Food delivery services (DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats, etc.)

When I was traveling for work I tried most of these services. Can’t say I’m a fan of any of them. Share your experiences!

Buy low, sell high?

I heard an NPR story the other day on these services and they end up being a really bad deal for the restaurants, as in the long run they lose money. Also the drivers are not paid very well and really rely on tips to make any actual money at this job.

Its best to just read the original Margins blogpost. Also touches on the practice of scraping restaurant webpages & hijacking the google links. Which in turn illustrates another problematic issue in the current era, where googles policy of allowing this activity and only acting when / if they get a complaint, as opposed to only allowing the redirection / web association in the first place if the request actually comes from the restaurant business itself.

Here are 2 comments about that:

Danny Sullivan -
I work on the Google Search team. We understand the concern about unauthorized order links. That’s why we remove any order links from Google business profiles if a business reports there’s no authorized relationship. They can do that following the instructions in our help page about order links here:

Wes Garrison -
@ Danny, the problem is the majority of DoorDash links on Google My Business profiles are not authorized, particularly concerning the Active Links program.

I serve on the board of the RMDA, and I’m the immediate Past President

When DoorDash enters a new market, they immediately list "every restaurant in that market on their platform, and they use those links to drive business to their platform without having to do the hard work of partnering with the restaurants.

Until last year, GrubHub put “Active Links” to Grubhub and Seamless on the GMB profile of EVERY restaurant in America, automatically, through special access granted to them by Google. I know this because 2 friends who own local independent restaurant delivery services changed their GMB type from “caterer” to “restaurant” and a Grubhub Active Link immediately appeared on their GMB profile. Seriously. A link to a direct competitor on a small business’ own GMB profile.

When GrubHub did this with local restaurants, clicking the Active Link took customers to a scraped version of that restaurant’s menu on GrubHub, with a message reading "This restaurant isn’t currently available through GrubHub, but they will be soon! In the meantime, click here to order from a similar restaurant… eg. “please order from one of their competitors.” At least DoorDash will actually deliver from the restaurants whose profiles they hijack.

Google will not give Active Links access to my company, Takeout Central, or any of the hundreds of other locally-owned independent restaurant delivery services in America, even though many of us have partnered with our local restaurants for over 20 years. You won’t let us participate in Google’s “On Demand” ordering platform (the blue “Order Delivery” buttons in this article), and you won’t even sell us “Local Promotions” ads in the GMB profiles that you sell to DoorDash and GrubHub. Even my Google Premier Partner ad agency can’t get us that placement because the program is currently closed".

You could allow all of these independents to participate in these programs by integrating with 3 or 4 providers: Takeout Central, Data Dreamers, Deliver Logic and Model.

.but you either won’t, or you turn a blind eye to what is going on.

Our business is down 60% - 70% in some markets since the funded companies arrived, and you

continue to funnel business to them.

We can’t compete with companies that lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Google is helping them put us out of business.

Please consider changing your policy. Call me if you wish. 9192600803

Whenever we have thought about using one of these services the inflated prices always make us decide to go right to the website of the restaurant and order from them and pick it up.

The only reason I’ve even touched these services is the current crisis. Every time I thought about it in the past I’d look at their delivery costs and nope right outta there. But when it’s not safe to take public transit, and the restaurants aren’t open for dine-in, my options are supporting the two or three restaurants right by me by ordering pickup, or these scummy services, for the most part. So I’m definitely doing the former…but if I want to give my business to (and, of course, get food from) anyplace I’ve enjoyed that’s further afield…well. They don’t do their own delivery, so…

They do all now have a subscription pass to waive delivery fees which…merely makes them as much as 40+% overhead compared to just ordering from the restaurant. Bite Squad was completely horrible and I would definitely steer clear of them unless they’re the only ones offering the restaurant you’re doing it all to buy from. They had a bunch of fees they didn’t disclose up front, very poor website design, almost never were less than half an hour late or early compared to my requested time, and once just…never collected my order and their chat support was broken so I had to cancel by fucking email. On a real-time interaction. Doordash, so far, has a better site, a better subscription (not that I’m subscribed at the moment - they sent me a coupon that includes free delivery for a month), and a bit better service?

