Home Economy McDonald’s working to remove self-serve beverage stations

McDonald’s working to remove self-serve beverage stations


(NewsNation) — McDonald’s has been working toward eliminating its self-serve beverage stations in restaurants across the U.S. for the past year, with the company wanting to phase them all out by 2032. Plus, some locations may start to charge customers for refills.

In-restaurant customers won’t be able to pour themselves a drink, which a McDonald’s spokesperson told CBS is meant to make the experience more consistent no matter where the customer orders.

As the change — announced last year — has started to become a reality, videos of bare drink stations have flooded the internet, drawing criticism from customers.

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A recent study found that, when compared with other fast-food restaurants, prices at McDonald’s have increased the most over the last decade. And with the possibility of not being able to fill and refill one’s drink without an additional price, it’s just another cost to add to Americans’ tabs.

Beverages at McDonald’s range from $1.89 to $4.45. The chain’s $1 sodas of any size have been phased out in recent years due to rising costs, NewsNation affiliate KTLA reported.

Traffic at fast-food restaurants in the first quarter of the year was either flat or down in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Japan, the Associated Press reported. However, in 2023, the fast food giant reported a 9% increase in global sales — a 30% increase from 2029, CBS reported.

McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski said during an investor call last month that the company needs a nationwide value message and marketing to back it up. In some areas, it’s losing out to competitors on customers’ perception of value and affordability, he said. Wendy’s is currently offering free fries with the purchase of a medium burger, for example.

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However, what that “value message” will look like has yet to be seen.

For now, the 10-year transition away from self-serve beverage stations in the U.S. continues, and McDonald’s USA told NewsNation the company has not made any changes to its plans to phase out the machines.

“The change is being rolled out over 10 years, and is intended to create a consistent experience for both customers and crew across all ordering points, whether that’s McDelivery, the app, kiosk, drive-thru or in-restaurant,” the chain said.

As for refills, McDonald’s USA said it’s up to the discretion of individual restaurants on whether they will charge for refills or not.

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