McDonald’s to re-examine unilingual-French sign policy

McDonald’s to re-examine unilingual-French sign policy

‘We always listen to what our customers are saying.’ • Other companies following suit

By Robert Frank

The McDonald’s restaurant chain prides itself on consistency. It goes to great length to ensure that you enjoy pretty-much the same experience, no matter which golden arches in the world its customers dine at.

“It’s a company decision that everything from the menu boards to posters is to be consistent from one ocean to the other,” Jason Paduano told The Suburban in an interview.

“In English Canada, you have English signage,” declared McDonald’s Canada’s regional communication manager. “In French Canada, you have French signage.”

The issue arose after Pierrefonds resident Chris Eustace noticed the unilingual signs at his local McDonald’s.

“The Tim Horton’s restaurant right next door is completely bilingual,” Eustace told The Suburban. “The posters and the menu boards are all bilingual, as is the drive-through.”

Eustace wondered whether the American food giant was aware that it’s not illegal to use English in Quebec.

“McDonald’s does many fine things for the community,” he acknowledged. “No question. It’s a good corporate citizen and an employer that has instilled a strong positive work ethic in several generations of youth.”
“I was surprised and disappointed not to see one word in English.”
A visit to the outlet on Sources and Pierrefonds Boulevards confirmed Eustace’s complaint about the unilingual menu boards and tray advertisements, though a security sign on the children’s play area emergency exit is bilingual, as is an interior sign promoting free wi-fi internet access.
Staff behind the counter provided service in both official languages and the food was packaged in bilingual containers.
“The same packaging is used across the country, so it’s all bilingual,” explained Paduano.
Eustace said that he hopes that McDonald’s will consider posting bilingual menu boards and posters inside and outside its Quebec locations.
“In our case, it’s all about consistency,” Paduano continued. “We make sure that our customers can ask any question in French or English.”
“Our English and French customers are important, and we want to listen to them,” he said.
“We don’t take this lightly. We will look into all of those comments,”he concluded. You never know where the future will bring us.”
Eustace recalled that last month another American burger chain, Five Guys, backed off on its French-only menu plans on the eve of a boycott of its restaurants, July 4, after language activists complained.
Four weeks ago, Target Canada spokesman Sébastien Bouchard told The Suburban that his company’s stores plans to install bilingual interior signs “where we know that there is a significant English-speaking population.”
The giant American retailer will be opening 25 stores in Quebec this fall, as part of the company’s first foreign foray into Canada this year.
Bouchard added that Target already offers service in Spanish at its American stores “where we have many Spanish-speaking guests.”
In addition, at its May 13 city council meeting, Côte St. Luc mayor Anthony Housefather directed city staff to encourage McDonald’s to ensure a bilingual sign policy when it competes construction of its new outlet in Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre.

Pierrefonds resident Chris Eustace was dismayed to discover McDonald’s French-only drive-through menu.

Jason Paduano

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