Sonic Drive-In – False Advertising with Bad Customer Service on the Side

Today my daughter asked to go to Sonic Drive-In to get one of their drinks.  I don’t eat a lot of fast food, but I do admit to really enjoying Sonic’s drinks. Most places, even if they do offer some kind of lemon or lime flavored treat, it is horribly sweet.  Sonic gets it right, and the lime slush as a real pucker factor to it.
We’d been having a nice day, and it seemed like a treat like that might be nice.  The closest Sonic isn’t super convenient.  There are certainly plenty of other places closer, but we drove the 10 miles to Sonic Drive In.

As we pulled into the lot, we saw a sign that said “1/2 Price Cream Slush Treats All Day Real Ice Cream Real Fruit”.  Bonus!  We think that sounds great.   Tempted by the sale, two of us decide to order those.

We pull up to the drive-thru speaker, and order a medium Lemon Berry Slush, a small Lime Cream Slush, and a small Lemon Berry Cream Slush.  I see the orders coming up on the information screen (how great is the info screen in drive-thrus?) and the Cream Slush drinks are listed as the normal price, so I ask,

Me: Aren’t the Cream Slushes supposed to be half price?

Speaker: No, those aren’t part of the special.

Me: But there is a sign that says they are half price all day.

Speaker: It says nothing with ice cream.

Me: No, it says the Cream Slush specifically, with ice cream.

Speaker: Hold on.

The speaker clicks off and we wait.  Finally…

Speaker: Okay. So, that was a medium Lemon Berry Slush, a small Lime Cream Slush, and what was the other one?

Me: A small Lemon Berry Cream Slush.

Speaker: Okay, pull forward to the window.

The info screen still showed full price, but I assumed they’d handle it at the window, especially since they hadn’t given a total.  We wait through a couple of other cars getting their orders, and then pull up to the window.  Tim is at the window.  Well, maybe it isn’t Tim, but that is what his name tag asys.

Tim: Okay, a Lemon Berry Slush, a Lime Cream Slush and a Lemon Berry, wait, no, that’s right, a Lemon Berry Slush, that will be $5.16

Me: The Cream Slushes should be half price.

Tim: No they aren’t.

Me: There is a sign that says the Cream Slush is half price all day.

Tim: No, there isn’t.

Me: Yes, there is.  That’s why we ordered them.

Tim: No, there isn’t. Where is the sign?

Me: Right at the front, where we drove in.  Do you want me to go take a picture of it to show to you?

Tim: No, I’ll meet you there.

I drive over in front of the sign and wait, and Tim exits the Sonic and comes over and looks at the sign.

Tim: Oh, no.  That’s a mistake.  I’ll take it down.

Me: But, you’ll give me the advertised price on the drinks?

Tim: No, I can’t honor that price.

Me: But, the sign says it is half price.

Tim: I already said I’ll take it down.

Me: But, it was up when I ordered.

Tim: I can’t give you that price.  That special ended two months ago!  I’ll take the sign down.

I asked him for the corporate headquarters phone number, and he gave me the phone number of Joe, who he said was the district manager.  Joe did not answer his phone.  He took the sign down and threw it in the garbage can.  I called 1-866-OK-SONIC, which is the number listed on their menus.  They said that they don’t help resolve problems, so there was nothing they could do but file a complaint and have it sent to store management.

I was sitting at Sonic, unable to get the drinks I ordered at the advertised price, even though I proved that I wasn’t lying after Tim told me I was.  Somehow it was my problem that they left the wrong sign up at the entrance to their lot for two months, and rather than give me the discount being advertised on their own sign, they would prefer to alienate a customer.

We left and went to Culver’s.  They honored the special showing on their sign, without any discussion at all. Apparently they are better at keeping their signs up to date, and sticking to what they advertise.

So, just be careful when you go to Sonic.  Never trust that they will honor anything they are advertising. Double check what you are paying.  Or better yet, skip it.  It isn’t like it is health food.

I took a photo of Tim and the sign.  Well, not Tim’s face, but of his name tag.  I only had a cell phone camera that doesn’t take the greatest photos, so it is a little difficult to read the sign.  That’s why I grabbed the sign out of the garbage can too.  It very clearly states that the drinks I ordered were supposed to be half price.  Now it can hang on my daughter’s wall as a reminder of why we don’t go to Sonic anymore.  I don’t care how good their drinks taste on a hot day.

Tim Hates Me

Sonic customer service expert, Tim, refusing to honor the sign posted behind him


  1. #1 by Michele @ Mom Teaching Two on February 4, 2011 - 8:08 AM

    I hate HATE Sonic for you. Ugh. This is exactly the thing that keeps me away from certain companies – forever.

