Monday, April 14, 2014

My turn: When is a Footlong not a foot long?

From page A4 | February 13, 2013 | 34 Comments

The answer, apparently, is when it’s a Subway sandwich. It seems these tasty, elongated snacks haven’t been measuring up to vigilant customers’ expectations lately.

Armed with their trusty yardsticks, pernickety patrons aross the country have resolutely sunk the Sub’s promotional promise of being one foot long (or exactly 12 inches for the dimensionally challenged). Many of the $5 Subway sandwiches have been “weighing in” at a stunted 11 inches.

Turning to social media, some disgruntled customers have been content to merely voice their outrage, while others hope to extract compensation through litigation. A class-action lawsuit against Subway seeks fast-food justice for the receding rolls.

For me, however, the incident poses more evocative questions about the advertising claims of other fast food favorites.

For instance, does this mean for the past three decades Ronald McDonald has been peddling a Quarter Pounder that doesn’t contain exactly 0.25 pounds of hamburger meat?

And should we now have doubts about the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise? Perhaps Colonel Sanders’ Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices has been covertly trimmed to a meager 10. In fact, I’ve long been suspicious of KFC advertising ever since I learned that founder Harland Sanders wasn’t even a real military colonel. (It was an honorary title given by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.)

Don’t think Hardees can escape unscathed from this shameless parade of consumer swindle, either. Their Memphis BBQ Six Dollar Thickburger actually costs (depending on the state taxes) around $6.30. That’s fraud Hardees, pure fraud.

Better lawyer-up if you plan to visit an In-N-Out Burger, and have a hankering for their Double-Double cheeseburgers. Because here, two times two does not equal four meat patties. One “double” refers to the meat, while the other “double” refers to the cheese slices. That’s just plain wrong.

And what recourse does the consumer have if it turns out that the Dirty Rice side dish sold by the Bojangles’ chain is actually clean?

Along these lines, here’s a shocking revelation about the Denny’s breakfast menu: their Senior Omelette doesn’t contain any real seniors at all!

Will the culinary cops ever investigate these apparent breaches of fast food marketing?

While we’re at it, can we send the irony police to raid Dunkin’ Donuts for having a nutrition section on its Website?

And perhaps SWAT teams should probe a potential hazard at Burger King — specifically, the Whopper Jr. Sandwich Meal. Theoretically, the opposing terms “Whopper” and “Jr.” could function dangerously like matter combining with antimatter, generating primal culinary forces that could cancel each other out violently, and detonate during digestion.

But returning to the mischief afoot at Subway.

The company has now publically addressed the Footlong fraud and expressed regret for “any instance where we did not fully deliver on our promise to our customers.”

Despite their contrite tone, Subway’s corporate penitence hasn’t quelled the wrath of customers accusing the company of selling them short.

In fact, when my last sandwich turned out to be a runt, I first considered tossing my Sub into the street in front of the store and publically protesting by smashing it with a two-by-four (which, by the way, are actually 1½ by 3½ by inches — watch out Lowes, I’m looking for a lumber lawyer).

Fortunately, a cooler head prevailed. I resolved the shriveled sandwich issue without destroying a perfectly good lunch while still expressing my displeasure to Subway. Anticipating my $5 Footlong would only be 11 inches, I simply handed the salesperson $4, and left.

Thomas’ features and columns have appeared in more than 270 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor. He can be reached at his blog:


Discussion | 34 comments

  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 11, 2013 - 7:19 pm

    Thank you so much for the laughter...much respect...lolololololol. Great article!!!!!!

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  • fishduckyFebruary 12, 2013 - 7:59 pm

    Loved your $4 solution!

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  • James E.February 12, 2013 - 8:11 pm

    Problem with paying $4 for a $5 footlong, and then leaving the store would get you arrested: Theft of Services.

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  • GeraldFebruary 13, 2013 - 8:21 am

    Givem an inch and they'll take a mile that's what I was always taught.

