As part of the Pokémon franchise's 25th anniversary celebration, fast food joint McDonald's is offering limited edition Pokémon cards with purchase of a Happy Meal. The Happy Meal, which also comes in a Pikachu-themed box, comes with a pack featuring four random cards. All 24 Starter Pokémon plus Pikachu are available in both "Regular" and "Foil" versions, resulting in a total of 50 cards for fans of the series to collect.
However, scalpers have been targeting McDonald's locations and purchasing Happy Meals in bulk in order to sell the limited edition Pokémon cards online. Packs of the cards are currently being sold on eBay and other online retail sites for prices ranging from $900 USD to as much as $1500 USD.
Angry customers and Pokémon fans are taking to social media, particularly Twitter, to criticize the fast food franchise's handling of the issue. They are asking McDonald's to limit how many Happy Meals each customer can purchase, as scalping is possible when single individuals are able to purchase hundreds of Happy Meals at once. Bulk boxes of cards are also being sold online by what are theorized to be McDonald's employees hoping to make a profit.
Collectible card-focused Twitter account Red Phoenix Sports Cards tweeted a warning at McDonald's, citing a similar situation which occurred when Canadian chain Tim Horton's offered hockey trading cards as a meal bonus.
@McDonalds @Pokemon I sure hope you do some form of inventory control for your promo Pokémon cards as some of your stock is being sold in sealed boxes which means they’re not even making it to your stores 😳 Though same thing happened with Tim Hortons Hockey too. Retail $1.99 😳 pic.twitter.com/kX8qZyRX2V
— redphoenixsportscards (@redphoenixcards) February 9, 2021
Some McDonald's locations have begun to take action in order to deter scalping efforts. They have done this by limiting Happy Meal customers to a certain number of boxes per day - typically three or five. However, some feel that the solution has come too late, as locations around the world are experiencing shortages of the Pokémon-themed meals only a few days after the promotion officially began.
Those few Pokémon Happy Meals not bought by scalpers can be found at select participating locations while supplies last.