App Fail – Or How Wendy’s App Is Not As Good As Its Frostys

Some time back I wrote an ode to a longtime favorite of mine – the Wendy’s Frosty. In fact, I have been a fan of the Frosty’s associated burger chain since they first came to my hometown in the early 1970s. But what do you do when your true love becomes an abuser? It is happening through an App.

I got introduced to fast food apps by McDonalds. I will admit that Micky D is not my overall favorite choice (unless I seek a Fry High) but it has usually offered convenient locations and has therefore become the “Oh well, I might as well . . . .” choice. Their app invited me into a devil’s bargain that offered even more convenience at the cost of consuming more of their food. Through the app I get discount deals, accrue points and the ability to pre-order. Having someone bring food to my parked car while I relax is kind of a treat. With rare exceptions, McDonalds’ app has made for an amazingly friction-free experience.

So when Wendy’s came out with an app of its own, what great news it was. All of the convenience I had come to expect from the Big Mc but with better food. What could go wrong? Everything, it turns out, because I think my batting average is roughly .000.

I remember the day I downloaded it. I succumbed to advertising for a big food discount through the app. I was in the parking lot of a nearby store and Wendy’s was right across the street. Great, I thought. I can order through the app, then drive over and get served. Unfortunately, the operational abilities of that particular restaurant were not able to cash the checks the app was writing. It was post-pandemic and labor was tight. The inside was closed so drive-through was the only option. I think I waited something like 45 minutes to get through the line. Which I had to stay in because I had already ordered and paid.

I tried it again at that same location (I know, fool me twice . . . ). And I may as well load some funds into the app because I will surely use them soon. $40? Why not? This time I got to the window to be told that the Frosties I had ordered were not available because it was close to closing and they had cleaned the machine. The ones I had already paid for, and the ones the store could not refund because I had paid through the app. They gave me something else that I didn’t really want, but that was the best I could do.

Lesson learned, I stopped patronizing that location. Months later, I tried another of Miss Wendy’s outposts. Having been burned by things not available, I tried to order at the window and pay with the funds in the app. “I don’t know how to do that” came the less-than-helpful response from the poor, under-trained soul at the window.

From that point, the cost of ordering from Miss Wendy was outweighted by the hassles of using the app (or my pre-loaded funds that were sttil there). Months and months went by with my formerly favorite burger chain and I ignoring each other, like estranged former friends. But with enough time having gone by, the suggestion was made (I will blame Marianne for this one) to bring something home “since you still have money on the app.”

Hope sprang up when I saw that my app required an updating before use. Hooray – they must have fixed it!. There was even a coupon for $3 off a $15 order. I expertly crafted an order that just barely cracked the $15 minimum and felt like a genius. It all went without a hitch – except for that coupon. After telling me that it would be applied, it was not applied. And, of course, the guy at the window could do nothing about it. OK Wendy, you got me for $3. But at least my funds balance was down under $9.

Most recently I tried again. Marianne called (yes, I will blame her again) and had a taste for some Wendy’s chili. I never saw the attraction, but she likes it. Our order was a bit over my available funds, so I decided I would add another $10. Oops, somehow it became $25, so Now I had more money on the app than I did before. And then at the window (after a 20 minute wait): “Sorry, we’re out of chili.” Yes, the only reason I went through the experience was for the thing that I learned too late was not available.

So here we are – I still have money on deposit at the National Bank of Wendys, yet I lack the stamina to run through the obstacle course that is the Wendy’s App and/or the poorly operated location(s) in my area. But perhaps that was actually their plan all along. If “Get some money out of the moderately tech savvy” was the mission from the start, I guess Wendy’s is a smashing success. At least for now.

Photo Credit: 2018 photo by famartin via Wikiedia Commons, depicting a Frosty created and presumably enjoyed in Virginia. Although it looks a little too soft to yours truly. Though it would be better than no Frosty at all, as has occurred through the Wendy’s App.

