Wendy’s ‘surge-pricing’ strategy scrubbed after viral backlash

Feb 28, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: 12:41 pm

FILE - A sign stands over a Wendy's restaurant . (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)...

FILE - A sign stands over a Wendy's restaurant . (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Wendy’s is backing off plans for Uber-like “surge pricing” after backlash from customers.

In an updated statement, the fast-food restaurant says it has no plans for surge pricing, despite its CEO telling shareholders — during an earnings call less than two weeks ago — it would begin testing more enhanced features of its new AI menu boards, like “dynamic pricing.”

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Dynamic pricing would allow restaurants to quickly raise prices in reaction to rush hour or inclement weather.

Conversely, prices could drop during off-peak hours. In the new statement, Wendy’s insisted it has no plans to “raise prices when our customers are visiting us most.”

The idea of surge pricing was widely panned by Seattlites that KIRO Newsradio spoke to on their lunch breaks.

“It would be confusing,” Ravi Iyer said. “It seems a little bit opportunistic.”

“I think it sounds like price gouging,” Jordan Klakamp said.

Tom Munro said he didn’t think there was technically anything wrong with the move but said he believes “it is a shady practice.”

Dan Fetzer sees one clear outcome.

“They’ll look at when people take lunch, and they’ll drive the prices up,” Fetzer said.

More from Heather Bosch: Some say Mariners new uniforms should go in ‘the Big Dumper’

Fetzer was with a group of people, including Jason Todd, who were holding hard hats. Todd pointed out that many of them share the same lunchtime.

“So you’re going to charge all these guys who work hard for their money … and then you’re going to turn around, and during their break, you’re going to charge them more? For what? Having a job that requires them to work certain hours?” he asked. “That’s messed up.”

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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