No more self-serving drinks at McDonalds—after 2032

McDonalds will eventually remove self-service soft drink stations in its restaurants, the company says, though you have another nine years to squirt your own Sprite: they can remain out until 2032. In a pure example of corporate doublespeak, the line is that ditching the self-service option is for customers' convenience.

"It's an evolution towards convenience and (the result of) the growth of digital service," said Mikel Petro, who with his wife and in-laws operate 15 McDonald's throughout central Illinois.

The McDonald's in Lincoln – one of Petro's restaurants – recently took the first baby step by having crew members fill dine-in customers' initial soft drink order, which is delivered to the table along with the meal.

Soft drinks are low-cost, high-margin, with clear tradeoffs between long- and short-term benefits by providing self-service refills. The plan is to serve the drinks with the meals but leave the machines out for free refills, for now. The machines disappear later, presumably on whatever schedule results from doing no maintenance, repairs or replacement. Looks like they realized they blew a chance to get rid of the machines during the pandemic, as a lot of non-chain restaurants did, but now it's obvious that the long-term aura of providing free refills is way less valuable than squeezing every penny out of the syrup bladders. They should auction them off like USPS is doing with the old mail trucks. Want a Grumman van with a million miles on it? Want your own covid fountain?