McDonald's customers divided over detail on 'loose change' menu item

The McDonald's year-round promo 'provides great value' the fast-food chain says, but many consumers disagree.

As the cost of living war wages on across the country, Aussies continue to search for practical ways to keep their spending to a minimum. And for those still craving a meal out every once in a while, that might mean a trip to McDonald's.

What was once considered a "cheap eats" option for penny-pinching Aussies, is now becoming "unaffordable" some have argued, after a Maccas admirer spotted a "loose change" meal deal for almost $9.

The meal in question is the latest addition to the food chain's budget-friendly "loose change" promotion which is offered year-round and "provides great value on some of our most iconic menu items" including a $1 frozen Coke and a $2 hamburger. The new meal deal was only introduced this month and includes two cheeseburgers or two chicken ‘n’ cheeseburgers, or one of each, plus a medium drink and fries for $8.95.

"Are we considering $9 loose change now?" questioned the McDonald's lover online, prompting a heated debate over the cost of fast food in Australia and what amount should really be considered as "loose change".

McDonald's loose change menu meal deal.
The new 'loose change' meal deal is priced at $8.95, which is too expensive some argued. Source: Reddit/Getty

Debate erupts over Maccas' 'loose change' menu price

Responding to the post, one person noted, "the smallest note is a $5" and suggested "anything under that is change". "$4.95 and below would be considered loose change in my opinion," he said.

"Yeah that sounds about right. If I have to use a note to pay, that ain't loose change any more," another agreed. "Honestly I think I'll just stick to avoiding Maccas, I'd rather waste my money somewhere else".

"Seriously, this is insulting to the original concept of the loose change men," wrote a third — however many disagreed. The meal deal, available through the Maccas app, is "reasonably priced" thought one, who said "not compared to what Maccas prices used to be, but compared to now".

Another agreed it was "a steal". A cheeseburger on its own is $5, while the "chicken n cheese" can set you back $5.60 so "you're basically getting four items of the loose change menu for $2.25 each," another said.

McDonald's responds to pricing controversy

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a McDonald's spokesperson said "we’re committed to our ‘value means more at Macca’s’ promise, which includes providing our customers with exceptional everyday value, great customer service and 24/7 convenience".

"Customers can get great value at McDonald’s through the MyMacca’s App — which offers great discounts, weekly deals and loyalty rewards — and through our year-round Loose Change Menu and Macca’s Bundles, which are available in participating restaurants nationwide," they added.

Cost of fast food is 'no longer cheap'

In June, research found McDonald’s Australian store prices were up 8 per cent since August the year before. While fast-food competitor KFC were up 14.7 per cent in the same year. Soft serve cones, which were once just 30c, have jumped from 80c to $1.15 recently, a huge 43.75 per cent increase in a single swoop. Meanwhile, the cost of a cheeseburger has jumped to roughly $4.25.

McDonald's loose change menu items.
The budget-friendly promotion is designed for cash-strapped Aussies looking for something cheap. Source: McDonald's

A McDonald’s receipt from 2019 shared by a customer last year laid bare just how much fast-food prices have skyrocketed in the space of a few years. Notable price differences include the Classic Angus burger which had risen from $7.95 in 2019 to $10.60 in 2023 (up 33 per cent), while a large fries had gone from $3.20 in 2019 to $4.70 in 2023 (up 47 per cent).

"Maccas used to be the cheap option but now you can get a much nicer burger for around the same price," one person commented on the Reddit post showing the "loose change" menu item this week.

"Maccas is actually starting to become a rip-off. It’s no longer a cheap eat," said another.

In response to criticism over its recent price hike, a spokesperson previously said there were many factors that went into setting the price of items.

"Like all businesses, we review our prices from time to time, considering several factors, including the higher-cost environment we’re operating in. As individual businesses, McDonald's prices are set at a restaurant level," they said.

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