ABA Journal


Trials & Litigation

Subway agrees size does matter, says ‘footlong’ sandwiches should be 12 inches

Jan 24, 2013, 08:38 pm CST


Well, this should go without saying. When the happy day finally arrives that finds enough pennies in the Sandwich for Liz jar to buy Liz a sandwich of her choosing, it would be a complete travesty if she had to settle for 11 or 11.5 inches instead of the full 12. While a sandwich may be a thing of little consequence to some, they need to recognize that others may have been fondly looking forward to a sandwich for many years, and should not be shorted when the opportunity to obtain one is finally at hand.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 25, 12:14 am CST

It appears that Subway should adhere to an "as advertised" policy, lest it "go down the tubes" as they say in London.

By Brit on 2013 01 25, 9:30 am CST

Maybe Subway should take a page from McDonald's "quarter pounder" flim-flam, and add in fine print, "length before baking".

In any event, given the strict portion control on the stuffings they put into the subs, why all the angst over a missing half-inch of bread?

By Ham Solo on 2013 01 25, 10:46 am CST

This matter could easily be resolved, without Subway having to modify their production process, by referring to their sandwiches as large (near 12") and regular (near 6"). One clever sandwich shop I frequent measures their freshly baked bread to be the length of the knife blade and then cuts off the excess. While they can't call it a "footlong", they don't have customers complaining of it's size frivolous law suits to defend. Notably, the Subway jingle is pretty nice "$5 footlong" and from a marketing standpoint, maybe that's worth all of the behind the scene wrangling to get this suit dismissed.

By Tice Law Firm on 2013 01 25, 12:06 pm CST

Why not do as the expert reports always do and just say "approximately" in fine print? No matter how they do it, it will never be exactly 12 inches long. Do we have an ASTM for tolerances on baked bread length? Also, do we measure at extreme ends? Length of filling? Inside the crust area (as many may not consider the crust an edible part of the sandwich)? What happens if the bread is 11 inches (however measured) but the filling overhangs by 1.1 inches? How do we measure then? It seems more likely that either the individual or his attorney bringing the lawsuit either saw a way to get some money out of Subway.

By Jim on 2013 01 25, 12:08 pm CST

Good thing that Subway does not sell shoes. Aye, there's the rub.

By Brit on 2013 01 25, 1:26 pm CST

Does this controversy mean I shouldn't say I'm 10"?

By DirkJohanson on 2013 01 25, 1:27 pm CST

Another lawsuit story that contributes to the stellar reputation of lawyers everywhere. What's next, suing a girl after a hot date when you find out "they" are not real?? Suing car companies because those mileage claims just don't pan out? Suing clothing manufacturers because that XL shirt you bought and made in China really is only an L? Suing lawyers because they pad their bills (though that never happens I am sure)?

By BJJT on 2013 01 25, 1:35 pm CST

Remember the medieval origin of the "baker's dozen" -- maybe Subway management would have been better to have designed a 13 inch foot-long sandwiches.

Where were the State and Federal agencies that were suppose to be protecting the public?

By Me on 2013 01 25, 1:46 pm CST

@8, um, Honda did just settle a milage suit. Estimated cost $170,000,000.

By Texaslawyer on 2013 01 25, 2:43 pm CST

So now they'll stretch out the same dough a little further and spread the same amounts of meat, cheese and vegetables a little thinner. Well done, lawyers!

By Random Guy on 2013 01 25, 3:03 pm CST

When subway makes a 6" sandwhich, they cut the 12" bun in half. Is the next lawsuit going to allege that someone is being cheated because the Subway employee failed to cut the bun exactly in half? Where do you draw the line?

Also, I've never measured a pizza to find out if it is exactly the size I ordered, but I would guess that there is some variation from pie to pie. Guess I'll break out my tape measure the next time, just in case I'm missing out.

By Chris on 2013 01 25, 3:06 pm CST

Who says that footlong means inches? It could be as long as someone's foot. Quick, somebody find Jared and grab a tapemeasure.

By LioMan on 2013 01 25, 3:07 pm CST

It cracks me up that someone would actually sue for that...

By Fifi on 2013 01 25, 3:16 pm CST

I disagree that it is the same as buying a dozen of something and only getting eleven. Eggs and donuts are discrete items. A sandwich is a single item of an approximate size. A suit of this nature is more akin to suing Home Depot because the 2 x 4 is actually 1.5 x 3.5.

By Raggs on 2013 01 25, 3:34 pm CST

Given how awful the "food" tastes at Subways, its customers should be grateful to get an inch less of it.

By Dan on 2013 01 25, 3:57 pm CST

I wonder how much that will change the calorie count on the menu. While Subway is at it, they should change that ridiculous policy of charging you for every extra pinch of cheese, especially when you aren't getting any vegetables on the sandwich.

By I wonder... on 2013 01 25, 4:08 pm CST

I find it somewhat remarkable how numb so many of you are to being cheated. I applaud all efforts to sue over lies in advertising, and totally disagree with those complaining about the "slippery slope to more absurd lawsuits over lies." I find the "slippery slope to larger and larger undiscouraged lies" to be more troublesome.

Perhaps enough lawsuits over this sort of thing will reduce the number of commercials we are bombarded with.

