Added convenience? In the past, someone else would translate my spoken word into the inputs that the computer screen required. Now, I don't have to speak, but I do have to figure out how to use this interface. Any bets how long it takes me order my food? If Wawa is any indicator, at least 3 times as long.
(Insert secondary rant about the "convenience" of DIY grocery checkout. I cannot stand those things!)
I appreciate the convenience, I’d rather have the freedom to poke around and explore the menu at my own pace. And avoid talking to a person.
I order items without cheese, which tends to take longer with cashiers anyway, who tend to assume you really mean you want it with cheese even if you say "hamburger". And there's about a 25% failure rate for the "no cheese" directive to be followed anyway.
But I reserve the right to (really) pass judgement until I've actually experienced a kiosk! Hopefully the UI is logical and doesn't hide options. (The current trend in menus seems to be bigger pictures and fewer options shown by default, while there are items that are still available but hard to find. Used to be able to look for "Dollar Menu" but now "value items" are kind of scattered throughout. Just finding the price of french fries seems to be a challenge for my feeble mind sometimes.)
The kiosk app makes you go through a screen to customize items. The first time I wanted to order a hamburger I was stuck because there were only cheeseburgers. Later a screen offered the option of removing the cheese.
simple human interactions... actually DO raise our base mood/happiness
I LOVE those things. Yes, lots of people have problems with them, but at the store I frequent (WinCo), most people have an entire cartful (filled to the brim) of stuff. I live nearby and go multiple times a week. Usually I have less than a basket of stuff. It almost always gets me out 3-5 minutes faster than a line.
I LOVE those things.
Amazon's grocery service in Seattle was also my go-to for a while.
But where I am now, Amazon Prime/Amazon Pantry is close to double the store price or more for fresh items. For example, a gallon of milk is $1.49 at the neighborhood supermarket. Prime Now is $5-6/gallon. I like largely because you can only buy organic.
I don't get Amazon Prime. I can get Instacart but not for Whole Foods.
Worst part is if barcode is mangled. Some of the systems don't allow to enter barcode by hand which suuuuucks big time. Then I need to wait for "assistance" just to insert magic key and enter the damn barcode.
You'd think that using the kiosks would reduce error, but my experience over the last six months or so has been that the error rate is actually higher, compared with ordering at the counter.
And the kiosks aren't all that sturdy. One time it failed to print a receipt, which you need to pick up your food. Another time two of the six positions were offline (blank screen).
However, I only go to McDonald's about one every other month, so my sample rate is very low.
My main gripe is that efficient pipelining is prevented by machines that weigh every individual item that is scanned before admitting the next one. This is insane; weighing the previous item can easily overlap with scanning the next one; as long as they are put down in the order they were scanned.
It has my favorites on it, and I can order them with only a few clicks, customized to what I like, and do it all before I even arrive at the restaurant. I can literally spend 1 minute on my iPhone without even having to get near the restaurant, and arrive there to have my food ready.
I prefer them, but I'm well aware that the convenience is more for the store not having to pay someone to do what they've trained me to do for free.
Now, you get to cosplay as the formerly employed teenagers who used to do these jobs, which in turn empowers the bourgeoisie. Bag your own groceries! Scan your own groceries! Order your own food!
Facebook and the like have long been exploiting users to train their machine-learning models. Classify our data for us! It's fun for you!
Next we'll probably have self-service sandwich shops (if they don't exist already) so you can make your own food as well while paying someone for the privilege.
I can't really blame HN. The article focuses on minimum wage and largely blames it for automation, and the author is under the impression that it's still possible to go from working the register to CEO.
This is not a good article. It lacks any insight or perspective.
Some of the McDonalds do offer table service. If this CEO is bleeding-heart about young labourers that he employs could simply retrain them for that task and/or convert them to kitchen staff to better handle the foot + drive through traffic.
But at the end, this is merely a fluff piece about how minimum wages are bad.
He has at least as relevant a perspective as any commenter here, though of course I believe he has way more relevant experience, having been the CEO of McDonalds. If you think he didn't face anything like these kinds of issues, you're wrong.
Unlikely? Of course, but definitely possible.
> These entry level jobs such as flipping burgers or taking customers orders teach teens valuable jobs skills such as customer service and applying basic math skills. Skills that could ultimately lead to the career stepping stones for a working teenager to become an engineer or accountant.
I think these are good points, but I think that we should be careful that we're not giving young people advice that's obsolete. Times change!
