My friend didn't charge me at McDonald's?

I went to order a smoothie at McDonald’s, and my friend was the cashier at the drive-thru. I gave him my debit card, and then he gave it back, and said, “You got a free drink.” I just drove away. I looked at the receipt and did indeed see that he rang the order up under cash and made it look like I paid with cash. His drawer, I imagine, would be short at the end of the night unless he knows how to refund it. Did I do anything wrong? I didn’t know what to do in that situation.

You didn’t intentionally sin, other than possibly going to McDonalds.

I’d say you could always go back without the receipt and give them the amount they’d be short so they cannot pin it on your friend, but to clear your conscience, if you felt so obliged.

Your friend paid for your drink – we don’t have to pay people back when they give us gifts.
Just thank him next time you see him.

Well, no. Unless you recognized the problem and had time to respond appropriately to it and failed to do so.

Much of the time we find ourselves in “hit and run” situations, where a new experience is happening to us and we don’t know how to anticipate it and the moment slips away to rectify it.

Was what your friend did a sin? I don’t know, I’ve done it many times. Maybe it is, these favors we do.

It’s not done with a malevolent intent, but ultimately it is fraudulent. Even when I don’t personally have a problem with something, lately I’ve taken it upon myself to attempt to be “above rebuke” in all things, as often as I can. Which means, doing things right. Again, your friend is just trying to be nice, and I’ve done it many times before, but it is defrauding a company (it’d be different if he was the owner) so next time just insist on paying.

I don’t believe you’re in mortal sin over that. (Edit: for the record, I don’t believe your friend is in mortal sin over that either! Enjoy your smoothie and just pay for the next one)

Maybe your friend bought you a drink. Give him the benefit of doubt. When I worked in a deli I would do that for friends, not expecting a thanks or anything. Chalk it up to a random act of kindness.

well, it certianly wouldn’t be fraudulent if the friend paid for it instead. which we’re just going to assume they did unless told otherwise. i would think that the person working there would know that the cash would be short at the end of the night and would make up for it themselves with their own money if they plan on doing something nice for a friend.

How do you know he didn’t actually pay for the drink?

I worked at McD in my teenage years. We received training in not giving away anything to friends, with threats of immediate termination if we did such a thing (OH NO - I got fired from McDonalds!).

But this would usually be an entire order. It would be easy for a cashier to pretend to “take” an order (ie, pretend to enter it into the register) and assemble the food and give it to a friend without collecting any money. Or, better yet, to take an order but only ring up one small item (in which case, money would be transacted, but less than it should be). Only someone carefully watching the whole transaction would be any wiser. This assumes the store has a “bin” where common items are pre-cooked and available for immediate sale.

It would be VERY difficult for a cashier to give away only one item unless the item was never entered into the register’s transaction. This always would require a manager’s keycard (it’s called an over-ring). Otherwise, the cashier’s drawer would be short (but, of course, the cashier could put the money in the drawer himself).

One thing is for sure, you did not do anything wrong. (And it is not a sin to buy something from McDonalds.) As said earlier in this thread, your friend bought you the drink and most likely he/she did give you the receipt in case someone would wonder if you did pay for it or not. You have a good friend, be happy for that and don’t worry about it.

You did nothing wrong because you really have no idea what your friend did. He may have simply bought you a drink. (Although if he did, that’s against McDonald’s policy. Employees are not allowed to move money into or out of their own wallets while they are working the cash register…)

I can say, unless your friend is a manager, he most likely did not simply refund the order (entering a refund into the cash register requires a manager’s password and key).

You did nothing wrong, and I wouldn’t worry about it.

OTOH, there was likely an issue on your friend’s part. Typically major fast food chains don’t allow their employees to give away things, though the owner of the franchise could theoretically do that since it is his/her money. Managers are likely to have more latitude. Even then, it’s usually due to appeasing a customer; e.g., the customer’s soda was flat so the customer was given a new soda with complementary fries. Or at night if there is leftover food it might be allowed to be given away rather than thrown out.

I think your friend just gave you a gift. If there was a receipt for it that showed it was paid for, it means it’s in their system, and he will have to make up the money himself when his drawer is short at the end of the shift. Nothing was stolen and nobody sinned.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit