Subway tries—and fails—to give away one million free subs

·2 min read
Subway's turkey cali sub with a side of green sauce and three slices of bacon on white background
Subway's turkey cali sub with a side of green sauce and three slices of bacon on white background

Subway is quickly becoming my favorite fast food chain, not because of the food, but because it can’t stop being a gat-dang disaster. It is a farce of footlong-ery, or what would have happened if Trump Steaks expanded into the sandwich racket. Subway is notorious for treating its franchisees like total garbage. It introduced special cheese-melting bags that injured employees and destroyed toasters. In certain parts of the world, Subway’s bread cannot be legally considered bread. (Its sugar content makes it more of a pastry.) The founder was a creepy P.O.S. Most recently, the company has been desperately trying to convince the public that its tuna sandwiches are made with actual tuna.

Last week, Subway launched the the Eat Fresh Refresh program to help reverse its struggling fortunes, featuring new and improved ingredients, spruced-up stores, and some new additions to its sandwich menu. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Subway decided to run a free-sub promotion on July 13, with the goal of putting 1 million 6-inch Turkey Cali Fresh subs into the hands of hungry Americans, but only between the hours of 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Surprisingly, franchisees are reporting that this was a massive disaster, because nobody wanted the free Subway sandwiches.

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Insider reports that store owners have been airing their grievances about the failed promotion on a private web forum for franchisees, and it is not pretty. A franchisee in the Midwest said at one of his stores, only four people came in for free sandwiches. Things were slightly better for a multi-unit West Coast operator, who saw 10 to 20 people show up at each of his locations. But it seems he may have been one of the luckier ones in the whole free sandwich debacle; as Subway franchisee from the South wrote “Did you ever have that bad dream where you had a party and no one showed up?”

When Insider reached out to Subway for more intel on the sandwich giveaway, a spokesperson for the company said that everything was completely fine, just like its tuna, which they super-duper swear is 100% real.

“The giveaway beat our projections with thousands of restaurants participating, giving our guests the opportunity to try the new, freshly prepared Turkey Cali Fresh sub,” the company told Insider. “Overall, restaurants saw a significant lift in sales and traffic.”