Subway Sued for Deception Over Stingy Sandwiches

Outrage over 11-inch ‘Footlongs’ is heading for the courtroom.

Disgrutled customers are seeking a class-action lawsuit over shortened subs. (Photo: Ben Hider/Getty Images)

Jan 24, 2013· 1 MIN READ
Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile; don’t give ’em an inch, they’ll take you to court.

A mere week after an irate Australian customer posted a photo on Subway’s Facebook page of one of its alleged “Footlongs” coming in at just 11 inches, two New Jersey men have filed suit against the mega fast-food chain for deception.

You knew this would happen, right?

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Stephen DeNittis, claims that he’s had sandwiches from 17 Subway stores measured, and none of them reached the 12-inch mark. He’s also seeking class-action status for the suit, which was filed by John Farley of Evesham, NJ, and Charles Noah Pendrack of Ocean City, NJ, reports ABC News.

We’re guessing it’s not going to be too hard to find plaintiffs who have ever ordered a “Footlong.”

Making matters worse, Subway seems to have completely bumbled its response to a collective outrage that appears to be growing by the tweet. At first there was some cockamamie explanation about bread shrinking when it’s baked, then Subway’s Australian subsidiary posted this on its own Facebook page, according to ABC: “‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.”

Needless to say, that sterling example of corporate equivocation was taken down almost as soon as it went up.

The New York Post conducted its own “investigation” (there’s one for the Pulitzer Prize committee to consider). It found that “four out of seven Footlongs—purchased at Subway locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens—measured only 11 or 11.5 inches.” An anonymous franchise owner tells the paper that the amount of meat on the subs has also shrunk by 25 percent in the past few months, owing to rising costs.

Admittedly, Subway did kind of box itself in by proudly offering “Five-Dollar Footlongs!” You can’t up the price or shrink the size; “$5.29 11-Inchers!” doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it.

As much as we think Subway deserves some kind of booby prize for general corporate cluelessness, we’re still not quite sold on the level of moral outrage here. Maybe it’s because yesterday we reported on that new campaign by the United Nations to combat the scourge of food waste (1.3 metric tons tossed in garbage bins around the world every year, according to the U.N.).

That missing extra inch of sandwich? Based on recent estimates, about half of it would be headed for the trash anyway.