Class action suits against Subway over “Footlong” sandwich

by Walter Olson on January 25, 2013

11 inches is more like it, according to a bunch of lawyers who’ve filed class actions [ABC News, Chicago Tribune] Ron Miller is not too impressed.

P.S.: “I trust every member of the class will be able to prove that their foot is longer than their sandwich” [@eggs_over_easy]

{ 26 comments }

1 captnhal 01.25.13 at 9:43 am

Those trying to pass off an 11″ sandwich as being a foot long deserve to be clubbed with a “two by four”. Now that I think of it, make that a “one and a half by three and a half”. Does anyone want to take up my class action against the lumber industry. I’ve been cheated!

2 Frank 01.25.13 at 10:35 am

Thing is, you know the size in the US of lumber denominated 2 x 4. SInce you know what you are buying, you haven’t been cheated at all.
I think most people buying Subway foot longs indeed imagined they were all of a uniform 12:, that is to say foot long, size.

3 ben calvin 01.25.13 at 11:47 am

This reminds me of the joke about why some women are lousy judges of distance. Somehow. “Five dollar eleven inch long” doesn’t have the same eclat.

4 Richard Nieporent 01.25.13 at 11:57 am

Thing is, you know the size in the US of lumber denominated 2 x 4.

Actually that is not true, Frank. When I first started remodeling my home many years ago, I was surprised to find out the stated sizes were not the actual sizes of the wood. Of course it didn’t prevent me from finishing my basement, but it is just as “misleading” as the size of computer screens and the number of bytes on a disk and both had class action lawsuits filed against the manufacturers.

Since the amount of meat used is not dependent of the size of the bread and the amount of lettuce, tomato etc. put into the sandwich is determined by the customer, the lawsuit is essentially over 1 inch of bread. Given the previous lawsuits, you would think that a company would be aware that anything stated in their advertisement will be taken literally and they will be sued for any perceived discrepancy in the size or weight of its product.

5 gitarcarver 01.25.13 at 12:28 pm

Next up, Burger King will be sued because their “spokesperson,” the “Burger King” is neither a burger nor a king.

And the Whopper as seen on their advertising has never been purchased or eaten by any customer.

Good grief.

6 mojo 01.25.13 at 2:40 pm

2×4 is rough cut size, guys. Finishing takes 1/8 inch off each side.

7 John Fembup 01.25.13 at 6:39 pm

Does “foot long” mean the size of the bread, or the size of the sandwich filling itself?

If the bread is short by an inch, does that shorten the filling?

Are we all persuaded that there’s a valuable legal theory hiding in one inch of sandwich bread? Really?

Of so, then perhaps it is a public service to point out that there are numerous coffee shops in Manhattan that claim to serve the “world’s best cup of coffee.”

8 Bill Alexander 01.25.13 at 9:02 pm

2X4 may have been the rough cut at one time, and they may have had to take a quarter inch off in “sanding” (S4S is a designation for finished lumber), but with modern saws and blades, they are cutting quite a bit less than 2 X 4 rough cut.

I once remodeled a house from 1885, and there were 3 different sizes of 2 X 4 in it.

9 Bumper 01.25.13 at 9:39 pm

mojo

1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4, yet a 2 x 4 is actually 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ so what happened to that missing 1/4″?

This is why you have to pack a header with a piece of 1/2″ plywood to have it go from one side of the studs to the other.

10 Colin 01.26.13 at 5:23 am

I suppose someone has to ask “whose foot?”
The ancient measure used to be the length of the king’s foot, obviously one king had large feet!

11 Tanja Cilia 01.26.13 at 6:34 am

…and, on the other hand, should you pay more for a footlong that is 13 inches long? If you buy a dozen baguettes from the store, randomly, and place them side-by-side on the counter, you will see that they are not all the same length, width, or weight. In fact, THIS is exactly why the idiom “baker’s dozen” was created…

12 Bumper 01.26.13 at 1:46 pm

Clearly the solution is a massive class action suit against Subway which results in all the members of the class receiving coupons for 1″ long sandwiches and the lawyers receiving millions of dollars.

13 David Schwartz 01.26.13 at 5:04 pm

The length of the sandwich depends on how much the bread is stretched and how much it expands and contracts during proofing and baking.

