The dangers of taking a service droid off script


In the discussion last year regarding retail companies allegedly not collecting personal information as aggressively, a few people mentioned tactics for confusing salesdroids. For a while, I would intentionally confuse salesdroids by using my passport as identification. But far more frustrating is when I manage to confuse salesdroids completely by accident.

Comments (25)
  1. Spike says:

    I also won’t name names.  But the establishment I entered sold small nugget shaped pieces of chicken in packs of six or twelve.  But I was feeling particularly ravenous so I asked the sales person (who I noticed had no stars on his badge) for eighteen small nugget shaped pieces of chicken.

    He replied that they old sold them in packs of six or twelve.  That’s great then I exclaimed.  Can I have eighteen?

    He had to call a manager to help him out of the conundrum.

    Another time I went in late, just as they were about to close.  I asked for a burger.  "Would you like a drink with that?" he asked.  "No thanks" I replied.

    He got my burger an also a large Cola.  "I said I didn’t want a drink" I pointed out.  "Oh yes, I remember" he replied.  "Well listen, we’re about to close so I’m just going to pour this down the drain now.  So would you like to have it anyway?  For free?"

    "I don’t drink Cola I said.  Only Diet Cola."

    "Sorry" he said.  Then he poured the Cola down the drain and poured me a large Diet Cola instead.

  2. David Melrose says:

    I have a bit more sympathy for fast food workers, I guess.  My sister is slightly retarded and works at a Long John Silvers.  I can see her or some of the other workers getting confused pretty easily in such situations.  Instead of laughing at their stupidity, perhaps you should be thankful you aren’t stuck working in a part-time (no insurance or overtime) standing on your feet all day by hot greasy grills, eh?

  3. Craig says:

    "Instead of laughing at their stupidity, perhaps you should be thankful…"

    David, that’s a really good point. I’m sure no one meant it this way, but referring to another person as a ‘droid’ sounds really degrading and dehumanizing.

  4. John says:

    From the link:

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/prcs47.php

    Anthony Browne describes political correctness as a ‘heresy of liberalism’ (p.2) under which ‘a reliance on reason has been replaced with a reliance on the emotional appeal of an argument’ (p.6). Adopting certain positions makes the politically correct feel virtuous, even more so when they are preventing the expression of an opinion that conflicts with their own: ‘political correctness is the dictatorship of virtue’.

    Whether an argument is true or not is a secondary consideration to whether it fits with the PC view of the world

    He argues that PC is much more than just a dispute about words, or the hope of avoiding hurtful expressions: it leads to an incorrect analysis of real problems, which means that the wrong solutions are attempted. People suffer as a result

  5. squidbot says:

    I have to agree with #2. This doesn’t strike me as amusing at all. There are various reasons people work in low paying service jobs, and their life situations are certainly not enviable. Do we really need to sit in our ivory tower and "laugh at the peons?"

  6. Rick C says:

    Wesha, Spike’s story doesn’t say that they were going to flush the machine, but that they were closing for the night.

  7. bbbd says:

    Well, I believe this is not the case in Europe. My impression is that fast food and restaurant workers do their jobs very well. Also noone asks you any personal information … and tips are optional :)

  8. poochner says:

    Tips??  Where do people tip at a fast food joint?  I’ll tip at a real "to-order" place, but McD’s or BK, no.

  9. Gene Cash says:

    @Craig

    referring to another person as a ‘droid’ sounds really degrading and dehumanizing.

    Exactly. It’s meant to. It’s saying the person is acting enough like a mindless script-driven robot to be called one. You act like an idiot, I will call you one.

    For instance, I’ve had my last name really confuse lots of retail employees. And it’s not as if there wasn’t a famous country signer with the same name.

  10. Dewi Morgan says:

    "My impression is that fast food and restaurant workers do their jobs very well."

    In no country in the world, sir, is this true. The work is mindnumbing and the customers are all complete asshats. You can get better service by being pleasant, patient, tolerant and a regular. But they still suck, because if they have a brain it is guaranteed to be elsewhere.

    "Also noone asks you any personal information"

    In some shops they do. Notably, our equivalent of Radio Shack.

    "… and tips are optional :)"

    Optional-compulsory. You don’t have to tip, but if you don’t, you are making a statement. You are saying "your service was shoddy" or "I have no money" or possibly "thank you for the pizza, please poop on my next one".

