Fast Food Chains You Should Avoid at All Costs, According to Data

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Jun 08, 2024

Many people enjoy going to fast food chains as opposed to going to other restaurants or even cooking food for themselves due to how quickly the meal can be prepared, the simplicity of it, and the food often tastes the same. 

However, a recent data analysis has revealed which fast food chains need to be avoided at all costs due to their customer satisfaction ratings. The scores range from 0 to 100. The closer the scores are to 100, the higher the customer satisfaction. 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index

The study was carried out by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which has been looking at the customer satisfaction of fast food restaurants every year since 1994.

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Fried chicken in white boxes.

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The most recent data from the index is from 2023, and it looked at 23 major chain fast food restaurants, as well as several smaller fast food outlets. 

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Domino’s

Domino’s was one of the only fast food chain restaurants not to receive any changes in its customer ratings score. Its score of 78 stayed the same between 2022 and 2023.

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Two blue and white Domino’s Pizza boxes, with a drink, sauce packets and two phones.

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Reports have found that many people are moving away from Domino’s due to its price increases. Toward the end of 2022, the company revealed it was introducing a 7% price hike across the board, leaving many customers unhappy. 

Panera Bread

Panera Bread’s customer satisfaction rating decreased by 1% from 77 to 76 between 2022 and 2023. 

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The outside of a Panera Bread drive thru.

Source: Miosotis Jade/Wikimedia Commons

One of the potential reasons for this low rating could be due to the fast food chain having to raise its prices to cope with the rising costs of everything. Panera Bread used to be considered affordable, but in a few years, its average food prices have gone from $6 to $16. 

Burger King

Burger King has seen some growth in its customer satisfaction ratings over the last year, with it increasing by 1% from 75 in 2022 to 76 in 2023.

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A sign outside a Burger King restaurant. The logo is against a black background and is a white circle with “Burger King” in red in the center of two yellow burger buns.

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The fast food chain started off low in customer satisfaction ratings, because in 2000, it was at 67 and then went down to 65 a year later. Since then, it has been growing steadily and mostly going upward, with just a few dips. Its highest rating was 77 in 2017. 

Chipotle

Chipotle saw one of the highest decreases in customer satisfaction over one year. Its customer satisfaction rating went down by 3% from 77 to 75.

A Chipotle restaurant. The sign has a chili and a red background with “Chipotle” in white next to it.

Source: Aspensmonster/Wikimedia Commons

This is even lower than its 2016 score of 78, when it dropped by 6%. The reason for this was the reliability of the fast food chain. Whether or not it is experiencing the same issues or if its something else is unknown. 

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Subway

Subway is one of very few chain restaurants surveyed that has managed to retain its customer satisfaction score at the same level. It stayed at 75 in both 2022 and 2023.

The outside of a Subway restaurant. A green sign at the top and across the window says “Subway” in yellow and white.

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While Subway is one of the healthier options for fast-food chain restaurants, it has one problem. This is because it is marketed in a way that makes many customers feel they should be dining alone there, such as a quick stop during their lunch break at work instead of dining with friends and family. If this changed, Subway might see its score go up a little higher.

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Little Caesars

Little Caesars is another company whose customer satisfaction score has gone down. The pizza restaurant’s score has decreased by 1% from 75 to 74.

A Little Caesars restaurant. Snow is outside the building and it has $5 offers in the window.

Source: Mrmiscellanious/Wikimedia Commons

This isn’t the lowest score it has ever received, which was 69 in 2000. It peaked at 82 between 2012 and 2013, and since 2017, the fast food chain has been gradually dropping in quality by one or two points every year.

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Wendy’s

Wendy’s is one of the chains that has seen an increase in its customer satisfaction rating, even if it is only slightly. Its rating increased by 1%, from 73 in 2022 to 74 in 2023.

The outside of a Wendy’s a night. The red sign is lit up.

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Wendy’s customer satisfaction rating has fluctuated quite a bit since 2000. It started off at 70 and reached a high of 79 in 2013. Ever since then, it has been going up and down a bit, but after spending 2 years at 73, Wendy’s bosses likely welcome this raise in satisfaction.

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Sonic

While it is not the lowest-rating company in terms of customer satisfaction, its rating decreased by 3% between 2022 and 2023. It started off at 74, but it has now gone down to 72.

The outside of a Sonic Drive-Thru. The building has yellow and red flags on top.

Source: The Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

Sonic is part of Inspire Brands, which is also home to other chain restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Dunkin’ Donuts. Some of the reasons for its low score include not having the good locations that other fast food chains have and isn’t appealing to young people or those who are health-conscious. 

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Taco Bell

Another fast food chain whose ratings have gone down within a year is Taco Bell. This is a part of Yum! Brands, who found their customer satisfaction rating went down by 1% from 72 to 71.

Tacos from Taco Bell. One is on the wrapper and the other is inside white cardboard packaging.

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Taco Bell decided to raise its prices and make a few menu changes, which hasn’t sat well with its customers. Even though its prices are said to still be cheaper than its competitors, it is now charging customers for sauces, which used to be free.

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McDonald’s

McDonald’s is the lowest-rated fast food chain of all the ones surveyed. Despite its score going up by 1% in a year, it only went from 68 to 69.

Food from McDonald’s in the packaging. There are two fries, a Big Mac and a bacon double cheeseburger.

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Many people have been abandoning McDonald’s recently. However, the fast food chain has been trying to win its customers back by introducing $5 meal deals, but that hasn’t stopped the company’s prices from going up, with a Bic Mac meal now costing $17.59 pre-tax.

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Source: Imgur

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