My McDonald’s / LivingSocial Big Mac Deal Fiasco

McDonald's Living Social Big Mac DealA few weeks back McDonald’s offered a deal through LivingSocial where for $13 you’d receive a booklet with five individual Big Mac vouchers as well as five vouchers for large orders of fries, which is half the price of what the food would have cost otherwise. McDonald’s even touted the offer as the “largest daily deal run with a fast-food chain.” Since I eat there for lunch regularly I quickly clicked the “buy now!” button when I came across the offer.

By the time the deal ended 290,175 booklets were purchased, which is a total of 1,450,875 Big Macs and 1,450,875 orders of large fries. The problem with a nationwide deal of this magnitude though is that if you’re going to do it you need to make sure that your employees actually understand how it works, which McDonald’s clearly didn’t do in this case.

I stopped at McDonald’s yesterday on my lunch break and ordered a Big Mac, a McChicken sandwich and a soda. I handed one of my Big Mac vouchers to the cashier and after staring at it for a while she told me that she didn’t know what to do with it, so she went to talk to whoever was in charge.

After a minute or so another employee came back, rang up my order and told me what I owed. The total seemed high to me so I questioned her. “You had a large soda, a McChicken and the $1.50 Big Mac LivingSocial deal” she replied. “Oh no, these vouchers are each good for a free Big Mac” I told her. “No, they’re for $1.50 Big Macs” was her answer. I persisted and she left to call the store manager who wasn’t there at the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I couldn’t afford to pay $1.50 for a Big Mac, but it’s the principle of the thing.

After returning from her phone call with the manager she informed that he had sided with her and that the LivingSocial Big Mac coupons were indeed for $1.50 “half price” Big Macs. “But Why would anyone want to pay half price for five Big Macs ahead of time and then pay the other half when they came into McDonald’s to buy them?” I questioned. The only answer she could muster up was “I don’t know, but that’s how the deal works.” There was another McDonald’s on my way back to work anyway, so I decided to just leave and try my luck at that one where amazingly the voucher was good for a free Big Mac just as McDonald’s and LivingSocial originally intended.

I thought I could finally enjoy my lunch until I sat down and opened my Big Mac box to see that the middle bun was missing. I took the burger back up to the counter, waited in line again and told them I was missing a bun. “Oh yeah, we’re out of those” the cashier replied. “Why didn’t you tell me that when I ordered one? I asked. “I don’t know” was her answer. I swear, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. I mean, in my mind the middle bun is sort of what makes the Big Mac. Without it you just have a double cheeseburger with lettuce, pickles, onions and their secret sauce. She then offered to put the bottom of a hamburger bun in the middle of my Big Mac, which was good enough for me, as I was finally able to eat my lunch. I just feel bad for the next person who goes there and orders a burger only to get one without a bottom bun because they’re now one short.

Will this prevent me from ever going to McDonald’s again? Absolutely not. In fact, I still have four Big Mac vouchers and five large fry vouchers to use! Companies need to realize though that unless they educate their employees on how deals like this work that all they’re doing is making their customers mad. I can completely understand if some employees aren’t familiar with how the deal works, but when a store manager doesn’t understand how it works is when there’s a problem. Oh, and if you stop at the McDonald’s on 81st and Brown Deer Road in Milwaukee and order a Big Mac you might want to check ahead of time and make sure that they currently have the middle buns in stock… Just a tip…

Update: 12/23/2011 — Someone from the McDonald’s “Twitter Customer Satisfaction Team” reached out to me yesterday and asked me to call a special 1-800 number that they’ve set up specifically for questions about their LivingSocial deal. I called and told them about my experience and they offered to send me a $5 gift card for my troubles. In addition, I also received a call back from someone at the local McDonald’s franchise office who apologized as well and explained that in order for the cashiers at McDonald’s to ring up the LivingSocial deal they need to press a series of two buttons at the cash register – one to bring the price of a Big Mac down to $1.50, and one to take off the $1.50 and just charge you tax. It seems like the problem  with my order was that they pressed the first button, but didn’t know that they were supposed to press the second one. Why not just have one button instead of two? I guess only McDonald’s knows the answer to that one…

She also told me that the instructions should have been right there at the register so she “couldn’t understand how the staff couldn’t figure out.” I’m definitely pleased with the quick response and honest explanation I received from McDonald’s, but it still comes down to the fact that unless you educate your employees on how a deal like this works you’re only hurting your company’s reputation. Plus the fact that they set up a 1-800 number JUST for this specific promotion makes me think that this wasn’t just an isolated incident like I originally thought it might have been.

