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Restaurants Are Feeling Ripped Off by Food Delivery Services

Like so many of the technologies that promise to make our lives easier, devilery apps seem to be creating new kinds of headache for users.
Photo via Flickr user instantvantage

Despite their Tinder-like convenience, mobile food-delivery services like GrubHub Seamless, DoorDash, and Caviar are under mounting scrutiny not only from state health departments, economists, and their drivers but, increasingly, from the very restaurants that they promise to benefit.

A recent report by the blog Tribeca Citizen took a close look at the fees imposed by GrubHub Seamless to see if it was really worth it for restaurants hoping to get more eyeballs on mobile phones.


More specifically, they spoke to 15 New York restaurateurs about commission levels imposed by the app company, which range from 12.5 percent to 20 percent. Paying the lowest fee, which still represents a pretty big chunk of a restaurant's sales, will get a restaurant displayed closer to the bottom of the listings, according to a source who spoke to Tribeca Citizen anonymously.

READ: Three of the Biggest Food Delivery Services Are Being Sued by Their Own Drivers

Another source had opted for the 15-percent option, which was supposed to guarantee more visibility but did not deliver (pardon the pun). "We started with 15% but we were not found by our guests. They often asked why they couldn't find us at all," the anonymous restaurant owner told Tribeca Citizen, insisting that their restaurant's page was still buried beneath dozens of others and relegated to the app's seventh page.

And the problems don't end there for clients of GrubHub Seamless. Technically, in terms of actual transactions between restaurants and customers, all the company has to do is process payments, but even that service is routinely botched, according to a restaurateur quoted in the piece.

"The system malfunctions on occasion, so an order will not print. You get the call from the customer and you have no idea what the order is," they said. "Then you get a negative review which further impacts your business, in addition to having to offer a discount or complimentary item."

Like so many of the technologies that promise to make our lives easier, delivery apps seem to just be creating new kinds of headache for their users.