COVID-19 Stage 2 reinstituted - Ford - © ?

COVID-19 Experience: ‘Cut Food Delivery Service Fees’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called on food delivery companies such as Uber Eats and Door Dash to cut their commissions in areas where dine-in services at restaurants have once again been curtailed due to the COVID-19 crisis. The idea is to help both house-bound consumers and restaurants survive…

Outgoing UBER Delivery - © CTV News OttawaAn UBER EATS delivery leaving a restaurant…

In an effort to slam the brakes on a resurging COVID-19 case counts, The Ontario Government has called on food delivery companies to cut the commissions they charge restaurants to deliver meals to customers’ homes. The delivery option has become ultra-convenient – almost essential – to some folks in high-risk demographics who want to avoid going out as much as possible during the COVID isolation period. It’s just about the easiest, safest way to get prepared meals to you door once again, now that the the restrictions on dining-in at restaurants have been reinstated due to resurging daily case counts mainly attributed to re-opening schools too early and easing restrictions on dine-in service at most restos.

The Ontario government has rolled back re-opening rules to ‘Stage 2’ of its overall plan. Eat-in services at all Ontario restaurants in three hot spots have been cancelled again until November 7.

Shining a spotlight on a disservice

While most consumers have not noticed much of a difference in the food and were already tuned in to the delivery protocols, restaurant owners are lamenting the losses that using such services is costing them. Did you know that services such as UBER EATS charge restos as much as 30 percent of the total cost of each order to delivery food?

Sounds crazy! And customers may not even be aware that they’re probably paying way more for their food than they would they if they were picking it up rather than having it delivered. But resto operators can’t ignore the effects on their business. They either have to charge a separate (customer-visible) delivery fee or offer some kind of ‘discount’ for customers who use contact-free pick-up options to get their meals – neither of which options is great from a marketing point of view. Somewhere along the line, customers are likely going to feel they are getting ripped of, either by the resto or the delivery service.

Enter the Ontario Government

“I have a message for the big third party food delivery services like UBER EATS,” Premier Doug Ford said in his daily televised COVID-19 Update yesterday afternoon. “It’s time for you to do your part. Please consider reducing the commission rates you charge the restaurants impacted by these new health measures.”

“I understand that some of the companies are reducing the commission they charge and I thank you for that,” Ford added, urging all delivery services to, “do the right thing in these difficult times.”

Uber Eats was quick to respond that it saw the government request coming: “To support our restaurant partners during this challenging time, we’ve waived activation fees, introduced a daily payout feature, and increased more flexibility on our marketplace fees, including 0 per cent pick-up, 15 per cent for bring your own courier, and full-service with delivery people available on the UBER EATS platform.”

That wasn’t exactly a simple, understandable, straightforward offer, like cutting the commission, but it showed some willingness to bend.

Door Dash was also ready with a response to Ford, saying they would waive delivery fees in Toronto, Mississauga and Ottawa (the regions dialed back to Stage 2 COVID-19 rules) now through until November 6. The company did not directly address the call to reduce commission rates.

My take

It was wise – from a corporate standpoint – to at least make gestures toward cutting their complex and massive delivery fees. But the two leading food delivery services still did not announce changes that many consumers will fully understand. They know that, without delivery customers or ‘rest partners the COVID-19 gravy train will leave behind, and leave the public and their partners with a bad taste in their mouths. And so it should be with all gougers – who perversely tend to come out and prey on their defenseless victims during times of maximum stress and vulnerability…

~ Maggie J.

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