Burger King Breakfast Customers May Qualify for Settlement

A new class action lawsuit may put a little money back in the pockets of some Burger King customers who overpaid for a popular breakfast sandwich at the burger chain.

Maryland resident Koleta Anderson filed a lawsuit in May alleging Burger King inflated prices on the Croissan'wich breakfast sandwich for customers who paid with a Buy One Get One coupon. Burger King continues to deny wrongdoing, but a settlement has been reached.

The settlement is available to customers who purchased at least two Croissan'wich breakfast sandwiches between October 1, 2016 and May 19, 2017 using a Buy One Get One coupon. Qualifying customers were overcharged and paid more than the amount the restaurant advertised for a single, higher-priced Croissan'wich.

The Croissan'wich is one of several breakfast sandwiches sold by the fast food giant. The sandwich was introduced in the United States in 1983 to expand Burger King's breakfast menu and differentiate their breakfast line from McDonald's, their biggest competitor. The standard Croissan'wich contains bacon, a sausage patty, or ham with eggs and American cheese on a croissant.

Anderson discovered the discrepancy when she used a Buy One Get One coupon and purchased two sandwiches for a total of $3.19 pre-tax. When she returned and purchased a single sandwich without a coupon, the total was $2.16 before tax. She claims to have attempted the same at numerous Burger Kings and found all overcharged when a BOGO coupon was used.

Anderson's attorney hired an investigator who found the same results at severL Burger King locations. The Miami Herald even confirmed the price discrepancy. In May, the Miami Herald found one sausage Croissan'wich cost $3.20 with tax at two Burger Kings. When the reporter used a BOGO coupon, the totals were $3.42 and $3.64. The reporter's results were different than Anderson's as he ordered the sandwiches altered with no cheese.

According to Burger King's investigation, the discrepancy affected less than 10% of all Croissan'wich purchases with BOGO coupons during the time period in question. The chain also sent software updates to its franchisees who use the problematic point-of-sale system and written instructions.

Anderson will receive $500 from Burger King as a "service award." The chain will also pay her attorneys fees of about $185,000.

The settlement requires the chain to pay $5 or offer $2 gift cards to qualifying customers. If you qualify under the settlement, you must file a claim by January 19, 2018 to receive compensation. You do not need a receipt to receive a $2 gift card, but a receipt is necessary for cash. Eligible customers can receive a $5 cash settlement for each receipt. Without a receipt, the settlement is limited to a single $2 gift card, regardless of how many eligible breakfast sandwich purchases were made.

Claims of overcharging are among the most common types of consumer class action lawsuits. There are currently dozens of pending class actions involving overcharging, price fixing, and kickbacks. The Burger King settlement is also one of several in the last several years affecting fast food chains.

Class action lawsuits begin when one or several plaintiffs -- or Lead Plaintiffs -- who file a lawsuit alleging harm. Lead Plaintiffs can request that the court certify the case as a class action lawsuit, which means a larger group of people have suffered similar harm or could bring a similar claim against the defendant.

A class action is used when there are too many people affected for each to file a separate claim. It can also be used when damages are too low for consumers to bother with a lawsuit but many are affected, such as the case with Burger King overcharging customers.

To become certified, a case must meet three criteria: a legal claim against the defendant exists; there is a large group of people with similar injuries and similar case issues; and the Lead Plaintiff is typical of other class members with the ability and plan to represent the entire class.

When a settlement is reached, the court determines how to divide the recovery. The attorneys for the Lead Plaintiffs are given their share of costs and fees as a percentage of the recovery. The Lead Plaintiffs will receive a share that is determined by their participation in the lawsuit. The remaining money is divided among class members.

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