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Having Failed at Making Edible Burgers, Burger King Tries To Explain Net Neutrality

The second-rate fast-food giant gets basic internet protocols wrong.

Burger King is just about nobody's first choice when it comes to garbaging up on fast food and its latest gambit helps to explain why. In a YouTube video, the tax exile corporation explains

The repeal of Net Neutrality is a hot topic in America, but it can be very difficult to understand. That's why the BURGER KING® brand created WHOPPER® Neutrality, a social experiment that explains the effects of the repeal of Net Neutrality by putting it in terms anyone can understand: A WHOPPER® sandwich. This effort aims to help people understand how the repeal of Net Neutrality will impact their lives. The BURGER KING® brand believes the Internet should be like the WHOPPER® sandwich: the same for everyone.

Forget for a moment that the unique selling proposition of Burger King and the WHOPPER® used to be (wait for it)..."Have it your way." And keep in mind that the now-defunct Federal Communications Communications' Net Neutrality rules were memorably and usefully defined by economist Thomas W. Hazlett as government regulation of ISPs' business models and a way of giving a new mission to an agency whose reason for being is less and less clear and whose history is not filled with glory. Just take three minutes to watch this scenario pranking a few "actual guests" who wandered in off the street to escape the cold, beg for change, or use the bathroom:

The joke in the video is that customers must pay $26 to get a Whopper "hyperfast." If they go with the standard price, it takes forever. Because you know, Net Neutrality rules that were formalized in 2015 somehow magically altered the way internet service providers (ISPs) delivered data to their customers. Before 2015, the internet was a morass of shakedown artists who forced all of us to pay extra for this or that site. And now that Net Neutrality has been repealed, the 'net has reverted to a Hobbesian world in which access is nasty, brutish, and metered.

Oh wait, in fact, the average speed and number of internet connections kept growing regardless of the regulatory regime. The FCC's most recent Internet Access Services Report counted 104 million fixed internet connections, a new high. That number doesn't count mobile or satellite connections. Eighty percent of census tracts had at three or more ISPs offering connections of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream and another 17 percent had two ISPs doing the same (figure 4). So 97 percent of America can go elsewhere when it comes to basic internet connections that allow the sort of streaming, surfing, and gaming we want. Just as customers do with Burger King, we can say, "Screw it, I'm going to McDonald's." In 2016, 56 million residential connections offered at least 25 Mbps upstream speeds. That's up from about 22 million in 2013 (figure 8). How did that progress happen before the 2015 open internet order?

Watching the responses by customers helps explain why Net Neutrality rules as mandated by the FCC under Tom Wheeler were unnecessary. After all, for all the hysteria kicked up around the need for such rules, proponents went begging for examples of ISPs throttlng traffic or blocking sites in systematic ways. ISPs don't actually enjoy pure-monopoly conditions, but even if they did, customers would raise holy hell if they were treated as poorly as Burger King acts in this video. To wit:

As economist John Mueller notes in his...Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery, even monopolists have reasons to court a captive market. If they do so, explains Mueller, they're "more likely to be able to slide price boosts past a wary public—that is, such moves are less likely to inspire angered customers to use less of the product and/or to engender embittered protest to governmental agencies."

Current FCC head Ajit Pai once called Net Neutrality "a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist." The new Burger King vid helps prove that point.

Read Reason on Net Neutrality.

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  • Get To Da Chippah||

    I'm surprised customers can get into the door what with all the dead bodies piling up after the Net Neutrality repeal.

  • ThomasD||

    Who can afford to go out for fast food - what with ISPs raising rates all the time.

    /sarc

  • ||

    And you're wondering why Burger King runs out of condiments routinely, but never runs out of meat.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Like I'm going to take public policy advice from a monarchy.

  • timbo||

    bam

  • timbo||

    enough said. That remark is so deep I wish I could grasp it.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    So Deep was my nickname at band camp

  • Nuwanda||

    I hear him and Dairy Queen are an item.

  • Longtobefree||

    For a long long time;
    very old joke - how did the dairy queen get pregnant? The burger king forgot to wrap his whopper.

