • McDonald's ranked 10th (the worst) out of the top 10 fast food establishments when it comes to "critical violations" from health inspectors (they were the 2nd-best for TOTAL violations)
  • McDonald's was cited for 126 critical violations per 100 inspections
  • McDonald's was the only chain that had "unsatisfactory handwashing" as the most-cited critical violation
  • Jack in the Box and Taco Bell were rated the least-cited of the top 10 chains

As loyal "consumer advocates" of McDonald's, the McChronicles was both disappointed and hurt by the actions of McDonald's that earned them this dubious distinction.

For more information, visit

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Passionate Feedback from McChronicles Field Agent

It is the little things that matter (both good and bad). Here is some feedback (edited slightly) from a passionate McChronicles field agent - dialoging instead of reporting impartially. Sometimes we all need to blow off a little steam.

I went to the Oriskany Blvd., Yorkville, NY McDonald's to get some lunch for the kids the other day...and some Chicken Selects for myself.

I went in even though I was taking the food home. Previous data has shown that the error rate for a part of a Happy Meal missing is significantly higher if you drive thru as opposed to go to the counter to order. A dinner with 3 children, 3 Happy Meals, and 2 toys is a most unpleasant dining experience. (McChronicles note: see how significant the quality issue is? It really matters to customers. Isn't it sad that people know these kinds of things? They wouldn't need to if service was consistently great.)

Anyhow, most of the order was up and the guy waiting on me was prodding the cooks to hurry up with the Chicken Selects. He continued to help other cashiers with their orders hoping to get them out of his way so he'd be ready when the chicken selects came up. (McChronicles note: customers appreciate good intentions, even when things aren't going perfectly. Bad News: the whole order went down the tubes because of one problem.)

It was at least 4 or 5 minutes before my order got completed. About one minute before the order was done, he reached in the bags with the rest of the order, grabbed the fries, threw them under the counter in the garbage and went over and scooped up some hot, fresh ones that just
got tossed under the heat lamp. I was surprised by this gesture and completely disarmed. My time in line was at least triple what the cash registers were showing....but...I got new fries! (McChronicles note: a worker who empathizes with the customer, and who is empowered to take action has a lot of power.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Good Service @ Warners

A McChronicles crew paid a visit to the NYS Thruway McDonald's in Warners, NY today.

Quality: Great
Service: Online Time: 1.00 minute, Order Wait: 1.00 minute
Cleanliness: Very good
Theme: None

The transaction was reported to be quick, and the goings on that are always a part of a Thruway stop made the experience feel brief. The store was clean, the staff was polite, and the food was good. All in all, this was efficient fast food.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

New Hartford Nails It!

Quality: Very Good (two perfect hamburgers)
Service: Online Time: 0.00 minutes, Order Wait: 0.00 minutes (awesome!)
Cleanliness: The drive thru path looked nice with the exception of the stack of rain gutters laid alongside the building. The McChronicles can certainly give the store a break as the weather has been nuts here lately.
Theme: Drive Thru

The McChronicles sampled the New Hartford McDonald's drive thru service today at 12:50PM. With only one car ahead of us we drove to the speaker with no delay. As reported previously, the speaker works great at this store. Having ordered, we drove right up to the pay window, then on to the pick-up window. NO DELAYS! Polite service. And the food tasted fantastic. Great work New Hartford!!! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Good News/Bad News in Greenville

Quality: Very Good (cheeseburgers were wrapped up neatly and had an overall appetizing appearance, same for fries)
Service: Online Time: NA, Order Wait: approximately 3 minutes (seems the same in many places)
Cleanliness: The floor was dirty and dangerous.
Theme: NA

A McChronicles field team was seeking a late-night snack while in Greenville, SC this week. So, at 9:30 pm they hit McDonald's for some cheeseburgers:

Bad News: 3 minutes for cheeseburgers?!?!
Good News: Our team reports that the girl taking the order was very pleasant and conscientious about getting the order right.
Bad News: The girl busing tables was yakking away on a cell phone while working in the dining room.
Good News: The table was clean.
Bad News: There were some "floor is wet" signs laying on the floor near the food pickup area.
Worse News: The McChronicles team noted some floor tiles coming up in a high traffic area.

Oneida McDonald's Struggles

Oneida, NY Overflowing with weekend fun. Too bad the crew couldn't handle it.
The Oneida McDonald's was having technical difficulties. This caused the staff to have to "deal with it" when the drink machine started acting up. Still, they didn't need to leave the mess right out in plain sight. Just off camera was an overflowing cup that was failing to catch the chocolate shake that was dripping uncontrollably. What an unappetizing mess.
Quality: Very Good
Service: Online Time: 3.00 minutes, Order Wait: 1.00 minutes
Cleanliness: VERY messy.
Theme: Harness Racing

This weekend the Oneida, NY McDonald's appeared to be near melt-down. The staff was scurrying all over the place addressing several issues. Please take a cue from Disney - customers don't enjoy seeing brooms, dust pans, and mop buckets all over the dining area. It spoils the mood.