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  • Jim RiordanFebruary 13, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Mike, this “my Turn” column by Nick Thomas did not deserve publication in any form. Especially when it “knocks” many food businesses in our area with allegations by a self- admitted thief. He attacks In and Out Burger for “being just plain wrong” for calling its hamburger a “double–double” and then states it has two burger patties (double) and two slices of cheese (double.) What a brain dead idiot. He claims allegations of Subway sandwiches selling a “foot-long sub” that was found in some cases to be “11 inches long.” Then without measuring, and admittedly “ANTICIPATING,” the sandwich HE just consumed MIGHT have been short, he brags about leaving $4 for a $5 sandwich. So he stiffed them (stole) 1/5 of the price for a sandwich that he had claimed in some cases could be 1/12 short of what was claimed. So he is a bigger thief by more than double. What a lying, thieving POS. He probably did not pay the tax either. Had this jerk done that to me I would have reported him for “defrauding an inn keeper” or simply stuffed 1/5 of a sandwich down his shirt (which would have been more rewarding for me). Accusing Hardees of “consumer swindle” by advertising “a $6 dollar burger" that actually costs $6.30 with tax is so off the wall this jerk does not deserve to be published in any publication. This fool needs a career change. I will help that a little by sending this letter to every publication he claims to write for. If this was meant to be humor, it wasn’t. It was however an admission of intentional fraud and theft, the very thing he complains about, and a great example for our kids. His blog says it all: “getnikt blogspot" . . I’ll bet Subway would find that appropriate since they got “nicked” by the POS . Please mike, throw the bum out. There are plenty of honest, non-thieving writers to choose from.

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  • chrispytahoeFebruary 13, 2013 - 10:31 am

    Take a deep breath Jim. Your rant is kinda scary. The Subway here in Zephyr Cove measures in at under 11 inches. Maybe it is the altitude? I think a person should get what they pay for. Thomas's musings were tongue in cheek, but they do offer an insight to misleading advertising. Where is the line? When a car manufacturer stretches the truth about MPG, shouldn’t that tick the consumer off? It’s like certain political parties telling lies over and over. Eventually some dimwits accept those lies as fact.

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  • chrispytahoeFebruary 13, 2013 - 10:34 am

    James, Problem with Subway charging $5 for a $4 sandwich? That is defrauding the consumer.

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  • jim RiordanFebruary 13, 2013 - 10:50 am

    Chrispy, You think a person should get what they pay for . I agree. However this Jerk KNEW the alleged size of the sandwich, pigged it down and then stole 1/5 of the price which he knew UP FRONT . . .don't like the price? fine. Don't order it and consume it. Don't like the EPA gas estimate? Don't buy the car. I agree with James E. entirely on this one. Stealing from a business is not funny to me. In the case of my business, I have offered a full money back satisfaction for 35 years and worked hard to make sure my customers always got MORE than their money's worth with either our products or services. Know what? In all those years I have not had one person request one dime back from me. Sorry I don't believe in theft.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 13, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    I took this much different...I do not believe in stealing at all..I thought it was funny because of what people (the seller or the buyer) get away with at times. There is a movie for teens talking about both. The movie allows teens to see both sides. It includes the example of the customer who sued because her coffee was hot and it spilled in her lap in a drive though. In New York, some one sued because their relative was killed while walking the subway tracks--although the sign said do not pass-danger. Both sides can be at blame. I just thought the article was a "parody" of advertising vs the consumer. My personal favorite is the box one can order--saying environmentally safe clothes dryer--and they send a clothes line.

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  • Jim RiordanFebruary 13, 2013 - 3:22 pm

    Frances, glad you don't like stealing. Being a product developer and marketer, I do have to admit the "Environmentally friendly clothes dryer" is pretty funny. Over 35 years ago, I did one of my first "gag products" it was a "new washer and dryer" for your wife. I had a little plastic bag with a zinc "washer" and a little square of terry cloth to dry it. . . . still have one hanging in my office.

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  • fishduckyFebruary 13, 2013 - 3:55 pm

    Jim--No one is saying fraud on either side is good, but FUNNY IS FUNNY!!

