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You would need a heart of stone to not laugh

Tim Newman has a great piece about the authorities shutting down McDonalds in Russia. The article is splendid on oh so many levels, such as:

Apparently, he told one of the Russia servers to greet the customers and offer a smile, which prompted the following response:

“Why? We’re the ones with all the burgers.”

It seems that almost 25 years later some Russians still haven’t worked out the basic relationship between business and customer.

Read the whole article.

24 comments to You would need a heart of stone to not laugh

  • Ockham's Spoon

    Yeah, pesky customers, make ’em BEG for their burgers, dammit!

  • Laird

    It certainly is an “own goal”.

    I really liked one of the comments to that article: “Someone should nominate Putin for the 2014 Nobel Prize for Economics, just for a laugh. He’s already been entered for the Peace Prize.” Putin should win both. It would be every bit as deserved as the awards to Barack Obama and Paul Krugman.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    It seems that almost 25 years later some Russians still haven’t worked out the basic relationship between business and customer.

    Well known fact: to a businessman, the worst thing next to ‘no customers’ is ‘customers’: customers want to do business their way, not your way, and they don’t give a damn if you’re happy.

    This often results in somewhat equivocal behavior on the businessman’s part.

  • Sean McCartan

    That’s a huge leap forward. There’s an old ( and possibly not apocryphal) foreign correspondents’ tale , that in the Iron Curtain days , the common practice in Moscow was for restaurants to close for lunch.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Apparently, he told one of the Russian politicians not to shut down McDonalds, which prompted the following response:

    “Why? We’re the ones with all the guns.”

  • Tedd


    It’s called enlightened self interest.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    August 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm


    It’s called enlightened self interest.

    Self-interest, yes. Enlightened, I’m not so sure about. The market guarantees consequences, not right decisions.

  • Regional

    When Socialism fails, what next?

  • The market guarantees consequences, not right decisions.

    Exactly so!

  • Mr Ed

    When Socialism fails, what next?

    Who defines failure?

    When it does what its demented, vicious adherents want, i.e. to destroy economic activity, the next step is cannibalism, as in the Ukraine in the 1930s.

  • Nick (natural genius) Gray

    Who decides which decisions are the ‘right’ decisions?

  • Regional

    Mister Ed,
    So long as they eat each other.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    McDonalds Russia was established by George Cohon, the head of McDonalds Canada, who remains the chairman in Moscow.


  • Thanks for the link, Perry!

  • TheHat

    History teaches us that when Socialism fails, there is more Socialism. There is a never ending stream of idiots ready to accept the Socialist dreams and reject the reality.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Nick (natural genius) Gray
    August 25, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Who decides which decisions are the ‘right’ decisions?

    If your business goes broke, that was a wrong decision. Or you can always buy a politician, but then it’s no longer a market system.

  • Edward Spalton

    Reminds me of the small co-op store near where we used to live in Derby. The shop assistants were pleasant enough ladies of a certain age whose formative experience had been austerity and rationing. If something started to move too rapidly off the shelves, it went into the back store. ” Regulars” knew to ask and this could be quite a convenience.

    During a bakery strike, the co-op was not affected but outsiders looking for loaves were turned away. Very convenient for us.

    In the snowy Christmas of 1981 the shop was packed and, as usual, only one of the four tills was operating. In a scene which would have fitted a Les Dawson sketch, one of the more formidable ladies, hand on hip said
    “All right. You can speak up. Let’s hear it!
    We don’t have to wait like this at Sainsbury’s , do we?
    You lot are only in here because it’s snowing”.

  • veryretired

    I remember an article from the time the McD’s Russian experiment was still pretty new. The writer talked to several customers, apparently expecting to hear grumbling about the prices or the foreignness or something.

    Instead, there were several quite complementary remarks, including one by a young man who said that, yes, it was expensive by Russian standards, but he and his girlfriend went there on “special” dates because the staff was friendly, the food was always fresh and hot, and, for them, it was a festive event to have a good restaurant meal.

    The same people who turn their noses up and get all sniffy about working at or going to McD’s couldn’t manage the afternoon shift there for even a week.

    As for Putin and his bunch, I think I’ll have a Big Mac, and fart in their general direction.

  • Nick (natural genius) Gray

    So you could shorten the saying to- “The market guarantees consequences, not success.”

  • rosenquist

    It was Ray Croc himself who said that “the definition of salesmanship is the gentle art of letting the customer have it your way”.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Reminds me of when, back in the 90’s the Russians were having trouble getting people used to the idea of paying income tax. They made some TV ads along the lines of “having trouble sleeping?” “stomach upset?” etc with appropriate video and ended up with “if you don’t, we have people who will collect” with video of tough guys in camo armed with AKs breaking down doors.
    I thought that the Russians in this case were brutally honest but really hadn’t got the idea that the sheep were to be convinced to be shorn voluntarily instead of being overtly coerced.
    Ask people why they pay income tax and most won’t come up with the answer “because if I don’t armed men will come to my door to collect”.

  • PeterT


    Except sometimes the authorities forget themselves. I remember two relatively recent examples: one being the sinister TV licensing adverts, which effectively told you to pay up or face the consequences. This probably shows some desperation on their part, which I guess is good. The second example was from some time ago and it was a commercial for voting. It was an animation of a person running and smashing through buildings. At the end there was a close up and the person held up a voting slip with an X on it. Or something like that. The idea was to show that through voting you can exercise power. I remember thinking at the time that it was pretty disturbing that the creators of the advert actually thought it was an acceptable way of promoting democracy. Honest though!

  • long-lost cousin

    I thought the whole point of capitalism was that I can go to Smashburger or Five Guys’ or Good Times or Culver’s, instead of having to settle for McDonald’s.