Canastota KO'd

Quality: NA
Service: NA
Cleanliness: Very untidy, floor needed cleaning. Some seats torn.
Theme: Sports in general (NOT boxing!!!)

The Canastota, NY McDonald's sits right next door to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. So, what is the theme of the store? NOT boxing. What a missed opportunity to create a little excitement and synergy with the business next door. But, it's no big deal either.

Pictured here is an example of how the Canastota McDonald's is just missing it. The attempted repairs on the torn seats indicate a chronic problem. These rips and subsequent repairs didn't happen last week.

One word: Pride

Image: The McChronicles

Monday, March 07, 2005

Honor Where Honor Is Due

"The next time Lee County patrons stop in for a quick bite at their local McDonald's, they may want to take a closer look at their placemats. Instead of ads for the current promotional toy or food du jour, there are the photos of all 31 2004-05 Golden Apple Teacher Recognition program finalists." From the on Read more about this awesome idea.

The McChronicles opinion? What an AWESOME way to give back to the community. Imagine what it says to a student when an institution like McDonald's shows that teaching excellence, and education, is so important. Expecially when it is as tangible as YOUR VERY OWN teacher! We'd love to see all McDonald's copy this program.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Tarnished Image in Oneida

The Oneida Wal Mart McDonald's It all started out innocently enough. A team from the McChronicles headed out to the Oneida Wal Mart McDonald's. They encountered mild disappointment. The store seemed to be functioning well, but the general feel was pretty poor. After arriving at the store (deep in the back of Wal Mart) they found that it was buried behind shabby displays and an unruly gang of abandoned shopping carts. Posted by Hello

The Oneida Wal Mart McDonald's. The "setting" for the store is tarnished by the mess that exists in fromt of the entrance. Posted by Hello

The Oneida, NY Wal Mart McDonald's

The carts do have to go somewhere, and McDonald's does try to provide a space for them. Still, this unruly band of carts are empty and abandoned. It all comes off looking trashy.
 Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005

Salad Days - A Drive Thru Experience

Quality: Fair - brown, wilted lettuce in salad
Service: Online Time: 0.00 minutes Order Wait: not measured - very fast
Cleanliness: Good
Theme: Bistro

A McChronicles field reporter grabbed a quick salad lunch at the Route 5 New Hartford McDonald's drive thru yesterday (we know, we're going there a lot lately). The exchange was very expeditious - no line and good service.

Two issues arose - both related to service:

1) The speaker clarity at the drive thru was awesome! Based on the countless jokes we hear about bad drive thru speakers, we just expect ALL experiences to be a disaster. Not here.

2) The salad was a bit brown and wilted in places. Salad eaters are likely to be among the MOST health- and cleanliness-conscious of all McDonald's customers. They really notice problems with their food.

Another reporter did a drive-by just to look the back of the store over and reports that it is looking pretty good. This store had gotten a bit dumpy over the summer (the construction improvement activities hurt a bit). Overall, this store is coming back stropng. Great to hear!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


New Hartford Route 5 (Seneca Turnpike) McDonald's

Quality: Very Good
Service: Online Time: 0.00 minutes, Order Wait: 0.25 minutes (awesome!)
Cleanliness: Good, the floor could have used some attention(~1:30PM)
Theme: Bistro

The McChronicles walked in. The place was empty. Two manager-looking people stood at the counter, ready to take the order. Words were said, buttons were punched, and before we could pocket the change the order was ready. Great job! Really great. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Sangertown Square Gets Around To It (eventually)

McChronicles File Photo

Quality: Very Good
Service: Online Time: 0.00 minutes, Order Wait: 2.00 minutes (for two hamburgers), McShuffled
Cleanliness: Good, a few of the napkin dispensers were empty (~1:20PM)
Theme: None (starting to feel like "Slow")

New Hartford's Sangertown Square McDonald's is so darn convenient that it's hard to NOT go there. Another benefit is that it has some of the greatest McDonald's employees the McChronicles has ever encountered. So, can anyone tell us why it takes so long to get served here?

AFTER any lunch rush (there was no one on line when we approached, and only one person showed up after we ordered) it took the team two minutes to muster two hamburgers. And, to top it off, the order taker didn't attempt a single bit of customer service, chat, explanation, etc.

We LOVE McDonald's, and it hurts so much to see the potential being squandered like this.