Here's a thought exercise: Imagine the time when the first jobs for hourly pay came into existence. What advice was the older generation giving to the youth of that time? (I can imagine my elders telling me that it'd be important to learn to take care of animials, or harvest wheat, etc.)
Wages were known to be paid in ancient Egypt, so that advice would have been useful for the next few millennia.
I can see the automat process being less desirable because there's an unknown, and obviously longer time between when the food is prepared vs when it is served. With the kiosks the food is still served pretty much immediately after it's prepared.
Here is what I've noticed:
- All other things being equal and given the option, it seems that most people went to the human cashier. I can't ever remember seeing a person using one of these if there was no line at a person.
- During peak traffic times (lunch hour, as this McDonalds was near a bunch of business parks) they often needed an employee manning the kiosks to answer questions and help customers who got stuck. In this case, it was one employee for two terminals, but it could probably have been a 1:4 or 1:6 ratio no problem.
- Kind of unsurprisingly, people you would assume were not good with technology (older patrons) seemed to struggle more and take longer to order and get stuck more.
- There was a little bit of a learning curve to be able to confidently use on quickly, but even once I had gotten the hang of it, going to a cashier was always faster. Having a friendly, categorized, nested UI is just slower than what the cashiers have. Also, the terminal touch screen wasn't super responsive.
This all leads me to believe that this really isn't that big of an issue at this point. I expect to see a hybrid style approach like we do we self-checkout at grocery stores, where you have the option to do it yourself, but it's not the only option.
No matter how simple they make these to use, it's still a new "thing" to learn. Frequent McDonalds customers may opt for the terminal, but infrequent customers aren't going to want to take the time to learn how to use these, especially when they are in a rush or have other pressing issues (imagine a one parent 3 screaming children type scenario).
I literally have an easier and faster time ordering food from Japanese fast-food places, with the entire menu being listed in Japanese and me knowing only enough kanji to distinguish pork from fish.
This will become better and normal very fast, and in ten years waiters and cashiers will seem as quaint as land-line telephones.
As for automation reducing the amount of available jobs... well, yeah, that's going to happen. Humanity will adapt. It's what our species does best.
First, I don't think it will be more convenient. Sure, it is much more convenient for McDonald's to do this. But probably not for the user. Is it really easier to press a bunch of buttons on a system you don't use that often? Or is it easier to just verbalize what you want to a human being and have them enter it appropriately because they are more familiar with the system and can do it faster? I think it's a no-brainer that just saying what you want is far better for most consumers. If you order the same thing whenever you go and memorize how to quickly enter it, then it could be simpler. But that's probably the only case. That's what I do at Wawa - I always get the same sub so it's not time consuming for me to order. If I got different stuff, it would take me longer to order than just telling someone.
The other issue I have is that this whole concept of adding devices supposedly improves the bottom line of the company but they will surely charge customers the same prices. It also provides the customers with less service, not more. I remember when Applebees was testing out the same thing - trying to push everyone to order on those table devices that they have which have the games for kids on them. I outright (but politely) refused and requested a normal server/service. They happily obliged. But the reason is because it's more of a pain for me to put in the order and then it's an annoyance to call someone by pressing the button to notify them like they are flight crew on a plane.
Things get more complicated if you have coupons, or special requests. My wife is currently pregnant and these kiosks were at the McD I went to recently. She had asked for the McD big breakfast but since she can't have the sausage due to her pregnancy she wanted it totally separated so I could have it. Now I have to, presumably, type in notes for my special request?
Another thing I just thought of is the issue with errors in ordering. When McD (or anyone else) currently makes a mistake, it's on them. But now there's a chance that I will enter it wrong by incorrectly using their system. I'll never make a mistake ordering verbally. There's a decent chance I mess up when doing it via kiosk.
Tried this recently again, it failed horribly.
Enter local McDonalds, see huge queue at normal counter and short queue where you grad your stuff.
Notice new kiosk, choose stuff, it works flawlessly and quick.
Try to pay with card, machine doesn't accept my card. Now I have to use the long queue to pay. Awesome. Of course the card worked there.
That's my main problem with these "automated" things - it's fine for the regular use case, but you better not run into any trouble (which is not your own fault).
The old cashier / queue was part of the spirit. Rush hour sucked but after seeing the new 'decoupled' scheme, I regret waiting 10minutes for my hamburger.
The kiosks are damning, huge and not very efficient, often breaking the space in the worst possible way.
