Why Won't McDonald's Give My Kid A Cup Of Water With Her Happy Meal?

Consumerist reader Courtney is scratching her head at the bone-headed service she’s received at multiple McDonald’s when trying to buy her 3-year-old daughter a Happy Meal.

See, Courtney’s little girl is lactose intolerant so she doesn’t want the milk option. Nor is she thrilled with the idea of giving her kid sugary juice. So she sees a simple solution — instead of the fountain drink, just put water in the cup. She’s not asking for a discount; just water instead of milk or juice.

But that doesn’t compute with the folks behind the counter.

From Courtney:

Whenever I’ve tried suggesting a water with the meal, the cashier just flatly replies that they can’t do this, because the order for a Happy Meal requires milk, chocolate milk, a fountain drink, or a juice box. When I asked if I could choose a soda and have them fill it with water instead (not asking for a discount, mind you, just asking for some water), they charged me for a medium soda…

When I called to complain to the manager, he immediately said the same thing, and then when I pointed out that I wasn’t asking for a discount or something extra, that I simply wanted the cup filled with water instead of soda, he saw my point. I asked him to educate his cashiers, but sadly, I don’t think that’s going to work.

Courtney says she’s run into this problem with at least three different McDonald’s. And while we doubt it’s some systemic anti-water agenda on the part of the Golden Arches, it is another example of situation where employees immediately assume an adversarial relationship with the customer rather than just listening to her completely reasonable — and more profitable for the restaurant — request.