Obviously this is all relative. They’re trashfire businesses. :(

The one plus side I’ve seen - when I order delivery directly through a restaurant website my credit card is much more vulnerable. There was one year I had to replace my credit card five times! That’s ordering about 1-3 times a week.

Since switching to using their service my credit card has been more protected, but I feel like now the small business owner is getting screwed. Feels like a no win.

I try to just pick up and/or pay cash now to avoid the whole debacle.

In our area, Door Dash is the only one of these worth using - better website, better customer recovery, better (and more) drivers, better delivery times etc. We do have a Dashpash subscription, especially in light of the current situation. Frankly, though, even before this we were both working to exhaustion on a daily basis and didn’t mind spending a little extra to have someone else just bring us dinner.

I’m aware of the problems and would wholeheartedly support regulations on this kind of thing, but the sad reality is that (for the forseeable future) it’s delivery or nothing for us in terms of patronizing restaurants.

We refuse to use them unless I get free credit from a company trying to bribe me to attend one of their sessions. And then we still pick up the order ourselves.

It is annoying though they are so evil I can’t use them. I like the idea of a centralized system for security and otherwise have no issues using them for ordering online and picking up the order. That part worked great before we found out the level of evil.

Use them constantly, and absolutely love it – well Door Dash specifically. I pay $9.99 a month for dash pass, which waives the delivery fees. Order from places that don’t do their own delivery. Love it. Door Dash drivers in my neck of the woods are fast, they’re polite, and the orders are 99% of the time completely correct. (They’re more correct and faster and better at delivery than local pizza delivery folks are, in fact.)

GrubHub is kind of a mess. We’ve seen drivers who are clearly picking up multiple orders at restaurants that aren’t even that close together and then delivering them to separate addresses. Which ensures your food is cold and late when it arrives.

There’s ways for restaurateurs to work with these services so that everyone makes money. Restaurants that don’t will squawk about it, while not realizing that their consumers are asking for something that they’re not offering. Sucks to be those restaurant proprietors, but when the market speaks, you’d better listen or suffer the consequences.

Note! “Pasqually’s Pizza and Wings” is not a local mom & pop pizzeria. It’s Chuck E. Cheese trying to skew search results on these apps.

How do you know? At a bare minimum my impression was that DoorDash is not making money but the opposite.

12 years as operations manager in fine dining and then 5 more years as an executive consultant on the opening of 6 independently-owned restaurants/gastropubs.

I don’t know whether DoorDash or GrubHub or any of those places are making money. I do know that there are ways for restaurants to either compete with them or work with them to make money.

If I’m a restaurateur, I’m only really interested in one of those things.

If I’m DoorDash, I’m looking at GrubHub’s potential buyout by Uber as the end goal here. It’s an exit play.

Yes, and the point of the blog referenced upthread is that by ploughing through VC cash in hope of a buyout these companies are setting unrealistic customer expectations that will fuck the restaurant business in the long term.

I can’t really get too outraged by this, though. It seems to me if you really want to support your local mom & pop pizzeria, you should already know what it’s called.

Were these recent years? Which services like these did you make money from?

This is a great story and quite illuminating about the core of the problem.

These delivery businesses are being subsidized by venture capital to such a degree that they have no incentive to hone their business models to profitability. Their goal is simply to disrupt for the sake of disruption. Grubhub even says that their delivery business is just a means to an end!

So they really don’t care if they put restaurants out of business on their path to whatever their final form will be.

Hopefully local governments will catch on at scale and stop them from at least their most egregious practices of stealing business by creating automatic listings and phone numbers.

Sure, but I think we know what they’re really doing is hiding the fact that it’s a crap Chuck E. Cheese pizza versus any other pizza.

And I say if you’re ordering blind from a place you’ve never heard of, you get what you deserve.

And the reason I ask is because you seem unwilling to entertain the possibility that these big national services are different in some perhaps crucial respects from other, more local services that might appear similar but have seemingly successfully partnered with restaurants for years, if the email or forum post (mobile) quoted upthread is anything to go by.