I had a good friend who worked at Domino’s Pizza in the mid-’90s. He worked the late shift and was left in charge. On occasion, he’d invite me to hang out with him. I got to spend time behind the counter watching the delivery drivers come and go, watch my buddy make the pizzas, and he’d also let me make my own pizza. I’ll never forget the contraption they used that would apply the cheese pellets (and they were indeed pellets). You’d load the proper amount of cheese into an elevated cone, then slide the pizza under, press the release button, and bam! A perfectly cheesed pizza.
At the time, I ate Domino’s pizza and would order a pie for delivery now and then.
But that was more than 20 years ago, and it wasn’t too long after that I met my wife, who was instrumental in nudging me toward learning to appreciate better food. She loathes Domino’s, and I haven’t eaten it since.
Recently, I decided it was time to revisit the chain. Admittedly, I fell victim to their marketing, and the idea of eating a pizza with a soft doughy crust, that’s sweetly sauced, and with a generous amount of cheese appealed to me.
I may have temporarily lost my mind.
Domino’s, like most large chains, competes on price. I think it’s safe to say that no one who orders from Domino’s regularly is a discerning pizza geek. One eats Domino’s because it’s quick, familiar, and (ostensibly) cheap.
On a recent weekday at noon, I set out to order a Domino’s pizza, and that’s when I discovered Domino’s dubious marketing tactics.
Going to Domino’s website, their special offers are front and center and most of the offers include pizzas with x-number of toppings. The special I ordered included two medium two-topping pizzas for just $5.99 each.
Two pizzas for 12 bucks. That’s a good deal.
If I were to ask you to order a two-topping pizza, what would that mean to you? Well, if you’re a normal human being who eats pizza, that means you’d pick something like sausage and mushrooms. Or maybe peppers and onions or some other classic combo.
Not at Domino’s.
A two-topping pizza at Domino’s does not include cheese. If you want cheese on your pizza (who doesn’t?) that counts as one topping. If you order a pizza with two actual toppings, then you’re charged for the ‘extra’ topping, and the great deal that sucked you in is no longer such a great deal. It’s especially true if you order over the phone, where it’s far less obvious than on their website or mobile app that you’re not paying the advertised price.
How sneaky of them.
With a majority of their special pricing deals, it’s the same. If you’re not careful, you’ll pay an upcharge. And to my surprise, I discovered it’s too easy to spend well over $20 on a couple of pies. And the pies at Domino’s are not very big.
I also discovered they now charge four dollars for delivery. Maybe my memory is failing me, but I believe delivery used to be free. Domino’s raison d’etre is convenience, and now they’re charging for it. Plus, of course, the cost doesn’t include the tip to your delivery person (please, do tip them).
Domino’s pricing is intentionally deceptive in my opinion.
I ordered two medium “two topping” pizzas, for $5.99 each, with one upgraded to “premium” (MeatZZa) for an extra $2, and the total with tax and tip came to just over $22. Almost double the advertised price.
What did I think of Domino’s (not so) cheap pizza?
The first couple of slices were very hot, (the pizza is definitely best very hot), and at first I’m thinking this ain’t too bad, but the more I ate, the more I realized just how terrible the pizza is.
The crust is spongy and flavorless, with an unpleasant gritty texture from the cornmeal used in preparation. The sauce is gummy and has no discernible tomato flavor. The cheese is its biggest flaw. The cheese has an odd mushy texture and is bland, I’ve never had worse cheese on a pizza. Domino’s mozzarella pellets are bad.
Why would anyone eat such a substandard product when everyone that lives in a metropolitan area where there are Domino’s, most assuredly has local pizza joints that will have a much better product at a competitive price?
Domino’s is foisting an exceptionally poor product on the American public. But more troubling than simply selling a crappy product is its penchant to use deceptive pricing schemes to do it.
I expect it will be another 20 years before I eat a Domino’s pizza again.