There’s a great article over on the NYT website, about a call centre operated McDonalds drive thru. You drive up to the window and give your order to the speaker — you are actually talking to someone in a call centre 900 miles away. At the same time a small digicam takes your photo and pairs it with your order, which is sent electronically _back_ to the store where you are making your order.

Apparently it’s all cheaper and more efficient — the photo ensures you get the right order and apparently cross-state call charges aren’t enough to overwrite the staff saving. The system itself is run by a McD’s franchisee who set it up for himself and others, but the main McDonald’s corporation is looking at whether it would be feasible to reapply across all their massive network of stores.

There are some comedy thoughts though — what if the call centre has a blackout or the phone lines go down or something? Can you imagine being the poor store manager that has to wander out to the forecourt and explain to all the waiting customers (this being America, in massive 4x4s) that they can’t use the drive thru because a call centre two states away is down.

Slightly more sinister is that if they didn’t destroy the photos immediately afterwards. Imagine the applications: a name & shame campaign or more of that data mining to find terrorists stuff? What would you do with the biggest database of McDonald’s customer photos linked to their favourite orders?