Several burger lovers in Florida are suing McDonald’s for forcing them to pay for something they don’t want – cheese. They and their attorneys are  seeking other disappointed customers to join a class action suit that asserts $5 million in damages.

Cheesy Charge

Cynthia Kissner and Leonard Werner state in their lawsuit that they did not want cheese on their Quarter Pounders, but had to pay one dollar for it anyway. Before the mobile app was developed, you could order a Quarter Pounder or pay one dollar extra for a  Quarter Pounder with cheese. McDonald’s, however, now only gives a customer a cheese-free discount if he or she uses the mobile app. A Quarter Pounder with cheese currently costs $4.29, while the plain one costs $3.29.  If you order the burger in store, you pay the fee for cheese regardless of whether you ask that the cheese be held. 

Legal Basis

The lawsuit claims that McDonald's “cheesy” pricing scheme amounts to unfair and deceptive trade practices under Florida Statute Section 501.201.  It also argues that the trademark for the Quarter Pounder requires that cheese be charged for as an add-on topping.

McDonald’s Position

McDonald's stated that the advertised Quarter Pounder now includes cheese, even though cheese was not listed in the original trademark. Also, it cited its franchise agreements  that allow restaurant owners to  vary the menu pricing according to local market conditions.

The Bottom Line

If the court certifies the class action, notice will be sent out to potential class members. If the law suit is ultimately successful, the plaintiffs attorneys can expect a windfall while the individual class members may recover enough to buy a free few burgers each – and the satisfaction of getting McDonald’s to drop its cheesy charges.