I was sitting at my desk today when I received an instant message from a fellow employee named Drew. Drew had provided me a link that at first I showed concern. It was a link that began with htt://oprah and I was worried he was trying to find a way to make fun of my pink clothing (I wear a lot of pink) or to make fun of her new religion (the NWO that stands for the New World Order. Never mind at this point the New World Order is associated with wrestling. Of course, she is Oprah. She can do what she wants.)
So I clicked on the link only to be taken to a page that spoke of this one day only deal. It was for two pieces of grilled chicken (which I was unaware was an option), two sides, and a biscuit from KFC. Kentucky Friend Chicken is not something that I have had in a long long time, but figured for the price of a drink why not. (And they did not force you to buy the drink. That was pure choice. Plus, they had root beer coming from a beer tap. Who can say no to that?)
So me, Drew, and a few others from the office make our way to the nearest KFC, which is actually right by my new apartment, and began out trek for a healthy (healthier) lunch. And compliments to Oprah for footing the bill. (I came to the conclusion this was very similar to the stunt that Denny’s pulled off not too long ago. They had a promotion that ran where you could get a free Grand Slam (their signature breakfast) for free. And with this cry for attendance, they ended up breaking dead even. How do you break dead even when you give everything away? You charge $3 for a soft drink that cost them pennies to produce. Times that by the number of suckers, myself included, that fall into this free food cycle, and you make a lot of money. And at the same time, by creating such a draw over the free food, and the ignorance of people not realizing that they will be spending money somewhere along the line, you get advertising that explodes on a viral cyclone. You get people talking about it, you hear it on the radio, you see commercials for it, and you see online advertisements all over the place for it. So is that what KFC was up to today?)
Allow me to tell you a little bit about my experience with KFC. As we pull in, and granted it is just after noon, so everyone and his or her brother is out eating lunch, so we expected it to be busy. But the line at the drive thru (why does spell check misspell that word?) was wrapped around the building. So skipping the line, we decided to eat there. Bad idea. We get into the building, just barely, to see a line that was just as long as the drive thru. We joked about it, and I actually Tweeted about it, (and it spells that word right) and continued to give our praises to Oprah for providing this delicious lunch. We get to the cashier, who looked as if she was going to jump over the counter and strangle someone, and she was very off putting. She stated that she was sick of the coupons, which run through May 19th, and just wanted her day to be over. That was half as bad as the guy that was running around trying to get trays of food put together. I actually joked with Drew that after work that guy was going to leave, take off his apron, and kill the first person he saw. That this unexpected special (and not unexpected to KFC) would drive someone to that stage.
So I finally get to order my food and she rings it, as I tell her exactly what two sides I want, she hands me a receipt. With the choice of two sides, being mashed potatoes, green beans, corn on the cob, an extra biscuit, mac and cheese, or cole slaw, I had options. I chose mac and cheese and the cole slaw. She rang up (and mind you I told her exactly what I wanted) green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy. I am sorry but those two sound nothing like what I just told her. So I mention it to her, and ask if the receipt is accurate. She said that the two sides were manager’s decision. (Apparently it said that on the coupon. It did not.)
Regardless, I take my cup, get some Sierra Mist (which I am hooked on right now) and begin to wait for my chicken. Just when I see what looks like my tray coming my way, the same lady that is hard of hearing made an announcement. She quiets the line, and says, “Attention. To anyone who’s number is 78 and higher, you will have to wait for 15 minutes. We have run out of chicken.”
Now, stick with me here, but did they just say what I think they did? They ran out of chicken? On a day that you know you are going to have increased business due to this company wide promotion? Where is their planning for the inevitable? And to add to that, there were only four, including a manager, employees working. The manager was on drive thru and seemed to not care less what we were experiencing in this roller coaster line. (Is this a Fishers trend? You have to wait in line for smoothies. You have to wait in line for ice cream. And now chicken?)
But to top it off, when my chicken was finally ready, they had run out of biscuits. At this point, and forget that this is free; I just go to my seat. Let’s continue to add things to the pile. They were out of silverware as well. So I had to get smart, and thanks to Braden, make a “spoon” from two knives. And just for the record, it is really hard to eat mac and cheese with two knives. Just saying.
We finish out food, no one really that impressed, when we come to learn they had just run out of mashed potatoes. But we were so over it at this point we just wanted to leave.
But the point of this was to one, show you what I had to go through for my “free” lunch, and two, raise some conversation on the meaning behind this kind of promotion. Companies run stuff like this all the time, and with an economy as it is today, we as consumers are always looking for a way to save a buck. (Did you know that shrink has increased in nearly every major shopping market? Best Buy alone has gotten an 8% increase in their shrink budget. People are stealing anything and everything they can to save money in these hard times. So if you can’t afford that new plasma screen, just go to Best Buy and take one.)
So as we go to KFC, where we might not have been if it were not for this special, in hopes of being sold on the service and the quality of the food. KFC hopes to make an impression that will be lasting to get you to return. Will you order the same thing? Who knows; they just want your body back in their door. But what does this do when the service is so bad, the food is so bad, the entire experience was compared to a joke, to the customers that experience that? Do you think that makes me want to return to your establishment for dinner any time soon? It had actually been many years since I had stepped foot in a KFC, and while I did notice they have incredible branding that puts them comparable with some of the top chains in the fast food market, and it will be years before I step back in one again. Never have I had so many things go wrong in such a short time.
Anyone want to go to Popeye’s for dinner?