One day in 2016, Kelly Killeen went to a McDonald’s location in Chicago and bought an Extra Value Meal. This so-called “Extra Value Meal” was composed of two sausage burritos, hash browns, and a medium coffee. It cost her $5.08 in total.
The price point puzzled her. She did the math and determined she could've gotten those exact items, individually, for $4.97. Hey now, she thought. That’s no deal at all!
So she, uh, did what anyone else would do and sued the corporation in December 2016, citing the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Bundled, she claimed, the items in her Extra Value Meal cost more than they did a la carte. The Extra Value Meal was a case of deceptive advertising, she claimed, implying that customers would save money when they'd really just end up eleven cents poorer.
But United States District Court judge Elaine E. Bucklo dismissed the class-action lawsuit last Friday, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. Bucklo didn't think Killeen's claims held much water.
Killeen felt that McDonald’s had been duping customers with impunity ever since the inception of this so-called “value meal,” which was initially created by franchise manager Alan Dimayuga in the early 1990s to speed up and simplify the ordering process for customers and workers. Punching an Extra Value Meal into a system allows workers to put orders in more quickly, expediting what could occasionally be a drawn-out transaction.
Killeen, who could not be reached for comment by MUNCHIES on Wednesday, implicated two different McDonald’s locations in her suit, taking particular issue with “the pervasive pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and otherwise improper advertising, sales and marketing practices that McDonalds continues to engage in.”
“Illinois law is clear that where other information is available to dispel that tendency, there is no possibility for deception,” the judge wrote. "Understandably, plaintiff may not have wished to take the time to compare prices, but there is no question that doing so would have dispelled the deception on which her claims are based.”
In other words, Bucklo argued that the price differentials between an Extra Value Meal and its individual components are not lurking in some impossible-to-find fine print; they're written pretty boldly on the menu, with prices pretty obvious to anyone with working eyes.
McDonald's did not respond to immediate request for comment regarding the lawsuit's dismissal, and, well, why these Extra Value Meal packages may occasionally cost more than the individual parts lumped together—which I'm almost certain is news to many Americans.
If you've been lured by the Extra Value Meals' messaging that suggests you'll be saving money… congratulations, you're as foolish as the rest of us!