47 Comments on My McDonald’s / LivingSocial Big Mac Deal Fiasco

  1. AJ
    December 22, 2011 at 10:14 am (13 years ago)

    Ha, This made my morning! Get ’em Nick!

  2. Jon
    December 22, 2011 at 10:28 am (13 years ago)

    Your experience unfortunately is not unique. Some McDonald’s managers don’t understand that you have already paid for your certificates, so you aren’t getting anything free. If you call McDonalds corporate HQ to complain they will give you a $5 Arch card for free. Their number is 866-919-2653. You can also complain to LivingSocial Customer service at 877-521-4191.

    • Angela J
      January 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm (13 years ago)

      Thank you very much for these numbers and info. I just had to contact them about my disagreement & cost at our McDonalds. Just maybe, the next 4 vouchers I use will go over smoothly!

  3. CT
    December 22, 2011 at 10:35 am (13 years ago)

    I also got this deal and encountered issues the first time I tried to use it. They said the same thing to me that they did you, that I would still have to pay half price for it. They had to get the manager who relented, “gave” me the Big Mac but treated me as though I was pulling a fast one on her. I have since used another voucher at the same McDonald’s and they seemed to have got it worked out now.

    • Nick
      December 22, 2011 at 10:44 am (13 years ago)

      Yeah, they acted like I was trying to scam them somehow! I just kept trying to explain that yes, it is for half priced Big Macs, but I’ve already paid the half price for them and now I just need to be able to redeem the vouchers.

  4. Whammy!
    December 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm (13 years ago)

    I see deals like this all the time and I loathe them. There’s one going around where I live wherein you buy a voucher with 10 oil changes for $30. There’s all kind of fine print, like expiration dates before your car would need all ten, then they try to up sell you $50+ standard services like windshield wipers and fluid, etc.

    I hate coupons for two reasons. The above mentioned type hassles and I end up looking like a prick.

    Think about how a McDonald’s employee has to deal with random coupons all the time, and the people that probably make their job harder. It’s neither person’s fault, but the employee sees a middle class white person making a big deal out of $1 and the experience gets worse from there. It’s the company’s fault, and I refuse to play their games.

    Coupons are just like rebates, always a pain and never worth it in the end.

  5. Abel R.
    December 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm (13 years ago)

    Why would you eat this cancerous food? Shit, is soo bad. No wonder we have fat and lazy people in America.

    • Nick
      December 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm (13 years ago)

      Whoa! Why don’t you tell me how you really feel!?

    • Misty
      December 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm (13 years ago)

      You’re not serious, are you? Have you ever read this blog? If it’s a health blog you’re looking for, there are plenty out there.

    • Lunchbox
      December 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm (13 years ago)

      Because it’s delicious. Next?

    • Christina
      December 23, 2011 at 11:44 am (13 years ago)

      lol…clearly someone doesn’t understand what this blog is all about. Good thing he didn’t see your Heart Attack Grill post!

  6. sam
    December 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm (13 years ago)

    maccas once “forgot” my bacon inside my bacon and egg mcmuffin. another drive through maccas forgot to give my $10 change back and then accused me of stealing when i walked into the store to get it.

    now i just dont bother. its so much hassle to get them to admit wrong!!! or get the damn order correct!!

    and yes, even maccas in australia douche it up.

  7. Kim
    December 23, 2011 at 9:55 am (13 years ago)

    Hye, I never got my vouchers! Has anyone else had this problem?

    • Ding
      December 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm (13 years ago)

      Happened to me. I could see the purchase under pending for a couple of days after I made the purchase, then it disappeared and shows I have nothing in purchase history. Tried to call living social and never was able to speak to anyone. Oh well.

