Fast food is a guilty pleasure that most of us want sometimes, or a lot of the time. Greasy, delicious, deep-fried, cheap and easy to access, fast food definitely fills a need in the marketplace. We grab it on the go, when we’re in our cars. We grab it over the counter at McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and so many other places. These days, we may even order it from Uber Eats. Maybe it’s not always so good for us (most people don’t order salads), but we buy it anyway. Most fast food chains operate with integrity. They give their customers exactly what they ordered, for the prices listed. Others are a little shadier when it comes to delivering on their promises.
Numerous fast food chains have gotten complaints that they’ve cheated their customers. Some have been taken to court. While all of the complaints haven’t been proved, some of them did turn out to be legit and they hurt the reputations of the restaurants involved. Today, we’re going to share information about the top 10 fast food restaurants that straight up cheat customers. They may not do it all of the time, but it’s happened, and some of the scandals triggered by this type of dubious business conduct have been massive. We’ll be covering fast food scandals from the past to the present day.
Even people who are way out of the loop have probably heard about the Taco Bell beef scandal. This scandal was centered on the fact that Taco Bell adds fillers to its beef. If you want to learn more about the seamy underbelly of the fast food industry, where the desire to make a quick buck often trumps everything else, including business ethics, be sure to read on. We’re going to share a lot of juicy details about juicy fried chicken, cheeseburgers, burritos, Burger King Croissan’wiches and other popular forms of quick cuisine. Are the shady dealings going to turn you off fast food forever? Probably not.
10. Burger King Had A Croissan’wich Scandal
In May of 2017, according to the Fox News website and plenty of other media sources, Burger King got called to the carpet for offering the public a scammy type of coupon deal for its delectable Croissan’wiches. The deal promised two-for-one sandwiches. It promised big savings. However, there was a problem. Burger King had jacked up the price of the coupon Croissan’wich, so people who used the coupon were paying $3.19 for the two-for-one deal (the price of one sandwich), rather than the regular price for one Croissan’wich, which is $2.16.
By adding a dollar and three cents to the price of the coupon Croissan’wich, Burger King could minimize profit loss from the two-for-one deal, while also gathering goodwill from its customers. That is, as long as nobody noticed. But somebody did notice. A resident of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, named Koleta Anderson, spotted the scam and then took legal action. She decided that class-action litigation was the best way to punish Burger King for cheating her, under the guise of offering her a superb deal on fast food.
She probably would never have noticed the price-gouging if she hadn’t craved a third Croissan’wich. When she ordered the third one, one top of the two-for-one deal, she realized something was wrong. After she spent some time mulling things over, she began doing research at other Burger Kings, to see if the same price-gouging was happening at other locations. It was. At one other Burger King, she paid over four bucks for the two-for-one deal, when it was possible to buy a Croissan’wich with sausage, without the coupon, for only a single dollar.
Burger King VIPs denied any shady dealings, but still settled the lawsuit. Burger King provided customers who’d been cheated by the Croissan’wich coupon deal with five bucks, or gift cards with values of two dollars (special conditions applied) which could be used to get more Burger King grub. The two-for-one promotion ran from 2015 to 2017.
9. McDonald’s May Be Shortchanging You on French Fries
McDonald’s is a mammoth player in the fast food game and the burger emporium’s business practices have come under fire more than once. A lot of people believe that McDonald’s is cheating customers by using tricks which cloak the fact that customers just aren’t getting as many French Fries as they should be. Kind of outrageous, isn’t it? You know that you want those fries, and as many of them as you can get! Apparently, a former employee has spilled the beans online about a questionable practice known as “pinching French Fry cartons”. When they are pinched while they are being filled, they hold fewer fries than they would if they were not pinched.
According to the Thisisinsider.com website, one former McDonald’s worker used Reddit to let the world know that management shared the inside scoop on how to do the pinching process while adding fries. The former fast food worker said that one customer noticed what was happening and complained. This unhappy customer put the fries in a paper bag, and then added them to the carton again…and they only filled fifty percent of it. McDonald’s officially denies the French Fry carton pinching stuff. If you feel you’re getting shortchanged on golden, greasy, salty fries, pour them into your take-out bag, make sure that the carton isn’t pinched and then put them back in. If you notice a problem, complain.
Another issue with Mickey D’s is the fact that customers have accused the company of false advertising for its Extra Value Meals. However, according to the Globe & Mail website, this isn’t actually happening. A class-action lawsuit related to this matter was tossed out of court by a Chicago judge. The lawsuit was filed because people believed that McDonald’s was cheating customers by offering Extra Value Meals which were more expensive than what they’d pay if they bought each component of their meals separately. The judge tossed the case because prices for everything are easy for customers to see before they order. Nonetheless, in some cases, the price of extra value meals was higher than the cost of buying all of the components, rather than a combo. People tend to hear “Extra Value Meal” and think they’re going to save money, so it does seem a bit shady.
