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May 15, 2017

Burger King Got Caught in a Whopper

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:17 am

A Maryland woman caught Burger King in a whopper. She discovered that the fast food chain, perhaps nationally, was overcharging customers who used one of the company’s “buy one, get one free” coupons for a Croissan’wich.

bogo coupon

She did a meticulous but limited investigation by first buying two Croissan’wiches with a buy one, get one free coupon, and then one minute later on a separate receipt, buying a single Croissan’wich. She should have been charged the same amount on both receipts because she only was paying for one in each order.


Burger KIng receipts

The receipt on the left shows that she was charged $2.99 when she used the BOGO coupon, while when she bought just one Croissan’wich without a coupon, she was only charged $1.79 — $1.20 less.

This woman repeated her tests in a Maryland Burger King as well as one in Washington, DC. The results were the same, although the prices differed. She was charged more for a Croissan’wich when she used a coupon than when one was purchased sans coupon.

So, she is bringing a class action lawsuit against Burger King hoping to get restitution for everyone overcharged.

The Federal Trade Commission has advertising guidelines right on point when a seller offers a second item free upon purchase of the first item:

(b) Meaning of “Free”. (1) The public understands that, except in the case of introductory offers in connection with the sale of a product or service (See paragraph (f) of this section), an offer of “Free” merchandise or service is based upon a regular price for the merchandise or service which must be purchased by consumers in order to avail themselves of that which is represented to be “Free”. In other words, when the purchaser is told that an article is “Free” to him if another article is purchased, the word “Free” indicates that he is paying nothing for that article and no more than the regular price for the other. [emphasis added] Thus, a purchaser has a right to believe that the merchant will not directly and immediately recover, in whole or in part, the cost of the free merchandise or service by marking up the price of the article which must be purchased, by the substitution of inferior merchandise or service, or otherwise.

We asked the law firm representing this consumer if the Croissan’wich happened to be on sale when the test purchases were made, and thus that might explain why she was charged the non-sale price for the first one when using a BOGO coupon. The answer was that they did not believe so. We also inquired whether this alleged overcharging was happening with other coupons, like buy one Whopper, get one free. Same answer — not to their knowledge — but they are investigating further.

Mouse Print* wrote to Burger King’s PR folks asking for their side of the story. The company did not respond.

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  1. That seems like a very clear violation of FTC regulations. I am interested in following this case to see what happens in the end.

    I am curious to know what the actual sale price of the croissant was at the time of purchase. It would be tough for the cashier or manager of the Burger King to a accept those prices as a legitimate BOGO offer.

    Comment by Wayne — May 15, 2017 @ 8:56 am
  2. Order 87 was for take out and order 88 was for Eat in. Could that change the pricing?

    Edgar replies: Tom… there should be no difference whether it is “eat-in” or “take-out.” If you look at the lawsuit, other test shops she did were both “eat-in” and there still was a price variance.

    Comment by Tom — May 15, 2017 @ 9:11 am
  3. Well Wanye it is all about the price of the croissant on the menu board of the Burger King where the croissant sandwich was purchased.

    That is the price you are supposed to pay for one without coupon and for 2 of them with coupon.

    Comment by Richard — May 15, 2017 @ 11:40 am
  4. I’m in the region and happen to have one of those coupons. Mine rang up differently, with a price four two, and then a discount for the price of one, but it still showed BOGO, so I don’t believe it wasn’t just the cashier manually crediting me.

    The regular price on the board was $3.09 (meal was more), so I paid that price plus tax. The region has also had a two for $4 promo on Croissan’wich for several months. I didn’t buy a single, as I didn’t need three sandwiches, but if a lower price would have been charged, it wouldn’t have been a published value.

    So, if you get charged less than the listed price, and sue, do you just get the legal obligation to pay the difference?

    Comment by Derlin — May 16, 2017 @ 10:41 am

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