By Voice of Reason on 2013 01 25, 4:31 pm CST

If your watching your waistline you don't order the footlong anyway, half is plenty. I am thinking Kim Kardashian must have ordered a footlong and complained that it was in inch short because it makes a big difference in whether she is satisfied or not.

By EJF on 2013 01 25, 4:42 pm CST

@18: The lawsuit is stupid, as no one is being cheated in terms of the quantity of food they are getting. You appear to know zero about cooking and baking, and clearly have not ever worked in a restaurant.

The short buns are due to employees not following procedures correctly in handling & stretching the preformed raw dough. No customer is getting short changed in terms of the amount of eggs & flour (and bread calories) in their sandwich. Subway can "fix" the "shortage" issue by just codifying their bun baking procedures a bit tighter and enforcing their following. All they really need to do is have the employees stretch the dough out as measured against a gauge prior to baking to that the buns consistently end up a tad over 12 inches after baking. No ingredients or quantities of ingredients need be changed, so there isn't any cost issues beyond the procedure rewrite and 5 minutes of employee "retraining".

By Tyrone on 2013 01 25, 4:50 pm CST

Easy solution = Get rid of the word "foot-long" in the ads and change the description to something more akin to non-actionable puffery (e.g., "big honking sandwich").

Except that, of course, some clientless lawyer would then sue claiming that the sandwich did not actually honk.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 25, 5:06 pm CST

The Taco Bell 'half pound combo burrito' is usually more like a quarter pound of food tops. Whenever I get one and it's skimpy I get over it by telling myself they're actually doing me a favor by giving me less of their product.

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 01 25, 6:21 pm CST

Of course if they really want to short you, the bun will still be a foot long, but it will only be half as wide.

By Dr Phun on 2013 01 25, 6:34 pm CST

The Plaintiff's must have spent time in the Joint.
Extra Lettuce, extra tomatos, extra peppers will stretch it out.

By Angelo Dickens JD on 2013 01 25, 6:49 pm CST

I agree that the "footlong" sandwiches should be so and that chronic failure of truth in advertising should be redressed in the Courts. But why is there no redress in the Courts against the serial lying the American people are subjected to by politicians?

By MyTwoCents on 2013 01 25, 6:54 pm CST

This is entirely frivolous, as the products sold are premeasured and it makes entirely no difference if you take the same amound of ingredients and stretch it or compress it in preparation.
Why not take the same sandwich, fold it over double, and complain that it is now a full six inches too short?

By James Pollock on 2013 01 25, 8:14 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By KATO on 2013 01 25, 8:18 pm CST

"I find it somewhat remarkable how numb so many of you are to being cheated. I applaud all efforts to sue over lies in advertising," -- Voice of Reason, @ 18.

What lie? They make the sandwich in front of you, and then give you that sandwich. You have a full and complete opportunity to inspect the product sold to you before you pay for it. Furthermore, I rather strongly suspect that the bread is being baked in the exact same manner it has been for quite some time, meaning that most people (who've purchased a Subway sandwich before) know exactly what they're going to get before they even walk into the store.

By James Pollock on 2013 01 25, 8:23 pm CST

"It's short an inch!" (that's what she said.)

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2013 01 25, 9:11 pm CST

#25 -- Commercial speech can be and is highly regulated. Political speech is not -- sadly, as anyone familiar with Citizens United can attest.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 25, 11:40 pm CST

Maybe they should hire Peter North as their spokesman.

By Ron Jeremy on 2013 01 26, 8:12 am CST

The plaintiffs must be former auditors from the Allegheny County Controller's Office in Pittsburgh. Years ago, then-Controller Frank Lucchino, now a judge, persistently checked BAA, which ran concessions at Pittsburgh International, for allegedly breaching the terms of its contract with the County requiring so-called "street pricing": having prices at Airport food and retail venues match off-Airport locations. Public $ was spent having Controller employees measure and weigh bagels - among other nicky-picky testing activities - to see if Airport bagels matched those in the free world. His "exposés" of all of this grand larceny regularly got headlines. As for those fares that USAir charged as the dominant carrier at PIT, well, we'll just look the other way. Then USAir essentially pulled out of PIT, so maybe bagels don't matter as much any more?

As for Doctor's Associates, I have read far more significant stories. Look it up.

By PhillyGirl on 2013 01 26, 6:35 pm CST

"Ron Jeremy" writes, "Maybe they should hire Peter North as their spokesman"

Not to be technical, but Peter North would be a more appropriate spokesman if subway were being accused of shorting its customers on a pint of milk.

By DirkJohanson on 2013 01 27, 6:01 pm CST

I think that Mr. ZImmerman should find something better to do with his license. The mere fact that he took this case speaks to his "lack of busyness". Another reason why lawyers have such a bad name.

Furthermore, the amount of meat, veggies and other condiments remained the same on the "less than footlong" breads. This lends to a healthier sub---less carbs, calories and sugars. Eat up and hush up!

By Howard Spector on 2013 01 29, 5:14 am CST

You can place the sandwich in a vice and it will expand another inch. An egg will not be so compliant. Perhaps the complainant should investigate his own endowments/protruberance to see if same measures up before laying fault at the feet of such a respectable fast food institution, no?

By DDK on 2013 01 30, 12:12 am CST

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