How not to inspire customer confidence.

taco bell money thing

Originally uploaded by inkblurt.

Every time I see one of these, I find it somewhat jarring. (Pictured is one of those “If you’re asked to pay something other than this amount, call this number” signs outside a Taco Bell drive-through window.)
What it tells me is: the people inside cannot be trusted — so much so that we don’t want you just to ask them to revise the amount they say you owe, but to call us and rat them out, because they’re essentially criminals on probation.
It’s like one of those sex-offender electronic ankle devices, only for a whole taco joint.
I honestly don’t think I’m overstating the case — at least not for myself. It really does make me think of all of these things.
It’s basically an architectural element, one which shapes the environment in a very particular way. No matter how friendly or responsible your particular fast-food window helper might be, this sign makes sure you question their honesty, even if for just a moment. That you, essentially without your consent, join a sort of police force that’s keeping them in line from outside their enclosure.
If I can’t trust the amount of money they’re asking of me, something I can actually verify by checking the prices on the menu, why should I trust that the food itself is safe and uncorrupted?
If I were a true pomo nerd, I’d start quoting Foucault. As it stands, I’ll just get my Nacho Grande and stop thinking so much.

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at