Are all the screens in McDonalds these days a blessing or a curse?

Self-service screens at McDonalds. Picture: Joel Anderson

Self-service screens at McDonalds. Picture: Joel Anderson - Credit: Archant

A trip to McDonalds these days is a far cry from the dining experience it used to be, with tablets at tables to keep the kids entertained, and self service station screens to order food from.

McDonalds tablets. Picture: Joel Anderson

McDonalds tablets. Picture: Joel Anderson - Credit: Archant

The latest McDonalds to be given such a 21st century makeover is the branch at Tollgate in Stanway, Colchester, which was closed for eight weeks while the £2m refurbishment took place.

As well as doubling the number of diners that can be served to 160, the fast food chain has now brought in

several tablets, touch-screen self-order kiosks, and a new McDelivery service.

But not all of Colchester’s residents are enamoured with these changes.

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“Personally I like to speak to people, so always prefer to queue and be served,” said Sara Heard. “The boards at tills are no longer clear. If you want a printed menu to read its usually in tiny print on an a poster somewhere inside, which I can’t read without glasses.”

But Ms Heard also acknowledged the increasing popularity of the American eatery. “I was amazed at the length of the queue and busyness of the restaurant at a recent tea time visit to McDonalds. A lot of people are clearly eating this stuff a lot of the time!”

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Sacha Allen, who is dyspraxic, a condition affecting physical co-ordination, said that she finds the screens confusing. “Usually I have someone with me, and let them do it. Or I go to a person! I think it’s in keeping with how the world’s going.”

However, others said they are pleased with the technological changes.

Tracy Lea pointed out that the self service screens allow table service, so there is no loss of “human element.”

“There is also no upsell of ‘fries with that?’ or ‘go large?’ so people won’t buy extras,” she said.

Sandy Goldsworthy also agrees that the screens aren’t difficult to use. “Table service makes it easier with children, you can entertain them a lot easier than waiting in a queue, and my toddler loves the tablets when there is one available.

“You can still order from a real person if you are not comfortable using the technology, and there is usually someone around to show you how to use the screens if you are unsure.”

Jackie Steptoe thinks that having tablets for kids encourages them to play when they should be eating.

“Mealtimes should be about more than playing - playing with food in your hands, is that really where we are going?”

And Peter Gauntlett asks why McDonalds need to install tablets when most children have their own? “It’s a way of encouraging business I suppose,” he said. “I prefer to order at the counter which keeps people employed and will continue to do so as long as I can.”

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