A New Jersey woman said she paid $12.85 for eight chicken nuggets in a Chick-fil-A meal to be delivered to her door — roughly 30% more than what she might have paid if she picked up the order herself, according to federal court filings.
Now she’s suing the Georgia-based fast food giant.
In a federal lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York on Sept. 28, Aneisha Pittman, who lives in Newark, New Jersey, along with New York City resident Susan Ukpere, accused Chick-fil-A of imposing hidden delivery fees to capitalize on an influx of online delivery orders spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pittman and Ukpere are seeking to represent a proposed class of customers who say they were similarly duped by Chick-fil-A’s promised low-price delivery fee.
“On delivery orders only, Chick-fil-A secretly marks up food prices for delivery orders by a hefty 25-30%,” attorneys for the proposed class said in the complaint. “In other words, the identical order of a 30-count chicken nuggets costs approximately $5-6 more when ordered for delivery than when ordered via the same mobile app for pickup, or when ordered in-store.”
Lawyers and a representative for Chick-fil-A did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Tuesday. An attorney for the proposed class declined to comment.
According to the complaint, Ukpere paid $11.05 for a Spicy Deluxe Sandwich meal in August 2020 — a 25 to 30% markup from the pick-up price. The surcharge was part of a pattern of deception reportedly committed by Chick-fil-A amid a heightened interest in delivery services, attorneys said.
Attorneys representing the customers pointed to a marked increase in revenue for the top four food delivery apps in the U.S. during the early months of the pandemic, when lockdown orders were widespread and many restaurants were closed to in-person dining.
From April to September 2020, the lawsuit states, DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub and Postmates collectively made $3 billion more in revenue.
Chick-fil-A sought to capitalize on the demand, according to the complaint, and began advertising low delivery costs in early 2020. But attorneys said customer tickets routinely listed a flat delivery fee of $2.99 or $3.99 without noting the increased price of its online menu items.
“Chick-fil-A furtively marked up the cost of food reflected in the ‘Subtotal’ — adding a hefty 25-30% to the cost of the food items ordered for delivery,” the complaint states. “Chick-fil-A did not and does not make similar markups for identical food items ordered via the same app or website, where such items are ordered for pickup instead of delivery.”
Attorneys representing Pittman and Ukpere said thousands of customers were potentially impacted and asked a judge to divide them into three proposed classes for the purpose of litigation: one New York class, one New Jersey class and one nationwide class.
The lawsuit makes claims for deceptive business practices in New York, violations of the New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
The proposed class is asking a federal judge to issue an injunction barring Chick-fil-A from continuing to add surcharges to online delivery orders. They also asked for restitution, damages and attorneys’ fees.
Court filings show Chick-fil-A has not responded to the allegations and instead asked for an extension, citing the time needed to investigate the claims.
The judge granted its request, and a response is now due by Dec. 6.