Never Do This When Ordering at a Drive-Thru

If these behaviours sound familiar, you could very well be the customer who's always holding up the line...

1 / 10
Drive thru open sign
Photo: LMPark Photos /

Not knowing your order

Think of the drive-thru as the express lane of the restaurant. Don’t know what you want? Need some time to decide? That’s totally fine—just go inside so you can take your time, ask questions and so on without slowing down the express lane. Some restaurants even measure the time it takes their staff to process each car’s order, so slower cars can actually affect a worker’s performance rating.

2 / 10
Drive thru - order here
Photo: Billy F Blume Jr /

Making it hard to hear your order

Your turn to order? Pull up and talk clearly into the speaker. Don’t mumble or face the back seat while ordering. Likewise, don’t yell or shout into the speaker. That’s just bad manners.

One of the top pet peeves of drive-thru workers? Having everyone in the car say their own order, especially your kids. It’s hard to hear, which slows things down and increases the likelihood of a mistake in your order.

3 / 10
Handsfree phone call in car - steering wheel button
Photo: Daniel Jedzura /

Talking on the phone

If you must chat on the phone in the drive-thru, take a pause in the conversation to place your order. It’s confusing for the workers to parse out which words are directed to them. Wait until the entire transaction is finished, so you’re sure to hear them repeat back the order, give the total and so on.

Make sure you avoid these rude conversation habits as well.

4 / 10

Turn off car radio button
Photo: perfectlab /

Playing music loudly

Even a quiet radio can make it hard for an employee to hear your order over those crackly speaker systems. Turn it off when ordering, and don’t blast loud music when you’re waiting in line, as it can interfere with other customers’ hearing or ordering.

5 / 10
Drive thru lineup of cars
Photo: Michael O'Keene /

Ordering for a crowd

Again, the drive-thru is like the express lane. It should be quick and streamlined. If you’re going to order for a huge group, especially if there are any special requests in the mix, be courteous to your fellow drivers and go inside.

Psst—here’s how to pick the fastest grocery store line.

6 / 10
Several credit cards
Photo: SergeyKlopotov /

Splitting the check between car passengers

Grabbing food with a group of friends? If everyone is paying separately, then go inside. Creating a separate tab for everyone in a car, or trying to split a bill over multiple cards, is difficult and slows down the drive-thru line.

7 / 10
Drive thru painted lane
Photo: iso50 /

Failing to pull ahead promptly

Keep the flow of cars moving! When it’s your turn to order, pull right up. When you’re told to proceed to the next window, hop to it. And make sure to stay close enough to the window to make it easy to pass back and forth food bags and credit cards.

Here are 10 things you’re probably doing in your car—but shouldn’t.

8 / 10
Never do this at a drive thru - car at drive thru window
Photo: rzoze19 /

Changing your order at the window

Once you’ve pulled up to the window, the restaurant is already preparing your food. Changing your order is effectively making them start over—again, a major slowdown. If you need to get a different item, it’s probably best to park and head inside. Need extra items? (Think extra napkins, cream in your coffee, etc.) That’s OK, just ask right away.

9 / 10
Drive thru worker
Photo: junpinzon /

Idling at the window, even to be friendly

Whether you’re checking the items in your order, fumbling for your wallet, or fiddling with the radio, it’s a major faux pas to dawdle at the pick-up window. It’s even bad form to chat with the worker. It’s nice to say good morning or evening but then stick to business.

Discover which fast foods nutritionists never order.

10 / 10
Paying at drive thru window
Photo: Deman /

Being unprepared to pay

Are you one of those people who takes pride in offering exact change? If so, get those bills and coins ready to go as soon as you hear your total. Otherwise, cards are quicker.

Find out which purchases you should never put on your debit card.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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