Do restaurant delivery services take too big a cut? West Seattle Chamber of Commerce asks City Council for a cap

The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce is joining a nationwide movement to seek caps on what third-party delivery services charge restaurants. Here’s the letter they’ve sent the city:

Attention: City of Seattle Council Members

We are urgently requesting that the Council enact a cap on delivery fees for companies such as Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats and the like. They have an advantage on delivery and are unfairly charging our local businesses 30% on their deliveries in a time of crisis. They have also been using this opportunity during the COVID-19 challenge to tell consumers that using their services are helping small businesses when the only one benefiting from these programs are these corporations. They do not have the restaurant’s interest at heart, this is merely an opportunity to further their growth and outreach to a new consumer base and increase revenues.

Many restaurants lose money on their deliveries during normal market conditions, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board and its members are asking that you follow suit with San Francisco and now New York in limiting the fees that are able to be collected in the interest of our local businesses.

We recommend a cap of 15% to allow these businesses to continue to operate. The Chamber is concerned for our members. We must preserve some profit for restaurants so they can serve the West Seattle residents who rely on restaurants to cook their meals and allow these businesses to retain their employees.

Reducing these fees would encourage more restaurants to get off the sidelines and reopen if they knew they could pay a fair commission rate. Our goal is to Bring back much needed jobs and stability to our service industry workers.

Sadly, these companies have stood firm around not negotiating fees since the start of this crisis, all these businesses are asking for is a fair charge.

We hope that you will help make this right .


Julia Jordan
CEO, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce

San Francisco ordered a 15 percent cap two weeks ago.

41 Replies to "Do restaurant delivery services take too big a cut? West Seattle Chamber of Commerce asks City Council for a cap"

  • WSJ April 23, 2020 (8:52 pm)

    Good, these companies use a whole slew of unfair, predatory, and deceptive practices to take advantage of restaurants, especially smaller ones that don’t have the advantage of a big marketing budget. Not to mention how they treat their delivery contractors

  • Jeff April 23, 2020 (9:04 pm)

    Why in the world would the city council need to do anything here?  Surely the restaurants could just not work with any of those services, if they don’t improve the bottom line.    

  • Mykscott April 23, 2020 (9:46 pm)

    This means call the restaurant directly, get  in your car, drive a few miles to the restaurant, and pick up your own food. How did these businesses become so popular and people become so lazy to have to get food brought to them? Why do we need these ridiculous delivery services?

    • Sixbuck April 24, 2020 (3:55 am)

      My thoughts exactly!  Why do we whine for the government to involve itself in our most petty of concerns?

    • Wes C. Addle April 24, 2020 (8:16 am)

      This may be shocking, but not everyone has a car or access to a car when they’re hungry. I only get food delivered when I have no vehicle, otherwise, I do try to pick-up.

    • AMK April 24, 2020 (8:32 am)

      it’s not always laziness. We have a 7 month old daughter and i’m currently injured and on crutches (this is improved from the wheelchair) and can’t do much for her nor can i cook or do much around the house. And my husband doesn’t cook! So unless we plan ahead, delivery is the best option for us. I did not realize these services were that costly to our local businesses, we’ll definitely be mindful of that going forward, but when we can’t leave the house, these services offer an opportunity to have the food we love brought right to our door. 

    • flimflam April 24, 2020 (9:36 am)

      i agree – i’ve always found them a strange idea for a few reasons…like if the delivery takes too long and the food quality suffers, that reflects on the restaurant in most peoples eyes.then there is the lazy factor. i mean, uber eats for mcdonalds? are you serious?

    • AM April 24, 2020 (10:31 am)

      Not everyone has a car. Some people have small children in their house who go to bed early and the adult(s) need to eat. Some people were exposed to possible covid-19 (us a few weeks ago) and committed to not entering any public places for 14+ days and therefore had to rely on grocery delivery and occasional food delivery.

      Some people are emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted after work, school and parenting and choose the “easier” option. We don’t have to assume laziness. 

    • Go gull April 24, 2020 (4:46 pm)

      Delivery service is also helpful right now because both sick and vulnerable individuals are self quarantining, and avoiding going out, to help prevent spreading or catching covid-19.

      I am all for efforts to help support restaurants durring this challenging time.

  • Pelicans April 23, 2020 (9:50 pm)

    WSB, there was a story on the local news last week or the week before about WS businesses and the effects on them from Covid-19 shutdowns/WS bridge closure. The owners of West 5 and Easy Street and, I think Lora Radford were interviewed. They mentioned possibly starting up their own WS delivery service, instead of using the established ones that charge businesses these huge percentages. Their letter today to the city council was also a story on the news tonight. Do you know if they’ve made any progress on a WS owned/run delivery service? Knowing now about the 30% they have to pay Uber Eats and the others, I’ll no longer use them, instead will take out or use their individual delivery where possible.

