Signs of Change at McDonalds

About six months ago I stopped at a McDonalds in northeastern Massachusetts for a late night snack, and as I filled my cup I noticed the ice machine was covered in official, sternly-worded warning signs:

  • “Please limit your stay to 60 minutes while eating.”
  • “Free refills limited to current visit only.”
  • “Only McDonald’s food allowed in this restaurant”
  • “Free Wi-Fi for customers only.”
  • “Limit Wi-Fi use to 60 Minutes”

The sheer number of signs compelled me to take a picture, but just in case I overlooked a sign saying No Still or Video Photography allowed in this store, I took one on the sly with my (very old and inexpensive) cell phone:

(Photo missing? Sorry...)

(Ice dispenser or rules book?)

Now, the ice machine signs were in addition to the signs at the counter limiting the number of free sauce cups (Six nuggets? Only one sauce cup!), charging you for extra sauce cups, refusing bills over $50, and asking you to report any food allergies before ordering your food*.

Gosh, this level of behavior modification makes Seinfeld’s classic “Food Nazi” episode look downright tame by comparison. And, it seems that some McDonalds locations are actually enforcing their rules limiting the length of your visit, charging for extra sauce cups, and even charging for ketchup packets.

Wait, extra charge for ketchup?!? No worries, I’m a mustard fan. However, once my local McDonalds started charging 25 cents for one pouch of mayonnaise to dip my fries into I’ve started to order fries less frequently – besides, their “McDouble” is cheaper, has less fat and calories, and getting extra mustard on it is still free.

I’d like to say that McDonalds is doing this because as the economy improves more customers are visiting their local Mickey D’s and won’t mind keeping their stay short out of respect for later customers, or paying a little more for their food and condiments.

But, perhaps the opposite is true: As people hurt by the continuing economic malaise have not only gravitated towards McDonalds’ “Dollar Menu” (now “Dollar Menu and More“) but also a “free” source for their forks, spoons, straws, napkins, condiments, restrooms,  and Wi-Fi, it’s no surprise McDonalds is increasing prices and rationing dining supplies as they experience a fourth straight month of declining sales in the USA.

Yep, it looks like McDonalds sure isn’t clowning around anymore: Which may not be good for us if it’s really true that Big Macs drive the world’s economy.

The ironic part of this entire story? Today a friend informed me  that the McDonalds location prompting this story recently closed. I’m guessing it wasn’t due to the “improving economy“.

(*...sometimes I announce I’m allergic to camel meat, just to get a reaction out of them… once again, I digress… and, I’ve never eaten camel meat)

Thanks for reading!

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