Archive for the 'consumerism' Category

Dear Brinkers International

May 12, 2007

My boyfriend and I are regular visitors to your Rancho Cucamonga On the Border location and nearly every single visit ends in disaster. Not only has the quality of the service dropped significantly in recent months, but so has the presentation and quality of our meals. This most recent visit ranks up among the worst, as both our in-house and To-Go orders ended up completely wrong.


More often than not our simple (but specific) orders come back wrong, and very often there is something noticably wrong with the food itself. They give us the wrong kind of beef in our tacos, include ingredients we specifically didn’t ask for, or forget about portions of our orders altogether. These are not isolated incidents, and these same problems appear regardless of when we visit, or who is serving us. I had always assumed this is a fundamental problem with the restaurant’s management, and that assumption was proven correct on our msot recent visit.

It was 9:00 on a Thursday night and the restaurant itself was not busy. We had ordered a few tacos a la carte, our standard order, and after an especially long wait the food arrived. Not only were my chicken tacos cold, but there were large pieces of cabbage and carrots in my taco. Who puts carrots and cabbage in a taco? It was as if the restaurant had opened one of those pre-made salad packs at the grocery store and used it as the lettuce in our tacos.

I immediately complained, and our server was kind enough to bring up the manager. He apologized for the ‘lettuce,’ and claimed that they had just been hit by a ‘rush’ and ran out of lettuce. He claimed that the restaurant uses pre-made salad mixes, and that he had been using it all night long as lettuce in orders. I have worked in several restaurants through the years and never have I seen a restaurant use pre-made salad mixes. The manager tried to assure me that they made the salad mixes fresh on the restaurant, but if they had the fresh lettuce on site why couldn’t they just put fresh lettuce in the tacos instead of this mix?

Other Brinkers restaurants pride themselves on fresh ingredients: if they didn’t have fresh lettuce to put in the tacos they simply should have said something when I ordered. Our server was very sympathetic and found the manager’s excuse unacceptable. She even confided in us to us that his excuse for pre-made salad mixes was a blatant lie. While the manager made no attempt to relieve our concerns, she went the extra mile to bring us a complimentary dessert. However, it was the attitude of the manager that soured our experience at the restaurant for the last time.

My boyfriend, despite his concerns over the quality of the food, ordered four soft ground beef tacos to-go for lunch the next day. We didn’t bother to check the tacos when we received them, and quickly paid our bill and left the restaurant soon afterwards. The next I received a call from my boyfriend during his lunch hour: not only did his tacos have shredded beef, but they were hard shell and contained no lettuce, just cabbage and carrots. We’re unsure of whether or not this was a deliberate move on the part of the manager to get back at us, or just another mistake by an incompetent kitchen staff. This kind of service is unacceptable, and we will eating at any of your Brinker’s restaurants again.

– Josh Trujillo

What’s Wrong With Wendy

September 8, 2006

I’m truly blessed to live in an age with fast food restaurants.

I recently discovered that human beings were once forced to gather, hunt, and prepare all of their own meals! Aside from kings and plantation owners, there were few who did not know to do these very basic things. I, despite my most recent attempts, am forced to add this to my list of things I have in common with kings and plantation owners. If all of the fast food restaurants on Earth were to suddenly close, it’s entirely likely that I would either A) Be forced to move back home where my family could feed me properly, or B) Die.

Unfortunately, the more time I spend away from home the more I rely on these terrible establishments for my nutrition. After only a few months we have already developed a junkie/dealer relationship: my tastes have gotten more refined to satisfy my hunger (I only eat Taco Supremes now,) but in the process things are much more expensive. Whether it be Carl’s Jr., Arby’s, or Hardee’s, there isn’t a single drive-thru in the tri-country area where I can’t list off my favorite combo meals by rote.


In the past few years a massive push to make fast food healthier has resulted in the removal of Super-Sized combo meals, and especially fattening items from the menus of restaurants everywhere. Wendy’s, and a handful of others have taken great steps in adding more health-conscious choices, going so far as to let customers substitute their french fries and soda pop for milk, juice, orange slices or celery stalks (yum!)

Every time I pull into a Wendy’s restaurant I make a point of taking advantage of this luxury; not only because I would prefer milk to soda with my meal but also because I know that a lack of customer support will kill off movements like these. By ordering milk and orange slices I feel progressive and trendy; for a brief moment I’m one of those people who drive around in their hybrid vehicles with the windows rolled down so that the world can see them behind the wheel.

Last night the unthinkable happened. I was at Wendy’s fighting for America’s youth when the lady behind the counter refused to give me my milk and orange slices(!) She claimed it “wasn’t an option” with the combination meal I had ordered, and that I would have to choose between a chili bowl, or french fries. The milk and orange slices, as I was told, were only available with the kid’s meal, and were not available for individual sale. In the past other Wendy’s employees had made exceptions for me. but apparently the policy had changed. I found myself no longer able to treat myself to the healthy, god-awful orange slices I grew so fond of over the months.

It was at this point I snapped, and felt overwhelmed by an ethical dilemma generally reserved for solders at war or women about to shoot their abusive husbands. Did I dare make a scene of this, and if I did, how far could I take it? No doubt I would get my orange slices after shouting at someone in a position of authority, but would that satisfy me? Perhaps this was my calling. Much like the documentary filmmakers who kick-started this “fast-health” campaign, it was up to handsome people such as myself to keep it going.

After a few moments of awkward silence, the cashier, who I eventually came to know as ‘Bitch,’ tried forcing me into choosing french fries as I ran the various scenarios through my head. It became increasingly obvious that she was hoping to pressure me into a choice, but I’m from Disneyland, and I’ve learned the fine art of being an obnoxious-jerk through thousands of hours of interacting with real-life obnoxious jerks.


That’s what I wanted to say, but I instead suggested a compromise. I would order a kid’s combo, and “upgrade” my food to something that would satisfy my adult-sized hunger. Not only was this more complicated to order, but I imagine it was incredibly annoying to ring up as a cashier. Now instead of my usual order:


I had to order it like this:


This may not sound like much of an inconvenience, but in my personal experience I have found that despite glamorous stereotypes reinforced by popular media, the intellectual quality of fast-food cashiers leaves much to be desired. As a result, making even the most simple changes to a food order can end in disaster. Now not only was I gambling with my meal even suggesting to make an unusual order, but I was doing something that required a moderate amount of skill and precision on the part of the entire Wendy’s restaurant staff.

On the off-chance that Bitch had entered my request correctly into the computer, it would then be up to her co-worker, the cook, to make it righ. Remember, these are people who for one reason or another, were deemed unqualified to deal with other human beings directly at a fast-food restaurant.


For want of whole milk and frozen oranges, I was putting my life on the line.

Bitch stared intently into the computer screen, scratching her brow as she tried to figure out what to do. She punched in several seemingly random buttons on the screen, and within a instant had disappeared deep into the restaurant’s walk-in freezer, only to return moments later with a bottle of whole milk and a cup of oranges in her hands. She looked at me nervously. I smiled, and nodded with approval as she stuffed them into a paper sack containing the rest of my dinner.

After several long minutes my adventure was over, and I felt proud of all that I had accomplished. If Dave Thomas were still alive, I imagine this is the type of joy and satisfaction he would have wanted all Wendy’s customers to have felt when leaving his successful chain of eateries.

I placed my bag into the seat of the car next to me, and sat there for a moment to reflect on all that had just happened. Before starting up the vehicle my curiosity finally took over, and I opened it.

Stuffed just below my milk and oranges was a jumbo container of french fries.