Zeedar Teretz Eats for Free.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. 1:53AM
I am often walking down a city street in a neighbourhood which I haven’t spent such a large amount of time that I know what to order at the local eateries, when I'll feel the need for a snack. Not a meal, mind you, but just a little something to take the edge off. I largely don't eat breakfast, and often neglect lunch, so by mid-afternoon, this edge often requires some kind of immediate satisfaction. I want something fast, cheap, tasty, and about the size of my fist. McDonald's aptly caters for this in the form of the medium cheeseburger meal, which, for the bargain price of $4.45AUD, provides you with all the fats, salts, sugars and caffeine that the growing body needs to function.
A few weeks ago I was in the middle of indulging in this very pleasure, walking down a laneway a few blocks from the McDonald's when I noticed something odd about the fry in my hand. The tip was slightly green in colour. Not in any particularly toxic looking way - it looked as though a little of the peal had gotten left on in the slicing process, and had turned green when fried. I was feeling like a bit of a jerk though, so I wrapped the fry up in my cheeseburger wrapper, and put it in my bag for later.
Later came, and it found me struggling my way through McDonalds' all flash, all constantly in motion website (Zeedar Teretz primarily uses the x64 version of Internet Explorer, for which no version of Flash exists. The major result of this is that a lot of website banner ads don't display, however, it does occasionally stir deep feelings of rage when sites use flash as the only means of navigating their core content. This, in turn, has generated a great deal of respect of Jakob Nielsen and his ideas about web usability). I eventually managed to submit my complaint, which, along with details about the time and location of the restaurant, contained a personal message:
Today I purchased a medium cheeseburger meal at one of your restaurants. I was some blocks away, walking along eating my fries from the bag when I noticed that one of the fries in my bag was a bright green colour. I checked the rest of the fries in the packet, and they all seemed normal. I have saved the 'frie' in question, and would gladly mail it to you for your evaluation if you are as curious as me as to what would cause a fry to become green.
Three days later an email arrived from them in response:
Thank you for your email and our apologies for the delay in responding.
The green colouring you have described found in your fry is chlorophyll. This happens when the potato is partially exposed during the growing period. There is no food safety concerns with this however, it should have been detected during the manufacturing process and removed from production. We will advise our supplier of this so they are aware of the occurrence.
Thank you for letting us know. We have mailed out some vouchers to the address you have given on your email as we appreciate you taking the time to send us your inquiry.
McDonald's Customer Service
Sure enough, some days after that a letter arrived from the McDonald's corporation. The formal medium of a physical letter, it seemed, meant that Merry and I were no longer on a first name basis.
Dear Mr. Teretz,
We are writing further to our email. We are sorry to learn of your unpleasant experience with one of our food products and can assure you that McDonald's takes complaints of this nature very seriously. At McDonald's, the quality of our products is our number one priority at all times.
Our supplier, Simplot Australia has a very strict in-line quality inspection of the potatoes prior to processing to enable us to deliver the highest quality product to our customers at all times. It is therefore disappointing that these stringent inspection processes have failed to detect this potato defect.
Mr Teretz, whilst it was fortunate that no injury occurred, we do sincerely apologise for the experience that you have had on this occasion.. As a valued customer, we appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to notify us of your concerns and for this, please accept the enclosed gift vouchers for your use the next time you visit any McDonald's restaurant. We hope you will be able to give us the opportunity of serving you again in the future.
Merry S Hughes
It was a personally signed, well worded, polite, and to the point. It reminded me that no injury had occurred and at no time conceded that they were refunding my meal, instead rewarding me for my diligence in reporting.
I took the vouchers - $10 in McDonald's cash - and my man Lance Hardcore to the local Maccas, where, after calling the manager to tell her how to enter them into the system, the girl cheerfully turned over our meals. The food was the best McDonald's I have ever eaten: it tasted like free.
In the past I have used this column to deride beggars, who come up to you in the street with their hand out, asking for my money because they have none of their own. To those people I offer this practical solution. Don't spend your days annoying strangers. Steal internet from a library some where and spend your time complaining to fast food companies, and never be hungry again. I wonder if McDonald's in Africa has the same generous policy.
The girl this week was one of the many sumptuous ladies features in Playboy's spread on the women of McDonald's. She's by no means the hottest, but one of the only ones that was wearing the visor.