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McDonalds self serve machines - ✔ or ✘


McDonalds are now trying to get everyone to use self-serve ordering, with limited success (I know because my son works there).

The machines are missing many items, you can’t pay with cash (which counts out school kids and seniors with discount cards), and it’s hard to find what you’re looking for.

Maccas have goals for employees to get more customers using self-serve, but I think they are unrealistic in trying to phase out the cashiers completely.

"Why I hate using the supermarket self checkout"

Noticed that today. It’s been quite sometime since my last unplanned visit.

What will follow once the retraining of their customers has reached the desired level of success? To be followed by the automated burger and fries assembly line and Samsung robotic delivery machine, which vacuums the floor on it’s way to you. I still marvel at the efficiency of the sushi train at delivering food. (not!)

We might also need to get used to Maccas redesigning the product line slightly to better suit the automated food production assembly line. Now where did I leave that 3D Protein Printer?

The big and not too distant career opportunities with Maccas may be in robotics/automation fault finding and repair?


I fully appreciate the point of packing your bags the way it suits your needs.
Putting our shopping bags on the floor of the self checkout scramble - not in my way of doing things.
Having enough space so I am not in the way - I always get in the way and all the checkouts are in use.

If the supermarkets would like me to do otherwise. Give me a conveyor to load the items onto and a bagging carousel or let me reload the trolley as per Aldi. I’d be prepared to stretch to mastering the technology, but only if the the store will meet me half way and give me a discount for the time I take?


Yeah one of my workmates commented on the situation at McDonalds.

She walked up to the counter and no one really noticed her for a minute. Eventually someone came over and asked if she was ok. So she started listing what she’d like and the staff said ‘Oh the ordering machines are over there.’ She asked why she couldn’t order at the counter and the staff said ‘Well the machines are easier.’ She had to explain all she wanted was an actual person to take her order and was that too much to ask.

Absolutely crazy that staff are totally unable to comprehend someone wanting to have a person take their order.


Great topic, let’s put it to a poll :slight_smile:

Some food for thought:

  • As a customer, is there any difference to your needs between self service machines at McDonalds and other self service machines, like those at supermarkets and service stations.
  • Are there any concerns specific to restaurants that are impacted by these machines (e.g. allergies, food safety)
  • How well do the machines at McDonalds work? Do you find them efficient and accurate?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • Yes, the McDonald’s self serve machines are great
  • No, I don’t like them

0 voters


Havent seen them and I dont like them. Cannot imagine using one.


For me, the advantages of self-serve machines at supermarkets are:

  • Packing my own bags

  • Shorter queue than cashier (sometimes)

Neither of these is relevant to McDonalds.

How well do the machines work? How efficient/accurate?
As far as I can see, the Macca’s wall menu is completely lacking in detail. You can’t even tell how different burgers vary. And it’s hard to see what items they sell. The machines have everything categorised in sub-menus so you can browse easily. And there’s an option to customise each item, which allows you to see what the general ingredients are; you can even add and subtract them.

It’s also easy to see what is on special on the machines.

However, it can still be hard to find what you are looking for on the self-serve machines. Apparently, while some similar-seeming drinks are under the McCafe menu, others are under Drinks. I don’t think there’s a Search facility. And some flavours or options are missing.

Also missing is my “usual” order: a Keep Cup/coffee Refill, probably because the cup has to be taken to the counter with the order. I want to use my own cup and I want the 50c discount for doing so, and that can only be done at the counter. (Even then, 50% of staff don’t know that a Refill exists or where to find it on the register.)

NB. Most of this info is courtesy of my son who works at Maccas as a “Host”: the person who tries to get everyone to use the machines, serves tables, makes sure people are happy with their food etc. He isn’t impressed with the machines (due to the issues above), and while he will encourage and assist, he refuses to pressure anyone to use them.

And although he’s supposed to guide every customer to the machines, those he knows/thinks will pay with cash or have a discount card, he takes straight to the register.


Can’t comment as don’t frequent the place and don’t plan to in the future. I have only been into a Maccas twice over 25 years.