  11. Wesha says:

    I don’t understand what’s so funny about it. The guy was about to flush the fountain machine, and that means that ALL drinks would go down the drain, in this or that way, whether Spike wanted any particular one or not. *shrugs*

  12. Brian says:

    When I first saw the article, I was getting pictures of the 80’s Cafe in Back to the Future 2.  I was wondering, droids?  Where are they having robots take orders?  Why have I never heard of this before?  When can *I* go and try to take on off script for my own amusement?

    Then I realized, alas, they were just metaphors.  Oh well.  Maybe next time, Bender.

  13. dsn says:

    Also, that cup of soda may have cost them as much as several cents in syrup.  So its not like they wasted a lot of money – and after all, they’d already wasted a paper cup, why not put something inside it?

  14. mvadu says:

    @spike

    "Sorry" he said.  Then he poured the Cola down the drain and poured me a large Diet Cola instead.

    I am eager to see such people.. Any way i am visitng US in few months from now.. and would like see them…

  15. James Schend says:

    > Wesha, Spike’s story doesn’t say that they were going to flush the machine, but that they

    > were closing for the night.

    When you close a soda fountain for the night, you have to remove all the nozzles and wash them seperately from the machine. Otherwise, the syrup will get in the nooks and crannies and gum up the works. Whether or not that particular place flushes the machine or not, removing and replacing the caps wastes a lot more than a cup’s worth of soda, at least for all the fountains I did it on.

    What’s amazing to me is how many people I meet on a day to day basis who *haven’t* worked at a fast food place, or picking vegetables, or mopping bathrooms, or some other similar job. It feels like I’m the only person who worked in high school.

  16. bcthanks says:

    "…Then he poured the Cola down the drain and poured me a large Diet Cola instead."

    The droid might be just being polite. He already offered you a free drink, and you said what kind of drink you like, so he may as well give you something you might drink. Even if you didn’t want it to begin with.

    The cost of a "free drink" doesn’t compare to the amount lost due to spillage, maintenance, etc.

  17. Merus says:

    "Optional-compulsory. You don’t have to tip, but if you don’t, you are making a statement. You are saying "your service was shoddy" or "I have no money" or possibly "thank you for the pizza, please poop on my next one"."

    No, I think he meant actual optional, as in tips are seen as free money that suckers hand out as opposed to something that’s not compulsory but expected.

    I suspect it’s because, in many of these countries, places where you would normally tip will pay a livable wage – in some cases, a good deal more. Sort of the whole ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’ truism but in reverse.

  18. Mikael says:

    Regarding tips:

    Customs vary between countries. For example, Sweden had a reform some 20 years back, where the salaries of restaurant workers where raised by the customary tip-amount. Therefore, both the union and the retaurant owners association say that tipping does not exist anymore.

    On the other hand, that reform has started to be forgotten, and many young people are starting to tip again.

  19. arun.philip says:

    @ Spike: Like bcthanks said, it was polite of him to have offered you your preferred bevereage.

    @ David: Your comment wiped the (smartass) grin off my face. Thank you. I need to add this as an additional aspect in future.

  20. SM says:

    There is no tipping at fast food joints in the US.  In fact, I believe at many of the larger fast food companies employees are not allowed to accept tips.

    Tipped employees are usually in full-service restaurants and are paid less than minimum wage. However, because of tips they normally make more money than minimum-wage-or-slightly-better fast food workers.

  21. commenter says:

    What about when droids take you off script?

    The script at most fast food places is something like "Hi, how may I help you" or "Hi, can I take your order", thus signalling they are ready to take your order. At a local well-known taco joint franchise, they simply say "How are you?", which still confuses me although I know they are going to say it every time I drive up.

  22. Cooney says:

    Gene Cash:

    And it’s not as if there wasn’t a famous country signer with the same name.

    Oddly enough, there’s also a famous rock singer with that name.

  23. Marc K says:

    At a local well-known taco joint franchise, they simply say "How are you?"

    That really bugs me.  It’s obvious they don’t really care, but have to ask.  Getting into fake idle chit-chat just slows down the ordering.

  24. Good Point says:

    So is this a sport?

    "Hire the handicapped, they’re fun to watch!"

  25. Um… yeah…

    I’m with the service droid here.  What Peter is missing is that he’s being CHARGED EXTRA for the cheese.  If you just order a combo, they have to honor the advertised price for the combo.  But if they ask you if you want something extra, /and you say yes/, they can charge you the price for the extra as well as the price for the basic combo.

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