This story--unbelievable as it may seem--is, I assure you, absolutely true. It happened today, June 27, 2006 in a North Dallas suburb.
After a long day of packing--getting ready to move back home to Southern California--I was exhausted and hungry. So I decided to do something I almost never do: Go to a fast-food restaurant. There's a Burger King near my house so I headed over there, innocently thinking that I could order a veggie burger and onion rings and be on my way to getting back to work on the house. WRONG. Here's what happened...
I pulled into the drive-in lane and studied the menu; although I didn't have my glasses with me, I could make out the "BK Veggie Burger" followed by something like "Presented by Morningstar Farms." (For the non-vegetarians out there, Morningstar Farms is a well-known producer of wonderful vegetarian foods, including burgers, hot dogs, etc.) Great!, I thought. I love Morningstar Farms products...this'll be perfect. When asked what I wanted, I replied by asking a simple question: What comes on the veggie burger? The person said the veggie burger just has vegetables on it...so I asked, um, you mean it comes with lettuce and tomato? She said yes. Okay...I said I'd like to add cheese to that, and a medium order of onion rings. They told me the total and I pulled up to the window.
I paid for my order, waited a minute or two, received my order and left. I got home, sat down to eat, unwrapped the "burger" and found...nothing on the bun except--you guessed it!--lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Really. I sat there dumbfounded looking at it thinking, "How on earth could they forget to put in the veggie burger on a veggie burger sandwich?!"
So I picked up the phone and dialed the number on the receipt...and guess what that led to? A fax machine. So I gathered the "burger" and receipt and drove back over to BK.
Back at the drive-in window I told the woman that I had ordered the veggie burger but there was no veggie burger in it. She said "There's no meat in the veggie burger--it's just lettuce and tomato." I stared at her in abject disbelief. Another employee had come up to the window by then and he reiterated what she had said. I must've looked like I thought they were from another planet as I said, "The veggie burger that's ON YOUR MENU is a vegetarian patty instead of meat." They now said, "Okay..." and went to tell the cook to make it for me. The woman hands it to me and I asked, "So this is a VEGGIE BURGER, right? It's not MEAT, is that correct?" And she said, "Oh, there's meat on it. And the vegetables [lettuce and tomato]."
At this point I just couldn't believe the whole thing. But it actually gets worse. I handed it back to her saying that if there was MEAT on it, it wasn't a VEGGIE BURGER. She then called her manager over. I told him what I'd just gone through and he implied that he understood and would resolve it. They wanted me to pull up and park in order to clear the drive-in lane, so I did.
Employee #2 (the one who'd reiterated the first one's version of what a veggie burger is) eventually came out to my car. He handed me another order and I asked him--again--if this was a veggie burger and NOT meat. He said it DID have meat and--you guessed it!--vegetables! Now I'm just incredulous. I told him that I couldn't believe they were not familiar with their own menu, and that the veggie burger is a vegetarian product that does not contain any meat. He left to try again.
Another few minutes went by and back he came with another burger; I naturally asked if he was sure this was correct and he said it was. So I opened it at his suggestion...and, incredibly, there was another bun with nothing in it except lettuce, tomato, and cheese! Really. He said that there are TWO menu items with "veggie" in the name, one [he said] was the Veggie Whopper and the other was the Veggie Burger. (Forget about the fact that I had seen no such listings on the menu, okay?) I asked what the difference was and he said one was a burger [meat] with veggies on it [lettuce and tomato] and the other was just the veggies. I sat there shaking my head in disbelief...
I'm not sure when I've been as exasperated as I was by this point. I told him to go LOOK at the menu and that he would see an item called the "BK Veggie Burger from Morningstar Farms." I told him that a veggie burger is a NON-meat item that looks like a regular burger. He finally agreed to actually go look at the menu, and several [more] minutes later he came back with another order. Remarkably, this one was right! And it only took FIVE TRIES. FIVE FUCKING TRIES to get a veggie burger at Burger King.
As soon as I got home I went to Burger King's web site and looked for a way to contact them. I wanted to complain--while still this worked up--about the stupidity and ignorance I'd encountered tonight. But guess what? They don't accept correspondence via e-mail...