Burger King Officially Has the Slowest Drive-Through in Fast Food

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Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

The drive-through window of a Burger King in Hawaii

If it seems like the King takes a long time to flip your burgers when you’re sitting in the drive-through, you’re right.

According to a study commissioned by QSR magazine (that’s shorthand for “quick-service restaurants,” by the way), it takes 201.33 sec. — about 3 min. 20 sec. — on average to emerge from a Burger King drive-through. That might not seem like much. But it’s a near eternity compared with the wait at Wendy’s, a perennial winner in QSR’s survey, which gets people in and out of its drive-through in 129.75 sec. on average, more than a minute faster.

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The King also had the worst accuracy ratings of any of the seven fast-food joints surveyed. BK got its orders correct only 83% of the time. Chick-fil-A, on the other hand, got 92.4% of its orders right.

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Overall, drive-through times are getting worse, probably because fast-food menus are getting more complicated. For the past several years, quick-service restaurants have been sprucing up their menus to better compete with fast, casual establishments like Chipotle, Panera Bread and Five Guys. That’s why there are items like smoothies, chicken Caesar wraps and apple pecan salads at places like Wendy’s. Despite its menu enhancements, however, Wendy’s was the only fast-food joint to improve its average service time in 2011. (On the other hand, the chain still takes longer than the 116.2 sec. it needed to get people in and out of the drive-through in 2003.)

Denny Lynch, senior vice president of communications at Wendy’s, told QSR:

“You want a smoothie? O.K., I’ve got to get the ingredients, I’ve got to portion out the ingredients, I’ve got to put it into a blender and smooth it … Because of [menu items like that], you put the stress on the speed of the service at the pick-up window.”

While industry accuracy rates have mostly held steady over the past few years, wait times have increased. You might expect, as a result, more emphasis on good old-fashioned common courtesy. Alas, not really. According to QSR, the number of locations that said “please” rose from 53.7% to 57.2%, but the ones that said “thank you” fell from 86.6% to 85.9%, and the number of companies ranked “very friendly” or “pleasant” also declined.

The report contained additional bad news for Burger King. Only 27.4% of respondents said their experience at BK was “very pleasant,” with just 34.3% calling it “pleasant,” ranking the restaurant last and second-to-last in the survey, respectively. So if you’re expecting an “I’m sorry” from the King, you’ll probably have to keep waiting.