26 thoughts on “App Fail – Or How Wendy’s App Is Not As Good As Its Frostys

  1. I’ll admit over the years, that fast food restaurants have gotten an inordinate amount of my money, and probably are responisible for packing that last 40 pounds in I can’t seem to lose. My favorite selections are breakfast from McDonalds (have eaten the lunch burgers but not good), and Burger Kings burgers. I unfortunately do not have a Wendy’s anywhere near me, but their Frostys seem to be the antidote to all the confusing selections from the other organizations inability to just offer a damn “shake” now.

    A funny thing happened during the pandemic, not only did most of the fast food restaurants in my neck of the woods some how end up with incompetent service staffs, but the prices have risen exponentially to the “unaffordable” level. Additionally the food seems to have been left under the heat lamps too long, and comes to me hard and dry! My local coffee shop, a small independent, pays 22 bucks an hour for staff. You can stock shelves and not really talk to customers for the same at my local Target. Who is working at my local fast food joints for 12 bucks an hour? People who do not have the skills or work history to work anyplace else. Even retirees that just want “something to do” aren’t working at McDonald any more, or anyfast food for that matter.

    BTW, I don’t have a smart phone, and find most of the apps for fast food restaurants confusing anyway. One of the major problems with our digital world is the idea that everyone’s app for similar services at similar places work differently; what a drag. If I can’t pay cash at a fast food restaurant, maybe I shouldn’t be going their.

    BTW, have you noticed the pricing? I don’t know where you live, but I was walking by my local Mc Donalds the other day, and saw the price on the Big Mac meal. You know it’s about a buck cheaper than going to any of the corner bars in my neighborhood that are open for lunch, and getting a great, fresh burger, freshly grilled! Lots of alternatives for nearly the same money where I live!

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is much to what you say. I could see a part time job in retirement for something to do, but I think a fast food place would be my last choice. And yes, menu prices for what should be “cheap food” have gotten nuts. $5-6 for just a single breakfast sandwich at McD? That is the main value of their app, is routine BOGO coupons and other discounts. McD has also dropped my go-to breakfast sandwich, the bacon egg and cheese bagel, but then I never hit those places for breakfast too often as a rule.

      We have a little local cafe that I have not been to in awhile that serves a great breakfast for reasonable prices – but I seldom get there just because my mornings don’t seem to offer the time to relax at a diner. I think my eventual retirement will be helpful with this.

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    • I paid $26 plus for two Fish-Filet Meal deals last week at Macdonald’s and thought the same thing – for that price I could get a better and more nutritious lunch someplace else. I try never to go there unless I get those coupon books in the mail as I don’t have a good enough cell phone to download apps.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is the one good thing about the McD app – there are some decent discounts there. Yes, $26 for two McD meals sounds crazy. It might be a little lower in American dollars (just checked, it converts to about $20 here) but still. Actually, I would have trouble paying $1 for two fish sandwich meals, but then again I don’t care much for seafood. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • They are good, if they’re made properly, but I can never understand why they can’t put the slice of melted cheese squarely on the bun instead of half hanging off it?

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  2. Well, I must say that I don’t think I’ve been to Wendy’s since the last time you wrote about Frostys.

    And I don’t have any food apps on my phone, I leave that to my wife. She enjoys having food apps, I enjoy not having them, and I think she enjoys being slightly annoyed that I don’t have them so the whole system works out pretty well.

    There is a certain smugly good feeling you get by walking past a whole big line of people waiting at Tim’s to grab your pre-ordered coffee off the counter. Too bad Wendy hasn’t got it figured just yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it when recalcitrance and annoyance kind of work themselves out into a system. 🙂

      Yes, a well-designed app + a well-functioning restaurant can make life easier. And there is nothing wrong with a little smugness for the person who knows how it all works.

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  3. I once got an oil change card at a car dealer that after accumulating enough dollars, you could get an oil change for free. So it came time to redeem those dollars, got the oil change while I waited in their parts warehouse – er I mean nice appointed lounge, and finally the car was ready.

