The sound is intended to prevent loitering, but no one appears to be happy with the noise.

By Mike Pomranz
January 08, 2020
Philartphace/Getty Images

Loitering can be a legitimate concern for businesses. If customers don't feel comfortable walking into your establishment, that's lost revenue. However, dealing with perceived "loitering" isn't always cut and dry—something Starbucks found out the hard way. So how can stores approach this issue both effectively and sensitively? In 2018, a 7-Eleven in California made headlines by blaring opera music outside its entrance—a reportedly effective choice deemed equal parts artistically stimulating and really, really annoying. (Sorry opera fans!) But now, a McDonald's in the state is catching flak from neighbors for using a similar tactic with an even more aggressive musical choice: bagpipes.

A Midtown Sacramento location of the world's largest burger joint has taken to playing loud bagpipe music nonstop out front in an effort to keep homeless people from hanging around, according to CBS13. But residents who live nearby apparently aren't happy with their new background soundtrack. "It actually penetrates through the walls. We can hear it [when] I'm trying to watch TV or whatever and it's going through that," Arnold Phillips, who lives across the street, told the news station. "It sticks in your head when you're going somewhere else not even in this neighborhood because you've heard it for so long."

Apparently, complaints from residents were able to convince the 24-hour location to stop playing the music all-night long; however, beyond that, the restaurant refused to budge. "They said they'd talk to corporate people up higher," Phillips stated. "That's all they said they could do really."

Making matters worse, CBS13 states that the new Scottish-inspired soundtrack isn't deterring anyone from hanging around out front, and customers who ate at this McDonald's told the station they weren't happy with the ambiance. So just some friendly advice: If your deterrent for loitering is losing you more customers than its gaining, you're probably better off simply sticking with silence. No matter how much you personally may love the sound of bagpipes.

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