What do you think about paying more for a fast food burger if you arrive at a busy time? 

February 27 – Let’s unpack that headline. Uber and Lyft have been doing what they call surge pricing. 

This means if you’re in a city and you need an Uber or a Lyft ride, the price is actually adjusted based on supply and demand at the time you are inquiring about availability. 

That means if you hit them at a high-demand time, you’re going to pay more. 

Think about getting out of a concert, for example. There would be a whole lot of people looking for the same kind of ride, hence the price could be double or triple. 

While you might not worry too much about Uber and Lyft doing price surging, what about Wendy’s – the fast food restaurant that has locations all over the tristate area? 

Yes. Wendy’s could be looking at experimenting with surge pricing.  

This would mean if you hit the restaurants at an extremely busy time, you’ll be paying more for a burger than you would at a slower time. 

Is this something we could see in our area? 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “This is remarkable to me, the idea that a restaurant will now be adjusting menu pricing, and it’s an experiment. They’re not saying they’re going to do this permanently and they’re not going to do it everywhere, but the idea that they would adjust their pricing on the menu based on instantaneous supply and demand, on volume or traffic in the store would be a really big change in the way we operate and the way we would patronize restaurants.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “It would control our behavior. I’d be one of those people. I don’t have to eat at noon. I don’t and I’ll go in and get a cheaper burger later. It does kind of make sense, though, with them having not as many employees, they get surges at noon, they can’t handle it. They get criticized for poor service. This is a way of trying to probably improve that as well.” 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM suggested, “If you’re going to tack on another dollar on that burger, it better be the most unbelievable thing I shove in my face.”

Barkdoll added, “They’re saying, too, they intend to implement more AI, so you go to the drive thru, there may be an AI chat bot that you order with and there’ll be a menu that updates based on AI at the time.”

Jansen said, “I will avoid that as much as possible. I’m not going to give business and I understand and maybe the toothpaste is out of the tube, but I am going to refuse to go to AI, fake people places as much as I possibly can for as long as I can.” 

Ryan said, “I went to the King and it was at the Pennsylvania New York border. How much do you think a cheeseburger is at Burger King?”

Jansen noted, “It’s the tiny, cheap ones.” 

Ryan said, “Regular old cheeseburger. I’m standing in line and it’s not on the value meal or anything like that. It’s your standard run of the mill cheeseburger at this particular location. $2.49.”

Barkdoll asked, “And it was just the sandwich? Not the meal or anything?” 

“Right,” Ryan confirmed. “If I wanted a cup of water I’d probably have to pay for the cup as well.”

Jansen added, “Three of us locally and I’m not going to name the particular coffee shop, we got eight ounces, one literal cup of coffee, $15 for three of us to get an eight ounce cup.” 

“No muffins?” Ryan asked. 

“No,” Jansen said, “No anything else. I will go home and make my own coffee. This is where we’re reaching that tipping point. I’m not going to spend that and by the way, I did use Uber once, I forgot. The surge price went from like $35 to $95 to get to the hotel. And you know what? It changed our behavior. We got a taxi instead, which was slightly cheaper.”

Barkdoll wondered, “What do you do though, if you’re seated, what if a restaurant would start to implement this and you’re seated, ready to go and the waiter says hey, by the way, this is surge time. All the prices on the menu are an extra 25% for the next hour.” 

“I’d get up and walk out,” Jansen insisted.

Ryan said, “You know one thing about me, I don’t walk away from a cheeseburger. I walked away. I looked at it, I said to the gal that behind the counter, I said are you kidding me? Is it $2.49 for a run of the mill cheeseburger? She said yes. I waddled my fanny right out of there.”

“It made Pat lose weight,” Jansen said. 

Ryan claimed, “That’s a microaggression.” 

Jansen laughed, “It’s a new weight loss program.”