The jury’s still out on criticism. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, it’s not “the critic who counts,” but that man in the arena who deserves the credit. In the internet era, while the critic still may not deserve the credit, a new layer has unfolded: it is now exceedingly easy to count the critics themselves. And a new data set from MrQ did just that.
The analysis is called “Karen of 2022,” in a nod to the trope about middle-aged “I’d like to speak to the manager”-type complainer. MrQ company rounded up thousands of TripAdvisor and Trustpilot reviews, and after considering the content and the nature of the commentary, churned out a list of the most-complained about fast-food chains.
The company, which is U.K.-based, shared their U.S. data with us. Do the worst-reviewed fast-food chains in America match your take on the industry?
For more fast-food news, check out 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.
Total reviews: 1,550
% of one-star reviews: 62%
Poor hygiene and a confused/uncaring staff look to be among the most common complaints about KFC. Ultimately, though, it seems the people who are taking to TripAdvisor and Trustpilot about KFC are doing so to warn others about the quality of the food. “We could not stomach one bite,” wrote one customer. “It was oily, old and smelly.”
Total reviews: 521
% of one-star reviews: 63%
It’s worth noting the much-smaller sample size here. But regardless, given the amount of controversy Chipotle has experienced in the last decade, it perhaps doesn’t come as a surprise that well over half of the reviews award the chain a mere one star. A common complaint about the fast-casual burrito chain is that the service is slow or inattentive. From an industry perspective, this tracks with the staffing issues that Chipotle has been open about (which have been blamed as the culprit for the brand’s food safety issues, too).
Total reviews: 586
% of one-star reviews: 64%
People love to hate Subway, apparently. Call it a break in trust caused by spokesperson Jared Fogle’s very public fall from grace. Or, after reading the reviews, call it an issue with staff shortchanging people at multiple locations, in concert with overall ingredient quality. As one customer wrote, “Service appeared to be good . . . When we checked our receipts additional items (chicken strips) had been added. This happened to more than one family member. Not to be trusted.”
Total reviews: 1,194
% of one-star reviews: 65%
Domino’s has so much good going for it: namely, the sheer number of locations and span of their hours. You can get pizza delivered at almost any time, which in many ways is an ironclad positive working in favor of the restaurant. But according to the reviews, just because you can get that pizza doesn’t mean you should. Looks like the main issue is their lack of consistency with customer service. Several reviewers reported huge pizza delivery delays, along with never receiving the pie at all.
Total reviews: 1,644
% of one-star reviews: 66%
The only pizza place doing worse than Domino’s? Pizza Hut. The reviews would lead you to believe that, in fact, everyone is out-pizza-ing the hut, at least in terms of service. Slowness and inaptitude are major complaints among customers, but hygiene also makes a concerning appearance.
“Asked to wait for service whilst server grappled with computer glitch made [me] wait for 10 minutes standing. Finally bought through to table and given side plates which were disgusting unwashed with scraps of food stuck between plates. Hungry so waited 15 – 20 minutes (fast food?),” wrote one reviewer. “Décor was appalling run down drab damp looking I have never been to a worse pizza restaurant ever.”
That upset critic wrote a happy end to their own story, as they continued to explain: “Got up and left went to Olive Garden which was fabulous.”