Panda Express Avoids Food Giveaway Pandemonium, Serves Up Teeny Portions

Matt tells Consumerist that Panda Express may have found a way to avoid a coupon debacle similar to KFC’s grilled chicken giveaway last year. Their brilliant plan: dish up tiny portions, then charge comically high prices for meal add-ons. Like a $4 egg roll.

Hi folks, [on July 14] Panda Express had a printable coupon for a free Thai Cashew Chicken Breast, “single entree serving.” I figured I’d meet them halfway and get a drink and an egg roll along with it.


The guy rang up my meal and announced it would be $6.65 – after checking to make sure I hadn’t wandered into the Panda Express at the airport, I asked why so much for a drink and an egg-roll? Guy tells me that the egg roll is only $1.25 if it us purchased with a 2-item entree – so apparently on the sliding scale the eggroll is $4 if I don’t? I told him to forget the egg roll and just give me the entree and drink. After what appeared to be some sort of coordinated operation that required 2 people to have a discussion in private and then go through way too much activity to remove an egg roll from a bag, I paid for my drink and left.


When I got to my car, I opened the bag and found what you see here – admittedly a precious and cute little box containing a spoonful of cashew chicken. They had taken away all the rice and just gave me the chicken.

I’m not one to check the proverbial gift horse’s dentistry, but this is ridiculous. I think the average person would expect a scoop of chicken and a scoop of rice, at minimum. When they play games like this, they leave a…wait for it…bad taste in my mouth and I don’t want to go back anymore. I think I’ll go back to my local Barbecue joint that gives everyone a huge-ass pulled pork sandwich on National Barbecue day, no coupon needed – and no games played.

Based on the photo on the coupon, a true cynic would expect to get one mouthful of chicken as the free portion. Matt’s lunch was more substantial than that, but was his expectation unreasonable?

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