Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Ethics of Free Refills...Am I Wrong?

Here's the story. I'm driving by McDonald's, and I decide to go in and buy a drink (24oz). I leave, and then as I make my merry way to my destination, I've realized I've downed the entire cup of Coke. A few minutes away from where I've got to go, and what do you know, another McDonald's. The thought pops up in my head, "Hey when I'm dining in, I can get free refills. Does that mean I can walk in and fill up my cup?" Well, I did. Before you jump all over me for being so cheap, I just bought the soda a few minutes ago... My take, yeah, I should probably buy another drink, but I mean there are no clear spelled out rules on refills right? If I leave the establishment, I know I'm supposed to buy another drink, but it's not written on the walls in McDonald's or anything. What do you think? Am I wrong?


kibitzer said...

Unfortunately, many ethical questions do not fall into clear issues of right or wrong.
In this case - nothing restricting the refill to one visit was posted. There is no refill policy (that I could find) on McDonalds web site. Though not every restaurant is owned by the same person, they are at least identified under the same corporate umbrella.
From a practical sense, I doubt McDonalds corp really cares - the drinks cost them pennies. In fact, given the odds that you might buy something else on your second visit, they might actually make more money.
Now that I think of it, I wonder what would happen if McDonalds offered an unlimited softdrinks with any purchase policy? I bet this would increase their profits (until every other fast food restaurant was forced to adopt the same policy for competitive reasons) - but I digress.
In short, I don't know, but either way if this is your worst ethical lapse you must be a pretty decent person.

Kira said...

Well, I wouldn't refill it at a different McDonald's, because the first one got all your money, and the second just has to pay for your drink and gets nothing. The franchises do have separate money, so that would not be fair to the second one. But if you were sitting around in the first McDonald's for long enough that you finished your drink, then you can get a refill. Generally any place that has the drink machines out in the seating area, instead of behind the counter, has free refills.

freedumb said...

You know, that's an interesting proposal. I wonder if McD's would consider running a promo like that...imagine, especially now as everyone hits the be an interesting marketting scheme...maybe require a min purchase...and if I said it were my worst ethical lapse, I'd be lying...I think most people would...hah.

Under that premise, what if both McD's had the same owner? Most McD's will give you refills even if they have the machines behind the counter...Jack in a Box, Taco Bell, and BK seem to do the same too...

Anonymous said...

Once you leave the restaurant, it's McDonald's policy to say no refills on your return. However, at restaurants where you have to give the cup to someone to have them fill it, I did get return refills a few times with no problem...until I got stopped by a manager one day. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.

In terms of the self-service drink locations, just walk in, refill, and walk out. If they bitch at you, claim ignorance. Screw their policy.

PennMur said...

Yes you are wrong! The McDonalds you first stopped at may not be owned by the same owner. These are franchise companies and so you paid one owner but expect another owner to give it to you for free????
Besides why else is there different size cups and prices? Free refills should not be allowed. But mostly customers should never expect them to be given out either!!

PennMur said...

I would also like to point out any refills ever allowed should be at a restaurant will self serve options ONLY! Otherwise you are asking for germs to be passed in the kitchen UGGG :(