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 13, 2013 - 5:31 pm

    Jim...i would have loved product design. lololol

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  • James E.February 13, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    Not germane to Subway sandwiches, but I thought the day after the State of the Union speech that this thread would be exploding with comments. Don't see even one, so guess everyone thinks it was a great speech and wonderful progressive things will happen in the next four years. Added, human interest comment: Subway kinda OK, but I prefer Quiznos (sp?).

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  • billzzFebruary 13, 2013 - 6:01 pm

    I helped my father in the restaurant business, when I was in elementary school. What everyone always misses (and there seems to be no exception to this rule) is that making a sandwich (and making a profit) is very highly dependent upon portion control. That is why the Subway person gets exactly the same packet of chicken for every roll, no matter what the roll looks like, the long one or the flat one. Then adds the exact same amount of cheese, whatever, and the customer has exactly the same weight of sandwich no matter how long the bread is. The length of the bread has nothing to do with anything. And I have made thousands of sandwiches, with the objective of having the customer come back. Back in the good old days there was not the quality control that they have now, so bread came in various rolls, bagels, croissants, Wonder Bread, Russian rye, challah, and they were all different. The customer just wanted the six inches of pastrami, never mind the bread. In fact go to the Carnegie Deli web site to see sandwiches which do not appear to have much bread at all. Read the reviews. No one talks about the length of the bread. Waste of time.

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  • Paddy O'furnitureFebruary 14, 2013 - 7:43 am

    James, you're kidding right? You really think that the polite silence (or just trying to forget) re: the SOTU is to say that the grand-standing, showboating, narcissistic, lying, gasbag, socialist, Chicago gutter snipe made good with his most recent teleprompter makeout session? Not likely. Sorry pal, but you asked.

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 9:21 am

    Paddy, I was just checking to see if you were still alive. Teleprompter? Really? Every president, even George Washington has used teleprompters. Wait, no, not George Washington -- Eisenhower. The teleprompter thing against President Obama started, I believe, with a snide comment from the Tea Party. Doesn't the Tea Party know the history of presidential teleprompters? So, when you wade in with the teleprompter comment, you include yourself with those who are deficient in teleprompter history, and Paddy, I know you're too smart for that.

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 9:25 am

    ***Delete Eisenhower, add LBJ.

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 9:40 am

    ***After Google search, appears Eisenhower is correct. Truman had one available, but refused to use it. So, every president since Eisenhower has used teleprompters. Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama. Guess the Tea Party doesn't know presidential teleprompter history (or doesn't want to learn).

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  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 9:43 am

    If the former Presidents used the teleprompter to the same extent as Obama then they definitely had better neck control.

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  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 9:46 am

    With 33.5 million viewers, Tuesday's SOTU drew the smallest crowd for the event in 13 years.

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 9:52 am

    Evelyn, in the early days it was one teleprompter face on. Like everything, they improved so that the speaker could better address the audience. I'm so sorry to hear that the turn out for the SOTU speech was down -- darn, I knew I should have watched it.

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  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 9:57 am

    Point taken, James, about the two-teleprompter effect. Yes, had you tuned in you would have driven up the numbers by one!

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  • Paddy O'furnitureFebruary 14, 2013 - 11:45 am

    James, the Chicago Gutter Snipe will hardly utter a word publicly without it being carefully scripted and put up on a screen. His use of it far exceeds all others before him. You wouldn't know it since your news outlets are probably exclusively leg-tingling Obama bootlickers, but there have been numerous occasions where he spoke without one and made royally stupid mistakes. I'm talking GWB stupid. You have to hunt for news like that, since PMS-NBC won't hear of it. Bush was not a good off-the-cuff speaker, but the Socialist in Chief is most certainly no better; but he avoids looking like the @ss that he is by being a Bigamist, which is to be married to both Michelle and the teleprompter. OBTW, calling me a Tea Partier isn't nearly the insult you hope it to be, at least to me. I identify more with the Tea Party movement than the GOP. But, when I call your Savior a socialist, I do intend it as an insult, as A) He is indeed one, and B) I think socialists are positively despicable and made of the kind material I wouldn't track from the barnyard into the barn on the sole of my feet. Happy Valentines Day James! :^)

