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I'm an Arby's girl...in an Arby's world...

I've wanted to put this up for a while but it kind of got lost in the depths of my laptop.

The following is an email I sent to Arby's after dining at one of their fine establishments back in 2004. Upon rereading it, I have to admire myself for my ability to accurately describe a situation without embellishment or hyperbole, as well as my knack for judging and giving criticism without offending.

Almost immediately after sending the message I received a canned response back from Arby's (which I will add to the end of this just as soon as I find it), however that is the only response I ever received.

August 14, 2004

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Arby's LLC, and specifically the Unit #02040 on 1063 Chemong Road in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada for my recent dining experience there.

It was a Saturday afternoon in July around 2PM. The store was almost empty although I guess there was some activity in the drive-thru. That though, didn't stop the cashier from running around like a chicken with her head cut off. I ordered some combo (a sandwich, drink, and curly fries) and a pie. What was most notable aside from the 5 minutes that it took this person to assemble this simple order, was the "temperature reversal" of absolutely everything about the order. The fries were not simply warm or even room temperature - they were actually cool! The soft-drink had no ice and was warm. The sandwich was totally pathetic. By the time I got to the pie, I was unpleasantly surprised to find it was actually pretty good - although it was the wrong pie. This wasn't take-out; I "enjoyed" this meal in the restaurant - a dirty, depressing place... Now, I've eaten at several Arby's before (all in Southern Ontario) and I certainly wasn't expecting gourmet fare. I was expecting something more workman-like, simply a few minutes of decent fuel before I moved on with my day, but this meal was so fabulously bad, so terrifically fucking awful that I actually was forced to re-evaluate the choices I make when I choose to dine out.

Here's what I've come up with:

More and more often lately, I've been feeling something vague and undefined after experiencing something this far removed from what is promised in the slick marketing from big fast food chains such as yours. I wish I could describe it - it's not guilt, it's not really anger, but more of a feeling of having been deceived or swindled. It's like you are screwing me right up the ass, and I just take it like an idiot.

Now don't take this too personally. You are in good company with McDonald's on this. And I imagine you don't want me to feel this way - it's not in your best interests. But after the odd meal like this over many years, it (an epiphany) has finally come to me!

You, Arby's, pay your people a totally disgraceful wage. The work is mind-numbingly boring - hell, it borders on demeaning. Your staff would be better off prostituting themselves in city parking lots, at least then they wouldn't have to be so ashamed of what they do for a living. Paying them what you do, it's no wonder they have absolutely no interest in what they do or in the food they slide across their dirty counters at me.

To test this theory out, I have started dining only in independent establishments. Nothing affiliated with any chain. Boy, the food is good! The service varies but is uniformly better than any Arby's anywhere. The price is only slightly higher, but I figure that's OK because I am supporting my local economy now, instead of some conglomerate. I've come to learn that these small establishments depend on me coming in and coming back and it really shows in the food, the cleanliness, and the service. So for all of this I thank you. I'm not being sarcastic when I say that my visit to Arby's was a positive one. In fact, that 8 bucks I spent was not only the best 8 bucks I have ever spent, it was also the last cent you will ever see from me. I want to give you full credit for all of this as you deserve it - I feel like telling everyone I know about my experience!

Thanks again,
Stephan Hoppe

Addendum 2016: Arby's never answered me more fully. Not even a coupon for some free, ice-cold curly fries. :-(

I'm an Arby's girl...in an Arby's world...
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