The Bug Costing McDonald’s $14M Per Month

Ashwin Singhania

Ashwin Singhania

Whether good for us or not, let’s be honest: we succumb to the inviting scent of McDonald’s fries every now and then. If you’re a golden arches fanatic, you might be one of the 50 million(!!) people who've downloaded their app to place orders.

Now imagine the frustration when, instead of modern technology delivering instant gratification in the form of those perfectly cooked deep-fried potatoes, the app gets stuck on a previous order and is unable to place a new one, as shared by a recent McDonald’s customer:

“For a little over a week now I haven't been able to use it. It says "looks like you have an order in progress. You can't start a new order until your current order is complete". I've tried to Uninstall and reinstall, but it hasn't changed.”

Your frustration wouldn’t be felt in isolation. Over 1,900 customers have complained about this exact bug, via app reviews, since it emerged a month ago in customer feedback (it’s April 12th, 2023 as of this article’s publish).

Not to worry though, McDonald’s, this is precisely why we built At Unwrap, we help companies like yours use AI to automatically analyze what your customers are saying, so you can spend less time digging through feedback manually, and more time building the things your customers love. We’ve been tracking your feedback and estimate this bug costs you somewhere in the range of $14M per month! Here’s what we learned:

It’s been going on for over a month

Unwrap listens to app feedback to detect emerging patterns. We first detected this issue March 9th, 2023, and it’s still streaming in consistently week after week.

Snapshot of the issue in McDonald's Unwrap preview page

It’s costing McDonald’s orders

Customers aren’t placing orders because of this bug. On April 10th, one app customer wrote:

“I would have to go in and cancel the previous order even though that order had already been paid for and picked up. Now McDonald's removed the "cancel" option, so I haven't been able to place an order since the beginning of March 2023. Please fix your app.”

From another customer on the same day:

"I have an order showing as pending, but it was canceled. It prevents me from placing new orders."

It’s costing McDonald’s a lot of money

We estimate this bug costs McDonald’s roughly $480K per day! Given we’ve seen it in feedback for over a month, that’s north of $14M in lost mobile orders! You can see our math and assumptions at the end of this article.

What’s the hold up?

At Unwrap, we work with many software companies and see these issues take a long time to get resolved, either because A) the team knows about it but the solution is complicated to build, or B) the product team isn’t aware the issue exists, or how large-scale it is.

Our guess is that this is a scenario B situation. Nearly 3 weeks into us detecting the issue, customers reporting this issue in the Google Play store are still getting a generic “Send us your feedback again” response, rather than a “We’re aware of this issue and we expect a fix soon”!

Unwrap can help

We get it. When you’re building products used by millions of people, it’s really really hard to stay on top of everything they are running into. Unwrap’s team is built of former Amazon Alexa product leaders who felt that same pain, and left Amazon to solve this very problem for other companies. 

So if you’ve made it this far and feel this same pain point in your role, or you work at McDonald’s and want to see what else Unwrap found your customers are saying, let’s chat! We’d love to help.

Finally, the math

If you’re curious how we got to the $14M figure, here’s how.

  • According to 2021 reporting, McDonald’s serves 69 million customers daily[1] globally, with about 32% of their stores in the US[2], so let’s assume ~22M daily US customers.
  • Conservatively, let’s assume 1% of daily order volume is via the mobile app - that’s still 220K orders daily. We couldn’t find data on mobile order share, this is our best guess.
  • McDonald’s averages $11 per order[3], so we estimate mobile orders total $2.42M per day in the US.
  • From Unwrap’s analysis, ~20% of mobile app reviews are complaining about this bug - if we assume that’s roughly proportional to the actual prevalence of this experience, that’s ~$480K per day, or $14.4M per 30 days.

 If you have better assumptions, send them over, and we’ll update ours!

[1] Chicago Tribune

[2] USA Today

[3] Bloomberg Second Measure

Ashwin Singhania

Ashwin is a Co-founder and the CPO of He brings 10 years of experience building consumer and enterprise software products. Before Unwrap, he led product teams building Amazon Alexa's question-and-answer experience and natural language AI technology. Despite Amazon's endless resources, Ashwin's teams struggled to efficiently translate distributed feedback from their millions of customers into data-driven insights, inspiring the solutions Unwrap delivers today. Prior to Amazon, Ashwin led product teams at a Santa Barbara-based technology startup, Graphiq, which was acquired by Amazon in 2017 to power Alexa. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from UC Santa Barbara.

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