Just over a week ago, McDonald’s Japan took the sudden and seemingly unnecessary step of removing menus from its counters, instead asking customers to make their selection before stepping up to order.

As reported here on RocketNews24, this very minor change had a strangely jarring effect on us when we visited the restaurant, perhaps conditioned by years of frequenting fast food joints and coffee outlets where the menu is, usually, right next to the cash register to at least glance at.

According to recent reports, that feeling of confusion is not limited to this us alone…

Itai News reported yesterday that many Japanese still remain confused by the change at their favourite fast food outlet, and, on visiting a handful of restaurants, reporters noted that there seemed to be a number of customers standing around looking up at the menu boards, with the whole ordering process seemingly taking longer than it used to.

Teething troubles or just a flat-out bad idea?

McDonald’s official position on the matter is that “By removing the menu from our counters, we help speed up the ordering process; rather than studying the menu once they have reached the front of the line, customers can make their decision either while waiting in line or before stepping up to the counter.”

But with so many cases of customer confusion, and many patrons gesturing to the overhead meal suggestion boards and asking staff “Is that all you have now?”, it would seem that Mickey D’s plan isn’t working out quite as it had hoped.

Let’s take a look at some of the online chatter and see how Johnny Public feels about the recent move:

 “Um, I could have told you that this was a crappy idea from the start…”

“Did they really test this out on so few stores that they didn’t realise it would be a disaster?”

“A better way to speed things up would be to have more staff manning more registers.”

“’Please only visit once you’re memorised our entire menu!’ LOL”

“The overhead menus only show value meals- where are the individual items?”

With space limited and land at a premium in cities like Tokyo, many fast food restaurants operate out of extremely narrow buildings with the first floor comprising of the entrance and ordering counter alone, with customer seating provided on two or more floors above. Especially in areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya, where the counter is often barely six feet away from the entrance to the busy street, the removal of the counter menu has resulted in small crowds of people milling about in the cramped space, scratching their heads in confusion.

For customers who struggle to make out the overhead menu, small card menus are available at the counter, but only upon request.

“This is pretty poor service;” said one frequent visitor to the restaurant, “maybe they should have asked a few more customers’ opinions before taking this step.”

With some branches in Shinjuku reported to have returned menus to the counter, stating that “we are extremely busy here, and had many customers asking to see a menu…”, perhaps Ronald McDonald and his corporate friends will be rethinking their recent move in the very near future.

Source: Itai News

Title image: Byoukan Sunday. Edited by RocketNews24