The kitchen which was a tense flow of cooking is now a boring sight of randomness. The other employees are looking at each others waiting for someone to answer their ticket number.
Almost comical. Bonus point, there's opportunity to snatch some receipts and get free lunch from time to time.
And because the customer has to stand around for ten minutes waiting for the food, you have nothing better to do than watch the kitchen mayhem. Half the staff running around. The other half waiting for something to happen so they can start running.
At least, that's how it looks in America. In Germany, it seemed to achieve the goal of a well-ordered, speedy kitchen.
McDonalds was synonym with fast and fun. It's now corporate.
The main benefit AFAICT is they only use the fancy table tents so they bring your order out to you, using the cashier is hit-n-miss on those things and seems to totally depend on how the cashier's day is going.
One thing I have noticed lately is there's a whole lot more kids doing the entry-level jobs at McDonalds these days, for a while it was almost exclusively older folks and the youngins were just out of luck trying to get a foothold in the job market.
This seems like the inevitable result of both the pressure to hire decent workers and a desire to keep costs down.
Once customers become fluent in the interface, I can't imagine businesses not adopting it en masse.
What's to lose, if you're struggling to keep meatspace workers?
It's actually an interesting challenge when it comes to mobile. A number of things that could be handled with NFC (and QR, beacons, etc) end up being implemented using GPS and the phone's network connection.
Maybe the 3-4 cashiers this displaces can now focus their efforts on helping out in the kitchen or perhaps roving the dining area providing Chick Fil A level service by getting me refills or taking my tray away.
I suspect the 3-4 cashiers this displaces will add $45-$60/hour of operation to the franchise's profits.
Someone posted a link to a startup a few weeks ago[0,1] that wants to try automating food... that's more likely to be what fully automated fast food would look like.
Otherwise to "3D print" a tomato slice you would spray tomato slurry layer by layer into the shape of a tomato slice, which would just be silly and far less efficient (and probably more expensive) than having a person slice a tomato.
Howmany people didnt make it up that far?
However, points to them for making it sufficiently flexible. I can order a sweet team, minimal ice, which was a pleasant surprise.
> In short, Fuck Ed.
First off, Living Wage is marketing and political tripe. Just as we cannot set a nationwide minimum wage and expect it to serve people equally the same can be said about the $15 dollar value most associated with "Living Wage". Plus in some cities it comes with a collective bargaining exclusion which the unions want because they can then sell staff unionization to businesses under economic pressure.
So what happens if we reach this mythical living wage. Well most restaurants and big box stores, if not mom & pop businesses? The only flexibility is in wages. Everything else is basically locked in.
So now if wages go up a lot of people who used to be hired won't be. That neck and forearm tattooed person is of the list, same as the ones who sneaking food out but you overlook. Now your in the range of those who might be thinking they can make a career out of this at $15. There is a huge gap in who is employable at $9, $12, and $15. At the low end you can quit and probably get hired back when you need to bail a friend out. Businesses accept that level of worker at these pay points. Move up to $12 and even $15 and now, they don't get in the door. Suddenly at $15 jail time, drug use, and more, is not something you have to tolerate because you got people who will show up on time, dress right, and more, because they can make it work at $15
So the people who desperately need any job are out of consideration. They get pushed into the other market, day labor, prostitution, and fast money at worst. You end up with them hopefully on assistance programs because legal employment is basically out - they got priced out of the market.
We didn't need that profession either.
Should we hire five million people to unnecessarily sit and click a button or type out phone numbers to send text messages and connect phone calls to their destination through a switch in the cell networks? We could make it that way. Rhetorically how much would that job be worth? That's why it doesn't and shouldn't exist.
The job it replaced doesn't just go away. The people who made the machine can either sell it or lease it for a profit. That's where the job goes. To the machine-maker.
In reality you're "compensated" by having a burger that costs $5 instead of $10.
I rarely go to McDonald's but the last two times I was there I would have preferred the kiosks. Not because the employees weren't good at their jobs but because the menu boards with all the items and prices were filled with animated graphics. By the time I'd find the section with what I was looking for, it would disappear and be replaced with some animation pushing a product I didn't want. Finding the price difference between a sausage biscuit and a sausage McMuffin shouldn't end up being like playing a puzzle app on my phone.
The kiosks likely try to upsell too but ultimately you have to be able to find what you want on it to be able to order for the kiosk to work.
It's like that the two McD's closest to me. But I don't think it goes to India. I think it's domestic. Or at least North America.
I'm sure there are others.