Saturday, March 22, 2014

You Are What You Eat: Burger King Adventures

nEW bK lOGOIs it no wonder that this chain is going down the tubes?

I went on the Burger King Restaurant to offer up a complaint in regards to the local BK franchisee. You are only given 500 characters in order to state your complaint. 500 characters is not a whole lot to relate practically any incident. But the whole scenario is typical of why Burger King continues to fail, and is now behind Wendy’s in Fast Food sales.

I don't have that original complaint that I wrote, but it's obvious from their reply that Corporate BK thinks all their customers are a bunch of dummies. I tried writing a reply to their canned response, but you are unable to do that. The email is computer generated and there is no contact information and replying to it just gets you a no such email return.  So much for consumer relations.

Here is what they wrote to me in regards to my complaint. Keep in mind that this response in no way addresses what I had to say, and simply reiterates a talking point about Franchisees opting out of certain corporate sales, a fact I am very well aware of.  If I had thought of it, I would have saved my original comments.

Dear Mr. R,

Thank you for taking the time to contact BURGER KING® restaurants Guest Relations with your inquiry. As a valued guest, your comments and observations are important to us.

Many of our BURGER KING® restaurant locations are franchised owned and operated. As such the locations are independent business entities; federal regulations prohibit us from dictating certain policies such as pricing  and promotions.

Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention and rest assured that your comments have been forwarded to the appropriate management team so that they may be aware of your concerns. We value your opinion and look forward to serving you again in the near future.

Kind Regards,

BURGER KING® restaurants Guest Relations

Here is my reply:

Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2014 21:27:54 -0700

Subject: Re: Response from BURGER KING(R) Guest Relations

I understand about some franchises not adopting certain corporate pricing policies. I'm a very informed person. This is not news to me. That's fine. I’ve run into that several times, most notably at the local Pizza Hut which often refuses to offer up a corporate special.  So I was aware of this before I wrote my comments.

However, I was unable to relay the whole story in the very restrictive "50 characters or less" one is limited to on your web site. Between that restriction and your canned computer generated response the whole exercise was kind of pointless and irrelevant.

And worse yet, your  response does not even attempt to address the issues. Just another case of where the consumer seems to be an afterthought at Burger King. But since BK is nothing more than just another investment by an equity firm, who could care less about customer service and being responsive to consumers, it is no wonder that they continue to fail and fall mightily. The franchise here in Wasco is the epitome of all that is wrong with Burger King.

The fact is that this particular franchisee located in Wasco WAS selling the Deluxe Fish Sandwiches at the sale price of 2 for $5, and was doing so for at least a week. Then for no sensible reason they drop it right in the middle of the promoted special with no explanation while corporate continues to shill this particular deal on television and on their web site. It would have been one thing to not have the special from the beginning, but it's quite another to institute it and then boot it.

This should be a problem to not only the BK Corporation, but especially the management and ownership of this particular franchise. It was because I had previously been able to buy this sandwich at this discounted price that I stopped at this particular restaurant on this particular night. I mean for Pete's sake, when your competition across the street is selling Fish sandwiches 2 for $4 and doing booming business, you'd think it'd be a no brainer for the BK in Wasco to continue onward with something they had already started, at least through Lent, and especially in an area that is heavily populated by those who faithfully observe the no meat on Fridays during the Lenten season.  If the special was over chain wide, that would have been one thing.  This is another thing altogether.

Frankly, there was a time I wouldn't stop at that BK location at all as the service was very poor, and often the attitude of those working seemed to be quite lackadaisical to say the least.

One of the reasons I quit going to this location and most other BK’s previously was because time after time after time one is told to drive around to the front and park. This would be okay if it was extremely busy, but it seldom is. This policy seems to be in play whether you are the only car in the drive-thru or if there are two, or even three. At no other franchise in the area whether it is McDonald's, Carl's Jr., Taco Bell or Jack-in-the-Box, does this on a regular basis or seems to have this problem. When it does happen at those locations, it's on a very very rare occasion.

So for a long while I just quit giving Burger King, especially this particular franchise any consideration at all. And judging by the amount of traffic, or should I say lack of, at this location as compared to the other chains on this stretch of highway, it would seem a good number of people feel as I do.

But after about a year or so I decided to give it another try after being enticed by your 2 for $5 menu which I thought was a good deal. And when I returned, the service seemed to have improved.

But for the past several weeks it's been back to the same policy of pull around, park in the parking lot, and we'll get to you when we get to you despite the fact that at times there are no other vehicles. And now this bit of idiocy with the Fish Sandwich.

What makes it a bit loony tunes is the fact that there is little difference between the regular fish and the Deluxe except for a piece of cheese and an onion. So now thanks to that particular franchise first adopting the special then dropping it for no reason other than the fact that by dropping the cheese they can charge you another 60 cents per slice and think you’re stupid enough to pay it(they have always carried all other 2 for $5 deals including this one initially), and most of all your lack of a true response, I'll be crossing BK off my list again. Believe me, there are many others who did this long ago.

Where I work there are several people who no longer go to Burger King. I would tell them that I was the same way but since I started returning, things had improved. But now, I'll have to tell them it was a mirage. There is a McDonald's directly across the street, there is Jack-in-the-Box less than a block away, and a Carl's Jr. not too much further down the road. There is a Taco Bell just a block away and a Pizza Hut right across the street as well. One would think that given these circumstances, BK would value it's customers more by not only giving them an opportunity to communicate better on their web site, but something better than a form response.  As a matter of fact, your canned reply has irritated me ten times as much as the actual event.

Because I, my girlfriend, and her sister, all have busy schedules we eat out more often than not and spend a huge amount of money in this town. It's just sad that this franchise could be doing so much better, but when the owner, the management, and the corporation don't seem to care, then it's time to cross BK off my list once again.  This time for good, and I will take along with me any others I can convince to stay away.

Thank you for letting me state my experience with your restaurant. Sometimes being honest takes a lot more than "500 characters." And if BK really cares about its customers and its reputation, than you would think that they would contact the owners and manager of this franchise (if it is indeed that) and ask them what exactly is going on. Too bad corporate is willing to let poor franchisees sully their reputation.  I doubt that things will change.

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