The McDonald's '60 Second Promise': Check The Fine Print

I hated it when McDonald's in Australia started making everything "on the spot" and forcing you to stand around awkwardly, so the fact that signs promising food in 60 seconds or less have started to appear in Sydney restaurants seems promising. Unfortunately, you can only score a free cheeseburger under this deal at certain times of day.

The poster gives huge prominence to the '60 second promise', but it's only when you look closely that you find this only applies over lunch:

All things considered, I'd rather get my food fast than a free cheeseburger and a delay, but it rankles when these terms and conditions are concealed in small print. That would never be acceptable for an ISP offering an "unlimited" deal. It's also evident this isn't a permanent change, dammit.

Anyone spotted these elsewhere around the country? Are the hours always the same? Let us know in the comments.


    the fact that you wrote this article and the points you attempt to make in it, indicates to me that you are a part of everything thats wrong with this world.

      So Holocaust deniers, anti-vaccine campaigners, bigots and corrupt politicians don't rank highly for you, do they?

      The man just wants free burgers!

        Fuck the important shit! People wanting burgers are obviously scum! lol

    I scored a free Cheeseburger the other day.
    Order took 72 seconds.
    They didn't mention it, so I thought maybe they didn't want to bring attention to it, but there was a voucher in my bag.
    The voucher has it's own restrictions - have to use it before 30th of June 2013.

    "I hated it when McDonald’s in Australia started making everything “on the spot” and forcing you to stand around awkwardly"
    Seriously???? That was one of the best choices they EVER made.

      Damn right. Making everything on the spot fresh is the best thing they've done. No stale burgers sitting under heatlamps any more for hours congealing and getting salmonella.

      If you want that shit you just go to a cheap-ass fifth rate burger joint in a food court.

        That's just not true bro. They didn't leave them there for hours, and anything resembling that would have been a massive breach of company policy. The time limit is measured in minutes and surprisingly not that many minutes. The old policy was perfectly manageable with good production strategy. I don't remember the burgers being stale, in fact the first thing I looked for when the change came in was an increase in burger quality. There was no appreciable increase.

        Before the 'made for you' switch, waiting for your order at McDonald's was a very rare exception. Now it is simply expectation.

        The time it took me to ever get a stale burger replaced is nothing compared to the time I've lost waiting for my order in a McDonald's.

          You and I have had vastly different experiences then. Around the year 1996, Brisbane City Macdonalds in the Myer center, they used to do the old 'lineup' of burgers. They'd premake them and they'd sit under there. I bought a Quarter Pounder and ate it. I started feeling sick around half an hour later and thought I had contracted the flu.

          Three hours later I woke up in intensive care in the Mater Hospital, said burger had been sitting under the heat lamps for hours. I had contracted food poisoning due to the cheese itself congealing. Surprisingly not the meat, but the cheese itself. I never got to finish my burger and one of my friends brought it with them, Go figure that out. All I can figure is that burger had been passed over again and again, I don't think it was a regular occurence and I really don't think it was a common thing to happen at Maccas, but the fact is, it obviously did happen. It does point out one of the major flaws of the reheated food/foodlamp habits in fast food. By keeping food warm perpetually, you encourage bacterial growth, which happened to me. Luckily no harm came to me asides a major case of the runs and a severely sore stomach, it's why not many restaraunts like their food sitting under heat lamps for long and one of the reasons why McDonalds switched to making food fresh rather than premaking. Food poisoning is bad for business. So it is true bro, it is true.

          Last edited 17/06/13 1:48 pm

            Beyond your story being an exception, I have nothing bad to say about it. I don't doubt it happened. I don't doubt it sucked. And I don't doubt that it should be held up as poor practices. I say to you as the victim of that that I think that what happened is not right and you deserved recompense.

            Even McDonald's which often is shown in independent testing to have some of the cleanest, most hygienic, and OH&S well run businesses (due to very strong national criterion), is going to have an example where there's a mess up.

            HAHA I swear I'm not a shill for Macca's!

