Unaffiliated advertising and hidden costs are served up by lawsuit claims services.
Many diners have turned to delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub to help them deal with everything from hectic schedules to worldwide pandemics. While these companies provide a much-needed service to the public, the city of Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) office has filed charges against them for violations such as deceptive advertising, call routeing, and charging misleading customer fees.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with Chicago’s BACP and Consumer Counsel offices, filed two lawsuits against DoorDash and Grubhub on Friday. The lawsuits cite multiple deceptive advertising and charging practices resulting in both real and potential damage to the reputations of unaffiliated restaurants as well as deceptive charging practices designed to hide various fees and charges to both restaurants and consumers.
While the suit was recently filed, the claims of each suit are not new territory for either party; DoorDash and Grubhub have previously made headlines due to their known business practices. Grubhub regularly generates a unique phone number for each restaurant advertised as part of the service. When this number is used to place an order, the service then includes a phone order fee based on a percentage average orders, call length, etc. In 2019 DoorDash gained unwanted attention as multiple sources revealed the company’s tipping policy was actually designed to benefit the company rather than the actual delivery driver. DoorDash later changed the policy following backlash from their customer base.
Takeout delivery services have made various restaurant items available to consumers who were previously unable to access them owing to issues ranging from consumer health to logistics to seating availability. These services offer users a web-based interface for browsing menus, finding contact information, and placing orders for menu items that are not generally available for delivery. Deliveries are picked up and delivered by drivers from the service rather than the restaurant in exchange for the meal cost, any fees charged, any gratuities included, and so on.
Like many other cities, the 2020 pandemic lockdown forced roughly half of Chicago’s 7,500 restaurants to shut their doors temporarily or, in some cases, permanently. These closures coincide with a nation-wide surge in meal delivery service orders, increasing from more than 250 million in 2019 to over 800 million in 2020. The recent suits filed against DoorDash and Grubhub echo longstanding issues associated with these services and intend to promote fair advertising, honest business practices, and more transparent charges and fees to consumers.