In a move that has raised many eyebrows on social media, McDonald’s and the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria, have partnered to help Americans stranded abroad.
Tourists can now go to any of the 194 McDonald’s in Austria and be given a round-the-clock number to contact the U.S. Embassy, as well as a phone to make the call, if necessary.
The partnership, announced on May 10, became active on Wednesday. But it received a mixed reaction online, where users were quick to pan the U.S. for partnership with the fast food brand, which has been associated with rising obesity levels.
“Can I have a McPassport please,” wrote one Facebook user.
“Introducing the McVisa!” wrote another – in a comment that received 50 likes and “haha” reactions on Facebook. Some others were more supportive: “Thank you, I wish more countries/businesses would be willing to help others in this way!” one person wrote.
Others raised questions of confidentiality of private information. When one user asked whether the agreement might be a precursor to the actual U.S. embassy in Vienna shutting down, the official account replied: “Certainly not. Our Embassy is fully staffed and ready to assist American citizens in need. This partnership is only one extra way for Americans to connect to the Embassy when they are in an emergency situation.”
A State Department official told TIME: “The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens overseas … As part of our commitment to assisting U.S. citizens in need overseas, from time to time we work with private-sector and other non-government entities. Through this program, U.S. citizens in distress can enter any McDonald’s in Austria and be provided with a way to contact the U.S. Embassy by phone.”
A McDonald’s representative said the company was not being paid to offer the service, the New York Times reported.
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