Can a deli have a user experience problem?

A delicatessen near my office makes great sandwiches. However, the process they have in place to order a sandwich is at best a tedious process, and at worst baffling to customers. Is this a bad real-world user experience?

The process

Take a number, order your sandwich... then what? A confusing user experience.
Take a number, order your sandwich… then what? A confusing user experience.

Like many other stores, this deli has a “take a ticket” system. There is an employee dedicated to taking orders, so once your number is called, the ordering process goes quickly. After you tell the worker your order, they hand you a receipt with your ticket number on it.

Next, you have to check out at the cashier. Once the transaction is complete, the cashier stamps as paid the original receipt from the deli counter. You then go back to the deli counter, wait for them to call your number, and hand them your stamped receipt.

Where the user experience can break down

What makes the process frustrating is that no one tells you the process. There are no signs or indication that these are the steps to follow. You have to figure it out through trial-and-error.

If the cashier forgets to stamp the ticket as paid – which happened to me once – then the deli worker won’t give you your sandwich. You then have to go back to the counter to get it stamped, wasting what little time you have for your lunch.

What do you think?

While I’m sure this multi-step process makes sense to the business owners, and possibly reduces theft, I think it’s needlessly complicated. Is this a user experience fail? How would you correct it? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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