McDonald's under fire amid accusations of 'price-gouging' meals on app

  • 09/08/2023

McDonald's is under fire amid revelations the restaurant offers meal deals at different prices on its app - based on "personalisation".

In a social media post on Tuesday, the fast food giant was accused of "price-gouging" and "terrible behaviour".

"These two screenshots were taken on the same day on two different phones (myself and my gf's phones), I use the app far more often than she does," the post on Reddit said.

The post was accompanied by screenshots from the McDonald's' app, one of which had an 'any burger medium combo & double cheeseburger' priced at $14, and the other at $17. A deal for two McFlurrys was also priced differently - one at $7 and the other at $8.50.

In the post, the customer described feeling "outraged".

"Due to my 'loyalty', they have decided to individually gouge my prices up, whilst leaving hers the way they are. The difference is upwards of 15 percent at times.

"I don't think I need to explain why this is terrible behaviour, especially so, as it's targeted at people who ACTUALLY buy MORE of their product, but I will say that I'm most outraged because it isn't disclosed anywhere, most Kiwis who are being extorted probably just think the prices are going up for everyone."

In a statement to Newshub, a McDonald's spokesperson explained its app had offered "personalised" deals to customers since its loyalty programme launched last year.

Photo credit: BattleScones/Reddit

"How the benefits are offered and data is used is spelled out in the terms and conditions. Individual offers will differ between users, based on a variety of factors," the spokesperson said.

"Due to the personalisation of our app, not all customers will see the same deals and, as an example, a deal may be offered to encourage [the] use of the app on the customer's next visit. Macca's app users earn points on every purchase and can redeem those points for food and other items, such as our current offer for a Sky Sport Fan Pass.

"In addition, they get offers and deals that provide great value. Our most loyal customers on the Macca's app get the most significant benefits over time."

However, fellow consumers were angry about the revelation - with some calling for McDonald's to be reported to the Commerce Commission.

"That's actually appalling," one Reddit commenter said.

"This is horrible," argued another. "Sure, give each user a different selection of deals based on their historical purchases but, as a customer, I would expect that identical deals between users are the same fair price."

Newshub has contacted the Commerce Commission for comment.

According to Consumer NZ, personalised pricing relied on companies "applying it fairly, responsibly and transparently".

"The Privacy Act requires companies to disclose to consumers what data is being collected and how it's being used," the watchdog said.

"Consumers should be able to opt-out of personalised pricing and ask for the standard price."

McDonald's, meanwhile, said its loyalty programme "continues to evolve" and "we listen to our customers and their feedback, and factor that into future planning".