Wendy’s Backtracks After Blowback, Says It Won’t Employ ‘Surge Pricing’

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 10: A sign is posted in front of a Wendy's restaurant on August 10, 2022 in Petaluma, California. Wendy's reported weaker-than-expected second quarter earnings with net income of $48.2 million compared to $65.7 million one year ago. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Wendy’s Co. says the fast-food burger chain won’t employ “surge pricing” to increase prices during their busiest times at its restaurants.

“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 company said late Tuesday in a prepared statement.

Wendy’s Co. is set to spend $20 million to install digital menu boards at its U.S. restaurants by the end of 2025, plus $10 million to support digital menu enhancements across the globe.

When word broke Monday that Wendy’s restaurants would soon deploy surge pricing — changing the cost of items based on demand — isn’t going over well with fast-food America.

“Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and daypart offerings, along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling,” Wendy’s CEO Kirk Tanner said Monday. “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.”

Lowering the price of a burger at, say, 11 p.m. might make fast-fooders happy. But boosting the price just because it’s noon and everyone’s trying to eat lunch is angering some.

“If I ate at Wendy’s, I’d sit in the drive-thru waiting for the surge pricing period to end,” wrote one consumer on the social media platform Threads, according to USA Today.

“If they jack the price up after a certain amount of time, that is not accommodating the customer,” said Kerry Mcaulliffe, a Boston customer, CBS News reported. “You know what I would do? I would go to Star Market, buy some cold cuts and have my sandwich myself because this is crazy.”