- Taco Bell manager leaves after 20 years for non-food service job.
- He says customers have become more demanding and abusive since the pandemic began.
- Workers are also exhausted and pushed to their limits, he says.
After 20 years working at Taco Bell, one worker told Insider he was leaving because customers had become too picky over the past year.
The worker, whose employment was confirmed by Insider and who asked to remain anonymous for fear of impacting his future job, has worked in the fast food industry for years, spending six years at McDonald’s before his two-decade career at Taco Bell.
“Fast food is pretty much the only thing I’ve ever experienced,” he told Insider. If customers hadn’t become so unreasonable and angry, “I probably would have kept doing what I was doing. I loved my job until Covid hit.”
The employee says things have gotten particularly bad since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Customers have become more critical and angry towards service workers, and suddenly “people think it’s perfectly okay to be intolerant, to demand things and just be unreasonable,” he said, to the point that his job is “almost untenable.”
This customer shift is partly due to rapid advances in technology used by fast food chains, such as online ordering, and people getting used to being at home and having everything delivered, said the worker. Many customers are “starting to think of fast food as their personal catering service,” the worker said, with extreme edits to every item and no empathy or understanding for overworked workers.
Understaffed stores and burnt-out workers exacerbate these issues, the worker told Insider. He was a senior shift supervisor when he left, regularly working 60 hours a week, but all crew members were required to work a minimum of 45 hours a week, he said. The effects of disgruntled customers and overwork are evident in the restaurant: in the past two weeks, three separate employees have collapsed and had to leave during their shifts, and it has also had its first
in 27 years, he told Insider.
“That’s when I realized it was time for me to come out.”
Tired workers are quitting food service jobs across the country. A group of five workers, including a general manager, quit their jobs at Austin Chipotle together earlier this month for endless digital orders. Chipotle, Taco Bell, and the entire restaurant industry have recently seen cases of workers leaving and quitting as a symptom of what is being called a labor shortage. Business owners say they are unable to find staff, and some even cite a lack of desire to work. But workers say they can demand better wages and benefits in a tight labor market. This mismatch has led restaurants to reduce their opening hours and close their dining rooms.
According to restaurant workers surveyed by Lightspeed, 62% said customers are more demanding than ever. This matches other data from the industry, including a majority of restaurant workers reporting emotional abuse and disrespect from customers. Among restaurateurs, 72% agree that customer behavior has deteriorated over the past year.
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