    I proudly presented my card.

    Um OK sir, we don’t know how to redeem dollars off these cards, we have never done that before. Can you just pay this time and come back next time? Well in fact no I can’t. So they had to charge me I think $1.24 for the difference between what was on my card and the actual price of the oil change. They promised to deduct my dollars the next day when the person who knew how to do that was going to be in.

    A waste of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are few things worse than a badly designed “loyalty” program. Quite a few years ago a thrifty friend got one of those General Motors credit cards, that would build up points or credits or dollars that would eventually apply to the price of a new GM car. That was several years before the GM bankruptcy, and I lost track of him, so I don’t know how that worked out.

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  4. I have given up on using apps for fast food. There is very little advantage but all of the annoyance. My wife loves to get a bowl of Wendy’s chili with cheese and onions and a small order of fries and put them together. Frostys are okay, I like ice cream but none of these places (including Sonic, which stylizes itself after the late fifties,early sixties) knows anything about making a malt.
    Normally I am not one to make a fuss but if my wife had sent me for some Wendy’s chili and I didn’t get it I better have at least gone in and spoken with the manager. Good luck, lol. Your guy might have been the manager with the training these poor folks get anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Talk about delicious irony! I read this while enjoying a small Wendy’s Southwest Avocado salad for lunch. Ordered the old-fashioned way… at the drive thru. Have there been other instances of a “JPC Effect?”

      Yes, prices have certainly risen to ridiculous heights. Said salad (small) and a medium Sprite was almost $9.75! Yesterday one of our two favorite supermarkets had a “sale” on Coca Cola products. Two 12 can packs for $12! Single packs were offered at $7.49. Needless to say, we passed. It sure seems the distance between sale and rip-off is getting mighty small.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha, I actually like the idea of a JPC effect – it makes me feel important. 🙂

        I remember not too many years ago when it was reasonable to expect going out for a weekday lunch could be done for $5. Not anymore. Actually there is one bargain in my area – if there are Steak n Shake restaurants in your area, a double steakburger (with cheese) and fries can be had for $3.99. I am amazed that this still exists, and can’t imagine it will be around much longer. I recall reading that franchisees were griping about not making any money on them back before the pandemic.

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    • I think all of the fast food places in my area have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for help, so I shouldn’t be surprised that things are not working well at many of them. I neglected to mention that last fall one Wendys’ hours were unpredictable because they lacked sufficient staff to run the place for all posted hours.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We went to a sonic to get some cheesy tater fries and was told by the obviously harried individual that they could only do drinks because there weren’t enough people to make food, too. It’s crazy.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Perhaps my being resistant to some things, such as having an actual cell phone (as opposed to the work phone I carry), has helped me avoid the app trap. Other than discounts (which seem to be somewhat theoretical from reading previous comments) it sounds like I may have dodged a bullet in regard to having any sort of food app.

    Otherwise, Wendy’s is hand-down my favorite fast-food joint. Their sweet tea is generally terrific, the burgers are pretty decent, and I rarely get fries. I’ve had maybe two Frosty’s ever.

    My typical order of two double stacks and a medium sweet tea with no ice has increased from $5.01 to just around $5.60.

    However, when speaking of price increases, shopping for exterior house paint today was an eye-opener…$46 per gallon for Dutch Boy. I’m waiting to use my wife’s 30% off coupon from Sherwin Williams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gad – $46 for a single gallon of paint! Yikes!

      I think you have it figured out – if you can stay in the simpler end of Wendy’s menu and avoid the app, you are probably doing as well as you can. I am finding that the quality of their restaurants in my area have been very spotty – maybe we have a big franchisee in this area that isn’t run very well.

