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McDonald’s cashless move sparks backlash among some customers

McDonald’s restaurants in Melbourne’s east and south are now asking customers to use cashless payment methods.

McDonald’s customers are threatening to boycott the popular fast food chain, after some of its outlets made the move towards cashless payments.

Some customers in Melbourne’s east and south have noticed signs popping up at their local McDonald’s telling them only card payments will be accepted during certain hours, or that card payments are the preferred form of payment.

“Due to recent incidents, this restaurant is operating with minimal cash on site. We appreciate your assistance in using cashless payment methods if possible,” reads a sign at one McDonald’s store.

McDonald's and cashless payments sign displayed in drive-through.
McDonald's and cashless payments sign displayed in drive-through. (Source: Facebook/Getty)

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“For the ongoing safety of our staff and customers, we will NO LONGER accept cash payments between midnight and 6:00am,” another sign at McDonald’s in Victoria’s Springvale says.

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One unhappy customer posted a photo of the sign, writing: “Boycott this Macca’s … I don't come here that regularly but I have been for years and only seen this today [for the] first time.

“I instantly questioned them why? They say because they were robbed… Either way I don't care I'm paying cash regardless.”

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McDonald's cashless payment signs
McDonald's customers have shared photos of the signs asking for cashless payments online. (Source: Facebook/Cash is King - Support Australian Businesses That Accept All Legal Tender/Cash is King Australia)

McDonald’s responds

Yahoo Finance understands only selected restaurants in Melbourne’s east and south are being impacted by the change and, while cashless payments are preferred, the outlets are still accepting cash if that is the only payment method available.

“The safety and well-being of our people and customers is our top priority,” a McDonald’s spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“In response to recent incidents, McDonald’s restaurants in Melbourne’s east and south have implemented a number of proactive safety measures to ensure the ongoing protection of our people and customers. This includes asking customers to use cashless payment methods where possible.

“We would like to thank our customers for their assistance and understanding as we continue to prioritise safety in our restaurants.”

While the move has outraged some customers, others have agreed that safety should come first for staff and customers, and others noted the stores weren’t completely cashless.

“To be fair, that’s not unreasonable for safety,” one person wrote.

“Fair enough. They are just protecting their young workers. The majority of the time (6am to midnight) they accept cash. If they get rid of it totally, boycott them then,” another said.

“It's not like they don’t accept cash at all,” another added.

KFC outlets go cashless

McDonald’s isn’t the only fast food chain to take a step back from cash. A handful of KFC stores in New South Wales - including in Morisset, Lakehaven and North Wyong - are now only accepting card or digital payments.

A KFC spokesperson said that move was “at the discretion of our franchise partners and is in line with legal requirements”. All cashless restaurants display signage explaining what payment methods are accepted.

Cashless KFC restaurant
A handful of KFC stores in New South Wales are now only accepting card or digital payments. (Source: Facebook/Old Shops Australia)

While the move has divided opinions, it is actually entirely legal, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“Businesses can choose which payment types they accept. It is legal for a business to specify the terms and conditions that they will supply goods and services. This includes whether they will accept cash payment,” the ACCC website says.

“Businesses should be clear and upfront about the types of payments they accept, and the total minimum price payable for their goods and services.”

The use of cash for payments has dropped over recent years as Aussies switch to digital payment methods. According to Reserve Bank data, the share of consumer payments using cash plunged from 70 per cent in 2007 to just 13 per cent last year.

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