    (from a when it was ok to say the word 'queen')

  • Adans smith||

    This will be good for business, Next up,BK's stance on abortion.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Come on! I'm sure the wokiest of the woke will be ditching Starbucks and rushing in en masse to the nearest Burger King for grease-slathered Whoppers.

  • ThomasD||

    It's really gotta sting to find out, all affectations to the contrary, that you really are BK's customer base.

  • Old Monkey||

    The few times on vacation I went to Greasy Macs offering barista coffee I've been impressed. They even had decent Internet for my tablet, which after connecting, activated my VPN.

  • BambiB||

    ;-)

    Actually, I'd like to see the SAME ad done the SAME way with DIFFERENT prices. The "you get it now" Whopperis still $26. And the "you get it in 5 minutes" Whopper is $5, with the "You get it in 10 minutes" Whopper costs $1.

    My bet is there'd be a lot of $5 and $1 Whoppers sold - and not much interest in the $26 Whopper.

  • Griffin3||

    And, if there is a double-super-secret drive through line, where I pay $5 extra, $20 extra to get my order bumped to the head of the line ... hell, yeah, I'm gonna take that option sometimes. You trot those artificially crunchy fries out to my car baby, I've got places to be and things to do!

  • Longtobefree||

    A better ad would show a 'fully dressed' whopper for 5.00, but also offer one with just mustard for $4.50, and one plain for $4.00.

    A truer ad would point out that you can no longer get it 'your way', but only the way(s) a federal bureaucrat has determined are in your best interests.

  • Adans smith||

    Veggie burger plain,no bun?

  • dantheserene||

    "Milkshake, hold the cup."
    --Obscure Boom County reference from the early 1980s.

  • Longtobefree||

    Yep, and only one a day - - -

  • Brandybuck||

    Already have that in real life. Whopper - one price. Whopper with cheese - pay extra. Whopper with cheese and bacon - pay even more. That's okay for burgers, but apply it to Internet usage and suddenly everyone loses their shit that they might have to pay for for clogging up the pipes with streaming HBO titties.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Extra tomatoes! Double meat!

  • Number 2||

    Because it is utterly unheard of in any market, any industry, anywhere, for vendors or service providers to offer consumers the choice of a less expensive "basic" model and a more expensive upgraded product. Imagine how horrible the automobile market would have been if auto makers had been allowed to offer consumers optional upgrade packages for additional cost instead of forcing them to adhere to Car Neutrality!

  • ThomasD||

    The analogy I like to make is one price for all grades of gas. Who would most favor that sort of system?

    The fuel sellers? No. Economics tells you that raising the price leads to lower sales. The price of 87 wouldn't go down under that sort of regime, it would only go up, and people would behave accordingly.

    The two types who would favor one price for all grades would be the relatively small set of people who own/drive high performance cars that require high octane gas, and the companies who sell those cars.

    Because everyone else would be subsidizing their wants and desires.

  • SimonD||

    The problem with that analogy is that if all grades were the same price, there would only be one grade. So if the one grade was too high, or too low; then too bad.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I likened it to grocery stores with express lanes, self-checkout, and bulk prices (individual coke same price as a case, 4 pack of toilet paper same price as a 24 pack) did not exist. "Oh but that's not the same as the internet!" but no explanation of why it's a bad analogy.

  • Brandybuck||

    The problem with Internet pricing is that, due to historical accident, end user consumers pay for access, not usage. Imagine a grocery store with no prices but just an entrance fee. Economics tells us what will happen. The entrance fees just keep going up and up and the quality keeps dipping.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    That's more like a bigger than a grocery store. Or access to cable channel lineups. The content grows to attract new customers while overall quality diminishes.

  • p3orion||

    I briefly worked as a Realtor. The broker ran the office in part of her home, and (as well as selling real estate) was an enthusiastic Amway representative (starting to see why I said I worked there only "briefly?")

    One day I asked her about the CASE of toilet paper --some 48 rolls-- sitting in her living room. "I don't have room for it in the bathroom, so I keep it here. It's an Amway product; I get it for a tiny fraction of what you'd pay at WalMart!" She then proceeded to try to get me to buy a case when she placed her next order.

