Help! KFC sent my mobile order to the wrong store

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By Christopher Elliott

Jonathan Sklar orders a meal from KFC through the fast-food restaurant’s mobile app. He says the order went to the wrong store. Can he get a refund?

Question

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) owes me a refund. I placed an order on their app recently, but I think it went to the wrong location.

I tried to get help at the restaurant, and they did not know what to do. When I called the 800 number to speak to a rep, KFC put me on hold for 30 minutes. I decided to call back the next day, but when I did, I got a message that said the inbox was full.

Can you help me get the $33 for the meal I never received? — Jonathan Sklar, Novi, Mich.

Answer

KFC should have sent your mobile order to the right place. As someone who orders coffee online frequently, I worry about this, too. What if Starbucks sends my request for a grande Americano to the wrong location but charges me anyway?

I have good reason for my concern. Many online apps use your GPS location to determine the closest store. If you’re not paying attention, or if there are multiple locations in your area, you can easily send a mobile order to the wrong restaurant. 

Is that what happened to you? If so, it’s impossible to determine the error that caused the problem. But KFC should have at least responded to your complaint and found a way to fix the problem — rather than putting you on hold and then sending your call to a full mailbox. 

What are the most common problems with KFC?

KFC customers complain to us about several problems at the fast-food restaurant. They include:

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  • Incorrect orders: Employees sometimes process incorrect orders or misplace customer orders, leading to customer disappointment. (But this is the first we’ve heard of a full inbox.)
  • Long waiting times: During peak meal hours, it often takes a long time to process orders. Customers frequently complain about the delays.
  • Refund difficulties: KFC has a reputation for taking its time with refunds after a botched order.
  • Quality concerns: As with any fast-food restaurant, customers may also have concerns about the quality of the food, the cleanliness of the restaurants, and the efficiency of the service process.
  • Operational inefficiencies: Lately, our advocacy team has seen some complaints about KFC’s order processing system and automated order status updates.

Bottom line: KFC, like other fast-food restaurants, has some customer service challenges. The company can fix them by improving order accuracy, reducing waiting times, and focusing on quality. (Related: How to fix any consumer problem using the Elliott method.)

How to get your KFC mobile order refunded

Here’s what KFC says about mobile orders: If you don’t check in on the order you placed with the wrong restaurant, it will not charge you. “You may see the order in your pending transactions, but it will be automatically canceled within 5 working days,” the company says on its site. (It’s unclear if this policy applies to KFC restaurants worldwide.)

For some reason, KFC charged you for an order you never picked up. Fortunately, this is a rare problem. Fast-food restaurants like KFC usually bill their customer correctly. When they don’t, you can either call KFC directly or send an email to [email protected]. If that doesn’t work, you can also contact one of the Yum Brands executives.

I reached out to KFC on your behalf. It turns out KFC sent your mobile order to the correct address after all. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

“The food was prepared at the requested location, but it was ready later than anticipated and he never received it,” a representative told me. “So we went ahead and processed the refund.”

About this story

When my advocacy team got this case, we gave it a less than one percent chance of a resolution. But we underestimated the determination of Sklar, who had documented everything and KFC’s ability to track orders (which are surprisingly sophisticated). And in the end, of course, you should never have to pay for something you don’t receive. My thanks to Mel Smith and Dwayne Coward, who helped advocate this case; Andy Smith and his amazing editing team and Dustin Elliott who created the brilliant chicken illustration. No, the chicken isn’t happy either, but maybe for other reasons.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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