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Wendy’s Insists It Has No Plans to Test Surge Pricing

Wendy’s store

Wendy’s wants diners to know it’s not raising prices, despite what they may have heard.

When reports emerged recently that the fast-food chain was going to test dynamic pricing — or surge pricing, the practice of hiking prices when demand is at its highest level — a social media backlash ensued.

Now, Wendy’s is saying that its earlier statements — stemming from comments about digital initiatives during its quarterly earnings report — were misinterpreted.

“One initiative is digital menuboards, which are being added to U.S. Company-operated restaurants,” the company wrote on its blog.

“We said these menuboards would give us more flexibility to change the display of featured items. This was misconstrued in some media reports as an intent to raise prices when demand is highest at our restaurants. We have no plans to do that and would not raise prices when our customers are visiting us most.”

To be clear, Wendy’s CEO Kirk Tanner specifically mentioned dynamic pricing in a call with analysts earlier this month.

Per a widely quoted transcript of that call: “Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features like dynamic pricing and day-part offerings along with AI-enabled menu changes and suggestive selling.”

However, Wendy’s stressed that the company has no plans to begin raising prices during high-demand times.

“Any features we may test in the future would be designed to benefit our customers and restaurant crew members,” the statement said. “Digital menuboards could allow us 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.”

Wendy’s isn’t the only restaurant making this sort of digital push. As PYMNTS reported, Diversified Restaurant Group, which spans more than 350 units, last month opened an “all-digital” drive-thru-only Taco Bell in Missouri.

This is in keeping with what consumers are looking for in their drive-thru experiences, as PYMNTS Intelligence has found, with research showing 70% of restaurant customers want technologies such as personalized menus incorporated into the drive-thru.

In addition, most restaurant customers have adopted digital ordering technologies. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “Consumer Interest in an Everyday App” showed that one quarter of American restaurant customers exclusively order food via connected devices every month, while another 36% do so both via connected devices and traditional channels.