Local News

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

Posted December 19, 2007 8:00 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2007 7:00 a.m. EST

— 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.