McDonald’s is making one awful change that fans are going to hate

May 17, 2024

Fans’ frustration at McDonald’s has been growing in recent years.

Now it’s about to boil over with the chain’s latest announcement.

And McDonald’s is making one awful change that fans are going to hate.

McDonald’s is phasing out free refills and self-serve drinks

Being able to get a free refill when dining in at McDonald’s or any fast-food restaurant was always a given for decades.

Now that’s going away at McDonald’s and the rest of the fast food businesses could follow along.

An UberEats delivery driver in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania discovered that a local McDonald’s had removed their self-serve fountain drink machines and was charging for drink refills.

“What is the world coming to?” a shocked McDonald’s fan wrote on X.

McDonald’s announced last year that it would begin phasing out self-serve drink machines by 2032 at all of its United States locations.

The fast-food giant cited a shift to drive-thru and delivery sales that began during the pandemic for the decision.

Orders through the McDonald’s App or third-party delivery services like Uber Eats make up more than 40% of its sales.

The design plans for future McDonald’s restaurants include smaller or no dining rooms.

Reducing or eliminating the need for dining rooms would let the chain build smaller stores.

A McDonald’s spokesman told Business Insider that the decision to charge for refills will be up to individual store owners.

The fast-food industry is likely to follow McDonald’s

Consulting firm FoodserviceResults CEO Darren Tristano said that the change will ripple across the fast-food industry.

“McDonald’s tends to be a leader in the industry,” Tristano said. “And very often, when they make big changes, other restaurants follow suit. McDonald’s is very smart about their costs.”

Cornell University professor of food and beverage management Alex Susskind said that a trend is underway to move the beverage machines behind the counter.

“The amount of cleaning and upkeep that’s required for these guest-facing dispensers is pretty significant,” Susskind said. “The ice has to be replaced, you have to clean up the mess, you have to pick up the straw fragments.”

Former McDonald’s corporate chef Mike Haracz suspected that the change could have been made because of the growing number of people stealing drinks.

“Most of McDonald’s business is through the drive-thru. And it does cost McDonald’s more money to deal with people who come into the restaurant than it does drive-thru,” Haracz said on social media.

“They’d much rather you have drive-thru, you get some food, you get your drink, and you get out of there versus you hanging around and having to deal with people in the restaurant,” Haracz added.

McDonald’s has come under fire from users on social media because of their price increases.

Susskind suspected that the move was a cost-saving strategy.

“Every penny is starting to matter, particularly in quick service,” Susskind said.

He estimated that McDonald’s could save roughly $90 million a year from the change.

“That is real money.  All these figures are estimates, and they are significant in my opinion,” Susskind added.

That’s why the free refill is soon to be a relic of the past.

Read All About It will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story. 

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