Wendy’s denies plans for surge pricing after backlash

US burger chain Wendy’s has denied it is exploring plans to raise prices on customers at busy moments, claiming its plans were “misconstrued”.

The firm had told investors this month that it was rolling out digital menu displays at its restaurants and expected to start testing features “like dynamic pricing” early next year.

The term refers to the practice of rapidly changing posted prices.

The plans quickly drew backlash and accusations of “price gouging”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Wendy’s said the goal of the digital menu boards was to provide “more flexibility to change the display of featured items”, including promoting discounts during slow periods.

“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,” the company said.

It added that it had never used the phrase “surge pricing”, as articles describing the comments by boss Kirk Tanner had.

The term “surge pricing” was popularised by Uber, which has long charged higher fares during busy periods.

The practice is also common in areas such as airlines and hotels and it is becoming more widely adopted as technology makes it easier to automate the changes.

In the UK, the Stonegate Group, a major pub chain that owns Slug & Lettuce and Yates bars, said last year it was raising prices during peak hours.

The idea that Wendy’s, which claims more than 6,500 restaurants globally, might adopt a similar strategy sparked outrage online, where many people said they would simply take their business elsewhere.

Left-wing Senator Elizabeth Warren was one of the most high-profile critics, saying on Wednesday that the plans meant people “could pay more for your lunch, even if the cost to Wendy’s stays exactly the same”.

“It’s price gouging plain and simple, and American families have had enough,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Source: BBC

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