|English: fast-food in Peterburg. Russia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Most of you have probably heard something about the controversy involving the Subway sandwich franchise and their foot-long sub sandwiches. Apparently they don't always measure up as advertised. The sandwiches may actually only be 11 inches instead of the advertised length of one foot. Now the company is being sued for cheating us out of an inch.
Subway restaurants came into existence well into my lifetime. The origins of the business name come from the type of deli sandwich they specialized in--the sub or submarine sandwich. When I was a kid I can remember sub sandwiches also being referred to as "foot-longs". These types of sandwiches were also sometimes called torpedoes, heroes, grinders, hoagies, and other regionally related terms. They were descriptively named because it was probably easier and more colorful than calling it exactly what it was. "Foot-long" was really more of a description of appearance and had nothing to do with precise length.
A spokesperson from Subway used this same defense. "Foot-long" has long (sorry) been a term used to describe the appearance of something. We have foot-long hot dogs and foot-long burritos. I haven't measured either of these products and I personally don't care precisely how many inches they are. It's a matter of how long they appear to be. They are longer than normal and that means it's something that I'm going to stick in my face and get fatter by doing it--that is if I eat too many feet worth and don't exercise properly. But let's face it, an inch or a fraction of an inch isn't going to mean that much to my stomach.
Okay, so maybe there's some false representation at hand when they advertise 6 inch or 12 inch subs and they should stop citing measurements if those aren't the lengths they are delivering. I remember back in the 70's when I used to eat at a sub deli that advertised 13" subs. I never even thought to measure them because they looked fine to me and they tasted great. But if they were not really 13" subs then maybe advertising them as such was wrong because they were actually providing dimensions in the description. I don't care that much about it though. I have more important things to think about.
So what do we do? Start taking scales with us to fast food joints to make sure Quarter Pounders really are what they say? But then we have to consider whether the weight is precooked meat weight or what the sandwich actually weighs as presented to us. The legal disclaimers these companies have been required to draw up give us that information, but how many of us really study it and keep track of all of it. When I'm hungry I just want to eat and I'm not interested in sitting down with the fast food legal rep and entering into a contract of mutual understanding of what I'm having for lunch.
Companies should not engage in deceptive false advertising, but neither should consumers be looking at the advertising through the eyes of absolute literalism to the point where they don't recognize hyperbole and the cosmetic tactic of making things have optimal appearance when depicted in advertising. I've never gotten a hamburger that looks like the ones they show in television commercials. Why don't we sue Burger King for giving us crappy-looking smashed up burgers that look nothing like the advertising?
The subject of lawsuits is something I plan to address in various future posts. I am no fan of lawsuits. The issues with Subway should be mediated with the Department of Weights and Measures or whatever dumb government agency deals in trivialities such as the foot-long subs. Why should lawyers be involved in this? There will now probably be a class action lawsuit. The economy draining attorneys will be lining their greedy pockets with undeserved cash. You too can win if you've ever been duped into buying one of those foot-long Subway sandwiches. If you are part of that class action suit you might be awarded something like a fifty cent coupon for Subway. You can then go and buy one of Subway's new Long or Half-long sandwiches.
Do you like Subway sandwiches? Have you ever measured your sandwich before paying for it? Have you ever gone to a restaurant that sold torpedo sandwiches and been upset that you didn't receive an actual torpedo?