Reader Says McDonald's Up-Sized Her Meal Without Asking

An anonymous reader we’ll call Redacted was upsold to a large-sized value meal without his permission. She wrote this letter of complaint to the offending store and corporate:

I am writing today to address a concern I had while visiting the McDonald’s Store drive-thru in (redacted), Massachusetts. I arrived at this location at just about midnight on Monday night (My receipt is marked August 25, 2009 (Tue) 00:01). I had a coupon for free fries and a medium soda when purchasing an Angus burger, and I also wanted a chicken nuggets meal and a cheeseburger.

I explained first that I had a coupon, and was told that “Angus burgers aren’t served after midnight.” As it was just barely midnight I was a little surprised, but changed my order to a quarter-pounder meal. I ordered my chicken nuggets meal and asked for a cheeseburger, and was told cheeseburgers aren’t served late-night either, “only large sandwiches.” This didn’t make any sense since I was already told I couldn’t get an Angus burger, which would seem to be a large sandwich, but I left the order with just the two value meals.

I paid and got my food, and when I was handed my drinks I noticed they were bigger than normal. I thought we may have gotten a courtsey upsize due to the issue with the food being unavailable, but when looking at my receipt I saw that we were in fact charged for large value meals. I drove back around to the window again, thinking it was just a mistake, and was told “Late night value meals come large standard. It says it on the menu.” I stated “It also says on the menu that you have Angus burgers.” The employee said “Well, it says it up high.” At no time was it offered to give me medium fries and drink and refund the difference. I did not ask for him to do this because he spoke to me so condescendingly that I was concerned he might do something to our food. Instead, I asked for the customer service telephone number and was told “It’s on the receipt.” The only phone number on the receipt is (redacted). I read that number out loud to him and asked “Isn’t that just the phone number here at the store?” He said yes and smirked at me. I was through with being patronized, so I left at that point.

This whole experience is disturbing for several reasons, but the one I am most concerned with is this automatic upsizing without informing the customer. If it in fact says anything about this on the menu board, it certainly is not in a place that is easy to see from a car, particularly at night. Further, I expect at a well-known place like McDonald’s to be able to get the same thing at any time of the day without having to change the way I ask for it. If I ask for a “# 2″ during the day and that would give me a medium, I expect to get the same thing at night. I can’t understand the reasoning for providing a different default size in the “late-night” hours.

I am also fairly disturbed by the attitude of the employee. He did not have a nametag on, but was an older male and wore a blue and white striped button-down short sleeve shirt, which was partially untucked in the front. On the receipt it says “KS#15″ and “MFY side 1 KVS order 780/0″. I am sure he has to deal with these issues every night; in fact, while waiting for my food, I heard him tell two other customers in the drive-thru that they couldn’t order certain items because they weren’t on the late-night menu, so it is obvious that this information is not properly displayed in a way that is obvious to customers. But the smug, condescending attitude was completely uncalled for and unappreciated.

I would have been content at the time to receive the medium fries and drinks I expected and get a refund of the small difference and would have written the entire issue off. But after the attitude I received at what I assumed was a simple issue, I felt it necessary to inform both the store directly and the corporate office. I am also forwarding a copy of this email to Consumerist.com so that other customers will not have to find this information out the hard way. Financial issues are a hot topic in today’s economy, and my goal is to see as few people essentially scammed out of money, however small an amount, as possible.

If I were McDonald’s, I’d give Redacted her money back. And I’d also tell employees to coax as many customers as possible into up-sizing their meals, but only with their permission. And I’d eat free McDonald’s apple pies constantly and get extremely fat.

(Photo: Paxton Holley)