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jca2's avatar

Would you go to a restaurant that charged food prices via surge pricing?

Asked by jca2 (16239points) 1 month ago

The news reports that starting in 2025, Wendy’s is going to start using surge pricing.

Surge pricing is currently used by airlines, ride apps, and is going to start being used in tolls to enter NYC. It raises and lowers charges based on time, location and demand.

The news reports that it could change things in a big way for the fast food industry.

Would you go to a restaurant that charged more (or less) based on demand and/or time?

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40 Answers

janbb's avatar

No I would not unless it becomes universal.

canidmajor's avatar

Nope. Seems too variable and arbitrary to me. How do they decide? Is it by individual store? Wouldn’t the pricing change by location, proximity to businesses, schools, income status areas? What the hell sort of algorithm do you design that is so flexible?

zenvelo's avatar

It depends on how you find out the price. If I walk in and a hot dog is $5.25, I don’t want to pay $8.00 because three people ahead of me in line ordered hot dogs. I want the price known when I get there.

And it also depends on how quickly prices drop when there is no line. If the information is as complete as possible, I am okay with surge pricing.

ragingloli's avatar

Hot dog vendor: that will be 1000 dollars.
Customer: What the fuck! Why?
HDV: well, hot dogs are in, heh, “hot” demand right now. Just following the law of the market.
C: *looks around But there is no one else here!.
HDV: What.

What I am saying is, they will jack up the prices arbitrarily, regardless of any “actual” demand, and just say that the demand is high. Who is going to correct them? You?

Is not lovely how capitalism finds more and more ways to carve the already meager meat out of your ribs?

canidmajor's avatar

I gotta wonder if they think that they are the only game in town? The articles I’ve read keep talking about “Uber style surge pricing” as if, like Uber, there is a limited supply of demand stuff during peak hours. Most places have many other restaurants, and food can be brought from other places (home, maybe?) Very scammy.

RocketGuy's avatar

I’d figure out the schedule and go at off-hours for the better pricing. But what if their surge pricing is already competitive locally?

elbanditoroso's avatar

If they do, they have lost me as a customer. Which is too bad, because of the big three burger joints, they are the best.

But if there is no predictability on costs, forget it.

Zaku's avatar

I’d tend to be annoyed, and it would tend to make me only want to buy at the lowest price.

Like, if there were something I actually liked, which was cheap at certain times, I might tend to get it only at those times, and avoid it at other times.

smudges's avatar

If we all go at the lower price times, then that will become the surge price! Then we can change again! Keep them on their toes. LOL

janbb's avatar

Burgers at 8 a.m. for all!

LadyMarissa's avatar

NO…Wendy’s is NOT that good to begin with; so, I can say thanks but no thanks, cancel my order, & get out of line!!!

I was reading not long ago about a woman that went in with a party where the prices went up at a specific time. The waitress took several other tables orders before getting to the party. When she placed her order the menu showed the price to be $5.75. The waitress said you’re ordering after the specified time so the price will be $7.98. She balked, looked at the menu again & ordered something that was cheaper. The waitress said, the price of that one is $8.80. When she asked why because it was cheaper than the last thing she wanted was it going to cost her more. The waitress said because it was even later than before & the prices kept going up. She asked for a glass of water & the waitress said “That will be $4”. At that point, the entire party got up & left & went to one of the homes & had a cheaper party!!! Since the pandemic, I’ve realized that although it’s convenient to eat out that it is NOT a necessity so I just don’t.

The food at my Wendy’s is NOT that good to begin with, so they definitely would be losing a customer!!! McDonald’s has been planning the same. I won’t miss them either!!! I had hoped that this would be a passing fad where many simply stopped going to their establishment & they would reverse their plans. Only time will tell on that one.

JLeslie's avatar

I heard about this, and I’m against it. I think what they should do instead is publish in real time when it’s very busy and people can adjust when they go to at least make it easier to staff the restaurants.

I also think if they want to try it, they should have raised prices slightly, and then offered coupons or discounts during off hours, not the other way around, so they get less backlash.

The people with very little control over when they take their lunch hour will get hurt the most. Not nice.

I see this in the hospitality business, people with kids in school get taken advantage of.

seawulf575's avatar

Huh. So they are going to drive away customers. Is that their way of combating obesity in this country?

Forever_Free's avatar

I rarely go out to restaurants. Definitely not.

Demosthenes's avatar

No, I would expressly avoid such an establishment. I don’t appreciate being gouged.

jca2's avatar

I’m betting the other fast food places are going to be watching carefullly to see if this model is successful.

