Whataburger’s new delivery program is a victory for any Texan who loves honey butter chicken biscuits but loathes a lengthy wait in a drive-thru line, but the system still needs a little tweaking.
Introduced last week, the offering allows people to use Whataburger’s website or app to order a meal delivery. Whataburger assigns the transport to a third party company but guarantees orders will arrive in “sealed bags for safety and security.” Opting for delivery adds a $5 delivery fee, a $1 service fee, and a tip for the driver — essentially doubling the cost of a typical combo meal — but no one said convenience would come without a price.
Intrigued, I placed an order last week for a Number One combo meal with a Dr Pepper shake for dessert. To test the process, I lightly customized the order (no lettuce on the burger, sub large onion rings for fries). Almost immediately, I received a confirmation text that the order had been assigned to a DoorDash driver. It's working.
Here’s where things went off the rails. The driver called to ask what I wanted on my burger, which I found confusing, since I had specified the toppings when I placed the order online. He told me those details hadn’t been communicated to him. I gave him my order.
He called back a few minutes later to tell me they didn’t have a Dr Pepper shake, which caused more confusion on my end. Not only does Whataburger offer the delicious frozen beverage; it has been touting it through advertising and social media. At my insistence that such a thing did exist, he spoke to the restaurant's staff, verified they exist, and confirmed he would bring me one.
When my order arrived, it was not in the “sealed bag” that’s part of the delivery offering. Instead, it arrived in the normal packaging anyone would receive if they placed an order via drive-thru or to-go. Concerned that the contentious nature of our conversations might have prompted the driver to tamper with my order, I threw it away. Adios, $20; hello, leftovers for lunch.
In the grand scheme of things it's a minor inconvenience, but I worried that others might have the same experience without my ability to bring the problem to anyone's attention. Trying to understand what went wrong, I shared my experience with the Whataburger publicist who sent the press release about the introduction of delivery. He connected me with Whataburger’s corporate office, who have promised to use the experience as part of their training around the new offering.
In a follow up email, Whataburger representative Donna Tuttle acknowledges that the process didn’t work the way it’s supposed to. As with any new program, training both restaurant employees and third-party delivery drivers is a challenging process. She states that the DoorDash driver should have recognized that the order had already been placed and paid for via the restaurant’s website instead of treating it as a new order made through DoorDash. Because he did that, the Whataburger employees didn’t know to use the sealed bags.
“Every day, we give feedback to DoorDash and all of our providers to ensure that their drivers understand Whataburger’s process. We’d love to say everything is perfect, but – we’re all human – and so mistakes happen,” she adds. “All parties are trying their best to get this right. We love our customers and want them to have the best experience.”
Anyone who encounters similar difficulties should use the “Contact Customer Care” option on either the app or website to bring the situation to Whataburger’s attention. They credited me with a replacement meal (as they will for anyone who has this sort of problem), but I’m waiting for another couple of weeks of training and experience before I claim it.
Maybe waiting in a drive-thru line isn’t so bad after all.