BK Hell

OK, it’s only 58 cents. But it’s the principle of the thing. Isn’t it always? We go to Burger King because the kids eat their chicken nuggets. The dollar menu sells them four pieces for $1. At most stores, an eight-piece order used to cost more than double that, so my wife got me in the habit of ordering two four-pieces instead of one eight-piece. Finally, most of the stores saw how silly this was repriced their eight-piece nuggets to $1.99, a one-cent saving over the dollar menu. Fine. Thanks. So today, we went to another Burger King and I just ordered two eight-pieces without looking. Turns out, they don’t post the price of the eight-piece and they charge $2.29 for them. So I got two eight-pieces and got 16 pieces of fried chickenesque things for $4.58. If I had ordered four four-pieces, I would have gotten the same 16 fried chickenesque things for $4. I went to the managers lolling behind the counter with no business. One just shrugged at me, which is lazy-manager speak for ‘f you, customer.’ The other said he couldn’t refund the 58 cents because then he wouldn’t come out even at the end of the day, as if that never happens. I told him that was the most expensive 58-cent profit he’d ever make. I went to the Burger King site to try to complain. They don’t take email. So I’ll complain about Burger King story #1503 right here. Beware the Burger King chicken ripoff.

  • Ok, Jeff. You are officially taking things WAY too seriously.

    A pricing anomoly at a fast food restaurant doesn’t legitimize your need to appear as the “all-powerful consumer advocate for the new media.”

    And giving a restaurant manager who, by the way, is probably begging Burger King for a .58/hour raise, crap about it says more about you than it does about them. That’s an average Joe, working for barely more than minimum wage who spends his days shuffling fries into a vat of oil and trying to keep his staff of 16-year olds engaged in the same menial tasks.

    Get over it, man. Seriously. If you need the .58 cents, I’ll send it to you.

    • kathy

      so sad..you don’t value your money,really sad.

    • mike

      BK called the cops and claimed i drove thru their drive through drunk and i got a DUI i will never go there again and i hope nobody ever does again. They got Pdiddy going there late night with champagn n ur gonna call the cops on me for nothing…. never been spo dissapointed in humanity

    • bob

      Today 2-18-2010 My wife and I were taking some pictures of old churches in downtown Jacksonville. Fl.
      After walking around for a few hours, we decided to have lunch at burger king where we parked. we stood in line and joked about placing the order while speaking italian, we laughed. It was our turn to place our order, in english. As we were getting our drinks (yea, you have to serve yourself at burger king) anyway, a homeless man came in asking for a drink of water, and if they were throwing away any hamburgers. But before he asked for the water, the cashier saw him standing outside the door and alerted the manager. The man came in, and she started calling, yelling at him. He came over to her and asked for some water. You could tell she was going to ask him to leave and she did. I heard him ask if they were throwing away any hamburgers. She said no rudely. He got his water and starded to leave and I asked him what he wanted. He said whatever you can afford. I said whatever you want, and he said a number 3 triple wopper meal. The cashier told me she could not do it, meaning sell me the meal for him. I looked at her oddly and she complied grudgingly. This man was asking for food, not money. There is no reason why any human being should go hungry. She didnt want to sell the meal to me but she did. It was a mere $7.00 and change. Probably the only meal he had in quite a while. He was cordial, he said thank you sir, and offered to do work for me. I said it was not necessary. He got his meal, sat down and ate it, without bothering anyone, or being a nuisance to anyone, or disturbing anyone. He did not smell bad or smell of alcohol. He was simply hungry. Obviously the policies at burger king do not include compassion. Mind you this is in the middle of the “bible belt” in Jacksonville, fl where they profess to be religious and christian. I am not a practicing christian, but I believe in God. I do not believe God wants any human being to be hungry. Gods puts us in places and lets situations happen in our lives, sometimes for the benefit of ourselves, but mostly for the benefit of others. Some people refer to it as Karma. This man walked away with his blanket without causing anyone any problem.
      People of this country need to revive compassion in their lives. I wish this man well, and I wish that the people of America would learn compassion and humility and how to help one another. These are tough times in this great recession that we are in, and you should never kick a man when they are down. Lend a hand, lift them up and make this country what it once was….GREAT!

  • Don’t listen to Dylan, Jeff. It’s NOT the 58 cents; it’s the principle of the thing.

    And why NOT blog about it? the BK corporate overlords love it when bloggers talk about how hip and trendy their (I think creepy) ad campaigns are. You take the good and you take the bad. That’s the facts of life. The facts of life.

    Fight the power!

  • Sue

    You’re better off without the chicken things. Kids shouldn’t be fed crap, even if it is what they will eat.

  • Pingback: Fight the power! » Peoria Pundit()

  • Burger King pricing has long been mysterious. It used to cost me $1.35 more to get a Whopper meal with the meat left off the burger; the meal discount only came if they entered the order as ‘Whopper Meal, hold the meat’. If they entered ‘Whopper, no meat; fries; Coke’ it cost significantly more. I rather pathetically wrote up the whole thing here.

    I don’t bother keeping track any more; at my current local Burger King, the service is so unbelievably, comically slow that I feel glad to get anything at all out of them.

  • No, it’s not a principle. It’s 58 cents.

    It’s just a silly thing to get SO worked up over that you feel the need to not only bash them on your blog, but you also feel the need bother a manager who really has nothing to do with the price of the chicken.

    But, more to the point, it’s this sort of self-righteousness that makes you so difficult to take seriously, often. You’ve got unique ideas and what seems like a clear vision of what the future can hold for media, but you are so shrill about it sometimes that it almost makes me, a student going into journalism and an advocate of new media ideas, want to distance myself from you.

    That may be a long way to go from the half a dollar you didn’t want to spend on chicken at Burger King, but it is a fairly pervaisve view about you.

  • I’m not going to go to the barricades over 58 cents. I DO have a life. But it is, indeed, a matter of principle: If this is how you treat your customers, trying to rip them off for 58 cents, then you are far more pathetic than the customer who takes the time to complain about it. It indicates the owners’ f-u view of the people who feed them even as they feed us swill and ripoffs. So those of you who think I’m going overboard think I should just shut up and get screwed? Where’s the line there? 58 cent? 58 dollars? 580? Where’s the line that is acceptable screwing? I say there isn’t such a line. Companies either treat us with respect or they don’t. And this is not respectful. If you want to keep going and giving Burger King money you don’t need to give them, feel free. I’ll give mine to charities that feed people rather than ripping them off.

  • Dylan: I am sure than Mr. Jarvis deeply, deeply regrets having a journalism student “want to distance myself from you.”

    The implications your action has to Jeff’s career are mind-boggling.


  • I appreciate that it’s a giant leap…

    But the sort of, “I’m the consumer that KNOWS BETTER” attitude is one that is tiresome, and often makes his blog unreadable.

    And, while I appreciate that you may not agree with me, I am using the comments section of his blog to tell him, in a respectful and civil manner, that I think his self-righteousness may cause some who might be sympathetic to the cause of new media to want to distance themselves. The necessity to demean me or my career (a career which Mr. Jarvis is involved in… it’s not as though there is no connection, friend) is unwarrented and unneccessary. Disagree with my point, don’t demean me without addressing my point.

  • So there was this BC cartoon when I was a kid.

    The sign says, “8 bagels for a dollar. Bagels, 10 cents each.”

    So the guy says, “I’ll show you, I’ll take 9 bagels please. Here’s 90 cents.”

    As he walks away, the bagel guy says to the fat broad, “Hey, before you put up that sign, I never sold more than 4 bagels at a time!”

    Maybe it’s a sinister plot!

  • MDD

    You don’t bother to check the price and then you complain about it?
    You just “assume” you will get some sort of break by ordering a bigger amount? Do you think buying an 8 piece chicken meal is a bulk purchase?
    Get over it and don’t go back if you don’t like it.

  • Dick Eagleson


    I’m guessing the checks paying for that journalism education of yours are not being signed by you.

  • MDD: All the other BKs I went to had changed their pricing — and sadly for me, that was a lot of BKs. This one posted no price for the 8-piece, which I now take to be deliberate.

    Have you heard that the customer is always right? Seriously, as a journalist, you represent some worldview, so what is that worldview? Are you for the little guy? Or not? And I’m not assuming an agenda of my own with that question; I’m curious to know what your answer is.

  • If my comments seem to have appeared magically out of sequence it’s because my own damned software was calling my comments spam. When a fella can’t trust his own server….

  • Just turn off your spam filter, Jeff. I’m sure Young Master Dylan would stop distancing himself from you if you did.


  • I.F. Stoner

    Here you go, Jeefeleh….don’t ever say The Stoner never did anything for you.
    It took a little reporting (imagine that) but here’s some email addresses at BK you might want:
    Lauren Hamman, Executive Assistant to CEO John Chidsey lhammann@whopper.com
    Russell Klein, Chief Marketing Officer

    Have it your way. (Do they still say that?)

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Aha! You’re the guy I always get stuck behind at the drive-thru!
    Just pay the 58 cents and be glad that it’s the biggest outrageous calamity you have to face today.

  • Sam

    I agree with Dylan and MDD.
    It is not difficult to calculate the price before you order.
    Now you know “and knowing is half the battl.”

    If your concern is the principle of fair pricing of Burger King chicken, God save the poor chickens that had an utterly inhumane existence to provide you a meal for $2.29.

  • MDD

    Ever heard the term “pricing may vary”? You went to multiple BK’s to check this? Sorry, but you are an idiot. I feel no pity for your loss of $.58.

  • The Publicserf

    I understand Jeff’s irritation. More than once I’ve encountered the same thing and wondered, “What are you people thinking?” Normally, if you buy more of something the unit cost stays the same, or goes down. I can’t think of a good reason for it to go up. So the pricing thing is irritating. And if you like burgers, and I do, it also seems silly that it’s often a better deal to buy two singles instead of a double. Where’s the sense in that?

    On the other hand, more than once I’ve gotten fast food when the fries were apparently just classified as “old.” So instead of getting a small order they gave me a large one. And the fries were fine, no complaints from me. So, on balance, when it comes to fast food- I’m too fat and happy.

  • Mayor McCheese

    Mr. Jarvis, have you ever noticed that sometimes – actually pretty often – the 30 oz. pasta sauce in the Kroger (Safeway, Publix, whatever) costs more than the 15 oz? I think the technical marketing term is “Minor Fleecing of the Inattentive but Would-Be Frugal.” It’s fairly pervasive and has been for awhile. You really can’t count on that 5000 oz. vat of Newman’s Dressing from the warehouse club necessarily being the best value either…

    In any case, previous posters are right – fast food is crap, and the staff underpaid/disposable/disrespected…oh, yeah, and generally R-E-S-E-N-T-F-U-L, so their nonresponsiveness to your indignation is probably the least of your (and my) worries when eating out on the cheap. Welcome to the new economy! Would you like some Cipro or an Immodium with that?

  • I find this topic interesting, that there is any measure of surprise that BK is trying to nickel and dime America. I mean, you are aware of the ingredients in the “food”?

    Hormones and nitrates and sugars and salts – should all indicate that the health and well-being of the consumer is, indeed, a low priority and that profit is the King.

    $0.58 is nothing. Ask your digestive track.

  • Jeff,

    You are correct, there is certainly a worldview involved in everything, and I have one of my own. It is probably no surprise to you that, in addition to being a journalism student (which, though it was alluded as otherwise, I do pay for myself… As if that somehow lessons my point anyway) I am a waiter, so I feel a bit of sympathy for the manager that had to field your complaint.

    You ask at what price would the rip-off be high enough to merit actual concern. I’m not going to pretend to have a definitive answer for that, but I can say that, at some point, there is a price miniscule enough that it doesn’t warrant the waste of time for either you or the managers you deal with (who don’t set the prices to begin with and have no control over the ability to refund you the money).