    • WSB April 24, 2020 (12:15 am)

      Haven’t heard anything about a multiple-venue West Seattle delivery service but some places DO handle their own delivery rather than using these services – so check first. This was educational to me, too; aside from a local pizza restaurant (which does its own delivering), we haven’t used delivery services in so long, the last service we used – years ago – is out of business!

      • Pelicans April 24, 2020 (1:02 am)

        Luciano’s is great! Their meatball sub (w/fire-roasted red peppers) can’t be beat. And their salads are so huge, they’re at least 2 to 3 meals for 1 person! And they have their own delivery!

      • Pelicans April 24, 2020 (1:22 am)

        Thank you for the reply!

    • Pelicans April 24, 2020 (1:45 am)

      And their delivery gals and guys have parked for years at the exit of the Cevron car wash at the south side of the Admiral Theatre. Bravo to both businesses!

  • Gatewood momma April 23, 2020 (10:07 pm)

    Not only do they take a big cut by they are using this crisis to try an change consumer habits so when this is all over you still use them and not go back to the restaurants.  Their claim that they are helping restaurants by waiving delivery fees to drive is laughable. They are waving a .99-3.99 fee to drive a sale to a business that gives up a way bigger cut than that, which makes UberEATS more money.  I will stand with my local restaurants!

  • Elton April 23, 2020 (11:07 pm)

    Strange that they’re all united in keeping this high charge. If one of them broke rank and lowered their fee at this time, wouldn’t they have a competitive advantage and gain better loyalty with local businesses? 

    • Sixbuck April 24, 2020 (4:01 am)

      Are you suggesting a free market system?  Very dangerous thinking in uber-liberal Seattle, don’t you think?

  • CAM April 24, 2020 (1:59 am)

    Just to play devil’s advocate, what happens to the drivers if the percentage goes down or if people stop using these services? Are the restaurants going to start employing them directly to make deliveries? 

    • Pelicans April 24, 2020 (11:32 am)

      What a great idea!

    • Pelicans April 24, 2020 (11:45 am)

      Possibly. If the restaurants have more business, they’ll need additional employees. Especially if they start their own delivery services.

  • RayWest April 24, 2020 (3:43 am)

    Now I have a better understanding about how the system works, and I was blaming the business owners of price gouging. I want to support my favorite West Seattle restaurants during this crisis, and I think home delivery is a great way to do that, but the cost is just too high–at least for one person who is ordering. There’re a few places I will still order from using Grubhub, as they waive  delivery fees, but when  the bill for my $12 lunch order from one restaurant would have been  $33 (no exaggeration and I cancelled the order)  by the time tip,  taxes, processing fees, extra fees, delivery charges, etc. are piled on, it’s simply not worth it. I don’t like seeing restaurants being put in this position of losing money on this.

    • newnative April 24, 2020 (11:46 am)

      But when they “waive” delivery fees, who do you think covers that? the restaurants do. The delivery services waive fees, give discounts and then force the restaurants to cover the costs. In some cases, they force restaurants to use their services. The restaurant loses money no matter what. 

      • RayWest April 24, 2020 (5:29 pm)

        And the restaurants shouldn’t have to waive fees, but most people cannot afford an additional 30% on the bill, that triples the cost of their meal. I’m supporting a cap on the delivery fee that these third-party services are charging. I think it should be a flat fee as well, rather than a percentage of the total. It doesn’t cost any more to deliver a $75 order than it does a $15 one.

  • AMD April 24, 2020 (5:03 am)

    The Support Seattle Small Biz map does say (if the owners provided such information) whether they use third parties for delivery, so you can check for that when deciding where to eat via the map.

  • Honestly April 24, 2020 (7:12 am)

    Wait, nobody is forcing these restaurants to even allow these delivery services to come to their restaurants.  They could require patrons to pick up their own food or have a neighbor get it for them.  These services are just that, a service.  To tell them to cap their fees is like telling the restaurant to not charge extra for the cost of doing business.Go for it, don’t use these services, see how well that works out.  Start your own delivery service and see how long it lasts not charging enough for delivery to cover the additional costs of employing a driver, gas, maintenance on a vehicle, etc.  This is not a new thing, pizza companies have been doing delivery for decades, why do you think pizza cost so damn much these days?  People got used to covering the extra delivery fees and now pizza joints charge $20, $30, sometimes $40 for a $10 item.

  • Jeff April 24, 2020 (7:49 am)

    This is way below the threshold of being worth the council’s consideration.    If the terms are bad, don’t use the service and run your own deliveries.    This is just one group of private interests trying to use regulatory power as a weapon against a potential competitor, while pretending there is a public interest.