On a slightly different note, a former McDonald’s worker sued the fast food chain for the weight gain that he experienced while he was working there. Free lunches were offered to staff and he ballooned up. He won the lawsuit.
8. Chili’s Has Been Accused of Watering Down Their Cocktails
Do you like to enjoy frosty cocktails at Chili’s, such as salty and tangy Margaritas during Happy Hour? If so, you may not be aware that this sit-down restaurant (ok, it’s not genuine fast food, but it’s fairly fast) has been accused of watering down its boozy beverages! At the Trend-chaser website, a Chili’s employee accused the restaurant chain of diluting the alcohol in its drinks, for the purpose of making more money. While this is one person’s version of events, there’s always the possibility that it may be true.
In the Internet Age, employees definitely expose some restaurant industry secrets anonymously. The trick is figuring out which ones are true and which ones aren’t. It has to be said that Chili’s has never been formally charged with watering down the drinks, but another competitor of the Tex-Mex restaurant did get busted for doing so. TGI Friday’s got a whopping half-million dollar fine for doing it.
The next time you hit a family restaurant for a quick bite to eat and a cool cocktail, you may want to ask yourself, “Is this drink as strong as what I’m used to getting”?” The source for this information about Chili’s never revealed his or her name. The article was called, “Confessions of a Chili’s Employee” and it featured lots of juicy tidbits about the restaurant and its business practices, some of which were frankly a bit gross. To be fair, there are similar articles out there about almost every big-time fast food chain or family restaurant.
7. Does Chipotle Fib About Calorie Counts?
Remember that episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry and Elaine started feasting on “no-fat” frozen yogurt, only to discover that was loaded with calories? They gained weight, and, as always with Seinfeld, it was hilarious. Well, Chipotle has been accused of deceiving its customers about the calorie count in its food, just like the frozen yogurt shop owner deceived Jerry and Elaine. According to the L.A. Times website,Chipotle was taken to court because it claimed to sell a three hundred calorie burrito, which actually had way more calories.
The burrito in question sold for just over seven bucks and it was a sausage burrito. A lot of people probably ordered it because they figured that going for a low-calorie option was a healthy, weight-conscious decision. However, some customers who chose this Chipotle menu option felt that the Chorizo Burrito was heavier that what they’d expect from a three hundred calorie food item. They became suspicious. After doing some digging, three guys from Los Angeles decided to sue Chipotle in 2016.
The problem with the calorie count is that it didn’t include any fillings but the Chorizo sausage itself. When other standard burrito fillings were added, the calorie count for the burrito might surge as high as over one thousand! Chris Arnold from Chipotle has stated that the calorie count was only for the sausage. Chipotle’s team of lawyers can probably work through this obstacle, but Chipotle has had other problems, including the whole E.coli thing.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts Subs Real Butter for Margarine
Should Dunkin’ Donuts be using real butter on its bagels, rather than margarine? One customer thought so and he sued the company, according to a story at the Boston Globe website. The unhappy customer, who felt cheated out of genuine butter, is Jan Polanik. He’s from Worcester, USA. He was mad because he was ordering bagels at Dunkin’ Donuts and getting butter substitute instead of the real thing. He says he requested butter when he ordered.
Dunkin’ Donuts settled, so the guy who sued got money. He exposed the big butter substitute deception. The money wasn’t too extreme. It was five hundred bucks. When Polanik felt cheated and became a representative of the class-action lawsuit, up to fourteen hundred other people who’d also ordered butter and gotten butter substitute were in line for settlements. The lawsuit was against a range of franchise owners of various Dunkin’ Donuts outlets.
The butter for Jan’s bagel cost him 25 cents. So, what’s the settlement for the other 1,400 people? Well, they were given permission to get up to a trio of bagels, muffins or other baked goods with butter on top, from their choice of twenty-three Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Massachusetts. Dunkin’ Donuts stores involved in the lawsuit needed to refrain from serving butter substitutes for a year and then revise their menus to ensure that they were accurate.
5. KFC Got Sued for False Advertising
One woman who went to KFC for a big family bucket of chicken was inspired to do so because of an ad she’d seen, that showed a bucket loaded with chicken. When KFC staff handed her the bucket that she ordered, she said it didn’t look anything like the ad. The chicken didn’t hit the top of the bucket like in the advertisement, and she doubted that she could feed her brood with the chicken pieces inside.
Disappointed and feeling duped, she decided to sue the fast food chain. Her suit was dismissed, but that doesn’t mean that the ads we see for fast food are always perfect representations of what we’re going to get. Sometimes, there are smoke and mirrors and people do end up feeling misled. On the flip side, there are nuisance lawsuits out there and people will try to game the system sometimes. It’s really up to the courts to decide which fast food chains are cheating customers, through false advertising or other means, and which ones aren’t. Ultimate, the decisions of the courts stand, and the court sided with KFC over this issue.