  8. Betty
    December 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm (13 years ago)

    I went to the big MacDonald at the Michigan aveneu Chicago yesterday and they said they did not accept this kind of voucher and said I could go to some other stores but they did not know which one was accepting that. And it costed me $12 parking cost to park at that MacDonald even though we left immediately. That is ridulous.

    • Nick
      December 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm (13 years ago)

      Yeah, metered parking in Chicago is never fun!

      As far as the McDonald’s not accepting the voucher, it’s apparently up to the individual restaurants as to whether or not they want to accept it, but the problem with that is there’s no way for customers to find out if a location is accepting them without stopping in. Quiznos sold a Groupon recently that not all restaurants participated in, but they at least had an option on the Quiznos website where you could enter your zip code and see which locations near you were actually participating in the deal, which I thought was a nice touch.

  9. Jonathan
    December 30, 2011 at 11:43 am (13 years ago)

    I had the same experience yesterday traveling back through West Virginia. I decided to stop for lunch and use my coupons. My daughter was at a different register and when the store clerk rang up $2.65($1.50 BigMac, $1 Fries, plus tax) she dutifully handed over the money. Being a man of principle (and a bit older…), I questioned the clerk and explained that I had already purchased the coupons. The coupons do not say “free” anywhere on them. Anyway, the manager comped my meal but I was still dissapointed that my daughter had paid. I called McDonalds and they are sending me a $5 Arch Card. I like McDonalds and am sure that the next time they do a discount program like this will not require the clerks to use multiple buttons to ring up the sale.

    • Nick
      December 30, 2011 at 11:47 am (13 years ago)

      Yeah, the multiple button thing seems to be what’s causing the most confusion. I went to a completely different McDonald’s earlier this week and even though they had a laminated sheet of instructions on how the LivingSocial deal works right next to the register the girl ringing me up was still super confused and still told me that I needed to pay $1.50 until the manager finally came up and helped her.

  10. Brian
    January 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm (13 years ago)

    I had the same problem at two different McDonald’s in two different cities just a couple of days apart. One of the locations corrected the issue after speaking with a manager. The other location refused to listen, assist, or speak with the manager, so I cancelled my order and went to another chain.

    Today I called the McDonald’s Living Social number (866-919-2653) and provided my complaint. They offered a $5 Arch Card and will be sending it in the mail.

  11. Robert
    January 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm (13 years ago)

    I’ve used three of these so far, and only once did they actually charge me properly (and it took several minutes). I can’t even fathom how McDonald’s of all companies could do such a poor job of rolling out this promotion. I also can’t believe that after having these things for WEEKS that the stores haven’t had re-training sessions. There’s over a million of these coupons floating around!

  12. Obbop
    January 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm (13 years ago)

    Frustrating when forced to deal with the typical nearly brain-dead indoctrinated corporate droids infesting so many USA fast-food joints.

  13. BMS
    January 4, 2012 at 5:37 pm (13 years ago)

    It took a few persistent emails, but I bypassed the Arch Card offer and got a full refund after experiencing the same problem. LivingSocial said because the complaint was beyond their five day return period they could only give a credit, which was OK except it took much more than five days for them to mail the vouchers. I guess LivingSocial and I both learned to avoid offers involving large franchises employing low wage cashiers. At least they gave a full credit.

  14. Kevin
    January 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm (13 years ago)

    This is absolutely absurd. How can a company get away with this. The whole point of the living socials, deal finds and stuff like that across the internet is to build awareness for your company and thus gain repeat business. If anything this will turn people away from drity Mac’s.

    Now as you mentioned will the loyal mac’s eater no longer eat there! HELL NO! I love those jr. chickens more than anything on this planet. But anyone who was giving mac’s a second shot will be turned off for ever.

  15. David Rodriguez
    January 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm (13 years ago)

    Do you still have the 800 number? I have yet to receive my booklet when I ordered back in December when it was still going on. I’ve emailed them twice about it now, once when I didn’t get it after 2 weeks and they said they would send another, and again when I never received the replacement.


    • Nick
      January 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm (13 years ago)

      The number is 1-866-919-2653.

