Wendy's Will Soon Roll out Digital Menu Boards, but Says It Won't Implement Surge Pricing

Wendy's says it will test out "dynamic pricing," not surge pricing. Here's what that means.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Feb. 29 2024, Updated 4:34 p.m. ET

A Wendy's sign on a Wendy's resturaunt.
Source: Getty Images

The recent political climate and global crises in the world have plenty of consumers examining the brands toward which they put their money. Though it's difficult to say that there's any ethical consumption under capitalism as a whole, many have been taking extra steps to avoid supporting brand names and chains that have a direct impact on events like the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To that end, even fast-food restaurants have come under scrutiny for certain initiatives.

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For a time, Wendy's became one of the most prominent options for fast food. Unfortunately, that may not last long. After all, just because their money doesn't directly fund conflict in the Middle East doesn't mean that a corporation is on anyone's side when it comes to consumers and employees.

Rumor has it Wendy's is about to undergo some controversial surge pricing in the wake of some employee-unfriendly business practices. Here's what you should know.

A close-up of the Wendy's app with the letters AI in the background.
Source: Getty Images
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Wendy's will implement "dynamic pricing" in 2025, and people think it will cause menu prices to rise.

In an earnings call reported by outlets like CNN, representatives of Wendy's confirmed that the fast food chain will undergo "dynamic pricing" in 2025. This process involves businesses enacting flexible prices for their products in response to current market demands and behavior.

In essence, this would allow the chain to increase the prices of their food based on how they perform in the market. However, it would also allow the company to reduce prices during less busy times in an effort to drive more customers in.

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Reportedly, Wendy's is investing $20 million into their new digital drive-thru menu/kiosks. These new AI-enhanced boards are completely automated and voice-activated, essentially letting customers order without speaking to a person. The boards will even suggest other menu items to go with your order, not unlike targeted ads in an app.

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Every inch of this new announcement has caused a stir among consumers on the internet. When it comes to the digital boards, many customers worry about fast food drive-thru managers and cashiers losing their jobs.

In one TikTok, a user complained, "When it gets to two employees per store, people will still buy the excuse that Wendy's can't pay more than minimum wage."

Similarly, another person wrote, "[Wendy's will do] anything versus paying for employees."

As far as the surge pricing rumors go, folks aren't happy with that either.

On X (formerly Twitter), one user tweeted, "'Dynamic pricing model' means they will find ways to charge you more, not less. The 'dynamic' part always seems to only go in one direction."

Another criticized the move as "random inflation at any time."

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Wendy's won't be implementing these new menus until 2025, but folks are already dreading the impact that these new business practices will have on customers and workers in the future.

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Wendy's says the AI-enhanced boards are meant to "benefit our customers," not charge them more.

After several media outlets reported that Wendy's would be implementing surge pricing in conjunction with the launch of its digital menu boards, the company was obliged to clarify its initiative in a press release. Unlike what several outlets are suggesting, Wendy's says its menu boards are designed to "give us more flexibility to change the display of featured items."

Furthermore, the company attempted to clear the air on the surge pricing rumor saying, "We have no plans to do that and would not raise prices when our customers are visiting us most." The company added that "any features we may test in the future would be designed to benefit our customers and restaurant crew members."

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The press release also noted that the new and improved menu boards "could allow [Wendy's] to change the menu offerings at different times of day and offer discounts and value offers to our customers more easily, particularly in the slower times of day." Simply put, it appears Wendy's is implementing these changes to get more customers in the door during non-peak hours.

Still, some people aren't convinced the company would spend millions on new AI-enhanced menu boards to only lower the prices for consumers.

However, with so many people utilizing social media platforms to expose companies for their unfavorable business practices, we're sure if price surging happens at Wendy's, it won't take long for everyone to know.

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