There's no such thing as a free breakfast — at least that is what a Maryland woman who sued Burger King last year claimed when the company consistently overcharged her for Croissan'wiches.
Prince George's County resident Koleta Anderson filed a class-action lawsuit against the fast-food giant in May, alleging the company misled customers by inflating the price of the sandwiches when patrons presented buy-one-get-one-free coupons. Anderson claimed that when she bought the breakfast sandwiches without the coupons in various locations in the District, Maryland, Virginia and Florida, they turned out to be $1 to $3 cheaper.
"Burger King's nationwide scheme is stealing untold millions of dollars from hard working Americans," her lawyers wrote in a complaint in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
Seven months after the suit was filed, Burger King announced a settlement in the case. Affected customers will be entitled to $5 in cash or a $2 gift card if they fill out a claim form and meet the eligibility requirements.
As part of the settlement, the company denied wrongdoing. Burger King blamed the discrepancy on a technological glitch that occurred only when customers requested to have it their way — special-order sandwiches without egg, cheese and/or meat — while using the buy-one-get-one-free coupons.
The company said in court filings that after receiving Anderson's complaint, it immediately launched an internal investigation and fixed the electronic sale systems that were charging the higher price with coupons on the buy-one-get-one deals.
"Based upon a random sampling of receipts, fewer than 10% of all BOGO [buy-one-get-one] orders were for two modified Croissan'wiches and were conceivably impacted by the problem, with the remaining 90%+ of Croissan'wich purchasers redeemed BOGO coupons unaffected by any problem," according to the settlement agreement approved by a federal judge in December.
The problem with the coupons began to unfold when Anderson, 44, went to a Burger King in Forestville, Md., in March. She ordered a Croissan'wich with her coupon and was charged $3.19. One minute later, she bought another Croissan'wich without the coupon and was charged $2.16.
The same thing happened at a Burger King on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington in April, where she was charged $4.61 for a Croissan'wich with the coupon and only $1 without. And at a Burger King in Alexandria, she was charged $2.99 with a coupon but $1.79 without. Attorneys sent someone to conduct the same transactions in Florida and found similar results.
"This is a simple case of consumer deception," attorneys for Anderson said in their complaint.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Anderson said she could not comment on the matter.
In a statement, Anderson's attorney, Stuart Davidson, commended his client for investigating the issue and bringing the case forward. He called the settlement with Burger King a fair agreement for customers.
"This is a great settlement for Burger King consumers and it could not have been achieved but for the tenacity of Ms. Anderson, who investigated and uncovered on her own a nationwide problem at Burger King restaurants," said Davidson, a partner at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. "As a result of Ms. Anderson's actions, and the injunction Burger King has agreed to, consumers can be assured that they will never again be overcharged by Burger King when redeeming a BOGO coupon."
Anderson is expected to receive a $500 "service award" as part of the settlement and have her attorney's fees covered.
Those entitled to payment under the settlement must have purchased two or more Croissan'wich breakfast sandwiches without egg, cheese and/or a meat from a Burger King with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon and been charged an inflated price between Oct. 1, 2015, and May 19, 2017.