Great marketing, big growth, strong sales, decreased quality?

This particular blog is written through the eyes of customers and is not the subject of professional research or data gathering. It is based on our observations and experiences  in fast food chains over the last year and mainly in the U.K.
Fast food has radically changed on this side of the pond in the last 20 years and has ballooned in the last 10 years. The large chains dominate but with some interesting positions by small operators. The marketing is impressive and growth is approaching saturation, at least to the eye. It is in the area of quality that matters appear to be on the decline and hopefully short lived.
Key areas we have observed in negative terms are in food quality, product temperature, service attitudes, consistent availability and not listening to the customers’ order requests. We have observed a pattern and comments are by no means based on odd experiences.
What seems to have improved is speed in service and delivery.
One cannot but think that there may be a correlation between those factors which drive the direct financial measurements rather than those which are less obvious but equally important in the longer term.
The existing fast food profiles need to be careful as the smaller niche operators are offering a much higher standard. Newer and excellent U.S. chains such as Five Guys are really breaking into new high standards, although in the UK they seemed challenged on price, despite offering good value. Could it be that the U.K. fast food market is very price sensitive, seeks convenience not quality and is prepared to put up with most things without comment?
It does seem and again based on personal experience that standards are higher in similar overseas operations. The U.K. product has also moved away from the traditional range and is now becoming more complex and therefore more difficult to control.
The fact that the Wendy operation has never been able to establish a foot hold in the U.K. has always mystified us and we can but wonder if their research and experiences hold some interesting facts. Interesting that Krispy Kreme is now growing and likely to continue to do so despite distribution and present availability issues.
The U.K. now offers some of the finest food and service products in the World and it would be a pity to lose out in the fast food arena.
We would be interested to hear of your experiences and views from across the globe and in particular from stateside where we believe the fast food industry leads and always has done in every respect.