Can’t leave your house but craving that one burger from the place down the street? Don’t worry about it— a delivery app has your back. During the pandemic, apps like UberEats, Skip the Dishes, Postmates, and more have skyrocketed in popularity. But is it really all sunshine and rainbows? While yes, delivery orders placed through these apps help keep restaurants busy during quarantine, it’s not such a perfect system. Even with some companies imposing inane charges on orders (Small cart fee? Really?), workers and business owners often get shortchanged.
Let’s talk tips. In any normal setting,say a restaurant, you would expect the entirety of your tip to go towards the waiter who spent so much time serving you. A former policy of DoorDash proves this may not be common sense. Instead of the money being added onto their existing wage, DoorDash had been using those tips to subsidize the cheques for their drivers, pocketing it themselves. Essentially, they manipulated customers into directly donating to the company under the guise of helping out workers— all this coming after the already huge service fee (often 30% of the order). Other apps will drive up menu prices. UberEats, for instance, will blatantly charge extra money than what can be shown on the restaurant’s website. Sure, these apps are here providing a service, but why should the customer spend an extra ten to twenty dollars per order just for it to go straight to the middle man?
Looking deeper into the recent initiative to help small businesses that has driven many to delivery apps, one can find that these companies are not the saving graces they pretend to be. Past the simple loss of quality control, restaurant owners suffer when handing off their food to a third party and are actually losing money. John Schall, a business owner in the Seattle Times states that, “the simple truth is every delivery sale is a money-losing proposition for restaurants,” . and that, “with delivery sales at 70-80% of restaurant sales, the delivery companies are now taking 18-20% of restaurant revenues. When average restaurant profit margins are 8-10%, this makes restaurants no longer viable.” Delivery apps not only pocket a service fee, but a percentage of the restaurant’s revenue. This 25-30% portion of earnings is huge for local businesses, especially while owners struggle to keep afloat during stay at home orders.
So what can you do? Small businesses will often have their own websites available to place an order through, and can be reached through simple phone call. Sure, expanding the energy to talk to someone is a bit more tedious than pressing a few buttons, but it’s a great way to ensure that the restaurant you want to support is really getting all the help you can give it. If you are using a delivery company, make sure to look into the app’s tipping policy before you decide to give $10 for good service– you want to know that money is going where you’re trying to put it! With these tough times heavily impacting our community, it’s so important to try and support each other. Besides, what better way to help out local businesses than to enjoy the sheer deliciousness of that burger?