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Paddy, I didn't mean to imply you are a Tea Partier. My reference to the Tea Party is where the Obama/teleprompter comments gained favor and that you are smart enough to know it is less than accurate. Now, that said, of course a major speech is carefully scripted. Talking off the cuff can often be rambling and incomplete/embarrassing. I, even after all these years, still have a fear of public speaking. My mind goes 75% blank and God knows what might leak out. So, if I have to give a speech and don't want to look the fool, it is carefully scripted -- haven't ever had access to a teleprompter, but I would use one in a nano second.

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  • Paddy O'furnitureFebruary 14, 2013 - 12:44 pm

    James, I am engaged in public speaking on a very regular basis, and yes, it can be difficult. Except: (**KEY POINT AHEAD**) when it comes from the heart. I prepare notes but only look at them less than 10% of the time I speak, because of the passion I have for what I am speaking of. Politicians RARELY speak form the heart; they speak what the intended audience is supposed to be persuaded of. They say whatEVER is necessary to accomplish mission #1: Get Reelected. Mission #2 is whatever agenda is behind the scenes. Whatever you do, do not try to project truth into a mouth that spews lies for a living, just because you voted for the man that the mouth is attached to. As you said to me, you're too smart for that. Obama is a pathological liar. Dura Realidad. As I once heard said and have adopted as my own creed, "Never fall in love with a politician; they'll break your heart every time."

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  • DeeFebruary 14, 2013 - 1:06 pm

    Longhofer-The 11% drop in viewers for the SOTU is because we all knew it would be the same old,same old; big government,more spending and fewer liberties. The Tea Party is not group who brought the telepromters. The Tea Party did not exist in the 2008 campaign. The eventual members thought that only they were upset with Bush and the stimulous packages, plus other issues. It wasn't until ObamaCare was pushed through that we discovered there are many of us.So your statement about telepromters may be true, but your ignorance on the Tea Party is showing. About the telepromters, who cares? They are no more than electronic 3x5 cards. However, using them to talk to kindergartners is over use.

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  • DeeFebruary 14, 2013 - 1:15 pm

    Oops! The Tea Party is not group who brought the telepromters" should be "The Tea Party is not the group who were concerned about the telepromters, it was the Republican campaign committee."

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 1:17 pm

    Dee, I do have ignorance of the Tea Party and hope it continues. Any group that -- well, enough said. Not germane, but had a wonderful experience yesterday with COMCAST. They visited in November, did no work, and charged me two service calls for that one day. Was just on the verge of writing to the CEO, and the Attorney General when I received a delightful call from Christina of COMCAST. Did away with the two service calls, and somehow reduced my bill by an additional $114.00. I'm now a happy camper.

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  • DeeFebruary 14, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    Longhofer-"Dee, I do have ignorance of the Tea Party and hope it continues. Any group that -- well, enough said," Then anything you say about the Tea Party is inconsequential.Or to quote Will Rogers, "When you know you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut" - Will Rogers

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  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    Someone mentioned POLITICIANS. Relevantly, Ann Bressington (Australian MP) has this to say: "People only lie for two reasons. One reason is because you’re ashamed of what you’re doing, and the second reason is that you don’t want people to be warned just before you screw them."

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  • DeeFebruary 14, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Evelyn-Here is another quote I like,"“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”-- Albert Einstein.

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 3:46 pm

    Dee, I'm sorry, what was your last name again?

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  • James E.February 14, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    We should live in the moment. Sadly, we live in the past and the future and waste the moment.

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  • JJFebruary 15, 2013 - 8:17 am

    This is a hilarious story. What also amuses me is 1) how some readers can take parody so seriously and 2) how comment threads so quickly get off subject and into commenters’ political/social agendas.

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