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Those costs of the minimum wage

Of course, as we know, the true minimum wage is $0 an hour.

But another cost:

Some of Britain’s biggest food outlets risk excluding elderly customers as they turn to self-service kiosks to cut costs, campaigners have warned.

Fast food chains including McDonald’s, Leon and Subway are using self-service as a way for customers to order as wage costs rise and the hospitality industry grapples with a shortage of staff.

Almost all of McDonald’s 1,450 restaurants now have self-service kiosks.

But campaigners have said they risk alienating elderly diners who may not be able to use the technology.

Now, it’s possible to think that that’s a bit of a whinge and you’re probably right. But it will be true, at the margin, for some. And thus a cost of a rising minimum wage will be some oldsters unable to have a Big Mac.

Might even be a fair cost, a reasonable cost, but it will be a cost all the same.

26 thoughts on “Those costs of the minimum wage”

  1. I was ‘alienated’ from McDonalds for decades, as I hate gherkins, that sauce, mayonnaise, salad etc. Sure I tried a few times to order a ‘plain’ cheeseburger at the counter but trying to get my desires understood was usually painful and half the time got ignored anyway. So I just gave up and never went there.

    Now I can use the customise function on the self-service kiosk which is simple and reliable. I now have a convenient food option and my patronage of McDonalds has gone from zero to regular. Isn’t technology great!

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    My guess is that most of those oldies who aren’t good with technology wouldn’t be going to McDonald’s unless dragged there by their grand children who’ll do the ordering for them.

    As an oldie without grand children I don’t envisage using McDonalds, with or without the technology.

  3. This is patronising piffle. The elderly are perfectly capable of ordering food from a machine; and they’re also perfectly capable of asking for help if needed.

  4. Oldies will be fine I’m sure… It always seems strange to see one with a smartphone but there a millions of them using them – out here anyways…

    As an aside, my Mum introduced me to McDonald’s when I was a kid… I thought it was a strange choice, eating with her fingers, etc. but she loved the fact that the place was so spotlessly clean compared to everywhere else…

  5. Actually… The biggest hurdle for the Elderly ( and a lot of other people of non-elderly status) in using the ordering booths/pillars is not the fact that they are “modern technology”.

    It’s the fact that they’ve let the Crayon and Marketing Departments have free rein in designing the interface.
    With the inevitable result in them being overly complicated, convoluted, non-intuitive, and essentially barely fit for use.
    And Macca’s isn’t even the worst offender in this category…

    But none of the peeps involved in those endeavours are nowhere near minimum wage…

    As is, you can argue that, while artificial, that minimum wage is a driving factor in the quite capitalist quest for efficiency through innovation and mechanisation of a process.
    That’s a win, especially as pointed out above it minimises the risk of your order being botched by a disinterested/incompetent minimum-wage slave manning the register.

  6. My biggest problem with the self service tills is their inability to produce the receipts they are designed to deliver. I normally only use these sorts of places (as BiND said, being without grandkids) when I am travelling for work and either on the motorway or too knackered to be arrsed finding somewhere better. No receipt = my money, not my bosses.

  7. Sure I tried a few times to order a ‘plain’ cheeseburger at the counter but trying to get my desires understood was usually painful and half the time got ignored anyway.
    Yeah. That was my experience of McD’s. The Brit attitude to fast-food. Leave out the fast & food & serve you what’s left over.
    Until I went to France. Where they were internet source when travelling as mobile internet in France at the time was contract only & damned expensive. And was surprised how different they were. The service is entirely different. They’ll take your order at the counter& offer to bring it to your table if things are quiet. At Hazebrouck, of an evening when they had a queue, the manager would take orders from those queueing so you could sit until it was ready. And the food was far better. Actually looked like the photos above the counter. Maybe it’s because they get a different sort of clientèle. McD’s is a meeting place for smartly dressed middle class kids turn up polished hatchbacks. Even the ones in the cities seem to be better. Although the one at Calais closely resembles the Brit style. Belgium seemed the same. So’s Spain. I can’t remember if it was Italy, Austria or Hungary I used one en Route to Romania. But that seemed pretty good. It certainly put into perspective my American friend’s description of flying into Pakistan & heading straight for the Golden Arches because she’d be sure of what to expect. She wasn’t a fan of UK McD’s either.
    Anyone else had the same experience? If so why? One thing I have noticed. Outside the UK, McD’s are usually staffed by the people of the country. UK side, they seem to be almost entirely foreigners of various tints.
    As for the service points: We used one in Burger King, recently. Seemed entirely straightforward & intuitive. And certainly a boon if you’re accompanying Latinas. Who will make a long & major production over ordering anything. I think we got the whole thing done in under 15 minutes after multiple changes of mind.

  8. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates will both be turning 69 in 2024, Woz is 73, Larry Ellison will be 80 and Keef has just turned 80… friggin tech-illiterate boomers.

  9. BiS – McDonald’s staff are still white in the better parts of England, but the service is still shit and so are their awful cheesy burgers.