    • Maryland
      January 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm (12 years ago)

      Same to me, I havn’t yet received the voucher after they said they will send me again 20 days ago. Should we call the 800 number?

  16. Masher
    January 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm (13 years ago)

    First off, I have used Living Social a number of times, and never had an issue. This is a McDonald’s issue. They have done a piss-poor job with setting up their POS system (& save the puns), and an even worse job at notifying local stores as to what it is all about. I have been to four different stores trying to use the coupons, and have had different results. And every time I use it the entire staff try to figure out how to ring it up. Look at the receipt and it says “living social big mac 1.50”, when it should not ring up any amount. I am just as frustrated as everyone else, but we need to focus our complaints to McDonald’s customer service at: 1-866-919-2653. Bottom line to me, though, now that I have tried Big Mac’s for the first time in a while, and they are not even as good as they once were. I for one, will probably never eat one again after I use up my vouchers.

  17. tim
    January 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm (12 years ago)

    i never received my vouchers.

  18. Alicia
    January 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm (12 years ago)

    I never received my vouchers and I have called twice. They keep taking the same information from me but nothing happens.

  19. Jeff
    January 29, 2012 at 11:18 am (12 years ago)

    I never worked for a national chain or any chain for that matter, but my guess the confusion with the two button discount has to do with profit sharing and price differences nationwide. A Big Mac’s price will vary from city to city, so the first button push must bring the price down to $1.50, which is what each franchise will receive when they submit the vouchers to Ronald.

    I’m actually pretty surprised this promotion went so badly as while we all know service will vary from location to location, McDonalds is very into manager training and making sure their brand is consistent nation/worldwide.

  20. Colt
    February 6, 2012 at 9:51 am (12 years ago)

    I, too, have yet to receive my booklet of vouchers, and have started my research today on where they might be! Thanks for the numbers. Somehow, I think I may be out $13…

  21. Andrew
    March 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm (12 years ago)

    Just happened to me in small town Appomattox, VA! I stood my ground and I guess they finally hit that second button to make it free. They also had the laminated sheet. I guess she completed the first few steps and then just stopped and never finished the rest.

    Didnt get a credit card receipt though… I will be checking my credit card statement. If there is anything other than the $0.55 charge for my cup of ice water, there will be a charge back.

  22. sean
    April 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm (12 years ago)

    hahaha what a fucking fat ass dude, you eat mcdonalds everyday for lunch and you complain about a missing bun in a big mac. only in america….

    • Nick
      April 9, 2012 at 9:58 am (12 years ago)

      Hey man, when you eat there every day those missing buns can add up fast!

  23. Buster
    July 25, 2012 at 2:44 pm (12 years ago)

    This happened to me two days ago in Denver. They insisted the Big Mac was $1.50 and Fries $1.00, plus tax, but I refused to pay it. I had them call the store manager and she insisted the same. Meanwhile, I was holding up the drive-through line! The manager decided to give me the Big Mac, Fries and Shake (that I was going to pay $1.99 for) for free, but said she was going to get the district manager to call me and explain how these vouchers work. I’m still waiting for that call!

    • Karen
      August 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm (12 years ago)

      These are ridiculous! Today they told us that they just take a $1 off for these instead of at least getting them for $1.50. So now I am paying more for a Big Mac with this certificate than if I would have just bought one full price off the menu. Then they wanted to charge me $2 for the large fries certificate and large fries are only 1.95 on the menu!!!!!

  24. Jolene
    September 2, 2012 at 12:05 am (12 years ago)

    I work at a small Mcdonald’s in Walmart and I am a cashier. I just resently had a problem with the living social thing. I was never really tought what the coupon was and how to ring it up. I remember a very large poster in the back that I tried to read but it wasn’t instruction or something I could clearly read that told me what it was for. I only had one manager that knew how to ring it up right but that was when we had an older system like a year ago. Now, There is only two buttons I see with the living social words is on(the bigmac and large fry). Today, I had a person come up and give me the coupon for a large fry. I didn’t remember or know where to ring it up right so I call my manager over and she found the button and it rang up $1 or something and the customer said that it was suppose to be free. Our general manager happened to be at our store so we called him over and he even said that we rang it up correctly. The customer said no and that she was going to another store because they ring it up right. This made me wonder. I shouldn’t have had to look this up to understand what living social coupons are. I blame the lack of communication I guess. Even my GM didn’t know the correct way to ring it up….how stupid…

