A McDonald's Extra Value Meal didn't live up to its name at a franchisee's stores in Lake and Cook counties, according to a lawsuit filed by an unhappy customer.
James W. Gertie of Des Plaines is seeking class-action status for a consumer fraud and deceptive practices lawsuit he's filed against McDonald's operator Karis Management Co. Inc. in Cook County circuit court.
Gertie contends the McDonald's restaurants in question have been selling a bundled two-cheeseburger Extra Value Meal that should be the best deal but whose two cheeseburgers, medium french fries and soft drink cost 41 cents less individually than when combined as the $5.90 Extra Value Meal.
"The reason that I am doing this is not about the 41 cents," Gertie told the Daily Herald. "It's because of the principle. A value meal is supposed to be a cheaper price. That's the whole point of a 'value' meal. I believe in the principle of true advertising. If a company advertises something to be a value, then that is what it should be."
Jayme Schenk, an executive at Des Plaines-based Karis, did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday. Representatives from McDonald's Corp. also did not return messages.
If a judge grants class-action status to the lawsuit, damages would be sought on behalf of customers who purchased the two cheeseburger Extra Value Meal during an unspecified time period at Karis' McDonald's restaurants in Grayslake, Des Plaines, Prospect Heights, Round Lake Beach, Park Ridge, Glenview, Niles, Volo and Antioch.
Filed in Cook County court Dec. 13, the complaint seeks an injunction prohibiting the company's stores from pricing the two-cheeseburger Extra Value Meal equal to or more than the items when purchased separately. An exact dollar figure sought from Karis is not in the suit.
Gertie, a bus driver, bought the two-cheeseburger Extra Value Meal for $5.90 on five days at McDonald's in Des Plaines and Niles between Oct. 14 and Nov. 13.
He said he later noticed it was cheaper to purchase the Extra Value Meal items individually and contacted Chicago attorney Paul Markoff after not receiving explanations at the drive-thrus or from an email he sent to McDonald's corporate offices.
McDonald's promotional copy for the Extra Value Meal is included in the lawsuit. It reads: "You value food just as much as you value a good price. Thanks to our delicious meal bundles, you can have both. A meal with quality ingredients that's easy on the wallet? That's a great deal."
Markoff, who's handling the case with partner Karl Leinberger, said Tuesday the suit is justified because of how the Extra Value Meal is represented to customers.
"For some reason, (Karis) thought 41 cents was important, and it is also important to consumers not to be taken for an extra 41 cents improperly," Markoff said. "An extra 7.5 percent in profit means a lot to companies (and) it means even more to consumers."
Markoff said potential class-action members could come through Extra Value Meal receipts, credit-card charges or self-identification.