The pitfalls of online ordering at restaurants

Grinding My Gears

From the Grind My Gears file:

Today’s lunch will live in infamy. I call it the pizza chase. We attempted to order a pizza from a local chain using their online service. When I arrived, I was told they didn’t have our order (and that required a lengthy wait) and they sent me away. I returned to the car, had my wife forward the e-mail confirmation to my smartphone, and showed it employee. She said she hadn’t receive the order yet because it was scheduled for 12:45 p.m. The order was place at 11:30 and I was at the pizza place around Noon.

“What we have here is a failure of communication,” I thought to myself.

The ordering system had randomly assigned our pickup time to be 12:45 p.m. Worse, I found out that the system doesn’t transmit the pizza order until 15 minutes before the pickup time. Until then, it is just kind of in cyberspace limbo, sitting on a sever somewhere in the PepsiCo headquarters.

Now I know why our pizzas are never ready on time with the Hut (and I’m not talking about Jabba).

Well, Hut, y’all need a better system of determining pickup times. It should be more transparent with consumers regarding when the orders are actually sent to be made. This has to be a nightmare for the local restaurants. How could the staff plan ahead if the online ordering system is holding on to information?

Ironically, orders placed by phone were ready sooner.

Needless to say, I canceled the order. The food wasn’t even made yet. My wife ordered (online) from the Papa instead. It worked out for us and was less expensive.

This is the latest adventure in a long line of online ordering fails. In the past, the system at Chili’s crashed, leaving our order stuck in a satellite in orbit. On another occasion, much of our online order was messed up from Bob Evans. When we placed an online order at Noodle Company, we got a call back informing us their over was broken and there would be no garlic bread.

It’s obvious that adding an Internet middleman creates another potential point of failure. Consumers should be cautious. Online ordering systems are neither quicker or more accurate than picking up the phone and yakking at someone. These systems are dumb capturing systems and don’t allow for two-way interaction.

But I gots an idea. If you are employed by a restaurant chain that offers online ordering, contact me. I’m starting a consulting business that tests online ordering systems. I’ll need funds to travel arround the country and order food online from your restaurants.  I’ll let you know what works and what doesn’t in a nice report. I’ll even do a PowerPoint and a webinar with charts.

I’ve got the Muncie, Indiana area covered already. If you work with Bob Evans, Pizza Hut, Chilli’s, Applebees, Papa Johns or Noodle Company, send me some money and I’ll send you a report.

Or at least send us our order.




Published by Scott Davis

Former newspaper journalist, now government webmaster. Life-long geek.