            I'm thinking yours must have been contaminated in some way because usually you can let them sit there and the only bad thing is the taste. Salmonella is a contamination, not something that happens inherently under heat lamps. It's something that loves heat lamps though. Made for You doesn't really solve this problem though. Whether it was congealed cheese or some sort of contamination I have no idea. It did happen though I believe you and that's all that matters for this.

            Macca's brought in Made for You for marketing reasons and for inventory handling reasons (to lessen wasted stock). Regarding the latter, with proper management, it's not necessary. Regarding the former... well people like that I guess. It happened during a time when McDonald's was feeling very insecure what with Super Size Me etc.

            Last edited 17/06/13 2:42 pm

              There's zero issues I have with Maccas these days asides preparation quality lol. I once got a burger with the meat on the bottom and the two buns together. I still to this day can't figure that one out. Maybe the prep guy was stoned. Who knows.

              My sister (not biological, just a very close family friend) is a manager of a maccas across the road from us and her store in Qld consistently ranks amongst the best Qld stores in terms of hygeine and staff quality in their internal surveys. External surveys in recent years found the same.

              As far as recompense goes, I met with the Manager of Brisbane once to talk about it, he (quite a nice bloke back then too) asked me outright if I was considering it and I said no, I didn't see the point. He said coporate knew what had happened and were prepared to meet with me. I was lucky in that all I truly ended up with was the runs and a sore stomach, nothing long lasting. I did however stress it would depend on what was going on, he told us back then that things were changing, policies etc and that what happened to me would not happen again under his management, to my knowledge it hasn't since, as the Myer Center Macdonalds (both of them, infact I THINK all the Brisbane ones are corporate and not franchise? There's like 200 maccas in brisbane within 300 meters now lol.)

              Either way, my family has never been one for court action or recompense, we get on with life. My ex and I have never been to court over our child, we worked stuff out. I ended up getting discount Maccas under the Myer center for roughly the next year or so til he left the place. It didn't turn me off and I knew it was a rarity, but I also asked for my burgers to be made while I was there lol.

              No preparation method is perfect as per se, steaks can be thawed, refrozen and thawed again which leads to a world of issues, fish can sit out too long and even the oil for chips can go 'rotten' in a restaraunt that proclaims all 'fresh food', but some preparation methods are abused from time to time by people who don't understand their uses, heatlamps being a primary one, and when they are, people can end up suffering.

              Besides, all those 50% discount lunches and occasionally free ones were worth it in the end ;) lol we really abused that privilige from time to time!

                The stoner burger (meat below the buns) made me laugh.

                Yeah I definitely didn't mean legal action. That should always be a last resort and great to hear you and the corp sorted it out. I agree with all you said there.

    I hated it when McDonald’s in Australia started making everything “on the spot”. I know, right? I mean, how dare they try and offer you freshly made food!

      Personally, I loved the mayonnaise soaked buns and patties encased in congealed drippings.

    Maybe they should take a little longer and try and make it look like the photo's....

    How about just getting the order right. Waterloo macca's get there orders wrong %75 of the time or %100 if it is lunch on a Saturday..

      Must be something in the water at Waterloo. mate.

      I love how they wave through everyone in the drive thru to park up and wait, then they give everyone the wrong order :/

      Last edited 12/06/13 11:49 pm

    I agree Angus - the move to cooking something only when it's ordered sucks. I don't want to wait either - when I ask for a quarter pounder I want the cashier to turn around and grab one, not have to hang around waiting for it to be cooked.

    After all we're only talking about fast food! Making it fresh only means it will be very slightly less crappy when we eat it. Not worth the wait.

      I'd rather wait a couple of minutes for a hot fresh burger and fries than something that's been sitting around for up to 45 minutes.

    lol i got the same ticket probably from the same sydney restaurant ... but to be totally honest i was expecting this ...i remember oportos in the city were doing something similar but their was with "24 hours"

    The term cooking is a misnomer... McDonalds cooks very little on the spot... they do however assemble on the spot.

      the meat paddy, is sitting in a draw near the assemblers spot, you can see them open them and pull the "meat" out at times, also when they actually do "cook" more like heat them they put them in these draws.

