French fries sizzling in hot oil. Fresh (at least at some point) hamburger searing on the flat top grill. Squeaky-voiced teen messing up our order and saying he’ll have to ask his manager. This is the fast food experience Americans are all familiar with. When we walk into a fast food restaurant we all have a certain set of expectations about the food and service based on our previous experiences. That’s why we continue to go back — no matter where in the country we are, we expect the same McDonald’s or Taco Bell meal.
However, it seems to be increasingly evident that fast food restaurants are trying new gimmicks marketing techniques to change both our expectations and perceptions of what they’re serving and how they’re serving it. If my business was being endlessly attacked by nanny-staters that want to dictate what I can and can’t serve my customers, I’d probably try almost anything to keep them coming in the door. But when you try to create the perception of better food and better value instead of actually giving it to your customers, you become a prime candidate for today’s list.
Wendy’s is the least offensive of the restaurants on this list.
I’ve had plenty of food from Wendy’s that I have enjoyed, and can see to some degree why people want to duck in for a square burger and Frosty. However, Wendy’s definitely has some issues bubbling underneath the surface.
Despite the fact that Wendy’s often views itself as superior among the likes of competitors like McDonald’s and Burger King, the qualities they tout are mostly a façade. Take, for example, their new Natural-Cut Fries. They were obviously trying to take advantage of the fact that those restaurants that are doing fresh-cut, skin-on fries are doing well because people can taste a difference. But while Wendy’s fries have the skin-on appearance, they are the same frozen matchsticks shipped on a truck that they always were. Truthfully, with every new “fresh” item they roll out they are really just justifying their higher prices (compared to other burger chains) without really delivering a hell of a lot more in the quality department.
On a more anecdotal note, I seem to have many more service issues at the various Wendy’s I go to than at other burger joints. This includes forgotten drive-thru items, cash register operators who are bad enough at math to apply for a job as Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, and the fact that they still refuse to have a self-serve soda fountain. If refills are indeed free and I want more Diet Coke, don’t make me have to interrupt someone who is “working” in order to get it.