Panera Bread is settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit that alleges the company ripped off customers without them even knowing. With restaurant locations in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, Middletown, Newburgh and Wallkill, it's likely that Panera owes many Hudson Valley residents compensation.

I don't know about you but sometime over the past five years, Panera went from the place where I'd go to treat myself to some comfort food to an unorganized restaurant that serves mediocre hospital food. Whether my tastes changed, the restaurant chain lowered its standards or a combination of both, Panera certainly isn't the same as I remember.

Recently, the restaurant chain was under fire after being blamed for the deaths of two customers and serious health issues of another. Panera is accused of not properly advertising that its Charged Lemonade contains caffeine. A lawsuit claims that describing the beverage as "charged" is confusing, as many customers may not understand that it means the drink is full of caffeine.

Now there's another reason to be disappointed in Panera as information comes to light that the company is also being accused of ripping off New Yorkers.

Panera Poughkeepsie Middletown Kingston Fishkill
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Panera Accused of Sneaky Ripoff Scheme Against New York Customers

According to a lawsuit filed against Panera, the restaurant was accused of inflating prices in a scheme to trick customers into thinking they were getting a deal for ordering on the restaurant's app.

USA Today reports that Panera advertised to customers that they would receive free or low-cost delivery for every app order. What they didn't reveal was that the price of their order was secretly inflated by up to 7% to make up for the cost of delivery.

Panera Poughkeepsie Middletown Newburgh Kingston
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How Affected New Yorkers Can Receive Compensation from Panera

Those who've ordered delivery on the Panera app or website between October 1, 2020 and August 31, 2021 are eligible to receive a portion of the class-action settlement. According to an agreement, customers will be able to choose between cash or coupons good for free meals.

Those eligible in the settlement can opt to receive an electronic payment of $12 or two coupons good for any item on the restaurant's "Soups & Mac" totaling up to a maximum of $19.

Customers identified by the company's database as eligible for compensation may receive an email from the company with directions on how to receive a claim. If you believe you were scammed by Panera and didn't receive an email you can find out more information about the settlement online.

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Gallery Credit: CJ/Google Maps

Travel Writer Picks His Top 12 Upstate New York Italian Restaurants

Over the last 15 years or so, I have driven thousands of miles all around Upstate New York researchi8ng and exploring places for my 12 travel guides published for this area. Almost always, when it comes to dinner time, whether in Buffalo, Ithaca, or the Hudson Valley, I head to an Italian restaurant for a meal. And, yes, over these many years and miles I do have favorites. Here are a dozen of them!

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio

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