McDonalds Kiosk - ©

Beware Of Fast Food Order Kiosk Manipulation!

A story in Business Insider this week reveals that there’s more to those touch-screen ordering kiosks in your fave Fast Food joint than just ordering and paying. They do everything that a talented counter staffer can do – and more!

McDs Kiosks - NY - © 2016 - Kevin Hagen - WSJMcDonald’s ‘play-and-pay’ kiosks in a downtown NYC resto…

By talented, we mean well-trained in the art of manipulating the customer. It all started with McDonald’s mandating all their counter staff to ask every ‘guest’, “Do you want fries with that?”

What happens?

We all know that Fast Food joints have always wanted to emphasize the ‘Fast’ aspect of your visit. And they say they implemented touch-screen ordering and payment kiosks to help you avoid long lineups and get your food faster.

But there’s much more to it than that.

Big Brother is watching

The automated kiosks keep track of what you’re ordering and suggest upgrades or add-ons wherever possible. They keep hammering at you, and eventually something’s got to give. Whether you finally knuckle under and order the large fries instead of the medium, or add that dessert you weren’t planning on having in the first place, they’ve got you.

Using your info ‘against’ you

The kiosks also ask for your loyalty program registration number. That’s not just so they can give you a member discount, or inform you of any deals you might qualify for. It’s mainly to give the system the chance to store your ordering info and, later, suggest additional purchases specifically tailed to your personal preferences.

Does this sort of thing constitute abuse of your personal information? Is it illegal? Only if you didn’t invite the resto to do it. But you did. Remember: you signed up for the loyalty program. And you opted to identify yourself as a member when the machine asked for your number.

Ultimate kiosk coersion

We’ve recently weathered a social media storm over the revelation that Wendy’s is deploying ‘dynamic pricing’ through new electronic menu boards. They’re really just an extension of kiosks to the mass customer audience.

Folks initially feared they would be used by resto operators to raise prices during peak demand periods. They call that ‘surge pricing’. But Wendy’s says that’s not happening. Nevertheless, the systems are constructed and configured in such as way that surge pricing could be rolled out on a moment’s notice.

My take

What can you do to protect yourself from the sales-pressure onslaught of the smart screens? The easiest way to resist the siren call to spend more is to Just Say No. “No, I don’t wanna up-size.” “I don’t wanna add anything to my order.” “I don’t wanna be a member of your loyalty program.”

“I’m not gonna play your game!”

~ Maggie J.

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