Wendy's, other chains add kiosks to restaurant; how will this affect wages?

LAS VEGAS - Fast-food giant Wendy's announced around 1,000 of its restaurants would install self-service kiosks for customers to order their food by the end of the year.

"It's all about the bottom line, the dollar, and that's not cool," said Clifford Savage, Las Vegas resident.

It's a move the company says will increase efficiency with the machines paying for themselves within two years.

Wendy's said cashiers will still be on hand.  Savage questions whether the machines are worth it.

"You're going to have to fix that machine eventually, so what's wrong with a couple of dollars, a couple of cents to pay a person to take care of their family," Savage said.

UNLV Economics Department Chair Dr. Jeff Waddoups says it's worth it to large companies.  He said if it weren't they wouldn't undertake these types of projects.

"A substantial increase in the minimum wage like we're talking about, from $8.25 an hour to $12 or $15 an hour, that could have a major impact on the way fast food restaurants do their work,"  Dr. Waddoups said.

Wendy's announcement comes while Nevada lawmakers are mulling over bills to raise the minimum wage.  So it poses the question, are companies doing this to keep up with the times or is this being done to avoid paying higher wages?

"I do believe that we should get paid more, and we should get paid the hours that we work, not the hours we're scheduled," said Anthony Ramirez, an employee at Carls Jr.
   
Other restaurant chains, including Olive Garden and Panera Bread, have introduced kiosk-type ordering systems to compliment service staff.  Dr. Waddoups says it's a way for restaurants to appeal to new customers by using new technology, along with saving some money.

((Dr. Jeff Waddoups/UNLV Economics Professor: 15.33.34 "There's no reason to think that an increase of 60% or 70% of the wage wouldn't have an impact."))

    But the machines... And the savings... Don't appeal to all.

((Clifford Savage/Las Vegas: "I would rather not even have the machines, let the people continue to work, that way they can support their families."))


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