  25. Bekaar Ho
    September 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm (12 years ago)

    I often eat at McDonald’s. The only problem I have ever had was not with the employees or manager, but another customer, who introduced himself to me and said he was very interested in my country’s culture (I was born in another country). He seemed to be at this McDonalds all the time. Gradually, he started quoting bible to me and told me that he was a Jehova’s witness. To make a long story short, he became really annoying; he would come over and stand near where I would be sitting and start telling me about how great his religion is. I complained to the manager-she said, “oh, he is just an old man.” No action. I filed a report with police; they said he is not breaking any laws. Then, out of nowhere came the news of a $38 million judgement against JW in a sexual abuse case in one of their nearby churches. Never saw this man after this. I have seen other McDonalds where people distribute religious literature inside the restaurant. Usually they are polite and it does not bother me(I am not a christian and have nothing against Christianity), but this JW case was extremely annoying.

  26. Doug
    September 25, 2012 at 8:05 am (12 years ago)

    Are they ever going to do that again?it was a very good deal.

  27. chad
    January 5, 2013 at 4:04 am (12 years ago)

    I tried to redeem mine today… And the offer that was not to expire seems to be expired because they would not accept it… they said it has been removed from the registers

    • Kevin
      January 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm (11 years ago)

      yep, same problem I ran into today at McDonald with my LivingSocial vouchers. I was in the car and they said no the button is gone since Dec 2012.

      Do they expire or not? Cuz in the back, they do not say anything about expiring.

      • Nick
        January 25, 2013 at 3:09 pm (11 years ago)

        There isn’t supposed to be any expiration date. I’m pretty sure it even said that right on the coupons.

  28. Karen
    February 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm (11 years ago)

    I tried to use my living social coupons today for the first time. I asked up front if they still accepted them; told them that there was no expiration and they said they would. But when it came to ring them up nobody knew how. The asst. manager kept on trying all the buttons and then she finally said she couldn’t do it because the icon was gone. She did know of the deal. As an asst. manager, I think an over-ride could have been done. Instead I walked out. Not sure what to do now.

  29. Huey
    February 14, 2013 at 12:54 am (11 years ago)

    I too had the same problem using the vouchers in 2013; was told the icon on the cash register was removed after 2012. I called McDonalds headquarters and reminded them that the vouchers specifically said “no expiration date”. The lady on the phone said: “I know, but they are not meant to be used after that long.” It’s only been a year. No expiration means no expiration, period. What a fraud!

  30. Daniel
    April 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm (11 years ago)

    Tried to use mine today, but they didn’t accept it. I’ll complain to McDonalds headquarter and LivingSocial.

  31. Joey
    May 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm (11 years ago)

    I had a problem trying to redeem all of mine too. Different stores, all a hassle. I tried using the last one last night and they flat out refused to honor it at all. I found the livingsocial and also McDonalds numbers in this blog and called both. Livingsocial is crediting me back the full price plus $5 for the inconvenience. McDonalds is sending me free food vouchers also. You just have to be firm but polite and you’ll get reimbursed and then some. It’s a good thing they did because I was sick and tired of sitting around waiting for up to 20 minutes while they peck at keys on their register and ultimately deny my voucher.

  32. Ryan
    July 25, 2017 at 2:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Just an anecdote here, I found my vouchers I purchased through this deal a few weeks ago cleaning out some paperwork. I said to myself “huh, I wonder if these still work – it says clearly does not expire.”

    I used one set (Big Mac & fry) about 3 weeks ago at a local place, they rang it up just fine, no sales tax, and I bought a $1 drink to go with it. I used my last set yesterday somewhere else, the lady was in the middle of putting the order in when she asked “You didn’t want anything else, right?” when I said I wanted a $1 drink, she just said we’ll just comp you that.

    So if you still have these lying around for whatever reason, I’m 2 for 2 using them in 2017.


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