You Know How Uber Surge Pricing Sucks? It Might Be Coming To A Burger Joint Near You!

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Robert McGreevy Contributor
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Fast food chain Wendy’s is rolling out a “dynamic pricing” model that could change prices based on customer demand in 2025, the company announced in a Tuesday earnings call, according to multiple outlets, and BOY I can’t think of a worse idea.

While touting new digital menu boards on the earnings call, CEO Kirk Tanner said the menus will help Wendy’s utilize “more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and day-part offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling,” according to CNN.

If you don’t think we live in a technocratic dystopian hellscape, then I hope AI-generated burger pricing can help convince you because we’re running out of time to get pissed off.

The new model sounds a lot like the Uber/Lyft model, which uses surge pricing to determine how expensive ride fares will be based on how many drivers are available and how many customers are looking for a ride at any given time.

The problem is that Uber and Lyft are two of maybe four or five viable ride-sharing options in any given city, and in many cities, they’re the only game in town. Yes, that model still sucks and costs riders more and pits drivers against each other, but at least it kind of makes sense.

If I walk into Wendy’s at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night and a burger costs me $33 … I’m walking my ass out the door and getting a Big Mac. At least until McDonald’s adopts the same policy.

Wendy’s issued a statement Tuesday clarifying that its new digital menus would allow stores to change menu offerings and advertise special sales on food during certain times of day, according to the company. The company added that it would not “raise prices when demand is highest at our restaurants” and claimed that “any features we may test in the future would be designed to benefit our customers.”

The move sparked intense backlash online despite the clarification, with many Twitter users lambasting the decision to use “dynamic pricing” as dumb and threatening to boycott the chain. (RELATED: Employees Sue McDonald’s Over Not Having Enough Time Or Space To Breastfeed: REPORT)

“The only way to ensure that the insanely stupid idea of “surge pricing” for restaurants is never tried again is to make a strong example of @Wendys and push it into bankruptcy,” wrote attorney Ari Cohn.

“While you’re over there raising prices at lunch, I’ll be going to a local spot or just another fast food restaurant that ISN’T pulling this shit,” said writer Shaun O’Banion

I can’t think of a business decision this stupid and adverse to the core of one’s brand since Bud Light hired Dylan Mulvaney. Good luck burger boys, you’re gonna need it.


Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect a clarification Wendy’s published Tuesday regarding their electronic menus and “dynamic pricing.”