Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #341 - GRAMMAR POLICE: THINGS THAT SUCK #3 - The sign at Burger King


Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #341 - GRAMMAR POLICE: THINGS THAT SUCK #3 - The sign at Burger King

Hi Mom, I like to take pictures of signs out in the world and question their accuracy and meaning.

I did two of these posts in the early days of the blog. Here's the links to those posts:

THINGS THAT SUCK #1: "Receipt Desired?"

THINGS THAT SUCK #2: "Please Prepay in Advance."


And so now, after a long hiatus, I have found another sign that really makes no sense. The picture above (and left) shows a sign on the fast food window at my local Burger King.

Now, look at it closely. You know what they want to communicate. People always want extra sauces. Burger King does not intend to give away extra sauce for free. So Burger King has a policy to levy a charge for sauce not normally included with the order. If an order of chicken nuggets comes with one container of sauce for dipping, and a customer wants three extra packets, then he/she will have to pay extra for those packets.

But this idea of paying extra for those three (or however many) packets is not really communicated by that sign. The sign reads: "There will be an additional charge for sauces that are not included with the item ordered."

Think about the wording of that message.

Aren't all the sauces in their box of sauces under the counter not included with my order? So, by following the sign's logic, shouldn't every customer be levied an additional charge for all the sauces in the building that have been included with the order? Actually, all the sauce packets owned by the corporation, would potentially be included in the concept of "sauces that are not included with the item ordered." Truly, all the sauce on the planet might be considered part of that group of "sauces not included," but it seems fair in this case to restrict the set to sauces owned and housed by this particular Burger King franchise as charging for sauces outside the building seems a bit unfair.

Then what about the passive voice of "there will be an additional charge" as if the charge just happens, and it is quite out of their control?

"OH, no, there's that charge for sauce again," random Burger King employee observes as the POS system rings up another sauce charge. "It just keeps happening. We can't do anything about it. After all, 'there will be an additional charge.' It will be. What can we do about what is determined "to be" by its very definition?"

No, that's just normal passive voice for the bad news in the business world. It would be much more negative , hostile, and off-putting to have a sign that reads: "We must charge you a fee of .25 cents for each additional sauce packet you request." This language would be more direct and clear, but it's too aggressive for the customer service world. People might be offended.

Possibly this phrasing would be better: "An additional .25 cents will be charged for each sauce packet requested beyond those included with the menu item." Or even, ".25 cents will be charged for each extra sauce packet requested." Because isn't it assumed that "extra" and/or "additional" implies a number beyond what is normally included?

Then what about the wording of "the order"? Not "your order." THE order. This implies the one single order. Not "this order." Instead it's "the order." It's an abstract and general case. But does it apply to "your order"? We don't know. We don't know what "the order" is because "the order" may not be "this current order, your order."

Also, the language of "the item ordered" reads in that passive voice mode, leaving YOU, the customer, out of the equation. But that's the non-personing of the customer service industry that is supposed to be dealing with persons, especially the rubber-stamped, homogeneity of the fast food industry.



"An additional .25 cents will be charged for each sauce packet requested beyond those included with the menu item."

This message seems to be a huge improvement over the one stuck to the Burger King fast food window. Is it longer? The one in the picture is 16 words. My rewrite is 19 words, but it includes the additional information of the cost per sauce packet, which is essential information if you're a customer planning to spend extra money on some sauce. And would an extra three words be a burden for clarity? The sign is already pretty large. The phrase would fit with maybe only a slight increase in sign size.

Obviously, the writers Burger King hired should take one of my classes. :-)

Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.

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- Days ago = 343 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1606.12 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.

PS: I think I am going to tag John Scalzi when I post this as I think he will find it amusing. We shall see.
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