There was a time when McDonald's seemed like a bright new idea. Everything was hard plastic and stainless steel. Sort of like a fancy jail cell. At night, you could hose the whole thing down and be ready to cook up a big batch of fries the next day.
But that was a long time ago. What seems like a bright new idea now is a Thai noodle shop or a smoothies joint or maybe a Chipotle. McDonald's? Well, it has sort of become what back in the day was called a greasy spoon -- just a joint where you can get something quick to eat, even if it's kinda gross.
So it seems anyway. Despite spending a fortune on advertising, concocting new marketing slogans and coming up with cool-sounding policies on antibiotic- and cruelty-free foods, folks just aren't lovin' it anymore.
Sales were down 4% in February alone, even though -- as far as we know -- people continued to eat in February. McDonald's recognizes the problem and in its latest earnings report assures its investors that it is trying to "restore business momentum" and become a "modern, progressive burger company."
That assumes, of course, that Americans continue to wolf down burgers, which may or may not be the case. Those who do hunger for burgers have gotten pickier, gravitating towards In-N-Out and other purveyors of higher-end burgers.
A big part of the problem -- consumer tastes aside -- seems to be a feeling that McDonald's just slaps things together in a hit or miss fashion.
"I have actually ordered a Bacon McChicken and it came back without the McChicken. When I took it up to the counter to get it fixed, the staff had no problem fixing it. But when I got it back, I opened it up and the chicken was there this time, but the bacon was not," said Renee of Fresno, Calif., who adds that such mishaps are not uncommon.
Don't believe it? Listen to Darrin of Salina, Kansas:
"Went to McDonalds to order a happy meal for my son and other food for myself and my older son. We went through the drive and drove home and get the cheeseburger and fries out of the box for my son. I took a look and there was no beef patty in the cheeseburger. I had to drive all the way back to McDonalds and this must happen a lot because the manager did not even act like it was a big deal," Darrin said in a ConsumerAffairs review.
Like Renee, Darrin says this is not as unusual as you might think.
"Most of the time I purchase a double quarter pounder but they put a single quarter pounder in the double quarter pounder box. It's bad that after you get your order you have to take everything out of the boxes and wrappers just to make sure they put a hamburger patty on the sandwich."
Maybe a "modern, progressive burger company" should find a way to ensure it always puts a burger in its burger sandwiches?
Even when McDonald's does remember to put a burger on the bun, it's not always as juicy and delectable as you might expect.
"Went to McDonald's in Fox Chase section of Philadelphia, Pa. Not only did I wait 15 minutes for a Quarter-pounder, fries and McDouble cheeseburger, look at the burger I received," said Ben of Philadelphia. "This is why you're losing customers McDonald's. I'm not loving it!"
Of course, it's not just burgers that are bummers. Sometimes the fries are frazzled too.
"Every time I order a large fries, I always get a medium worth or less," said Jose of Bronx, N.Y. "This is frustrating and a rip off. It doesn't matter what McDonald's location it is this always happens. It literally never fails. This must be fixed."
And it's not just Jose who's upset about the fries. Danielle of Warners, N.Y., backs him up:
"Ok, so I don't ever complain but this is ridiculous! I orders a meal at McDonalds in Syracuse, NY and when I got my meal I thanked the girl and she didn't say anything. That's okay I don't care but when I got home to eat my meal, I look in the bag and found my large fry barely half full! When I took this pic I hadn't even had one fry! This is just laziness! But these people think they deserve more an hour? You can't even do a simple task! Get it together!"
We could go on, but you get the idea. Does McDonald's?