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5 Fast-Food Chains Most Criticized By Customers

From slow service to bad hygiene, these are the most complained about chains in America, a study finds.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

The jury's still out on criticism. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, it's not "the critic who counts," but that man in the arena who deserves the credit. In the internet era, while the critic still may not deserve the credit, a new layer has unfolded: it is now exceedingly easy to count the critics themselves. And a Feb 2022 data set from British company MrQ did just that.

The analysis is called "Karen of 2022"—a nod to the trope about the middle-aged "I'd like to speak to the manager"-type complainer—and it looked at thousands of TripAdvisor and Trustpilot reviews in order to see which popular brands received the most negative comments. After considering the content and the nature of the commentary when it comes to U.S. fast-food chains, the data was pretty damning.

So, do the worst-reviewed fast-food chains in America from MrQ's study match your take on the industry? Read on to see the most criticized chains, and next, don't miss the 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.

5

KFC

kfc restaurant exterior
Shutterstock

Total reviews: 1,550
% of one-star reviews: 62%

Poor hygiene and a confused, uncaring staff look to be among the most common complaints about KFC. Ultimately, though, it seems the people who are taking to TripAdvisor and Trustpilot about KFC are doing so to warn others about the quality of the food. "We could not stomach one bite," wrote one customer. "It was oily, old and smelly."

4

Chipotle

chipotle
Shutterstock

Total reviews: 521
% of one-star reviews: 63%

It's worth noting the much-smaller sample size here. Regardless, given the amount of controversy Chipotle has experienced in the last decade, it perhaps doesn't come as a surprise that well over half of the reviews award the chain a mere one star. A common complaint about the fast-casual burrito chain is that the service is slow or inattentive. From an industry perspective, this tracks with the staffing issues that Chipotle has been open about (which have been blamed as the culprit for the brand's food safety issues, too).

3

Subway

subway
Shutterstock

Total reviews: 586
% of one-star reviews: 64%

People love to hate Subway, apparently. Call it a break in trust caused by spokesperson Jared Fogle's very public fall from grace—or, based on the reviews, an issue with staff shortchanging people at multiple locations, in addition to an overall lack of quality in ingredients.

As one customer wrote, "Service appeared to be good . . . When we checked our receipts additional items (chicken strips) had been added. This happened to more than one family member. Not to be trusted."

RELATED: 9 Secrets Subway Doesn't Want You to Know

2

Domino's

domino's pizza
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Total reviews: 1,194
% of one-star reviews: 65%

Domino's has so much good going for it: namely, the sheer number of locations and span of their hours. You can get pizza delivered at almost any time, which in many ways is an ironclad positive working in favor of the restaurant.

But, according to the reviews, just because you can get that pizza doesn't mean you should. Looks like the main issue is their lack of consistency with customer service. Several reviewers reported huge pizza delivery delays, along with never receiving the pie at all.

1

Pizza Hut

pizza hut
Shutterstock

Total reviews: 1,644
% of one-star reviews: 66%

One pizza place doing worse than Domino's? Pizza Hut. The reviews would lead you to believe that, in fact, everyone is out-pizza-ing the hut, at least in terms of service. Slowness and inaptitude are major complaints among customers, but hygiene also makes a concerning appearance.

"Asked to wait for service whilst server grappled with computer glitch made wait [sic] for 10 minutes standing," wrote one reviewer. "Finally bought through to table and given side plates which were disgusting unwashed with scraps of food stuck between plates. Hungry so waited 15 – 20 minutes (fast food?). Décor was appalling run down drab damp looking I have never been to a worse pizza restaurant ever."

That upset critic wrote a happy end to their own story, as they continued to explain: "Got up and left went to Olive Garden which was fabulous."

For more fast food news, check out The Healthiest Dish to Order at 20 Fast-Food Chains.

Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more about Kaley