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America's Top Three Burger Chains Are Being Sued For Deceiving Customers

The brands are accused of similarly misrepresenting the sizes of their burgers in ads.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

Ever feel like the food at your go-to fast-food place is smaller than advertised? If so, you'll be interested to learn of the current legal drama involving McDonald's and Wendy's. The chains have been accused of "overstating" the size of their burgers in a new class-action lawsuit.

Recently filed in Brooklyn federal court by New York resident Justin Chimienti, the suit claims that McDonald's and Wendy's advertisements "materially" misrepresent the size of their burgers, making them appear as much as 15% to 20% larger than they really are.

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wendys bourbon bacon cheeseburger
Courtesy of Wendy's

Using testimony from a food stylist who claims to have worked for McDonald's and Wendy's, Chimienti says that the chains mislead customers by using undercooked patties in their ads—a marketing technique for making food appear larger and fresher than it actually is.

Chimienti (who had disappointing experiences with McDonald's Big Mac and Wendy's Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger) is arguing that the fast-food advertisements constitute consumer fraud, and is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for breach of contract and "violations of national consumer laws."

Chimienti's lawsuit is similar to a case recently brought against Burger King (a joint filing, involving the same firm representing Chimienti). Plaintiffs in the Burger King class action suit are also accusing Burger King of misleading customers with "overstated" burger sizes.

Both lawsuits cite ongoing inflation and increases in consumer prices as causes for concern with the alleged fraud. "Defendants' actions are especially concerning now that . . . many consumers, especially lower-income consumers, are struggling financially," reads a line in the Chimienti filing.

Indeed, the CEOs of McDonald's and Wendy's have recently acknowledged the impact of inflation on their customers. McDonald's leader Chris Kempczinski alluded to consumer "value sensitivity" during an April earnings call, and Wendy's Todd Penegor cautioned investors last week that "inflation is being noticed by consumers."

Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more