Wendy's Backtracks Plans For Uber-Style Surge Pricing Amid Scrutiny

A recently renovated Wendy's restaurant is seen in

Photo: Getty Images

Wendy's is attempting to "clarify" its reported plans for an "Uber-style" pricing model.

“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,” said spokesperson Heidi Schauer in a statement to the New York Post on Wednesday (February 28).

The popular fast food chain was criticized after reports that CEO Kirk Tanner, who began his position with the company earlier this month after previously serving the same role at PepsiCo, revealed the company's plan during a call with investors, which will include a $20 million investment on high-tech menu boards featuring updated prices in real-time.

“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,” Tanner said via the Post.

Tanner didn't specify how much the pricing model could spike based on surge periods or whether items could decrease lower than the base price during slower periods, nor did a Wendy's spokesperson who spoke directly to the Post amid the company's plans prior to Schauer's clarification.

“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,” the spokesperson told the Post, which didn't specify whether it was Schauer or someone else. “We will test a number of features that we think will provide an enhanced customer and crew experience.”

The reported plans were criticized by fans on social media and economists, including Prof. Elaine Luther at Point Park University and Prof. Brian O'Roark at Robert Morris University via CBS News.

"I suspect that would be the last time that you were ever in that line," Luther said.

"Waiting to pay for their food and then the board switches, there's just a sense of something tawdry going on there," O'Roark added.

Wendy's is already the most expensive fast-food chain in the U.S. after its average prices increased by 35% between 2022 and 2023 due to inflation, according to data shared by PriceListo, a consumer transparency platform, via the Post.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content