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Chipotle pinches pennies, gets sued


Chipotle's made-to-order meals sometimes result in long lines that waste customers' time and cost it business, and sometimes the backup is at the cash register. So a number of Chipotles started rounding total costs to the nearest nickel so that the registers wouldn't have to deal with pennies. Some customers complained that they were overcharged two cents (and it is legally problematic to charge customers more than a stated price), so Chipotle immediately changed the policy so that receipts are rounding down and Chipotle eats the extra 1-4 cents (though they can more than make up for this by raising prices a nickel across the board). Nevertheless, a consumer-fraud class action has been filed that will surely cost more in attorneys' fees for everyone concerned than the conceivable damages to the class for the few weeks that a handful were overcharged. But save your month-old Chipotle receipt if you want to put in your claim for two cents. (The suit asserts Chipotle has been doing this since August 2008; it is wildly implausible that no attorney or consumer noticed for four years; the class representative doesn't even identify a single instance where he was personally overcharged.) [Courthouse News via LA Weekly; Star-Ledger]

It's worth noting that if class-action lawyers are finding something this ludicrous this a worthwhile use of their time, it puts the lie to the claim that the lodestar reflects real opportunity costs to the lawyers for litigating.


I was first told of this rounding up from someone out in Washington state. I went to Chipotles here in Maryland and found it very unethical for the company to think it was ok to round up making them truly a bundle of money when you take in how many customers they have. I was getting ready to write a complaint to the company until I noticed this site. Working for a large corporation myself, I truly think Chipotles has crossed the line on being ethical....

This will be another class action lawsuit where the members of the class get coupons and the lawyers rake in a bundle after settling the case.

Although it is true and unfortunate that lawyers will be the biggest profiteers in a class action law suit, Chipotle should have known that their "rounding up" policy would eventually result in legal action on behalf of consumers.

Stop complaining people. Chipotle has awesome food! I'd rather them charge me 2 pennies more than raise their prices by $2.00. Most of you drop those two pennies in that tip jar anyway. People in this country will sue for anything.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.