14 Bill Poser 01.26.13 at 5:12 pm

Even if we take “foot long” to represent a measurement and not merely to be the name of the sandwich, whose actual size is easily seen in the store, measurements are only approximate. In common language, “foot long” means “about a foot long”, not “exactly a foot long”. If it were only 4 inches long, that would be deceptive, but an 11 long sandwich is reasonably described as “a foot long”. Indeed, if we adopt the conventions used in engineering, the absence of a decimal point implies that the actual length is between 0.5 feet and 1.5 feet. If it were expressed as 12 inches, the implication would be that the actual length was between 11.5 and 12.5 inches.

15 LAN3 01.26.13 at 8:30 pm

Likewise, Subway’s sandwich ingredients, which, when not pre-portioned (e.g. cold-cut combo) are portioned by a formula. Exactly 8 meatballs for a foot-long, 4 for 6-inch. 4 slices of ham, 4 slices of turkey, 4 cheese triangles (tessellated, thank heaven). The meat of the sandwich (literally as the case may be) doesn’t matter for those who don’t get the extra inch of bread. I can’t fathom the damages being anything other than infinitesimal. This is a lot of hullabaloo for an extra bite of bread.

I agree with David that some procedural changes could fix this issue, though.

16 Cecil 01.26.13 at 8:41 pm

Maybe the pan in which the bread is baked is a foot long? After all, it’s much easier to measure a metal/glass/silicon loaf pan than each loaf that is baked in it.

17 Frank 01.28.13 at 11:09 am

“In common language, “foot long” means “about a foot long”, not “exactly a foot long”. ”

Do you have any citation supporting this statement? I never thought something a foot long was anything other than 12″ long. When I asked recently for a foot of fuel line hose, I wanted 12″, 11.5″ would not have been acceptable because it would not have been long enough to be exactly right.

I do not support the idea of this suit, but I am against this general sloppiness that many seem to think is acceptable, that if a seller of goods or services provides nearly what was bargained for, that should be acceptable.

18 Frank 01.28.13 at 11:11 am

“Indeed, if we adopt the conventions used in engineering, the absence of a decimal point implies that the actual length is between 0.5 feet and 1.5 feet”

That’s an engineering standard a margin of error of 50%? It’s amazing that cars run and buildings stand.

19 peter 01.28.13 at 1:15 pm

That’s an engineering standard a margin of error of 50%? It’s amazing that cars run and buildings stand

Yes………correct…….and that is why its a convention. So that people do NOT consider that ‘a foot’ is exactly 12.000 inches and try to design thing that way.

20 Tanja Cilia 01.28.13 at 1:38 pm

…in Malta it’s sold as a 30cm baguette, by the way = http://world.subway.com/Countries/frmMainPage.aspx?CC=MLT&LC=ENG&Mode=

21 Jane 01.28.13 at 1:40 pm

I think the foot-long consumers should be grateful that they are less fat as a result of eating 11 inch rather than 12 inch sandwiches. But I have a thing about fat.

22 gitarcarver 01.28.13 at 1:49 pm

Frank,

With all due respect “tolerances” due to weather, humidity, etc matter. That is why we have expansion joints in concrete, roads, bridges, etc. Even liquids expand and contract due to heat.

By its very nature and composition, something like bread is prone to variations. That’s the problem here. People are trying to apply an exact measurement for what is basically an organic item.

23 E-Bell 01.28.13 at 1:53 pm

Thank heaven that Subway finally started tessellating their cheese a couple of years ago.

24 No Name Guy 01.28.13 at 4:42 pm

Frank:

As Bill tried to explain with
“Indeed, if we adopt the conventions used in engineering, the absence of a decimal point implies that the actual length is between 0.5 feet and 1.5 feet. If it were expressed as 12 inches, the implication would be that the actual length was between 11.5 and 12.5 inches.”

You clearly failed to pay attention in math class when they covered the concept of significant digits. Here’s your remedial instruction. Read it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Significant_digits

25 Jim Collins 01.28.13 at 6:04 pm

So what if you order a 6 inch Subway sandwich? You are already starting in the hole if the roll is only 11.5 inches long. How much more do you lose based on the tolerances of the roll being cut? If a “foot” is an approximate unit of length, I would think that the term “6 inch” would be mode definitive. I don’t agree with the lawsuit, but, you would think that Subway would have expected this and would have taken action to have prevented it.

26 DensityDuck 01.29.13 at 5:27 pm

This is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since Lionel Hutz’s lawsuit against the film “The Never-Ending Story”.

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