Only get a coffee and muffin or an iced coke once in a while at Macca’s, but I’ve noticed that they are doing table service.
Maybe they’d like to free the kids taking the orders so that table service can be done by those same ones?
BTW Our orders get entered by the assistant in the same machine system of the self service one,
but we are engaging someone who could be working at something more useful like cooking. ( That’s only until they find a way to make us cook our own order :wink: ).


Whether some of us choose to use Maccas or not, the self serve/order business model will not remain unique to that one food chain.

There are taxi booking apps that bypass the phone call and simply send a taxi based on your personal ID and location from GPS.

You can Uber online without talking to anyone.

And my GP attempts to redirect me to an online booking app every time I call to make an appointment.

I wonder how consumers who are not capable of adapting will be accommodated. And will consumer law be updated to ensure access needs to be available to all?

A business with few exceptions can’t refuse a cash payment, but can they turn away a customer who does not have the abilities to use the touch screen menu without error?

Doubtless MacDonalds regulars already know the menu by memory, and are just waiting for the SMS reminder to pop up on their mobile to advise them. You are only 2 minutes from a Maccas, turn left at the next set of lights. We can have your regular order ready when you arrive. Say ‘yes’ to confirm, and get a free upgrade to extra fries with your order.


Not a fan of the self serving machine…1) Because it’s not that easy to use and 2) i always use cash…The McDonald’s i go to have had the machines for a very long time you hardly ever see anyone using one.I wouldn’t be surprised at some point they are removed


Total waste of time. I suppose it saves them money in wages. Have noticed the cleanliness of some places has gone down. Bins not changed as regularly. Toilets are not clean, tables not wiped.


Not if the real purpose is about changing consumer behaviour. There is a whole industry and targeted sponsored research on how retailers + marketing target consumer behaviour. The ABC Gruen tv series is a great introduction.

I might be totally wrong in my guess at where Maccas is heading. The self ordering in store is just the first baby step. It is not a one off solution? It would be great to be proven wrong!


Some good points Mark.

The trend started a while ago with self-serve fuel and ATMs. Most banks still have a teller or two along with the ATM. But it’s rare to find a servo that’s not self-serve these days.

At the Macca’s where my son works, the goal is 35-40% of customers using the self-ordering machines. They seem to be aware that many customers won’t be able to use the machines.

I think you’re right that they are also planning to use the app as a perpetual advertising and reward system.


McDonalds self serve is a disaster. It freezes, crashes, it’s hard to navigate. Also, you still have to go to the counter and pay for your order so it’s redundant.

I like self-serve checkouts as a whole but McDonalds’ machines don’t even work properly enough to consider using.

I end up using them just to check the menu because the other thing McDonalds has ruined is the menus. There’s no “fixed” menu and it keeps getting interrupted with ads.


This happened to us the other day and a staff member did the order for us (we are oldies) and even she was having trouble. If they’re not careful they will start losing customers…………like us for a start !! We just couldn’t be bothered with all this stuff. Give me a person to talk to or I’m off.


Back in 2014, Maccas launched their “build your own burger” with franchisees having to fork out many tens of thousands of dollars for the terminals.

After the failed system was binned in 2018, the Australian vice president of operations claimed that most of the equipment had been repurposed.

Presumably this is part of the DIY order system instore, and no doubt the franchisees were milked again.

I wonder if the franchisees are all saying “I’m Loving it”?


Another reason not to go to Maccas!


Self serve at Maccas is totally annoying. Twice I’ve ordered something that was on the menu only to be told they don’t have it anymore. If you going to try and do self serve at least make sure it’s accurate.
McDonalds have always had a reputation for giving youngsters a start. I hope that will never change! I prefer to deal with a person.


I agree. We have used the McCafes recently and have also asked for a vegetarian burger. They offered to replace the ‘meat’ patty with a potato fritter, which was sort of OK. But it wasn’t on their list so the assistant who put it all in to the self-serve machine for us had to go to the counter and adjust the order. It would have been far quicker and less staff time if we had been allowed to go straight to the counter.

Then when we had paid they came to the table and said we had to pay for the fritter as it was extra!!! Not good Macca!


Even their mobile phone app doesn’t work on my phone.