No, Wendy's says it isn't planning to introduce surge pricing Questions about whether the fast food chain would hike prices during the busiest times of day came after comments made by Wendy's President and CEO Kirk Tanner during an earnings call.

No, Wendy's says it isn't planning to introduce surge pricing

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How much does it cost for a fast-food burger? For Wendy's customers, the answer could vary. NPR's Joe Hernandez reports the announcement comes as more industries experiment with fluctuating prices.

JOE HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: Surge pricing isn't new. Airlines began doing it in the 1980s. And more recently, ride-sharing apps like Uber have hiked prices when demand increases. Now, the fast-food business is looking to dish up dynamic pricing, too. Here's Wendy's president and CEO Kirk Tanner speaking to investors during a February earnings call.


KIRK TANNER: Beginning as early as 2025, we will begin testing more enhanced features, like dynamic pricing and daypart offering.

HERNANDEZ: Many took those comments to mean Wendy's was about to launch surge pricing, but the company told NPR in an email that it's hoping to use dynamic pricing to drive traffic to its restaurants during the slower parts of the day - not raise prices at peak times. Rob Shumsky is a professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He says, when companies change their prices as demand ebbs and flows, it can confuse and annoy customers.

ROB SHUMSKY: It can reduce the trust between consumers and people who provide services. If you can't depend on a price being at a certain level, you're going to hesitate to go back.

HERNANDEZ: Shumsky says companies often announce price hikes during peak periods ahead of time, such as more expensive theme park tickets on weekends. But more recently, technology has made it easier for prices to change in real time - a trend popping up everywhere from hotels to movie theaters.

SHUMSKY: If price is the same throughout the entire day, they are actually losing revenue during those peak period times.

HERNANDEZ: But Shumsky says surge pricing can actually benefit consumers. Prices may be higher during busy periods, but that means they could come down during off-peak times, and customers might actually see a discount.

Joe Hernandez, NPR News.


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