Local News

Is 1 McDonald's Soaking Customers With Its Water Charge?

Posted December 19, 2007
Updated December 20, 2007

— From homes to restaurants, a lot of people are doing what they can to cut back on water use, but one McDonald’s restaurant in Wilson is charging for it – $1 for a cupful.

Many restaurants have stopped serving water automatically, encouraged by water-use guidelines and required to do it that way in some jurisdictions. Wilson, however, is in relatively good shape for water, having asked only for voluntary restrictions so far.

Breakfast at the McDonald's on Nash Street is part of Curtis Little's routine at least three days a week.

“I've been going to this McDonald's for about seven years,” Little said Wednesday. Now, he said, he feels like he’s being ripped off by the water charge.

“We get the full meal and a cup of water, and she says the cup of water is a dollar,” Little said. It used to be free, but employees told him last week that they now charge a dollar because of the drought.

“I think it's a real, real hard case of gouging,” Little said.

WRAL tried the McDonald’s drive-thru and found the same thing – $1 for a small water.

“You didn't charge me for water, did you?” asked reporter Mike Charbonneau.

“Yes, we do charge for water now because we have a restriction,” responded the McDonald's employee.

“Because of water restrictions.” Charbonneau said.

“Yes, sir,” said the employee.

The policy makes a large iced tea and a small water the same price.

At Chick-Fil-A and Wendy's in Wilson, water was free. Burger King charged, calling it a “cup fee” and collecting 27 cents. A different Wilson McDonald's, with a different owner, charged 11 cents for a water cup.

Little has his solution: “We'll continue going. I just won't get water.”

The owner of the McDonald's that's charging $1 did not return WRAL’s calls.


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  • leo-nc Dec 21, 2007

    Hey now. I LOVE McDonalds water!! It's so much more refreshing than that of the competition and those nasty old bottles. I mean come on, can't you see? It's worth the dollar!!! They can use this money to actually clean the restaurant now!!!

  • nc resident Dec 20, 2007

    McDonalds is ahead of the game..make some money while you can....just ask for ketchup and mustard to go with it......

  • richard2 Dec 20, 2007


  • mvnull Dec 20, 2007

    'Little has his solution: “We'll continue going. I just won't get water.”'

    A better solution is to find another place to eat. Remeber that Capitalism works both ways. Avoid the places that do things that upset you and the so-called 'market' will correct itself.

  • raysson Dec 20, 2007

    Conserving for a clown.

  • raysson Dec 20, 2007

    Let's face facts...When was the last time you went into a local Mickey D's and ordered some of the worst food imaginable? When the ONLY thing they got decent is the sweet tea? Not to mention the apple pies? I know in Durham,local Mickey D's joints are doing the same thing to there customers in Wilson for a cup of water..ridicious.

  • i am batman Dec 20, 2007

    I work in inspections. If you ever look at McDonalds water system you are better off not drinking it.

  • applejuice Dec 20, 2007

    its good to see someone else say "pop" - i get hammered for it all the time

  • NeverSurrender Dec 20, 2007

    "You can't win: this McDonald's was trying to get customers to conserve water and they got bullied over it."


    If that's the real motivation of this McDonald's, then it seems kind of curious that 32 oz. of water (their large sweet tea) costs exactly the same as the 8 oz. of water in the small cup.

    If they were truly meaning to encourage conservation, then it stands to reason that the honkin' huge cup of tea ought to go for $4 and the prices of pop also go up accordingly. However, the owner knows that would be suicide and probably violate his franchise agreement with respect to variance from national pricing norms across the chain in a standalone store.

    What the owner is getting bullied for lying about the true reason for the charge which is to increase his profit margins, not "encourage conservation".

    If the guy wants to charge $1 and the market will bear it, more power to him. What I disagree with is lying to customers when his true motivations have been exposed.

  • iamforjustice Dec 20, 2007

    Why are you people complaining about 1 dollar water and you go to the bar and get a beer for 6 or a drink for 8...and you don't complain then...hiccup