There are more Wendy’s in Florida than anywhere, so what’s with the surge pricing?

Starting in 2025, your Wendy's order may cost you different amounts depending on when you go. Is it surge pricing? The company says it definitely is not. The internet seems to think otherwise.

In an earnings call CEO Kirk Tanner announced a dynamic pricing model that would include digital menu boards that could update prices in real time and offer different menu items during certain parts of the day, allowing prices to fluctuate depending on the time, the location and the demand.

This seems awfully close to the sort of surge pricing customers deal with when using rideshare programs like Uber or Lyft or when trying to buy concert tickets when prices, well, surge in times of high demand. And there are a lot of Wendy's in Florida, more than in any other state.

Is Wendy's adding surge pricing?

According to a statement from the company, no. The change is intended to allow "discounts and value offers," especially during slow times, it says.

"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," the statement reads.

"Any features we may test in the future would be designed to benefit our customers and restaurant crew members. 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."

Internet reaction to Wendy's surge pricing

That didn't stop media sites and internet commentators from jumping all over the announcement.

Surge pricing at Wendy's? Yes, please! I will only eat the highest-priced Baconator.

What is surge pricing?

Technological advances allow retailers to quickly change their prices on the fly. Surge pricing, also known as dynamic or variable pricing, can add dramatically to a business' profit since customers are willing to spend more at times of high demand.

A ride in an Uber might cost you $15 in the early morning but $50 during rush hour, for example. Anyone trying to buy airplane tickets or hotel reservations is well aware of just how "dynamic" prices can be based on the dates, how far in advance you order, and even what browser you're using.

Restaurants that have started dynamic pricing programs have been using them in more subtle ways, according to Sauce Blogs.

"Restaurateurs implement surge pricing in a more measured way, accounting for busy times where you simply can’t serve more orders, and actual price increases may only vary a small amount," Sauce Blogs said in a post. Restaurants have turned to this as a way to recoup money lost from rising food costs, third-party food delivery commissions and increasing minimum wages.

To go the other direction, using surge pricing to lower prices at peak hours or at select times can bring in more customers (think "Happy Hour" at bars, or Black Friday). It remains to be seen if Wendy's will limit itself to discounts.

Other restaurant chains have gotten into trouble for secretly charging different prices for delivered food, such as Chick-fil-A, which is paying $4.4 million to customers in a class-action lawsuit.

How many Wendy's are in Florida?

According to Wendy's current U.S. locations list, there are 6,028 Wendy's restaurants in the U.S. and 537 of them are in Florida, by far the most of any state.

The states with the most Wendy's locations are:

  • Florida: 537

  • Texas: 463

  • Ohio: 405

  • Georgia: 298

  • California: 293

  • North Carolina: 265

  • Pennsylvania: 259

That puts Florida ahead of Ohio, where the company was founded and maintains its corporate headquarters. (Although founder Dave Thomas used to own a home in Merritt Island.) Worldwide, there are more than 6,500 Wendy's locations in the U.S. and 29 other countries and U.S. territories, the company said.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Wendy's denies adding surge pricing. Internet reacts, fears the worst