Open Letter to Jack (in-the-Box)
Having heard about you years ago (1993 to be exact) and becoming impressed with your ability to turn a disaster into an opportunity I was excited to hear you would be expanding your operation setting up shop in the Indianapolis area.
Immediately after expressing my excitement on a popular social networking site (Facebook, have you heard of it and seen how news travels on it?), that excitement was quickly tainted by friends and acquaintances who have befriended you in the past.
“Not good” they said. “Nothing special” I was told. Seriously? How could this be? A fast food chain who avoided collapse and is currently in the midst of a Midwest expansion must have something good going for it. If it’s not the food than what is it? Do you just have the best marketing department in the business?
When your first Indianapolis area location opened there were reports of huge lines. I took this as a good sign. People usually like change and having a new fast food option in the stagnated Indianapolis market was surely welcomed. Then I heard you would be opening up a store in my hometown. The location was perfect (not to mention a prime piece of real estate that’s been vacant for years) and would surely draw the crowds like your other new locations…
Then you finally opened. I drove by a few times, not in the mood to eat at the time, and was surprised at the lack of business. Maybe it was just the off-peak times I was in the area.
One day last week I woke up and was in the mood for something a little more substantial than a bowl of cereal. I thought to myself “time to give breakfast a try at Jack-in-the-Box!” I thought it because saying it out loud would have been weird…
I drove across town and hit the drive thru. Again, no real line of cars like I was expecting… I was greeted by a friendly voice behind the speaker grill who asked if I would like to try a loaded-something-or-other. I declined her offer and requested a simple Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit.
Then, I sat behind 2 cars for what felt like an hour… I love the “open kitchen” concept where I can see the employees making my food while I wait to pull forward, that’s a nice touch. Once again I was greeted by a friendly member of your staff & was handed my food. I drove the 5 minutes back to the house & that’s when this story turns ugly…
Have you ever stopped at a gas station and been tempted to buy one of those breakfast sandwiches in the warmer next to the cash register? They’re usually on “sale” for 2/$2.22 or something like that. Well I’ve bought one (a few times actually) and they’re not half bad, especially for the price. They’re always a lot hotter than you expect and you have to wait a few minutes to eat them or risk a 2nd degree burn (not a good thing at 8am).
Well Jack, your Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit was cold. I’m not talking a few minutes in a bag in a car on the way home cold. I’m talking about a partially frozen biscuit bottom. Not only was it cold but I think you ran across the street the day before, bought the remaining breakfast sandwiches from the gas station, and froze them as a backup in case you ran out of product during the “morning rush”. I think you were frantically microwaving said sandwich during my ridiculously long wait in the drive thru line.
In a blind taste test I don’t think I (or a veteran road warrior) could tell the difference between the Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit from the gas station and one from your store. Oh, wait I know how to tell… yours is cold and costs twice as much!
I’m disappointed in you Jack. I’m disappointed that I was holding out for a new fast food option. I’m disappointed that your friendly staff could not feel the block of ice in their hand as they put the product in the bag. And finally Jack, I’m disappointed that my first experience with your food has me wishing another chain took over that vacant space.
I really hope you read this and take it to heart. If you continue to suffer this kind of quality control your expansion in this market is going to suffer. Sure I could have called and complained. I could have driven back and asked for a refund. That would not have fixed the problem. The problem was the blown first impression.
I hear you have good (cheap) taco’s but I’m not sure I want to risk it again. Besides it’s probably just a reheated version of the place down the street…