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Wendy’s pushes back after outrage over ‘surge pricing’ plan

No, Wendy’s Co. says, there won’t be surge pricing on cheeseburgers and Frostys. The fast-food chain has moved to clarify comments on its fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this month about an upcoming dynamic pricing test.  (Anindito Mukherjee)
By Tonya Garcia Bloomberg

No, Wendy’s Co. says, there will not be surge pricing on cheeseburgers, fries and Frostys.

The fast-food chain has moved to clarify comments on its fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this month about an upcoming dynamic pricing test.

The program could be in effect as soon as 2025 as part of a $20 million investment in digital menu boards for U.S. company-operated restaurants.

The plan offers Wendy’s “more flexibility” to display featured items, but the company said it doesn’t intend to use that to hike prices at busy times.

“We have no plans to do that and would not raise prices when our customers are visiting us most,” Wendy’s said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

“Any features we may test in the future would be designed to benefit our customers and restaurant crew members.”

Wendy’s came under fire on social media after comments that some interpreted as calling for Uber-like surge pricing when demand is high.

Wendy’s isn’t the first burger chain to use this menu technology.

As far back as 2015, McDonald’s Corp. introduced digital menu boards that make item changes and promotions easier.

To be sure, companies can use the technology to raise prices.

But Wendy’s says it’s focused on value, and digital menu boards would allow the company to easily “offer discounts” to its customers, “particularly in the slower times of day.”

Bloomberg has reached out to Wendy’s for further comment.