    What is that price? I’d like to think that there’s a little common sense involved in that, but certainly 58 cents falls into that realm.

    There’s nothing wrong with trying to save a few pennies. Frugality is a viture. However, it ceases to be a virtue when you make such a miniscule thing an issue.

  • But while I’m at it: Why is it that, when someone expresses an opinion in comments on virtually any blog that someone disagrees with, the most common response is not to directly rebut the opinion, but to denegrate the commenter?

  • marcy

    “But while I’m at it: Why is it that, when someone expresses an opinion in comments on virtually any blog that someone disagrees with, the most common response is not to directly rebut the opinion, but to denegrate the commenter? “‘

    Well your post was more or less a bitch about something irrelevant to begin with and no one likes to hear such a stupid irrelevant bitch. You bloggers are the ones posting inane comments. Expect criticism and irreverance. What? Do you think all your posts are worthy of discussion? Do you think your posts are worthy of praise? What a laugh. If you say or post something stupid expect to be denegrated or ridiculed. BeDuh.

  • Cooler Heads

    Jeff, you have a heart condition. Why are you bothering with this? Life is full of little annoyances. People who don’t turn right on red when there’s no traffic coming. People who won’t bag their own groceries at the supermarket. Chinese restaurants that forget to include the extra rice you ordered.

    Have you ever heard the expression, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff?’

  • Bradley

    The whole thing reminds me of when I went to the Burger King drive-thru for breakfast and ordered my Croissanwich (sp?) and it cost one amount, but when I enjoyed it so much that I went back the next day for another, it cost a different amount. I didn’t make a scene, but I did ask the lady if the price went up over the course of one day, and she goes, “Oh, hold on…” and then the price was mysteriously the same as it was the day before.

  • ponce

    I haven’t eaten there since they changed the fries.

  • Do the words “Get a life” mean anything to you?

  • Never attribute anything (like charging more for a larger size) to malice–or craftiness–that can be explained by stupidity.

    The condition of the schools today is such that people honestly don’t know how to add 2 and 2. Figures above 2 digits–forget it, too complex.

  • You shouldn’t eat that crap, and you shouldn’t give it to your kids.

  • I think justice is important. Access to justice is increasingly limited and costly. Accountability is too often hidden behind a helpless shrug. Burger King and too many firms invade our garden while nothing, nada, zilch is socially mandated to assure their accountability and public benefit. Complaining in a blog is a path toward justice. bravo, with a ‘little b’ discount for not bitching more often!

  • Robert

    See that, Jeff, you’re an idiot. Get used to it.


    Anyway, that 58 cents means something. I’m throwing myself behind the “principle of the issue” team. I do that because skimming small amounts here and there is one of the ways that human beings from the lowest to the highest points of the economic ladder get an edge on their fellows. You do something small enough long enough and it adds up.

    That, of course, shows that everything I learned about human nature came from “Office Space.”

    ps – “We’re, uh, gonna have to, uh, ask you to come in on Sunday. MMmmm-hmmm. Yeaah.”

  • WSS

    Jeff, you asked if Dylan was on the side of the little guy. Has it occurred to you that maybe in this case the little guy is that Burger King manager making $1 over minimum wage, being hastled about something he has ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER by a customer who makes 10x his salary and who could get him fired from his crappy BK manager job at the drop of a hat. He is just a cog in the machine, he is the little guy. Fast food is so ridiculously cheap anyway, the 58 cents doesn’t make a difference.

  • Andrew

    I’d like to applaud BK for their socially responsible attitude.

    Having a pricing structure in place that’s clearly designed to discourage people from clogging up their arteries by buying larger packs is a forward-thinking and innovative heath-positive strategy.

    Even better if you could pay them a little more to throw it away before you eat it.

