Are fast food restaurants tricking you into upsizing your order?

HOUSTON – “Have it your way” is Burger King’s slogan dating back to the 70s, but one Houston man says he feels the fast-food chain is intentionally misleading customers by steering them to order something they don’t actually want.

Small, medium, or large. It’s as simple as disclosing all of the sizes available. But Glen Tharp says every time he orders a combo meal from Burger King, employees ask him the same question.

“The girl automatically said, ‘Medium or large?’ So I said, ‘I only want a number 6.’ And she said, ‘medium or large’ with a higher tone,” Tharp recalled his drive-thru encounter on a recent visit to Burger King.

By intentionally leaving out the small option, Tharp thinks Burger King is tricking customers into upsizing their order.

“To me, it’s not right to do that to the customer,” he told consumer expert Amy Davis. “I think it’s dishonest.”

It’s also 54 cents more. That’s the price difference between a small combo meal and a medium, but Tharp says it’s more than two quarters.

“It’s the principle about it,” he said.

How common is the practice?

To find out how often it’s happening, we stopped by seven Houston-area Burger King locations with the same order. At each restaurant, we asked for a number 1 combo meal. At five restaurants, the employees did ask us if we wanted small, medium, or large.

At two locations, employees didn’t mention the small, asking only “medium or large.” When we replied asking if a small was available, the employee said yes.

We emailed Burger King’s corporate office about Tharp’s concerns. No one replied.

Consumer take-away

You should know if you get the question, “Medium or large,” you can also choose small and avoid extra charges. If the clerk doesn’t ask you what size you want, the meal should automatically be a small. Check your order and receipt to make sure you were not upsized without your consent.

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.