In the world of online pizza delivery, Domino’s patented Pizza Tracker stands alone. But in recent months, the feature has faced a torrent of criticism from bloggers frustrated by what they perceive as the company’s worst idea since bread bowl pasta.
The Pizza Tracker, launched a little more than two years ago at all Domino’s stores, allows customers placing an online order at the Domino’s Web site to follow the progress of their order from the shop to their front door. Users receive an e-mail directing them to the order tracking page within seconds of placing an order and, without having to refresh the page, are told precisely when their pie is placed in the oven, checked for quality assurance and dispatched to their home.
Or are they?
“The Tracker is a fraud,” claimed one pizza eater who requested anonymity. In a rambling online post, the man insisted that, despite the tracker’s insistence that his pizza had been successfully baked and cooked to perfection, Domino’s had left numerous messages on his voicemail explaining that his order could not be filled because the store had run out of dough.
“If the Pizza Tracker were legit, shouldn’t there be some message to say, ‘Hey we can’t make your pizza,’ instead of telling me Jeff is putting my pizza in the oven and its out for delivery with Jay?” he asked.
Another blogger watched in horror as the Tracker informed him that his order – which consisted entirely of soda bottles – had been “placed in the oven.”
“Is this really patent-pending technology? I didn’t know you could patent bullshit,” he said. “Did you actually place my bottles of Diet Coke in the oven?”
Tim McIntyre, the vice president of communications at Domino’s, insisted that his company had not patented bullshit.
“The Pizza Tracker is real, and it is accurate to within 30 seconds,” McIntyre told The Daily Caller just seconds after we indicated to customer service that we were investigating the veracity of the Pizza Tracker’s sometimes extraordinary claims. Every update customers see on the Tracker except for the final ‘delivered’ update, McIntyre said knowingly, is triggered by a button press in the store itself.
And the names the Tracker provides of the employees making the pizza are accurate, he added, even though the Tracker told us that Aladdin was baking our pizza last weekend.
McIntyre acknowledged that the technology isn’t perfect, and occasional but unavoidable problems surface when customers make the mistake of ordering Coke sans pizza. But even for proper pie orders, McIntyre said, the Tracker cannot accurately predict delivery time.
“We didn’t want to create a GPS model to show where our drivers are, for safety reasons, but we figure it’s no more than about nine minutes usually for the delivery to get from the store to the customer,” he said.
There is no button that drivers press to mark an order ‘delivered,’ McIntyre added. The Tracker simply marks an order ‘delivered’ about ten minutes after a driver indicates to the system that he has left the store with the order.
But the Tracker sometimes provides exceptionally misleading information as to the status of the pizza delivery, since it is not designed to inform customers that an order has failed due to an unforeseen circumstance (say, an unexpected catastrophic lack of cheese).
If a franchise clears an order from its screens and can’t get in touch with customers to explain the situation, for example, it might appear that an order has been baked and ready when it hasn’t, in fact, been cooked up at all. The Tracker simply assumes that cleared orders are cooked orders.
Such are the costs of building a successful Pizza Tracker, McIntyre intoned with the grizzled intensity befitting a veteran salesman who’s worked at the pizza chain ever since he graduated from college in 1985, weathering calamity after calamity along the way. He emphasized that, as long as you have access to your phone as the pizza is ferried from Domino’s door to yours, there won’t be any problems.
And he’s got the results to prove it.
“In the last few years, Domino’s has become the fourth-largest on-time retailer in America, so that would tell us the Tracker’s a success,” he said. “We know that 75 percent of people who order their pizzas spend at least a minute or two tracking the product online.”
As restaurant expert Christopher Muller put it when the Tracker first launched: “I guess they’ll sell a ton of pizzas to people with no social life who are sitting in front of computers.”
That, or CNN anchors.