McDonald's drive-thru window, 4707 Taylor Ave, Racine, Wisconsin

McDonald’s mobile app misery

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

I don’t eat at McDonald’s often, but it does hold that promise of convenience when I’m driving from A to B and need something in my stomach fast.

Usually these days I order via the McDonald’s mobile app, which can be handy when their system works. Sometimes, though, the wait for food can be longer than expected — and the catch is that they have your money once you click the button to place the order.

You cannot un-pay.

Ten days ago, I was on my way from my Mom’s in Kenosha to pick up Amy in Racine. It was almost 8 a.m. and there had been no time for breakfast, so I placed an order on the McDonald’s mobile app for their 4707 Taylor Ave. location — 2 Egg Cheese Biscuits, 2 Hash Browns, 1 Large Premium Roast Coffee with 2 creams — for a total of $10.66.

Pulling into the parking lot, I chose curbside pickup and a parking space, then tapped its number to complete our communications.

And I waited.

The sign on the parking space warned that it was for 10-minute parking only. I waited for thirteen minutes, then gave up. There was no more time to go into the restaurant, find the appropriate person, and provide documentation. I had other things to do that morning, and I would just have to do them hungry.

Later in the day I wandered through the McDonald’s App Help Center on my iPhone, filled out a detailed feedback form with the exact time and store number of my order, and requested a $10.66 refund.

The next day, I got an email from “Andrea” at McDonald’s Customer Care telling me that I would have to deal instead with the local restaurant’s management.

Email message from McDonald's Customer Care
Apparently, the handy McDonald’s mobile app only takes money out of my bank account, but corporate will not refund it. I was supposed to now return to the restaurant, determine who was in charge, and make my case to that person.

Instead, I wrote back repeating my request for a refund.

Email message to McDonal's Customer Care

But my reply to “Andrea” was futile, and immediately bounced back.

If I wanted to, I could start all over again with the Contact Us Form.

Email bounce message from McDonald's Customer Care

Two days later, on February 20, I got a nice phone call from Karen at Steren Management Company, the owner of this McDonald’s on the corner of Taylor and Meachem. She apologized for any inconvenience and assured me I would see things made square within a few days.

It’s been a week now, and no refund has been charged back to my bank account.

And now for lunch …

Meanwhile, there’s been more driving to Mom’s in Kenosha and back, and today (foolishly, I know) I decided to place a lunch order at this very same McDonald’s, again using their mobile app.

I added two McChicken sandwiches to my bag, and then a large French Fries. But prior to completing the order, the app listed only one item in my bag — the fries. So I again added two McChicken sandwiches, and saw it was now correct. Then I clicked the button to submit my order.

Delightful animated cartoon French Fries danced on my screen.

And danced.

And danced.

I kept the app open and finished driving to the restaurant, then told the drive-thru attendant that I had no order number, only dancing fries. He asked me to pull up to the window so he could see what was going on.

I showed him. It was dancing fries.

He told me to quit the app and relaunch it to see what happens. Meanwhile, I received an email receipt thanking me for my mobile order of four McChicken sandwiches and a large fries. The total was $9.75.

I showed the email to him. He looked at it, then closed the drive-thru window.

When it opened again, a woman asked me what the matter was, and I explained all over again about the two McChicken sandwiches and the large fries. She checked and checked and could find no record of my order.

As is typical of customer service everywhere, the McDonald’s system not registering my purchase was not their problem, but perhaps the result of something I had done wrong.

Meanwhile, I checked my bank account. McDonald’s had taken $9.75 from it.

As the line of cars behind me in the drive-thru grew, the woman in the window said she would “promo” me the two McChickens and the fries, but she could not refund anything unless I returned with a printed bank statement.

She gave me a promo receipt for two McChickens and one large fries — a $6.87 value.

The promo recept encouraged me to fill out an online survey and give them a “Highly Satisfied” rating.

McDonald's promo receipt survey offer.

I pulled up to the next window and was handed a Strawberry Banana Smoothie while being asked, “You had the smoothie?”

“No,” I answered — and handed him my promo receipt.

He studied it, disappeared, returned, handed me a bag, and wished me a good day.

Running late once again because I chose McDonald’s, I drove off. Stopped at a traffic light, I grabbed one of the sandwiches and bit into it. It turns out there were actually two double cheeseburgers in the bag.

The thing is, I don’t eat beef.

The bag also contained two small orders of fries.

That’s all I would have for lunch today.

So the moral of this story is that fast food isn’t always fast — and even the food itself is not a given.


Update — same afternoon:

Not ten minutes after putting this post online and emailing a link to Steren Management, I received my McDonald’s refund for today’s mixup.

McDonald's refund email

I don’t think they had time to read this post. It’s probably just an automated coincidence.

But if they eventually do read this, I still want my $10.66 from ten days ago.


Update — next day:

Responding to my email and this post on my “fancy blog,” Karen left me a voicemail, and I called her back the next day.

We discussed how the McDonald’s mobile app is what it is, and agreed that individual restaurants don’t control how it works or doesn’t.

I get that — but someone needs to refund my $10.66, and corporate tells me it’s up to the local restaurant.

So this time Karen asked for the exact transaction date and time, plus the last four of my card number. After doing “research” on my case for a few minutes, she called me back and asked for my mailing address, in order to to send me a physical check for $10.66.

I’m grateful to her for getting this resolved — but the McDonald’s Corporation’s headquarters in Chicago should think about adding a simple “refund” or “chargeback’ button that their restaurants can click to void a transaction.

This current system is pure misery.

Filed under:
food Racine restaurants

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