Fast food – Are we getting smaller portions?

By Danielle van Wyk

Facebook was ablaze last week when one unhappy customer posted a picture of his meal claiming it was everything but value for money. The customer who paid R34.90 for a large chips was reportedly disappointed as he received what he described and photographed as a small bowl of chips. It seems the only thing fast food still has going for it these days is the convenience factor, as prices increase and value decreases.

The Parktown Nando’s customer who praised the franchise for their witty advertisements said he felt the joke was on him this time, as he wrote, “After ordering a large chips and being told it was R34.90 I paid with the intention it will be enough. When the order arrived I even asked the waiter is this correct. She told me that's the size. I spoke to the manager and he said Nandos changed the menu and this was the chip sizes they sold. I understand that inflation affects everyone but this isn't fair. I am a farmer. I know that potatoes were R120 a bag meaning they were R12 per KG. But the prices have dropped.

“Currently potatoes are R80 a bag for the best potatoes. That's R8 a KG but after you make the chips you charging R100 a KG for your chips. And we know you buying in bulk so you not paying R80 for a bag of potatoes. Yes you are trying to make money on sides but even your chicken sizes are smaller meaning that you ripping off your customers off even on your meat. I will support Nandos again but only after you drop your prices. Please understand that by you guys charging so much for your food people are not going to be supporting you and you will end up in a situation where you cannot cover costs and people will lose jobs. I haven't complained about food in my life but when something like this happens I feel that it should be complained about. I hope to hear from you soon.”

I don’t blame him for seeking quality when everything is so expensive. Consumers are feeling the pinch everywhere.With rising petrol costs, we are having to factor in spending more on driving to these fast food restaurants only to be disappointed with what we are served.

Nando’s have since responded in an interview to the Daily Voice, saying: “We have contacted the consumer in question and offered our apologies for the fact that our standard operating procedure was not followed. We have given him Nando’s vouchers to allow him to have a better Nando’s experience. At Nando’s we take quality standards and customer experience very seriously. In this case, it seems our standard operating procedure was not followed and an incorrect portion size was served.”

“We have immediately implemented corrective training across our system, to make sure this never happens again. Like everyone, we are feeling the effects of a severe drought, food inflation, a falling rand and a shake-up in the global economic markets. We have not changed our pricing strategy and continue to work hard to make sure we deliver a great quality experience at reasonable prices.”

While I am impressed by Nando’s quick response and corrective training initiative, I can’t help but think that the issue is so much deeper than a smaller portion of Nando’s chips. For one, this isn’t only a Nando’s issue. Experiences of being short changed at fast food restaurants seems to be the trend of late. We are paying more for food that seems to have decreased in both portion size and nutritional value.

Personally I’m annoyed at the fact that attention is only payed once someone complains and it goes viral. Why are fast food chains’ quality checks not noticing this?

I know that I am not the only one who feels as though the ‘happy’ has been taken out of my happy meal, so go on and share your experiences with us by commenting in the section below. 

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