  • Eric

    I have to agree with Jeff here. Life is made up of a lot of different events, both small and large, and I don’t feel his initial post is overreacting when he felt injustice was served indifferently and coldly. The difference between $2 and $2.29 is actually a 14.5% difference, which is quite a nice profit on a percentage basis. Based on an 8% sales tax, Jeff would have been out around 62 cents, not 58 cents, on his purchase, but he never said he was losing sleep over it – he was simply pointing it out, as well as the predictable ‘I couldn’t care less’ attitude of the employees. “Clerks” and “Clerks II” are instructive on this point!

    There is no doubt about the same pricing inequity occurring similarly in grocery stores – to me it’s simply funny, since I am always aware of it, but others who don’t fare as well in math or observation are literally paying the price. Along the same line is the ‘shrinking’ of package or container sizes while keeping the price the same – unless you’ve observant, you’ll never notice the ‘stealth’ price increase. No regulation exists that forces stores to charge less on a per unit basis for larger amounts than smaller amounts, so common sense dictates that you price items yourself, using a calculator if you need to. If you don’t care about the price, no one is saying you should care, but Dylan’s response is to denigrate Jeff for posting his opinion on this. Belittling people is pretty easy – what I wonder about is WHY Dylan found such an unimportant post worth so much of his ‘way too serious’ time? What surprised me was that someone felt it necessary to slam Jeff at all – he was right on all counts.

    By the way, Burger King is currently offering a ‘crown card’, which is a cash-balance card that you can charge from $5 to $100 and has no expiration date or maintenance fees of any kind. I mention this because a local BK is offering a free Whopper with the purchase of a $10 cash card. Since I probably stop once a month for a Whopper, this was a good deal, since I essentially earned 28.6% on my $10 investment ($2.86 would have been the Whopper’s total cost). It’s an even better deal because there are no conditions on the card, which means I can use it in combination with a ‘buy one – get one free’ Whopper coupon from my local Entertainment book. Using 4 of these coupons (I have more than one Entertainment book), I will be out of pocket $11.44 ($10 using the card) for 8 Whoppers – throw in the free Whopper and that’s 9 Whoppers for an average price of $1.27 each after tax, as opposed to $2.86 each, an overall savings of 55.5% per burger and a total savings of $14.31.

    Service is damned good at that BK location, but service in general at fast food joints in Kansas City is lousy, in fact so bad at KFC that I’ve simply stopped going. I am not kidding when I say that 50% of the orders were simply wrong, and of the correct orders, probably 75% of the time the chicken was not up to snuff (greasy, small pieces, too much heat lamp, etc). I’m writing KFC a letter specifying the location and the fact that I won’t be eating the Colonel’s birds any longer, considering that the pieces seem to come from a large Rock Cornish game hen rather than a fryer (the wings are miniscule). Is this a big deal in my life? No, of course not, but the service problem is symptomatic of a much more pervasive service problem in the U.S. and by getting my licks in, I’m letting a few companies know that their way of doing business is no longer acceptable – if more people would do what Jeff did, maybe they’d get the message and improve their service – which would be a good thing, right???

  • Ender

    I can’t believe I just read through this entire thread of responses, let alone feel that it’s in any way necessary for me to weigh in on this issue of earth-shattering importance, but here I am. In order to establish my credentials in this matter, I must admit that I actually worked as Burger King manager during my first couple of years of college. (Not exactly resume material, but once you’ve convinced teenagers to clean toilets for minimum wage you know that you can pretty much accomplish anything you want in life.)

    Whether or not their chicken nugget pricing scheme is appropriate I will leave to those who are more emotionally invested. However, the BK manager in this scenario did overlook the most obvious solution: Void the original sale on the cash register and re-ring the nuggets up at the cheaper price on a new ticket. Thus, the unhappy customer gets his way AND the register isn’t short money at the end of the night. Problem solved. I will acknowledge that during my tenure I was probably one of the brighter people involved in BK management, but shutting up yappy customers with petty grievances is not rocket science, especially considering how many of them must be dealt with on a daily basis when working in that kind of job.