Instead of asking, “Where’s the beef?”, this grandmother asked, “Where is the chicken?”. The name of the woman who sued KFC is Anna Wurtzburger. In an interview with The Washington Post, she spoke of her disappointment after receiving a bucket of chicken that just didn’t meet her expectations. While she wasn’t destined to win her lawsuit, she did get a goodwill gift from the fried chicken retailer, which included an apology and a couple of gift certificates. She sent it all back. Asking for twenty million bucks was a bold move which was perhaps doomed to fail. That’s a ton of money over a bucket of chicken.
4. Taco Bell Had to Answer for Its “Mystery Meat”
The Internet practically broke when people discovered that Taco Bill was filling its tasty menu items with beef that contained a host of other ingredients. Lots of customers felt cheated when they learned that the fast food chain was adding a bunch of stuff to its beef, including Torula Yeast, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrin, modified corn starch and more.
What was really shocking wasn’t the fact that filler was added. That’s not such a big surprise, although it is disappointing. What freaked people out is that the lawsuit claimed that only thirty-five percent of Taco Bell’s “beef” was actually beef, according to the Fox News website. The lawsuit over the beef deception came from a law firm based in Alabama, which complained that the extenders and binders in the beef meant that it didn’t meet government guidelines for marketing a food product as beef. According to legal papers for the lawsuit, sixty-five percent of the beef mixture was filler, including water, color and the ingredients that we already talked about.
The lawsuit was filed for a woman from California, who is named Amanda Obney. She didn’t want money from her suit. She wanted Taco Bell to be honest about what it is selling to consumers. The lawsuit was eventually withdrawn, and Taco Bell says that it got a raw deal, because its “beef” is actually 88 percent beef.
3. Are Jumbo Jack Burgers a Ripoff?
In 2014, a man named Michael Shames claimed that fast food chain, Jack in the Box, was cheating its customers. He filed a lawsuit in summer of that year, which named a dozen of the fast food restaurant’s franchisees. Shames’ lawsuit was centered on the fact that Jumbo Jack burgers cost more when they are ordered from the Value Menu than they do when ordered as part of combo meals. Shames says that ordering a Jumbo Jack from the Value Menu and requesting cheese on top means getting gouged for an extra ten to twenty-five cents. The lawsuit stated that the fast food company could be doing this on purpose or be unaware of the price difference.
The problem is that most people are unlikely to notice that they are paying more for Jumbo Jacks with cheese when they order them from the Value Menu. When you consider the amount of customers that roll through Jack in the Box restaurants every day and night, you’ll realize that the extra money that the fast food chain makes from Value Menu Jumbo Jacks really adds up. After a long legal battle, the suit was dismissed two years later. Bear in mind that huge fast food chains have significant legal firepower at their disposal. They are huge corporations, after all.
2. Arby’s Served a Sandwich That Contained a Horrible Surprise
Sometimes, it’s not about what you don’t get with your fast food meal. Sometimes, it’s about what you do get, and this type of unwanted add-on may be a real gross-out. Someone sued Arby’s after claiming that a piece of human flesh was inside of a sandwich from the fast food chain. That is really gross, isn’t it? So, here’s what happened…
In 2005, David Scheiding filed suit against Arby’s, asking for fifty grand because he found a portion of skin on a sandwich. He’d rejected a settlement offer from the parent company that owns Arby’s. He had visited an Arby’s in Tipp City and that was when he bit into his chicken sandwich and found a horrible “add on”. This extra topping was a section of human flesh measuring seventy-five percent of an inch. Apparently, this customer was telling the truth and didn’t get the service and quality that he deserved. He was cheated out of a good fast food meal. After an investigation, it was determined that a manager at the restaurant was wearing a band-aid on one thumb, under a latex glove, when he did food prep for the restaurant. He accidentally tore skin off his thumb while he was preparing lettuce. After the accident, he cleaned up the area, but didn’t dispose of the lettuce. He was unaware that skin was in there.
1. Don’t Go Over Four Toppings at Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s may be a little different from most fast food chains, but it’s still a very convenient place to grab take-out or order from. Domino’s employees work fast. If you’ve ordered a pizza from Domino’s and stared at the online tracker, you know that it’s almost unbelievable how quickly they get food to their customers. So, in that sense, they do fit the fast food category. According to a Domino’s insider who shared information with the Joe.co.uk website, Domino’s cheats its customers by shortchanging them of toppings if they order more than four toppings. Apparently, when you order more than four toppings, the company starts getting stingier with the amounts of toppings that it adds to its pizzas. You get less of all of the toppings.
So, keep this in mind the next time you want to load a pizza with toppings. Maybe stick with four toppings or less to get the standard amounts of each topping. Overall, Domino’s does seem to be a very professional outfit, but every fast food chain or other type of restaurant gets some complaints. The same insider did report that Domino’s puts a high premium on cleanliness, which is nice. According to the insider, an alert sounds every half hour, which is a reminder to staff to wash their hands.