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    • Geoff’s got something here, and something I’ve been thinking about for near 30 years…ever since my photographic pro shop bought a computer sales system that made customer check-out far more complicated and a long a process than it had been before. What you generally find out, is that any technology change in a business favors some business unit at the company, like tracking exact inventory for tax reasons, or immediate sales figures to judge trends in merchandise sales possibly for quick reorder. Even to get money handling out of the pervue of marginally educated employees! Rarely does it actually improve the direct customer experience. This reality goes hand-in-hand with the now fairly old marketing motto, that you are “held captive by the morons you live with”, i.e. shelf space is now so valuable, that rapid tracking of sales trends has a tendency to load your retail outlets with whatever the largest majority of people are purchasing; and if you live with or in adjacentcy to people making poor decisions about eating crap food, etc., you may find yourself unable to buy what you really want or need, unless you have a Wole Foods or Trader Joe’s in your area, which you may nit have either if you live someplace where it won’t be supported.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good points – We have been watching for the last 50-60 years the fruits of college graduates with degrees in “business”, who all learn the same lessons about cutting costs and wringing out inefficiencies. It is the rare head of a large company who sweats the details on the customer experience. The Chick Fil A chain has gotten a lot of flack for the religious beliefs of the family that owns it, but I can about guarantee that if you go into a CFA ten times, you will most likely have ten good experiences.

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  6. The only food app I use is Starbucks, and that one is pretty darned bomb-proof. It’s hard to beat the order-ahead/pick-up inside approach (where it tells you when to arrive down to the minute), including no waiting in the drive-thru. Chick-fil-A stole any fast food yearning I used to have for Wendy’s but I still say it’s the best fast-food burger out there. And a Frosty sounds pretty good right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Starbucks is one thing I have never really made a part of my everyday life. When I want coffee in the morning, the one I pass has a line a mile long, and I don’t want coffee on the way home. I keep getting gift cards that I struggle to use up.

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      • Someone gave me a Starbucks card, so I have had to use it, even tho I usually just go to the small idie coffee shop in my neighborhood. Being the “Nosey Nate” with a long history of being in advertising and marketing related businesses, I sat in the Stabucks last time they were making whatever I was getting, and saw a long line of melting and cooling/warming, pre-ordered items on the counter top. I asked the people behine the counter how long it takes people who pre-ordered on the app to actually come in and get the stuff, how long does it sit there; and they told me usually about half an hour, and it’s not unusual for things to sit there for over an hour, and a number of times a day, it never gets picked up. So people are ordering and paying with an app, and then not picking it up? They told me they don’t give the money back either…

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  7. I’ve never actually eaten at Wendy’s, (it requires making a left hand turn across three lanes of traffic on the busy highway out to the mall whereby I pass Macdonalds, Harveys, PopEyes, EastSide Marios and Swiss Chalet on the right), but I’ve heard their chili is pretty good. We only have one Wendy’s but four MacDonalds, but only one Macdonalds is good – at the others something is always undercooked or overcooked, cold, or missing from the order. It’s hard to get good help these days….so I give my business to the one which which is well-run. Inexperienced staff with no training or supervision seems to be the norm everywhere – it reminds me of a visit from the electrician this week, all of 25 although he looked younger, but couldn’t figure out why the dimmer switch buzzed when he installed it with the new kitchen lights he brought, so he left – done, out and over, on to the next job, no explanation what so ever….$120/hr labour wasted, and now I have to get someone else in…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I remember your “Fry High” post JP – it echoed my “scent”iments exactly on those tasty fries, though I’ve not had them in a while. If you’re taking those fries home in the car, you either close the bag tightly or get a small order of fries to devour on the way home, as the smell will drive you crazy. I can remember sneaking pieces of KFC extra crispy coating after it tantalized me to open the box on my mere one-mile ride home. I love Frostys but I have to confess that since I don’t have a smartphone, I have never downloaded an app of any kind, so I can’t commiserate totally, but I share your pain as I’ve had my share of digital disasters that have befallen me through the years. I think Dave Thomas, were he still alive, would be appalled at your app fail.

    Liked by 1 person

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