Burger King, one of the world’s largest fast food chains, is facing a class action lawsuit from customers who claim that the company’s Whopper burgers are much smaller than advertised. The lawsuit alleges that Burger King uses deceptive images on its menu boards that make the burgers appear to be 35% larger and contain double the amount of meat than what customers actually receive.
The Whopper of a Lawsuit
The lawsuit was filed in March 2022 by four customers from Florida, New York, and California, who say they were misled by Burger King’s marketing and paid more than they should have for their Whoppers. They claim that the company changed its images of Whoppers in 2019 to make them look more appealing and enticing, but did not increase the size or weight of the actual burgers.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and negligent misrepresentation. They also want Burger King to stop using the allegedly misleading images and to disclose the true size and weight of its burgers on its menu boards.
Burger King denied any wrongdoing and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in May 2022. The company argued that reasonable consumers do not expect every burger to look exactly like an advertising photo, and that the company clearly states the portion sizes of its burgers on its website. For example, the Whopper is listed as containing a quarter-pounder patty.
The Judge’s Ruling
However, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman in Miami rejected Burger King’s motion to dismiss last week and ruled that the case can proceed to trial. Altman said that it was not the court’s place to decide what American consumers find significant, and that it should be up to a jury to “tell us what reasonable people think.”
Altman also said that Burger King’s argument that consumers should check its website for portion sizes was not persuasive, as many customers may not have access to the internet or may not bother to do so before ordering. He added that Burger King’s images of Whoppers are “materially different” from the actual burgers, and that this could influence customers’ purchasing decisions.
Altman’s ruling allows the plaintiffs to pursue their claims against Burger King’s in-store menu boards, but not against its online and television advertisements. He said that the company did not promise that the burgers would be a particular size or weight when served in those media.
A spokesperson for Burger King told Forbes that “the plaintiffs’ claims are false” and that the patties shown in its ads are “the same patties” used in the Whopper sandwiches it serves.
The Trend of Fast Food Lawsuits
Burger King is not the only fast food giant facing legal challenges over its portion sizes and advertising practices. In July, Taco Bell was sued over its allegedly scant portion sizes and both McDonald’s and Wendy’s are fighting similar lawsuits as Burger King. In 2016, Subway settled a case claiming its Footlong subs were not always a foot long and this year prevailed over a woman who claimed its tuna was not actually tuna.
These lawsuits reflect a growing trend of consumers demanding more transparency and accountability from fast food companies, especially in an era of rising food prices and health concerns. Some experts say that these lawsuits may also encourage fast food companies to improve their quality standards and customer satisfaction.