    I agreed that it would cost a lot more to buy four dozen rolls of toilet paper at WalMart, but told her that part of that extra price I'm willing to pay them for those 48 rolls is for WalMart to store 42 of them until I need it, rather than having the extras decorating my living room.

  • chemjeff||

    Ha, Nick, love the title. I knew that English degree would pay off in the long run!

  • ThomasD||

    Is that headline a statement of fact? Because it sure sounds like one to me.

    Might it not be safer to say that BK has failed at selling edible burgers? A statement supported by comparative sales/performance data.

    While I doubt BK will pay much heed, it still seems a tad bit reckless to ridicule a company while also making potentially actionable statements about them.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think that many people will interpret the headline as a statement that BK food is literally inedible. And I don't think saying that their burgers aren't very good is actionable.

  • ThomasD||

    Well, it probably is hyperbole. But on a plain face reading it very much does say their burgers are not edible.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The scum that scum scrape off of their shoes

  • Mickey Rat||

    So is Burger King for being mandated to sell for the same price a Whopper, a Whopper with cheese, a Whopper Jr., and a Double Whopper?

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    The price set based on the median income of the bottom 20% times the rate at which a wind farm can power a deep fryer divided by wait times at a VA hospitable.

  • Number 2||

    Good point! I demand Whopper Neutrality. It is unconscionable that they are allowed to force people to pay more for the privilege of an additional slab of meat! It's tge end of fast food as we know it!

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Why does this piece cause me to conjure up in my mind the image of Nick Gillespie fucking a Whopper? Absinthe in the morning: it's not always pretty.

  • Rebel Scum||

    It's almost like you get what you pay for. And if you pay more, you get more.

  • Libertarian||

    Can't we agree that BK is clueless about NN without denigrating food that is better than McDonald's or Wendy's? Flame broiled, people. FLAME BROILED!

  • Conchfritters||

    I think nick was a little hard on BK too with respect to "garbaging up on fast food." Sorry Nick we can't all afford to go to the $15 portobello mushroom burger food truck in DuPont circle you visit every time you have the munchies.

  • Zeb||

    Doesn't he live in Ohio or something?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Ok, $11 Portobello mushroom burger.

  • Rhywun||

    Wendy's > BK > McD's

  • Libertarian||

    TBH, I haven't had BK in years. Guess I need to go out and do some field testing. I eat my share of junk food, but I can also go years without having particular items, which allows me to detect changes in how things taste. Things that have gotten worse over the years and taste differently than they used to:

    Oreos
    Big Macs
    Coors

  • Rhywun||

    Same here. In fact the last few times I had BK - which was a good decade ago - it was noticeably worse than the others. I would try them again by I haven't seen one in ages.

    So yeah, my ordering is probably more historic than current.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    I concur with your ranking even currently, though I'd put Chick-fil-a at the top if you're in a poultry mood.

    I'm not sure if McDs has altered its basic operations recently around its "signature sandwich" roll-out, but it always had more trouble handling modifications to orders than BK (the old "have it your way" slogan). Even if BK does suspect things like putting mayo on BBQ burgers, as Marcus Aurelius notes, it generally doesn't delay things if you tell them not to. When I'm stuck going to McD's, I generally just get McNuggets to avoid any hassle (my recent sampling of their new buttermilk tenders found them weirdly tough and stringy, and I'll not be paying extra for them in the future).

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    They put Mayo on their BBQ bacon burger, that should tell you plenty.

  • jmg09||

    BK is better than Wendy's? You racist, commie, nazi.

  • ThomasD||

    This is a lame attempt o build good will with a target audience, one the company believes will be good for business. Which is ordinarily a decent approach to marketing.

    But in this case probably not so much. Especially if NN proponents start to think that speaking out in favor of NN will also mark them as a BK customer.

  • ThomasD||

    I'm going to start responding to their arguments with a question whether they prefer fries or onion rings with their combo.

  • kV||

    I love how the progressives consistently debunk their own narratives. Remember that delightful Kristen Bell video about the gender wage gap? Haha.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Wood.