  2. #2 by Magnificent Bastard on February 4, 2011 - 8:48 AM

    I went to a tire store a while back and purchased four new tires, mounted and balanced. This was not your chain store, but a local small business. Two days later, I was feeling some unusual vibration while driving the car, so I drove back to the tire store. The owner seemed annoyed when I told him. This was Wednesday. “Can you come back on Friday,” he said? “Friday?” I asked, amazed. I should have said NO, but I think I was just so stunned, I could not react appropriately. In other words, “no, idiot…look at it now…I’m here NOW.” Anyway, I drove away and the vibration got worse. I pulled over and looked at the front wheel, and the LUG NUTS WERE LOOSE and the wheel was about to fall off. I had to jack up the car, and tighten the lug nuts by the side of the road. I can tell you that I bad-mouthed that tire guy to my friends, neighbors, total strangers for months. He’s out of business now. Now, I don’t believe it’s because I told people about my experience, but rather that he was a terrible businessman, in addition to being a terrible mechanic.

    It’s really simple: The goodwill you gain by doing the right thing for the customer is always a smart business decision, even if it costs you a few bucks.

    • #3 by mstori on February 4, 2011 - 9:20 AM

      I’m not even a subscriber to “the customer is always right”, just “consider carefully before deciding that the customer is wrong”. They had a sign up advertising a special. I saw the sign, and that sign motivated me to order the advertised item. I simply expected to get the advertised item at the advertised price, which is not an unreasonable expectation.

  3. #4 by Kim Eckhardt on February 4, 2011 - 10:13 AM

    I hope that Sonic headquarters reads your post and fires Tim. Well. I hope that they fire the guy who was wearing Tim’s name tag. And BTW, why was he on his cell phone during all of this? WTF?

    And I love the name of your blog. It’s all kinds of awesomeness.

    • #5 by mstori on February 4, 2011 - 10:22 AM

      To be fair to “Tim”, he was on his cell phone looking up Joe’s phone number to give to me.

      However, since he had the district manager’s phone number in his cell phone, which strongly points to him being in management himself, (as did his general demeanor), it is a further negative against Sonic Drive-In.

      • #6 by sonic employee on July 5, 2011 - 1:15 PM

        he was management within sonic anyone wearing the button up shirt are usually some form of management

  4. #7 by Stacy on February 4, 2011 - 11:30 AM


    My brains ASPLODE.

  5. #8 by Bill on February 4, 2011 - 4:53 PM

    Tim is an ass. Any other ‘manager’ of any other business in the world would say ‘That’s a mistake but I’ll honor the price and remove the sign. Sorry for any inconvience.’

    He deserves to be working at Burger King… because I never go there.

  6. #9 by Sue Ann on February 5, 2011 - 7:15 AM

    Businesses are too often pound wise and penny foolish.

  7. #10 by Jim Prentice on February 5, 2011 - 8:01 AM

    Where is the Sonic in this story?

  8. #12 by Someone on February 9, 2011 - 3:29 PM

    Okay, so two months ago! My dad was reading this and laughed his head off! he is a sonic manager, ( a better one in that fact) But he said they would’ve already gotten a new box of advertisement things ( Idk what he called them). But wow, he said that they REALLY screwed up on that one. Just hoping that no one up here saw that. (bad for business) And my dad would of well he wouldn’t do anything because he would’ve swiched the sign!

  9. #13 by Samantha Raynard on July 28, 2011 - 3:32 PM

    Two Months sounds a little ridiculous! If I may ask, which Sonic Drive-In did you go to, and when did this happen?

    Because at my Sonic Drive-In, that would have NEVER happened. We do NOT send guests away unsatisfied. It is the job of every Sonic employee to ensure the guest is satisfied with the product and the service.

    I believe guests deserve better when they come to Sonic!

  10. #14 by Michelle on February 14, 2012 - 10:34 AM

    They should have gave you the discount anyways. I work at Sonic and if this would have happened to us we would have defiantly made sure our customer left happy. I’m not sure why the P.O.P. (as we call them) was still up if it wasn’t available anymore. We get new promotions each month with specific directions on which to leave up and take down.

  11. #15 by Crystal on March 3, 2013 - 10:29 PM

    I have had it with Sonic. It is no longer an enjoyable experience for me every time I have gone this past year. Usually I end up having to wait too long. The prices continue to raise, and it will say a certain price, but some how charge extra for a flavor! And it is not even that good anymore. Tonight was my last experience I will ever have with Sonic. It was the last day before I started my diet and I had a little extra cash, so I went over to Sonic, as really, every other good place was closed, and I decided to give Sonic one last time before I wrote them off. I saw that their blasts were advertised at ridiculous prices, and I saw $3.85 for a medium. So I say “yes, I will have the m&m sonic blast, but easy on the m&ms please.” She said “Thank you. That will be $4.25” $4.25? How can they tax 9% here? As soon as I swiped my card, everything shut off. Closed at 11pm, however, 10:56 pm isn’t exactly 11. So, about 12 minutes later, being the only one there mind you, a worker finally came out. I got my over priced treat, and receipt, and it said Blast $3.64 add m&ms $.30. Do different addins cost different amounts?! $3.64+$.30 does not add up to $3.85!!!! Now 8% in tax makes sense at $0.31. How do you even justify this?! So, I take my frozen treat home, begin to eat it, and there is like malty powdery things in it. What on earth is this? And when I saw easy on the m&ms, I do not mean 2X than normal! I ended up throwing it away. Not even worth it to me! I am finished. Not ever going to Sonic again, and I am sticking to that. Very unhappy!

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