Good point by @canidmajor that there are usually many other choices in the area. I’m thinking of the Wendy’s that’s closest to me, about ten miles away on a road with lots of stores. There’s McDs, Mexican places, DD, BK, supermarket with a hot and cold food bar, a bagel place, Five Guys, Arby’s, plus more “restaurant-restaurants,” so many other places to choose from. I go to Wendy’s about three times a year but if they do crazy shit with their pcies, I won’t be going at all.

RocketGuy's avatar

Within 2 miles of my house we have: BK, McD, Jack, Carl’s, and Wendy’s. I get great coupons for BK every month.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Only fair that the employees get surge wages as well. I worked at a restaurant at level 6 (Maximum busyness) all by my self (fryers, grill and packaging and prep), for an hour or more, in the back.

I would like to be paid more, for working more.

filmfann's avatar

Will Taco Bell raise prices by $20 for each product after midnight on 4/20?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@filmfann Those prices are too ”High” for those whom partake, and have the munchies.

Smashley's avatar

If the perception of value is lost, then what the fuck are these places even for? Eat our shit food at shit prices because you don’t have the self respect to change?

janbb's avatar

Someone just pointed out on FB that “peak times” means long lines so you are already having a worse experience. And then to raise prices?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Wendy’s isn’t doing this to please customers. This is a pure-and-simple gambit to raise prices and make more money doing the same bad job they normally do. Sure, they will try and spin it as “improving service” but that’s clearly a lie.

My guess is that they are reading all the pushback from floating this idea, and they will drop it (quietly) in the next week or so. [This smells like an ambitious new vice president going to the boss with a cockamamie new idea.]

canidmajor's avatar

^^^ Interesting backpedal, there.

jca2's avatar

@canidmajor Yes! I read what @janbb and @elbanditoroso wrote, and I went to FB to take a look at social media comments, and found that article. Lots of negative comments on FB – people saying they’re not going to eat there any longer.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@canidmajor yes, looks like they tried to walk it back when they saw the reaction. Remember the New Coke debacle of 1985? Similar.

seawulf575's avatar

@jca2 I dunno. Reading that, it sounds like they are trying to use semantics to hide what they are doing. They want to start using digital price boards so they can more easily change the prices when necessary. Aren’t they using digital menu boards already? Last time I was there they were. Sounds like they are doing the old shuffle step to try dodging the idea that they are going to start randomly changing their prices to maximize their profits. Sort of like surge pricing without actually using that term.

Demosthenes's avatar

When you use bullshit buzzwords like “dynamic pricing”, expect people to assume the worst. They deserve the bad press. And nowhere did they contradict the idea that “dynamic pricing” involves raising prices; “dynamic pricing” is often simply a euphemism for “surge pricing”.

seawulf575's avatar

They recently (within the last year) opened up a Wendy’s less than a mile from my house. We tried going there once. The line for the drive thru was out the parking lot and up the road. But we braved it, just to see. Took half an hour just to order our food and another 15 minutes to get it. When we pulled up to the window, there were 6–8 employees standing around in there, laughing and talking. Obviously Wendy’s doesn’t care about their customers so we haven’t been back to a Wendy’s since.

gorillapaws's avatar

I wouldn’t go out of principle. Running specials and discounts on slow nights to boost sales is perfectly reasonable, but having a digital stock-marketesque price matrix on the menu board controlled by AI is beyond obnoxious. Fries are down but Whoppers are way up! Madness.

jca2's avatar

Agreed, everyone. @seawulf575 Yes, I think all these fast food places use digital menu boards. That way, when you order, your order shows up on the board. I agree it’s all backpedaling and semantics now, and trying to cover up their fuckup.

RocketGuy's avatar

They could have said: “dynamic pricing, for example discounts at off-hours to increase volume and improve efficiencies.” But people would still be able to figure out the opposite case: increasing prices to maximize profits and decrease demand peaks.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

THE “Blue light special” ! ! at K-Mart. . . https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/blue-light_special

SnipSnip's avatar

I don’t eat fast food anyway, but no. Every customer should pay the same price for the same item.

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Blue Light Specials are more like flash sales rather than the surge pricing. To make them match, you’d have to define a Blue Light Special as “Attention shoppers! It’s 3 p.m. and time for our Blue Light Special! For the next 2 hours all prices in the store will be going up by 10%!”

jca2's avatar

@LadyMarissa I posted that above (in the link).

ragingloli's avatar

For now. No reason to think they will not roll it out on the hush-hush.

canidmajor's avatar

@ragingloli, very likely. A quiet rollout in, say, six months would go by virtually unnoticed. Gotta wonder if the loud mouth/person with a conscience publicist still has a job.

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