        Having worked at McDonald's, they cook them on two-platen grills. Basically two hotplates pressing together over the meat. The meat starts off frozen raw and a set time later, it is cooked through. For beef, at least, the chicken (especially seared) is somewhat different. Then it's seasoned and stacked in the draws, which are heated and timed. After the timer runs out the product is (meant to be) thrown out.

          Being a current employee of McDonalds, I can tell you this is exactly what happens. And also if you request it we will actually 'cook' everything fresh. The premade meat/chicken/fish is a compromise between speed and freshness (because certain chicken products can take upwards of 5 minutes to cook, and customers get grumpy when it takes that long).
          Also pro tip: Listen for kitchen staff yelling "Waiting On" and a meat or chicken thing, that means they're out and you'll be waiting longer. It also means it will be cooked fresh.

            Dumb question I've always wanted to ask a Macca's employee:

            Do you ever eat the stuff that's getting thrown out? Or is it actually too dry/risky once the timer runs out?

              Its against the store policy. Or staff would always cook 'extra' just to eat later.

    They did a promotion like this back in the 70's or 80's, except if they didn't have it ready, your whole order was free. My dad used to always order a fillet o fish, cos they NEVER have them pre-made

    A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at McDonald's at Wynyard station for a snack on my way home after leaving a function with an open bar and saw the sign. I didn't seriously care about the free burger but being in a bit of a state I whipped out my iPhone and started a timer from the moment the transaction went through. Had a completely fresh big mac and fries to me in 42 goddamn seconds.

    The only problem I have with the whole waiting around thing with the new fast set up is that people crowd around the counter and get in the way rather than moving off to the side and coming back when their order is ready. Is it really that hard to get out of the way for about 60 seconds? It's not like someone else is going to steal your lunch. /rant

    As for the free cheeseburger; small print is annoying, but a free burger is a free burger (that is, when you order within the appropriate times...).

      I also hate the crowd that forms. It's bad at Macquarie Centre. Some, like Waterloo have a ticketing system, which is a more civilised affair.

    whats the deal with breakfast and cooked to order ? I got a breakfast at the drive though a few weeks back at Nunawading in Victoria and got served the a terrible mostly cold congealed McMuffin. Meat was barely cold and the same with the egg.
    Unfortently half way to work before i started eating it and realised. Didn't finish half of it and of course got a terrible case case of food poisoning.
    How can that happen in this day and age and what should you do about it ? about 95% sure it was the McDonalds.
    Are you supposed to go in there a day later and say you gave me terrible diarrhea and i want a refund ?

    Kind of put me off for life.

      Eggs are pre-cooked and so are the sausage patties. Also the muffins are toasted ahead of time and also sit in a warmer. When you order the muffin they assemble it then, But if its a slow day and staff dont throw stuff out when the timers run out, then you can end up with a stale muffin thats been in a warmer for 1hr +

    I'm not sure if it was Australia wide or just a W.A. thing, but i do recall a few years ago that you got a voucher for a free Big Mac if your drive through order took longer than 2 minutes (I think. Maybe 3?). That didn't seem to last longer than a few months though. I'm pretty sure they gave out a massive amount of those vouchers. I wonder how long this cheeseburger one will last in Sydney?

    Judging by the number of comments on this, there must be quite a number of morbidly obese Lifehacker readers. Thanks to you chumps, there is going to be even more articles published about fast food published here.... agh

      Not morbidly obese. I just live the life of a champion and so put the calories and nutrients to good use.

    In Minnesota, United states the signs are posted for 30 seconds or less with print larger stating the hours of validation. Australian scum mcdonalds you're doing it wrong. Also I waited 45 seconds and I got a 1 dollar coupon to spend on anything there.

    Half of the time that's because people pull into the wrong waiting bay.

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