It can feel like everywhere you turn, someone
is trying to swindle you. Turns out, you’re not even safe in the warm,
welcoming arms of your favorite burger joint. Unfortunately, fast food restaurants are not
the safe haven you might be hoping for – they’ve been known to take advantage of their customers,
too. Whether it’s shady business practices or misleading
advertising, here are all the ways your favorite eateries might be scamming you. “Gee, this is pretty good.” The fry trick It’s easy to scarf down McDonald’s fries,
but have you ever felt like they disappeared a little too quickly? Your appetite might not be to blame. Former employees of the fast food chain have
alleged that employees are encouraged to pinch the fry carton while pouring fries in, to
make the box appear full when it’s really half-empty. By the time the customer notices – if they
do – they’re already out of line and out the door. McDonald’s denied any knowledge of this practice,
saying, “We believe these claims to be fictional,
there are no ‘secret tricks’ and we have strict operational procedures in place to ensure
that fry portions are not under-filled.” But of course they’d say that. It might be a good idea to keep an eye on
those fries before you dive in next time – just in case. “There are several sacred things in this world
that you don’t ever mess with. One of them happens to be another man’s fries.” Same size, different price Do you get the cup of soup or the bowl? Does it matter? They might be the same size, depending where
you are – and one might cost more than the other. Online commenters have discussed this sneaky
tactic at a number of restaurants, from local diners to major chains, claiming that everything
from sodas to soups to milkshakes can get described misleadingly. At one unnamed chain, a Reddit poster wrote
that, “People would pay more for a bowl, and just
get a cup of soup in a bowl that was shorter and wider at the bottom than the cup.” The way containers are designed can make it
harder than it should be to compare sizes at a glance, and it’s not illegal to sell
the same amount of product at varying prices in different-sized containers. It’s just very misleading. [Rapping] “Check my Big Cups, double up heavyweight
size, fill em up and guzzle til you’re satisfied.” Track your order? Ordering pizza for delivery has never been
easier. But the technology that connects you with
your dinner can be manipulated, and not in the customer’s favor. Take the Domino’s Tracker. This webpage allows you to see the exact status
of your order on its way from the kitchen to your door – supposedly. But employees are the ones who enter that
information, and can make your order appear to be at a different stage than it is, with
pizzas being marked as dispatched to drivers who aren’t even back at the store yet. It makes the stores’ prep times more impressive,
but at the cost of misleading you. But don’t give them a hard time – delivery
boys have it tough enough. “Woah, he stole that guy’s pizza!” Not what you asked for Fast food slogans like “Have it your way”
have led us to believe that the customer has the power when they order. But that’s not always the case. “What is – I ordered the barbeque beef!” Anecdotes from workers of chains like Burger
King have claimed that, in practice, what you’re sold is sometimes not what you get,
especially if there’s a chance you can’t easily tell the difference. Stories of decaf coffee being watered-down
regular coffee have circulated, despite the fact that that’s not how decaffeination works. Full-fat mayo may be sold as light mayo, or
vice versa, depending on what’s cheaper – and you may never even know. Grill marks mean nothing We see grill marks on our food, and we taste
a distinct grilled flavor, but the grill you see in so many kitchens is a flattop. What gives? Most fast food restaurants receive product
from companies whose job it is to add those grill marks, as well as flavor enhancers to
make it taste like it came straight off the barbecue. According to Food Republic, the deceptive
burger patties and chicken pieces are soaked in a solution that includes salt, animal fats,
smoke flavoring, and other preservatives before being cooked with blasts of hot air. After that, the not-grilled food is branded
to make it appear grilled. You have to wonder: Wouldn’t it be simpler
to just… actually grill? Receipts don’t add up It can pay to be diligent about checking your
meal receipts. In 2017, a Panera Bread customer told Chicago’s
WGN9 that he noticed an inflated total after one visit. “There was an additional nine dollars in the
subtotal, but there was no items in the line items above that suggested that it should
add up to that amount.” In a statement, a Panera representative said, “We found a rare glitch in the system which
resulted in the charge […] We implemented a change on our receipt structure which we
believe has resolved this issue.” Others have since come forward with similar
claims, so this glitch may not have been so rare after all. The bottom line is, well… always check the
bottom line. What you see, and what you get Fast food ads know how to catch the eye. But the letdown is immediate when what you
get in real life looks nothing like the picture promised, and that’s probably never going
to change. Consumer Reports checked out seven fast food
restaurants to see how the pictures on the menus compared to what they actually ordered. For the most part, the results were disappointing,
with Subway coming in as the most misleading. “Trimble! Let’s see ya sub! No. No, meat on the inside, bread on the outside.” It’s extremely common stuff. So if this is a universally recognized problem,
why can’t we expect a change? Isn’t it false advertising? Unfortunately, not really. According to a spokesperson for the Federal
Trade Commission, “Truth-in-advertising laws do apply when restaurants
show menu items in print and television ads […] but the FTC hasn’t pursued any cases
alleging that food ads are deceptive based on photos.” Apparently, the government isn’t likely to
take law enforcement action, quote, “in cases where consumers can easily evaluate the product,
it’s inexpensive, and it’s frequently purchased.” Sounds like we’re all better off just adjusting
our expectations – and maybe making our own food, too.

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