I was baffled to read about a sales tactic by food delivery companies such as DoorDash and others.
In March 2019 a good friend who owns a few pizza restaurants messaged me ... For over a decade, he resisted adding delivery as an option for his restaurants ... But he had suddenly started getting customers calling in with complaints about their deliveries.
. . .
He realized that a delivery option had mysteriously appeared on their company's Google Listing. The delivery option was created by Doordash.
To confirm, he had never spoken with anyone from Doordash and after years of resisting the siren song of delivery revenue, certainly did not want to be listed. But the words "Order Delivery" were right there, prominently on the Google snippet.
. . .
Tricking businesses onto your platform and creating additional headaches for small business owners in the pursuit of Softbankian growth is a bad as it gets. Many restauranteurs were complaining about their Google listings being "hijacked" by Doordash, sometimes even usurping their own preferred delivery.
These underhanded tricks aren't unique to Doordash though. In recent weeks there has been some great work coming out around a Yelp - Grubhub phone scam. This one is just priceless (seriously, read this Buzzfeed piece). Grubhub for their own sites generates a phone number for each restaurant that goes to a centralized, Grubhub owned call center. If someone calls in and orders via this number, the restaurant gets charged a fee. Apparently, some enterprising BD folks came up with the idea that Yelp could put the Grubhub phone numbers in place of the real restaurant phone number on the Yelp listing. Customers who think they’re “helping” their local restaurants by calling in the order are still creating a fee for Grubhub.
There's more at the link.
I'd say that tactic is at least underhanded, if not downright dishonest. How is it legal to publicly pass off a phone number for your company as the phone number to order from another company? How is it legal to misrepresent your phone number as theirs, on other business Web sites? How is it legal to have Google add your delivery service to the Web listing of another company, without that company's permission and authorization? Isn't that almost the definition of the crime of fraudulent misrepresentation? Why have no criminal charges or civil lawsuits been filed? I'd appreciate comment from the legal eagles among my readers.
In this case, I'm glad to say that the misrepresentation backfired on Doordash when the owner of the pizza business found a way to make them pay him a lot of money at no extra cost to himself. It's an amusing tale that I'll leave you to read for yourselves.
There's also the issue of delivery services charging fees to restaurants for referrals, even if customer calls didn't result in orders. GrubHub is in all sorts of trouble in New York over that practice. It looks like Yelp got in on the scam as well. I don't understand why charges haven't been filed against both companies. Surely that's illegal?
All I can say is, if I found another company misrepresenting itself as my business, I'd be furious. Those sorts of shenanigans are why so many small restaurant owners I know are very angry with food delivery services. They claim they're costing them customer goodwill by delivering food late and cold, causing customers to blame the restaurant, and post negative reviews about it on social media. In other words, they're blaming the restaurant for the delivery service's shortcomings. In the restaurant's shoes, I'd try getting together with others to launch a class action lawsuit against the delivery companies concerned.
That's why I won't use most food delivery services. I'd rather call in my order direct to the restaurant, making sure it's their number, not a third party's. I'll use a delivery service with whom they've contracted, knowingly and honestly, or collect my order if necessary. I don't want to reward dishonest misrepresentation with my customer dollars.