On selling sandwiches

One of the things that sandwich shops – the sort where you get to choose your own fillings from a variety on display – occasionally fall down on is when they don’t have a sensible way of pricing non-standard combinations. If I’m in one I don’t know I always end up scrutinising the boards carefully, lest I accidentally be charged £8 for a ham and cheese sandwich, but it’s usually not clear.

This is usually because of overly strict categorisation. For example, maybe ‘salad’ is defined as tomato, lettuce and cucumber, whereas onions are defined as a ‘topping’, so someone who asks for a ham sandwich with tomatoes and onion gets charged an extra £1.50. Or classifications of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ fillings, where you can have certain amounts of each for the standard price, but some things – e.g. cheddar cheese, houmous – which can legitimately be primary fillings – are often asked for as secondary and, because the till doesn’t have a way for coding this, you end up being charged for two sandwiches. I’ll admit, this doesn’t happen very often, but I still always ending up checking. Of course, you do also want to be able to charge the appropriate price someone who orders a roast-beef, feta cheese, smoked salmon and avocado sandwich.

I’m sure it’s actually a lot harder than it seems to do this sensibly, especially if you have multiple branches and need the system to be one that can be interpreted quickly and correctly by staff with varying levels of expertise. But I’m still disproportionately pleased when I find somewhere that does this reliably and effectively, such as our local Hertfordshire favourite sandwich shop and bakery, Simmons, where I can always just order what I want and be confident I’ll pay a sensible price for it.

P.S. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not intended to be a post with subtext or political messaging; it’s just a random post about sandwiches.

2 thoughts on “On selling sandwiches

  1. Two similar frustrations I have: 1) Being asked “Would you like [xxx additional item]?” – Is this a standard choice that some people don’t like, such as horseradish sauce for a roast beef sandwich, but which is an integral part of the sandwich? Or is this an optional (paid?) extra? As if I said yes to every optional extra, then I’d end up with something unwieldy. But if I said no to standard choices, then I could end up with a roast beef sandwich that is simply bread. This came up recently with a burrito – I was asked if I wanted sour cream, which I think was free for a standard portion, but you could pay more for extra. I said no and ended up with a dry burrito. But it’s also easy to go the other way – add extra sour cream and guac and end up with a soggy burrito.
    2) Thinking for a while about the options that appear to be available, making an informed choice, and then being told at the counter that the choice is no longer available. Optimizing my order is part of the enjoyment of ordering, and it’s disappointing to make a rushed and suboptimal choice.

    1. I can empathise with both of those. And related to this, the question of, “If I ask for mustard instead of horseradish on my roast beef sandwich, are you going to charge me extra for it?”

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