  • Will

    I have a complaint about #5877…..Theyre quick and accurate about charging the extra $.80 for onion rings, but when it comes to actually supplying you with the onion rings thats another story. Freaking incompetence, not to mention theyre theives.

  • Ga

    “They don’t take email.”

    I know that this is ‘old blog’ by now (Feb. 1), but it is rather telling of how our society is being disconnected from that which controls what we see, hear and eat.

    How many of the “managers” in franchises and chain stores have any say in policy and pricing? I doubt if any do.

    These places are controled and run by remote corporate headquarters through a hierarchy of mangement. People at the top never hear from those at the bottom, and probably also never hear from customers (except through “focus groups” and advertising agencies and the like).

    Almost all avenues to contact corporations — phone and websites — are the most maddening processes to deal with these days; one never actually reaches anyone “in charge.”

    Even companies like Google — net savy Google — make it very difficult to contact them.

    We are heading to a country where noone will ever meet those who run the corporate world, and us.

  • Travis

    In response to GA:

    You will never get in contact with those “in charge” because they have too much to worry about as-is without having to please every idiot who didn’t get there way. Most companies have entire departments that deal with complaints, and most of these complaints are ridiculous, so why waste money on something not worth it.

    In my opinion, people that complain alot are just looking for free handouts anyway.

  • Jose E. Mannis

    I never complain, 80% of the people dont care,and the othe 20% are glad you got the problem and they dont. Buenos nachos putos

  • Shaun

    What does it take in this world to have customer service? Once again, I drive through the burger king drive-thru and lo and behold they screw my order up again. Of course it is right on the receipt but they don’t get it right. Seriously, how hard is it to do your job right. Shitty customer service, lackadasical attitude and inability to do their job. Is that what you should expect after paying for a service. Hell no. It is so frustrating in this world to see this lazy ass, don’t give a shit attitude. The store is store #3772 located in Chubbuck, Idaho. I would recommend if you want your food in timely fashion and the right food, you don’t not use this restaurant.

  • Allie

    I get angry every time I go to get BK breakfast. It’s not a matter of 58 cents when they tell you the combo meal – which should have a drink included – is only 3.79. But hey, you order a milk or a juice – anything but coffee – and they tack on almost an extra dollar. When I order two meals for 3.79 and hand the guy a ten, I shouldn’t be given nothing but 50 cents back.

    It’s hard not to feel like you’re being ripped off when they don’t post the prices, didn’t tell me the price at the window, I wasn’t given a receipt, and when I went inside to complain, I ended up speaking to the same guy who served me at the drive thru.

    Suspicious? A little. When I was a kid, the drink used to be included; that’s all I know.

  • Cole

    I feel your pain. I ordred a 6-shot mini burger pack yesterday. The menu said $3.99. Got charged $6.47. I will take the blame for that. Maybe I didn’t read close enough. But when i got home to eat my mini burgers, two of them didn’t even have meat on them. The buns were all stuck together like they were just pulled from the bag. The meat on the other four was also stuck together. Looked like one prepacked peice of meat was meant for two sandwiches but they weren’t cut apart. When i tried to tear the meat apart I had a mess. Now I can’t even register a complaint. i eat (used to) there 2-4 times a week. But not anymore.

  • Glenn

    Free breakfast at BK was really bad experience today in New Westminster on Columbia. Staff tried to charge us over $6 for two combos and rationalized that this was after they considered we were getting 2 free breakfast sandwiches. The combo meals were $3.89 and the sandwiches were $2.39 so that leaves $1.50 x 2 and tax which staff insisted was a total of over $6.

    Other customers at the time were limited to one other man with two kids under 10, so staff was not rushed. I asked to see the hash browns and 2 turd like things were the examples. We refused to pay the extra $6 for 2 coffe and hash browns. Still wanting to sample the food we took the 2 free sandwiches to go.

    The order was wrong. The food horribly salty. The bun was like mush. We trashed the sandwiches and went to Tim Hortons.

    Bad food and an attempted gouge doesn’t make one feel comfortable with going to such a place.