Focus Brands, the parent company of Jamba, McAlister’s Deli and more quick-service restaurants, this week quietly added a 35-cent surcharge to all digital orders.
The “digital transaction fee” took effect Monday for all online and app-based orders at Focus Brands, the company said in a statement to Restaurant Business. The surcharge applies to all digital orders, whether placed for pickup or delivery.
“As consumer behavior in our restaurants shifts toward a digital experience, our brands must make sure we have the right infrastructure in place to ensure our guests/customers receive a seamless brand experience,” Dawn Ray, senior vice president of corporate and brand communications for Focus said.
Some consumers took to social media to complain about the added fee.
One McAlister’s Deli customer posted a receipt on Twitter, noting that she saw a 35-cent charge, plus a 3 cent tax, on her 30-day tea pass subscription.
“Watch your receipts,” she said. “Now we all know what happened to this loyal customer.”
McAlister’s Deli responded, saying the service fee helps “improve the online ordering experience.”
“To avoid this fee, you can still pick up your tea in-restaurant,” the fast-casual chain said on Twitter.
Another McAlister’s diner complained, “I love you guys but a service fee for ordering PICK UP through the app??? Come on. No other restaurant charges you for placing an online order.”
Atlanta-based Focus Brands operates seven chains, including Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Carvel.
Restaurants have long touted digital transactions as a labor-saving tool.
During the pandemic, a number of operators have added COVID-19 surcharges to checks to cover the increased cost of personal protective equipment, sanitation, disposable menus and more.