Even if staff are able to prepare the order within a minute, all customers who visit during the 4-hour time frame will receive a coupon for a free small-size ‘Premium Roast Coffee’.
To prove that the campaign isn’t all talk and no substance, staff at each of the 3,300 participating McDonald’s restaurants will be required to flip over an hourglass measuring one minute each time an order is placed.
Two McDonald’s restaurants, the Roppongi Hills store in Tokyo and the Midosuji-Suoumachi store in Osaka, have introduced the hourglass system early to help promote the campaign.
Japanese website Gigazine visited the Osaka location on December 21, the opening day of the trial campaign, to see what the service looked like in action.
Like many other chain restaurants in the country, McDonald’s has a reputation for great service in Japan and it seems like the staff will be on the top of their game for the duration of this campaign.
Gigazine’s reporter writes that the Osaka McDonald’s staff claim that not one free hamburger coupon had been given out since the promotion started—granted it was still the first day.
Source: Gigazine, McDonald’s Japan, Hima Soku
Naturally, because the internet is such a nasty place, Japanese netizens are already putting their heads together to think of ways they can best the system.
On popular Japanese message board 2channel, one user claiming to work for McDonald’s writes that at smaller restaurants with less staff, you’re almost guaranteed to wait for more than a minute if you order a ‘Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese’.
According to his logic, if you use this method to score a free hamburger coupon and then use that to order another Double Quarter Pounder, you can, in theory, create a never-ending cycle of free McDonald’s hamburgers (until the promotion ends in February).
We doubt there are any Japanese people who are actually going to try such underhanded tactics, and even if they do, they’ll probably end up paying more overall than they would have had the promotion never existed in the first place—which is exactly what McDonald’s wants.
The real losers here are undoubtedly the McDonald’s staff, who will have to spend four hours a day watching sand trickle down an hour glass as merciless customers gaze upon them, silently praying that they screw something up so they can get a free lunch.
Minimum wage workers of Japan, meet your new enemy: