Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Suing Subway Reveals About Us

Have we become so undisciplined, greedy, and unaccustomed to getting our way in America that we can’t stand even the perception that we are not getting our full of whatever excess we wish to indulge ourselves in? Apparently so. A week ago, what began as an online point of consumer interest by an Australian-based Facebook user has evolved into (yet another) frivolous consumer lawsuit that reveals how questionable both our behaviors and our priorities can be.
The controversy began about two weeks ago, an Australian man posted a Facebook photo of a submarine sandwich from Subway, one of the world’s biggest fast food chains. The controversy lay in the fact that Subway has risen to the top of the fast food heap by advertising “footlong subs.” However, the sub sandwich posted on the Aussie’s Facebook page was shown to measuring only 11 inches, which contradicted sandwich-maker’s advertised claim of a its trademark sandwich being an entire 12 inches—a foot long. After the posted Facebook picture had gone viral, other Facebook users began posting their own photos of short sandwiches (allegedly) from Subway.
Of course this being America, those who felt somehow cheated out of consuming the earth-shattering, difference-making amount of the additional inch of food that Subway’s advertisement promised them in its commercials decided that the courts were the best place vent their rage. Several “disgruntled” Subway customers have filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against the sandwich maker for "pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and otherwise improper advertising, sales and marketing practices" (“Another Man Files Subway Footlong Lawsuit”).
Now, ignoring the fact that as a child, I and many others among my age group didn’t bother to measure the footlong hotdogs we were served for lunch at school (we were simply too busy being grateful for eating), I’m going to go out on a limb give Subway the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to assume that no deception was meant on the part of the franchise, and that there are some levels of food mechanics involved with preparing these sandwiches, such as baking bread shrinking or pre-baked bread only comes in one size. At any rate it seems that Americans, in our never-ending quest to see how many more inches we can put on our ever-expanding waistlines seem to forget that no matter how much we whine and moan about being cheated out of 2 more bites from a sandwich, that the laws of physics dictate that only so much food can be placed between 2 slices of bread.
And given that we as a nation already lead the industrialized world in rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease—all linked to diet—a more rational people wouldn’t quibble over a couple of additional bites of a sandwich. But in a country that actually promotes binge-eating as a competitive sport, we have truly sank to a new low in resorting to suing a fast food chain in an effort to maintain our sense of gluttony…one of the Seven Deadly Sins in case you forgot.
We seem to feel that we’re entitled to be spoiled.
The problem with such frivolous lawsuits is that they clog our already taxed court systems, as well as do nothing more than line the pockets of greedy lawyers who already suffer from a lack of ethics or morals. Another problem with lawsuits-as-a-remedy is that it presumes that money is the answer to all slights, injuries, or perceived hurts. We have become so litigious as a society that in many cases, constructive public policy in many areas is held hostage for fear of someone who feels somehow slighted or aggrieved getting a lawyer and suing. A teacher tries to discipline an unruly child in a class full of children who need to learn? Sue him/her. Someone calls you a name as a public personality and hurts your precious feelings? Reclaim your honor and sue them. An unforeseen accident results in a lost loved one? Settle for the next best thing to bringing them back from the dead; use their demise to line your pockets and fill the void their absence has left in your life…sue them!
Making money a panacea for every hurt we experience in the world kind of overinflates its value in the Grand Scheme. We’ve implicitly agreed that seeking money as a remedy for every hurt makes it the most sought-after substitute as an equivalent of our dignity, our self-respect, even the lives of our loved ones. The fact that we are so willing to seek monetary redress for the loss of any or all of these expressions of our humanity elevates money to the end rather than the means…beyond even its intrinsic value.
So why should we be surprised that we are willing to sue over a few lost bites of a sandwich? After all, our rates of obesity, our unhealthy eating habits, our propensity to sue for anything, and the focus we are willing to place on a 1 or 2 extra bites of a sandwich all prove one thing…that in the richest nation on earth, we Americans can still manage to stand out as the most greedy of people


  1. So you don't believe that a business should be sued when they engage in false advertising?

    Subway's first excuse was that the reason that the foot-long subs at a particular franchise were only 11 inches was because that franchise didn't bake its bread properly.

    But it seems as though someone is lying and so what if they are suing? Why does it bother you?

    Do you own stock in Subway or something?

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    2. No, I dont own stock in Subway. I own stock in clear thinking. I thought I outlined my reasons pretty clearly. We are a lawsuit-driven society. We look for any reason to sue for the sake of money and greed. This isn't about "teaching a lesson." It's about human greed, pure and simple. I'm only using Subway as an example. We sue school systems if we feel our brats aren't getting "treated fairly," we sue cigarette manufacturers because we were dumb enough to smoke in the first place knowing the consequences, we sue airlines because their planes crash (sometimes bad things just happen), we sue movie theaters because they don't "provide enough security" (who can see THAT coming?), etc. We would sue God for making bad weather and raining on our picnics if we could! Your stance sounds like that of a young person not thinking beyond their narrow beliefs. The fact that you don't see anything wrong with it tells me how infected you are by this insanity. Don't believe everything you think.