    I don’t want to order food via an app. I want to tell a spotty teenager what to do.

  10. Tried to order via a self-service kiosk at Burger King at Manchester Piccadilly Station the other week. It didn’t respond to any touch commands for any of the 3 attempts I made. So I left as I couldn’t be arsed to wait for another one to become free.

  11. BiS: Yes, French Maccys were much better than the UK ones when we were vacationing there with the kids in the early 2000s. The ice cream was a revelation. Someone on here a while back said they used Charolais beef and Fourme d’ Ambert cheese. Dunno if it is true but the ingredients were definitely better than UK. We occasionally go to Burger King on journeys as the burgers are more salady than McD and Mrs TG prefers that. We even had a BK in Shinjuku station a few years ago. A bit different but entirely palatable.

  12. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    The kiosks have taken all the fun out of fast food. Time was, you would read your order to some illiterate, innumerate, retarded, or indifferent grunt, pay some quantity of money, and accept what you were given to eat.

    As with the bill, whether what you were given to eat bore any resemblance whatsoever to your order was a largely stochastic experience, the probability inversely proportional to the literacy/intelligence/canbearsed quotient of said grunt.

    The crayon department “aren’t you sure you don’t not want to add a fully inclusive extra fries with that herewithout and hereuntofore exclusive of nonoptional extra fee that is not part of the existing meal deal option??? Really????????” effect is a now never to be eliminated habit of dark patterning every trivial interaction with every one of these greedy global conglomerates.

  13. The kiosks have taken all the fun out of fast food. Time was, you would read your order to some illiterate, innumerate, retarded, or indifferent grunt, pay some quantity of money, and accept what you were given to eat.

    My local Burger King is still, exactly, like that .
    Gott sei Dank !

  14. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    True entertainment value is to be had at malls in the USA, where you get unexpected odd prices because of the sales tax thing.

    Count out the exact number of cents, make the dollars up with whatever notes you have, and see the cogs turning before grunt punches in however much you handed over to give a round number of dollars in change.

    Probably can’t do any more as “we don’t take cash”, and they probably expect a 20% tip for counter service now. On top of that $20 minimum wage.

  15. Since I have access to In-N-Out, McDonald’s is right off the menu.

    Mrs. Greenie and I owned a fast food establishment in California. Seeing the writing on the wall, we sold it 5 years ago as the minimum wage was going from $8/hr to $15/hr at a rate of a dollar per year. The $20/hr rate is only for fast food, sort of a sin tax.

    All of the fast food businesses were automating as fast as possible. The politicians were complaining about the youth unemployment rate for some strange reason. They never are able to connect the dots, because it is in their interests not to.

  16. A local place has an interface where it’s 6 steps from finished scanning to payment, I’ve seen people give up trying to figure out how to pay. Also doesn’t help that it can’t do the senior discount on a Thursday (over 55 being their definition of senior in this case)

  17. BiC: Yeah, the content seems to have been written by people with no grasp of human language. Paraphrasing: you enter your order, it displays it for confirmation, then asks “do you want to add to your order?”. No, I’m done, this is what I want. NO. “Order cancelled, what do you want?”

    Yerwot? I wanted that order I entered you malfunctioning mess of microcircuits.

    The “do you want to add to your order?” prompt actually means “do you want to **NOT** add to your order and continue to payment?”

  18. Re the differing quality in different countries. McD’s is very prominent in promoting “all made from $THISCOUNTRY sourced beef and potatoes”, so the food quality will differ in different countries. A “nihono befu to potato no tabemono” will be different to “all made with British and Irish beef and potatoes”.

  19. How many elderly people are eating in McDonald’s and Subway?

    And if its a significant number – wouldn’t these restaurants then provide someone on staff to assist people using the . . . oh, wait, they already do. Like self-checkout lanes, there’s usually one person up front to assist everyone on an ‘as-needed’ basis rather than a dedicated person to each register.

  20. Another case of leftists mutilating language for their own ends:

    “The layoffs were reported in advance of April 2024, when fast-food workers in the Golden State will begin earning a minimum wage of $20 per hour.”

    No, they will be being ****PAID**** $20 an hour, not earning. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT of a minimum wage. To pay a certain segment of workers more than they earn to put a floor on what people are PAID.

    If they were EARNING $20 an hour, there would be no need to force employers to pay them $20 an hour.

  21. “a major plank of Acorn’s platform was a higher minimum wage. The one they’d just won on in fact and then didn’t wish to have to pay.”

    I seem to remember the UK Labour Party similarly losing a case where they thought they shouldn’t have to pay their staff the minimum wage – y’know, their policy platform that they implemented.

  22. The true minimum wage is not $0. It’s possible that someone might pay to work (e.g. if they think they will thereby gain a useful skill or personal connections). As you consider ever lower payments, you need to take into account factors which otherwise are too small to be significant.

    However, if you narrow the consideration of wages to those payments which cause someone to do work, then the minimum is clerly above $0 as nobody would be motivated by a payment that didn;t cover their costs of working (e.g. commuting).

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