When you go to a fast food joint, you’re not asking for much: a fast, filling meal at a decent price, and… that’s about it. But sometimes you don’t even get that. So the next time you hit up your local drive-thru for dinner, take a close look at your receipt. Here’s a look at some times that fast food restaurants cheated customers.
Burger King’s Croissan’wich
Burger King ended 2017 by settling a class action lawsuit claiming Maryland customers had been cheated for almost two years. The lawsuit was filed by Koleta Anderson of Maryland, who claimed customers who used a Buy One, Get One coupon for BK’s Croissan’wich were paying an inflated price. Anderson says when she used the coupon, she was charged $3.19 for a single sandwich. Without the coupon, she was charged $2.16 for the same sandwich. And this wasn’t a one time thing: she claimed that Burger King was intentionally hiking prices for people with the coupon, as she and her lawyer were similarly overcharged at several other locations BK denied there was any funny business going on…but they still settled the matter and agreed to hand out some $2 and $5 gift cards. That was nice of them.
McDonald’s Extra Value Meals
The whole point of ordering an Extra Value Meal is that it’s convenient and it’s cheaper than ordering the components individually. But a lawsuit filed in Illinois in 2016 alleged that’s not always the case. According to the Cook County Record, James Gertie filed the complaint when he realized he was paying more for his Extra Value Meal than the components would cost individually. The meal was $5.90, he said, while ordering two cheeseburgers, a medium fries, and a medium soft drink came to $5.49. Gertie told the Daily Herald it wasn’t the money that prompted the lawsuit. “It’s because of the principle, that’s the whole point of a ‘value’ meal. I believe in the principle of true advertising. If a company advertises something to be a value, then it should be.” As of early 2018, the case still hadn’t reached a verdict.
Chipotle’s big bragging point is fresh ingredients, as well as their claim that they’re a healthier dining choice than their competitors. But a class action lawsuit filed in California challenges those claims, alleging that Chipotle was tricking customers with incomplete information. The confusion came when diners looked at a menu board that showed a picture of the chorizo burrito, a summary of ingredients, and a note that claimed simply, “300 calories.” Fortune reported that Chipotle’s nutrition calculator actually gives you a total of 930 calories for just a chorizo burrito with white rice and black beans. Turns out, the 300 calories on the menu was just for the chorizo alone, with no other ingredients or fillings added. And that’s a problem for Chipotle, as California law requires restaurants to make complete nutritional information available to customers. So far, no resolution has been reached, though Chipotle has dropped chorizos in favor of queso.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ imposter ingredients
Everybody loves Dunkin Donuts, right? “Yeah I come to Dunkin everyday. Grab a ‘crolla, have an extra large, three Parliaments, take a big dump — that’s kinda the routine.” Well, okay, not everyone. In fact, in 2017, the Dunks was hit with three different lawsuits alleging bogus replacement ingredients. In April, a Massachusetts customer got a settlement out of a lawsuit filed against the coffee and donut chain claiming customers at a group of 20 locations were being served margarine or butter substitute, even if they asked for butter. Then, in June, a lawsuit in New York accused the company of using ground beef instead of steak in their steak-and-egg sandwiches. And in August, another class action lawsuit was filed claiming products labeled as “blueberry” didn’t contain any actual blueberries, and instead used sugary “flavored crystals.” “Time to make the donuts!” Sure, it might be time to make the donuts. The question is: make them with what? Hmm. “The best part of my day is when I’m at Dunkin. You think that’s sad?” “Yes, very.” “Real customers know, the holidays run on Dunkin.”
Jimmy Johns’ sprout fiasco
In 2014, a disgruntled customer sued Jimmy Johns because she didn’t get alfalfa sprouts — even though they were clearly listed on the menu. It turns out there was a pretty good reason: in 2012, there was an E. Coli outbreak traced to sprouts served at Jimmy Johns, among other places. Jimmy Johns responded by removing the item entirely from their meals, but didn’t alter their menus to reflect the change. Jimmy Johns denied any wrongdoing in the case of the missing alfalfa sprouts, but still settled and agreed to give unhappy customers a voucher for $1.40 that could be redeemed for any side item or soft drink… but not a side of sprouts.
McDonald’s fry cheat
If you think you’ve been shortchanged on your McDonald’s French fry order, there might beimmy Johns’ sprout a good reason for that, according to McDonald’s employees who posted on Reddit. “They say they would told to pinch the base of the cardboard carton so it would take fewer fries to make it look full.” Other employees confirmed the practice — and that customers occasionally called them out on it — but a McDonald’s representative told the Huffington Post no such policy exists. We’ll let our stomachs be the judge of that.
Subway’s great “footlong” debate
Finally, there’s the infamous case of the Subway Footlong. In 2013, a customer at a Subway in Australia posted a photo of his footlong sub next to a tape measure that showed it was only 11 inches long. The internet was not about to stand for that sort of thing, and a group filed a class action lawsuit against Subway. It turned out that the case of the disappearing inch was a result of how the bread baked, and since all loaves start from the same amount of dough, you’re guaranteed to get a particular amount of bread. In spite of that, the case was settled for $525,000 and that should have ended it. One sub-loving plaintiff refused to settle, however, and kept the case going. It wasn’t until August 2017 that the entire case was thrown out because…the judged deemed it to be really stupid. So, while you might not be getting exactly 12 inches of bread, the courts say you’re still getting your money’s worth. Just think about that before you stick your footlong in your mouth.