Receipts for Fast Food

I am a frequent customer of fast food establishments mostly for their various coffee products. Whenever, I leave the restaurant or drive thru with my coffee my thoughts are always about this bit from the late great comedian Mitch Hedberg:

Oh Mitch, you’ve been dead for eight years but your words on that subject still ring so true. Every day on my way to work I stop at a McDonalds drive-thru to buy some coffee and the transaction is always the same. I order my coffee, drive around and hand the employee $1.07, he hands me a large coffee with cream and a receipt. That receipt goes onto a pile of other receipts that eventually end up in a garbage can when I clean my car out. To steal from Mitch Hedberg again, the McDonalds workers are like people who hand out fliers in public places. They’re really saying “Here, you throw this out.”

But the McDonalds receipts are just small fries compared to what I got at Dunkin Donuts. Here is a receipt that I got for a $2 cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts:

Yes that’s an 11 inch receipt for a $2 cup of coffee.

Now in their defense, fast food restaurants probably use the same point-of-sale systems that every other bar and restaurant uses. In a normal restaurant you absolutely want a check to make sure you were only charged for what was ordered and to calculate an appropriate tip. I can still see the value of a receipt in a fast food place especially when a larger order is placed or a credit card is used. However, when you’re only ordering one simple, cheap item like a donut or a coffee, paying cash, getting an 11 inch receipt back in return that’s pretty absurd. You as the consumer can easily verify that you got what you ordered and are paying the correct price for it without bringing in ink and paper.

There is a great alternative to that experience though. Yesterday I decided to treat myself to a latte at Starbucks (4x the price of my usual McDonalds) and I had what I thought was a much better customer experience when it came to receipts. After placing my order the barista asked me if I wanted a receipt, I said no, and the receipt was whisked way into a garbage can underneath the counter. This Starbucks made giving receipts to customers with tiny orders something they had to opt in to rather than have the customer transport the receipt to the nearest garbage can. It may be small and insignificant, but those are the sort of things I notice and appreciate.

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