Blogs & Comment

McDonald's Europe favours touch screens over service with a smile

The Big Mac behemoth's European division will eliminate staff and install computers to entice customers.

In late April, McDonald’s made headlines when it announced that it would hold a hiring fair and offer thousands of minimum wage jobs to the people across the U.S. who were struggling to make ends meet. The fast-food chain later announced that it had welcomed 62,000 new employees, but had to turn away another 938,000 applicants. In Cleveland, OH,  an argument on “hiring day” got so far out of hand at a McDonald’s that a fight broke out and four people were run over by a car.

But in Europe the fast-food chain is taking a different approach. Rather than hiring more staff, McDonald’s has announced that it is eliminating about 7,000 jobs, and replacing low-paid cashiers with touch screen terminals and swipe cards.

According to the Financial Times, the President of McDonald’s Europe said that “Ordering food has not changed for 30 or 40 years,” and the move would attract people with less time and less money for eating out. The change will be accompanied by the revitalization of many stores, a new menu and extended hours.

Canadian Business published a piece talking about exactly this trend. Food chains are feeling the pressure to get more creative when it comes to driving up same-store sales growth, offering cheaper or healthier options, and making way for the rise of “fast casual” dining.

For the 2 million people that order McDonald’s everyday in Europe, this impersonal kind of ordering and lack of customer-employee interaction may be the right move to make fast food relevant and modern again. But in North America, where you still talk to a human at the drive through, it seems we still want a real person to ask if we want fries with that.