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Wendy's Responds After Backlash To Reports They Will Launch 'Surge Pricing' For Their Menus

Wendy’s CEO Kirk Tanner recently announced that the fast food brand will install menu boards with dynamic pricing that can change depending on demand starting in 2025, much to the horror of customers.

Wendy's restaurant sign
Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/GettyImages

Wendy's fell out of flavor with customers who were once loyal to the square-shaped fresh-never-frozen beef patty burger chain.

On Tuesday, patrons expressed outrage at reports that Wendy's would test an “Uber-style” surge-pricing model in which prices would fluctuate throughout the day based on demand.

That meant popular food items like Dave’s Double or the Baconator could cost more during the lunch and dinner rush, affecting those who were unable to enjoy their meals during slow business hours.

Newly appointed Wendy’s CEO Kirk Tanner reportedly announced on a call to investors that the company would invest $20 million in high-tech menu boards.

Said Tanner:

“As we continue to show the benefit of this technology in our company-operated restaurants, franchisee interest in digital menu boards should increase further supporting sales and profit growth across the system."

It was unclear whether or not the surge model would have a ceiling price point or if the surge could go in the opposite direction, below normal pricing.

A spokesperson for Wendy's didn't disclose what the fluctuating costs would be but stated:

“Dynamic pricing can allow Wendy’s to be competitive and flexible with pricing, motivate customers to visit and provide them with the food they love at a great value."

Some customers wanted some answers...

...While others made a decision.

Many people on social media continued frowning over the announcement.

Ted Jenkin, CEO of Atlanta-based wealth management firm oXYGen Financial, commented on the controversial decision amidst the staggering inflation spike already affecting working middle to lower-class Americans strugling to make ends meet.

Said Jenkin:

“Guess people better change their lunch hours from 2pm to 4pm."
"With all of the concern of rising prices, the last thing you want to have to consider is how much will it cost you for a burger and fries depending on the time of day."

He added:

“This isn’t any better than what we see going on with guilt tipping right now."
"It will prey on the fact that people can’t remember what the price was yesterday or the week before."

Jenkin gave a reminder that this wasn't "a Taylor Swift concert, it’s a burger, fries, and a Frosty.”

But after the outrage online, Wendy's Vice President Heidi Schauer reached out to NPR via email to clarify what Tanner meant by his remarks—and it wasn't what was initially reported.

Schauer said:

"To clarify, Wendy's will not implement surge pricing, which is the practice of raising prices when demand is highest. We didn't use that phrase, nor do we plan to implement that practice."

The burger chain also shared a "Wendy’s Digital News Update" on their website, which assured customers that the new digital menus could actually allow them to offer discounts during slower times of day.

Regarding initial media coverage, the media statement said, in part:

"This was misconstrued in some media reports as an intent to raise prices when demand is highest at our restaurants. We have no plans to do that and would not raise prices when our customers are visiting us most."

So, there you have it. It sounds like everyone needs to chill. Perhaps a Frosty would help.