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Couple Files Federal Lawsuit Over Price of Taco Bell Chalupas

Chalupa
Courtesy of Taco Bell

That fried chicken sandwich war was ridiculous. At one point a Tennessee man actually sued Popeyes for the distress he experienced because of a sandwich shortage. But now the Judicial Branch is finally getting a break from that particularly case of fast food insanity, with a very important lawsuit regarding the price of Taco BellChalupa Cravings Boxes.

Allow me to explain the legitimacy of the charge: The advertised price of the Chalupa Cravings Box is $5. That should make the order around $10 for two boxes. But two orders came to $12.18 at a New Jersey restaurant near the home of Nelson Estrella-Rosales and Joann Estrella, the couple filing a federal lawsuit. Taco Bell thinks it can get away with this, but the couple says the price violates Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act. 

All of this drama has been going on for longer than we think. The couple first discovered the apparent injustice in May of 2018, according to NJ.com. They filed a lawsuit against Taco Bell's parent company, Yum! Brands, in September.

“You can’t tell someone you are going to charge them $5 in big bold print and then take it away with a fine print disclaimer," Douglas Schwartz, the attorney representing the Estrellas, told NJ.com. "You can’t do that. It’s against the law.”

The lawsuit alleges that Taco Bell defends its right to charge more because the advertisement says prices may vary. Schwartz thinks that's a "classic bait and switch." 

"It’s consumer fraud being perpetrated upon not only citizens of New Jersey, but all over the country," Schwartz said. "Taco Bell has reaped huge profits from their false, misleading and deceptive advertising.” 

The lawsuit claims that the couple “sustained an ascertainable loss, in the form of time wasted driving to the subject Taco Bell, the gasoline expended to drive their vehicle to the subject Taco Bell, and in the amount of $2.18, which is the difference between what they should have been charged ($10.00 before taxes) and what they were charged ($12.18 before taxes)." 

The lawsuit was originally filed in Middlesex County Superior Court in August, but it's recently been bumped up to federal court by the parent company itself. The basis of the suit is that the 30-second "librarian" Taco Bell commercial that convinced the couple to go to Taco Bell is misleading, most notably the part at the end where it says the Chalupa Cravings Box is a $5 meal. Note that the commercial does include a brief "prices may vary."

And what does master manipulator Taco Bell have to say for itself? 

“Taco Bell and its franchisees are proud to provide millions of guests with delicious, affordable food every day,” a Taco Bell spokesperson said. "Our advertisements are truthful and accurate, and we will defend this case vigorously." 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer for Thrillist.