In-N-Out’s Ordering Protocol Problem

In-N-Out is a popular hamburger “joint” that operates primarily in California, Arizona and Texas and enjoys high popularity in the states where it does business.  I’d guess that 2/3 of its customers are “walk-ins;” the other 1/3 “drive-throughs.”  For those that are in the latter category (as are we, because  typically there are dogs in the car with us), the In-N-Out ordering protocol that their employees use is problematic.  For some unknown reason, these employees are obsessed about onions, and the inclusion of them on the hamburgers.  For example, if one attempts to place an order of “everything on the hamburger except lettuce” (let’s see, for even someone of moderate intelligence, that should translate to: bun, spread, meat patty, onion and tomato) the order taker (particularly if that person is female) will 9 out of 10 times ask: “do you want onions on that?”  I’ve become highly impatient with this lack of ability to process information on the part of the In-N-Out staff.  Thus, I typically repeat:  “EVERYTHING on the hamburger EXCEPT lettuce; you figure it out!”  But I must say that I’m mystified at the obsession with onions – Are onions expensive and their use needs to be limited?  No, onions are not an expensive ingredient.  Would a customer be terribly upset if onions were placed on their sandwich when they didn’t want them?  Doubtful – they’d likely just pluck them off and eat their meal – people go to In-N-Out for speed, not for dining elegance.  So, what IS the reason for the odd ordering protocol?  I have no clue – When ordering from Jack-in-the-Box or a variety of other hamburger establishments, one can place the same order without prompting ANY comment about onions; the onions are just included on the sandwich and the lettuce is left off – uh, just as ordered.  Thus: Note to In-N-Out Management (who must be averse to onions):  Revise the ordering protocol and knock off on the onion obsession – credit the customer with KNOWING what they’re saying when they order.  And, by-the-way, while you’re at it, tell your order takers to do less of the talking and more of the listening – they’re supposed to be hearing what the customer is saying – that’s impossible when they’re talking.  All that the order taker needs to be contributing to the conversation is: May I take your order?  The rest is (or should be) up to the customer!

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