By Michael Hiltzik
Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Holdings -- that's the company that owns the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurant chains -- has been taking a lot of heat for an interview he gave earlier this month to Business Insider, in which he was quoted
singing the praises of restaurant automation.
According to the quote, Puzder feels that machines are much easier to deal with than humans. "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case." (Technical note: "upselling" means steering customers toward products with higher price tags.)
[Machines are] always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.
CKE Restaurants Chief Executive Andrew Puzder, as quoted in Business Insider
The business press picked up this ball and ran with it. Within days, there were headlines, like this one in Fortune, declaring: "This Fast Food CEO Wants to Replace Workers With Robots," etc., etc. We would have joined in the fun but chose to call Puzder first, to see if he wished to amplify. This led to an extended interview late last week in which Puzder, 65, freely and cordially discussed his views not only on automation, but the minimum wage, the Affordable Care Act, and other issues relevant to the low-income economy.