Society

Man Discovers 'Invisible Charge' On Panera Receipt (Photo)

| by Michael Howard

An Illinois man was dismayed when he looked at his Panera Bread receipt and found a phantom charge for $9.

Curtis Marquardt Jr. bought $32.73 worth of food at the chain restaurant, according to WGN. But he was charged over $41.

"We go to Panera quite regularly and usually the total comes to about $30-$35," Marquardt explained. "This one was over $40. [I thought] they must have raised their prices."

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But the prices hadn't changed. The register had simply miscalculated his bill.

"There was an additional $9 in the subtotal but there was no item in the line items above that suggested it should add up to that amount," he said. "It was just an invisible $9 charge."

When Marquardt showed the restaurant staff the mistake, they gave him his money back and offered him free food on top of that.

"They offered us as many pastries as we wanted," he said. "We didn’t take them up on that, but they were very helpful."

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When WGN visited the Panera location, the manager said nobody could figure out how the error had occurred. She added that it had never happened before and hasn't happened since.

Marquardt hopes it was just a one-off.

"I'm just concerned other people are getting overcharged and not seeing it," he said. "I would not have checked had the amount not been so much higher than I was used to."

On April 5 it was reported that JAB Holdings -- the company that owns Krispy Kreme Doughnuts -- had agreed to buy Panera Bread for $7.5 billion. Ten days later, the New York Post reported that a bidding war may take place, with Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital expressing interest in purchasing the 2,036-store chain.

The Warren Buffett-backed firm currently owns Burger King and Tim Hortons, and will soon purchase Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

"3G is definitely looking at Panera and has the capacity to make a rival bid," a source told The New York Post.

It's a surprising development, as JAB and 3G oftentimes invest in each other's deals and are seen as allies.

"The idea of them being in combat with each other is really unusual," an investment banker told the Post. "Given that they invest in each other’s deals, it would be like going to war with your neighbor."

Panera has said it will pay JAB a termination fee of $215 million if it decides to accept another offer.

Sources: WGN, The New York Post (2) / Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

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