Watch Sonic Drive-Thru Employee Take Orders In Fake Indian Accent, Offend Customers

When A. made a recent visit to Sonic for some delicious smoothies, she couldn’t quite believe what she heard coming through the drive-thru speaker. The employee on duty was taking her order in an exaggerated fake Indian accent. She began recording, since no one would really believe that this had happened otherwise. No one could be that stupid and/or racist, right?

A. posted it to YouTube. The clip didn’t exactly go viral; maybe a half-dozen people had watched it before someone other than A. sent it to Consumerist. It’s not about how many people watch your video, though: the important thing is who watches your video. At least two of those viewers sent the link on to Sonic.

Here’s a copy of her original video:

Based on previous experience with this Sonic, A. knew that the normal customer service channels wouldn’t be much use. “If you call the [corporate] hot line, they just brush you off. I’ve called about so many things and nothing changes,” A. told us. We usually recommend asking to speak to a manager on the spot in situations like this, and asked her whether she had tried that. “Not this time, but I have in the past. The manager usually just looks at you blankly,” A. explained.

Here in the Consumerist media hut, we thought the video was pretty obnoxious, and sent it over to Sonic’s public relations department. Another YouTube viewer had sent it over shortly before we did, and they were already looking into the situation, VP for Public Relations Patrick Lenow told us. A short time after that, we got an update from Sonic HQ: the worker will have to take his racist impersonations elsewhere, since he no longer works at that restaurant. Sonic sent us this statement:

The franchise owner of the location has reviewed the video and confirmed that the incident did occur at his location. The owner found this behavior unacceptable and reports that the employee involved in the incident is no longer employed at the location.

Should it take public shaming and a PR nudge from a blog from Consumerist to end this kind of behavior in any customer-facing employee? No, it really shouldn’t. There’s goofing off at work, and there’s acting out an obnoxious stereotype when you don’t know who is going to pull up to the drive-thru next. A., as it turns out, is married to a man from India, and found the drive-thru worker’s impression especially offensive, but you can watch the video for yourself and judge.

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  1. SuperSpeedBump says:

    Turn your Freak’n Phone!!!

  2. charmander says:

    Would anyone be the slightest bit offended if the employee was talking in a bad British accent? Or an Irish accent? Or a Scottish accent?
    And why not?

    Sometimes talking in accents is fun. Is it always racist?

    • KevinBlah says:

      If I went to a drive-thru and encountered someone talking to me in a fake Irish accent, you bet I’d be offended.

      You are, in short, an idiot.

      • EducationalGeek says:

        No sir, you are the idiot. You are just the type of uptight anal retentive people who are such sticklers for the PC way that you’ve lost your sense of humor. Instead of being so uptight, try and have some fun and when you get to the window…tell the person it was funny because it was such a bad accent.

        • ResNullum says:

          Of course, if you don’t find humour in a tasteless joke then you must be a joyless, anal-retentive stick in the mud. Heaven forbid there be any other reason for not laughing at something unredeemably tacky.

      • charmander says:

        “If I went to a drive-thru and encountered someone talking to me in a fake Irish accent, you bet I’d be offended.”

        Can I ask why? Why would it offend you? Do you get offended when you watch Lucky Charms commercials?

  3. charmander says:

    In addition, do you feel that the creators of the show The Simpsons are making fun of and being racists towards Indians with their depiction of the character Apu? He’s voiced by Hank Azaria, who is not even Indian, his full name on the show is Dr. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Ph.D. And he’s a cartoon. Why aren’t people taking to the streets with this “obviously” racist stereotype???

    • ResNullum says:

      Apu’s accent isn’t the joke. Are you intentionally being dense?

      • EducationalGeek says:

        That’s because the joke is the whole character….

        • ResNullum says:

          In a way, it is. Regardless, The Simpsons is a show that frequently mocks stereotypes. People watch it knowing what they’re getting into. A drive-in restaurant is the wrong venue for this.

  4. Shea says:

    I agree that the employee needed to be spoken with but I think firing him went too far. An apology from the employee should have been enough. The one thing that I noticed in this article was the women’s quote “I’ve call about so many things and nothing changes.” Sounds like she’s calling all the time to complain.
    I hate it when customers constantly feel the need to tell management/corporations about how upset they were instead of just talking to the actual employee like an adult. For example she could have let this guy know that she was offended and asked that he apologize and be more sensitive. He might have learned something instead she probably feels good about herself that she got this guy fired.

  5. SirJanes says:

    OK. A. [...] “If you call the [corporate] hot line, they just brush you off. I’ve called about so many things and nothing changes,” Why has A. ”called about many things”? A. is already self identified as a nuisance.

    Now, it still may be bad behavior on the part of the employee but it is not necessarily bad behavior to ignore A. .

  6. trmiller says:

    I live in the southeast USA, and once used a fake New Jersey accent while selling televisions. Employees who work in these menial service jobs are simply doing silly things to stay stimulated and to enjoy their job. The mischievous but completely harmless behavior in the video should have been subject to a simple reprimand, not termination.