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Tim Hortons’ Virus Sparks Talk of Legal Action Against Parent Company

tim hortons virus legal action
tim hortons virus legal action

Photo by Jerry Huddleston

Popular Canadian fast food franchise Tim Hortons, in a statement made through representatives at the Great White North Franchisee Association (GWNFA), is threatening legal action against its parent company Restaurant Brands International; Tim Hortons franchise owners are incensed by a seeming lack of response by Restaurant Brands to a virus causing havoc on their point-of-sales terminals. The GWNFA is insisting on a meeting this Friday, March 2.

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“Should you refuse to meet with our clients to resolve this important problem, our clients shall unfortunately be left with no alternative but to pursue litigation,” wrote Peter Proszanski in a letter to Restaurant Brands International CEO Daniel Schwartz.

The virus, first detected approximately a week ago, disabled cash registers at an as-yet unconfirmed number of Tim Hortons’ locations a week ago. The evidence suggests the number of infected restaurants is in the hundreds. According witness statements, many of the locations had to close outright, angering customers and allegedly damaging the brand. The letter sent to Restaurant Brands demanded compensation for the lost revenue, food spoilage, and labor costs at the affected locations.

Sources state that affected Tim Hortons franchise locations are working with an external solution provider to deal with the virus, and that customer credit card information have not been compromised or exposed. The identity of attacker, their motivation, and the exact nature of the virus are yet unknown. Infected terminals read out an error message that state “a recent hardware or software change might have caused this.”  

Industry insiders consider the virus a tipping point in the long-standing tensions between franchises and Restaurant Brands, allegedly due to the latter’s unresponsiveness in other areas. However, this incident does highlight the severe damage an unchallenged virus can do to a network and the cascading costs that could result from a digital disruption—including the mounting prospect of legal fees and brand damage.

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