McDonald’s will no longer refill your drinks for free, here’s why

McDonald’s is gradually phasing out its free drink refills policy. Customers would no longer be able to help themselves to self-serve soda fountains, which the company plans to discontinue entirely by 2032. What has been the norm for twenty years is slowly coming to an end. A Pittsburgh customer recently told Marketplace that their local McDonald’s has put a stop to self-serve machines. The customer added that the Pennsylvania outlet is now charging customers for drink refills.

McDonald’s will no longer provide free drink refills(Representational Image)

Is McDonald’s no longer offering free drinks?

The fast-food giant first introduced the self-serve drink machines in 2004, allowing customers to have unlimited beverages of their choice. However, McDonald’s appears to be distancing itself from the self-service idea as fewer customers prefer dine-in, in contrast to home deliveries or takeaways. It was reported last year that the company would eradicate the soda fountains, per New York Post.

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However, a McDonald’s representative told Business Insider at the time that the decision to charge customers for drink refills would be left “at the discretion of individual restaurant owners/operators.” Customers at other McDonald’s outlets in Wegmans and Panera Bread pointed out that the soda fountains were missing during the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Marketplace.

Amid recent reports, several customers also shared their plight on social media upon being charged for drink refills. One customer wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “Anyone else think it’s wild that McDonald’s is getting rid of their self serve Soda Fountains!? Pretty wild, they’re probably no longer do free refills anymore also. What is the world coming to?”

While it may be disheartening news for McDonald’s customers, experts believe that other fast-food chains will also do the same. Darren Tristano, CEO of FoodserviceResults, a research and consulting firm for the food industry, said, “McDonald’s tends to be a leader in the industry. And very often, when they make big changes, other restaurants follow suit. McDonald’s is very smart about their costs.”

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