  • GamerFromJump||

    I always mix her up with the lady who played the Marine lawyer on JAG.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Also, what the equivalent of Net Neutrality would also mandate that the guy who orders twelve meals of different configuration be given his order at the same time as the guy who orders fries and a drink.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I have been in line behind that guy and had to wait for his order to go out before getting mine.

  • timbo||

    Speak for yourself. Their double cheeseburger and the wopper are heart attack heaven.

    But yeah, stick to hamburgers. We don't need anymore regulation.

    The first reason all of the assholes need to be against regulation is the first 20 years of the internet.
    Did the internet make everyone's lives better or worse? Then why change one thing by regulating it?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Got into some arguments with nieces and nephews over this, and when I asked for examples of how bad things had been before the 2015 NN rules, all I got was variations on "Comcast was going to ...".

  • albo||

    It's a joke to attract the millennials, the empty-headed but self-entitled sector of fast food customers.

  • Brandybuck||

    What the fuckity fuck?!?!? I thought this might just be a clever advertisement, with consumers frustrated over one size fits all burgers, with Burger King to the rescue with "have it your way". But no. It's fucking serious.

    The crazyiest thing about the whole Net Neutrality issue is the depth of the bullshit swirling around it. People just making up shit. All to prevent people from paying for the network services they actually use. It's like the whole world is just smorgasbords and some restaurant comes along that wants to charge by the plate, and everyone just loses their shit over it.

    Fuck Burger King. They lost a customer permanently. They should have just stuck to burgers.

  • jcalton||

    This BK thing is dumb but I don't really consider a duopoly to be the pinnacle of capitalism efficiency and consumer choice.

  • Nuwanda||

    Duopoly if not coercive isn't a problem. But if the duopoly exists because the state has given monopoly power to a provider/s then that is a problem. But notice how the NN advocates never talk about ending the power of the state to hand out exclusive licences. That's because they are happy with that state power, their long-term goal being to have the state run internet access just as it does with water and other utilities. That's why you get nowhere when trying to argue the case with them. The last thing they want is freedom of provision. Regulation and a monopoly provider (the state) is their endgame.

  • Unemployed Armenian Tranny||

    Whopper
    1 : something unusually large or otherwise extreme of its kind
    2 : an extravagant or monstrous lie

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whopper

  • Kevin Tyssen||

    This fails on at least 2 levels

    First, Burger King would have us believe that without a law to prevent it ISPs will screw over consumers with draconian pricing systems like this. Except there is no law preventing Burger King from actually doing this (there is no "burger neutrality" law) so why aren't they? Simple, market forces would not allow them to do this and remain profitable. Those same forces prevented ISPs from doing long before any net neutrality regulations were enacted, and will continue to prevent it with those regulations gone

    Secondly, their simplistic "slow, medium, fast" plans are no different than what ISP are doing and have always done (both with an without net neutrality regulations) that is offering various speeds at various price points, allowing you to select the one that suits you best

  • Nuwanda||

    "Except there is no law preventing Burger King from actually doing this (there is no "burger neutrality" law) so why aren't they? Simple, market forces would not allow them to do this and remain profitable."

    This is true, and you make the point well. But if BK had been granted exclusive burger-selling rights by the state, we'd all have a problem with it since market forces would no longer apply to the same extent. Sane folks would demand an end to the monopoly. Net Neutrality types would demand Burger King's prices be regulated, or better yet, that all burgers be supplied by the state.

    They never argue for an end to the monopoly-granting power of the state, only for another layer of regulation.

  • Eman||

    are you really comparing the internet to fast food? (adapted from an actual response ive actually gotten about obamacare)

  • Nuwanda||

    Yes, I'm actually using a fast food operation as an analogy for internet provision. But I could have used any business. Same rules apply. Kevin used it so I kept it going.

  • Eman||

    the contrast with "have it your way" is pretty funny, but is the monopoly man having it his way what you really want?

  • OurHeroErikW5||

    So should I be upset when I order a package and the company I order from gives me options for faster delivery by paying more money? Shouldn't all delivery times be equal?

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