  • Benjamin April 24, 2020 (8:12 am)

    West Seattle (and all really) restaurants need to band together and attach a delivery fee to each order.  The true cost needs to be reflected in the price so that the customer can decide to pick up or have delivery ( or not order at all, which of course does not help the restaurants).

  • KM April 24, 2020 (8:52 am)

    If you do continue to use any large delivery service, including Instacart, please tip with cash. Wage theft is an issue with some of these companies (which is why we do not use them.)

    • LP April 24, 2020 (1:17 pm)

      I usually tip in cash for delivery services, but FYI, Amazon Fresh has instructed their drivers not to accept cash tips; I’m not sure if any other services do the same. At the moment most people don’t want to handle cash anyway – one more point of potential contamination.

  • DeMarco Withers April 24, 2020 (8:56 am)

    Unfortunately within several months the number of restaurants in WS ( aka  Amazon Nation ) will have shut down due to the absence of access and the economic catastrophe that has just started. 

  • AdmiralBridge April 24, 2020 (8:57 am)

    I think the WS CoC should probably focus their communications on us as much as the CC.  If they did a broad publicity campaign with awareness, I’m sure our fierce loyalty to the local businesses here would get us into our cars or at least give them enough self-confidence to start some delivery alternatives.  I’ve sworn off of any of the web-driven 3rd parties (particularly instacart which is absolutely ripping people off with higher prices plus delivery fees, plus tips etc).  So a Safeway that does their own self-pickup, any of the local restaurants with good curbside/touchless, etc.  WS Loyalty can be fierce – there’s a 3 week lead time to get a time slot at WS Nursery last time I looked.  Get us more engaged and we will respond.

    • Pelicans April 24, 2020 (11:36 am)

      Anen! A short car trip to pick up food is more than worth it to keep our wonderful WS businesses open.

  • Geoff April 24, 2020 (9:07 am)

    I am a restaurateur, and I disagree with this. Another item for politicians to get involved in…great. (sarcasm). The restaurant does not have to be at 30% if they work with  the delivery company and can easily move to a lower % if they become an exclusive partner.  The restaurant can also raise the prices on the delivery menu, (many have already done so). The decision comes down to the customer making a choice to pay for the convenience of food being delivered. I can assure you…these delivery companies are not making the profits that may be perceived by many. Also…the drivers are scrambling to make any money they can. 

  • Conjunction Junction April 24, 2020 (9:14 am)

    We have Take Out Tuesday and Finally Friday and we go and pick up each time, we’re both cheap and cognizant that this is fiscally better for the restaurant.  Also, someone gets out of the house.  The last few take outs were Srivilai Thai, Grillbird, and Gyros Heroes – Grillbird won the “Best Runner To People In Cars” award on Friday night, it was like dinner AND a show!  And now, thanks to the ad now posted here on WSB, I see Cactus is up and running, nom, nom, nom (guess I’m not planning on sitting on any benches on Alki to eat my dinner though).  Just waiting for Marination to come back.

    • Go gull April 24, 2020 (4:53 pm)

      Grillbird is awesome :)

  • Diane Fields April 24, 2020 (10:18 am)

    We are also supporting with Finally Friday take out in WS.  Will for sure drive to the restaurant of choice.  We did delivery once.  But my goodness, would rather the restaurant keep the money than Uber Eats or the others.  Awful. 

  • Peaches April 24, 2020 (12:15 pm)

    Let’s go after Dominos first…the total always comes up at least 10 dollars more than the original total. I don’t drive because I’m legally blind and even though the pizza store is less than half a mile from me, they charge an extra fee like crazy…I don’t remember pizza being so expensive in the 90’s haha criminal. I understand they need gas and probably insurance but an extra 10 bucks an order is ridiculous.

    • Calires April 24, 2020 (2:51 pm)

      About six months ago (before the pandemic), I saw a Domino’s delivery person coming out of the lobby of the apartment building they are in on California.  I jokingly asked him if someone ordered delivery and he said, yes, it happens all the time, along with the townhouses directly across the street.  I can’t imagine paying delivery fees when you are literally feet away from the restaurant.  I guess some people have more money than sense.

  • skeeter April 24, 2020 (12:41 pm)

    I refuse to use a food delivery service.  These drivers are tearing through our neighborhood way too fast.  I prefer to pick up – either by bike or by my car.    

    • KM April 24, 2020 (1:55 pm)

      This too (in addition to the employee classification and wage theft issues). These delivery companies, much like Uber and Lyft, take no responsibilities for safety/driver issues, because they aren’t *employees*. For people who rely on them frequently, what did you use before these companies were available? 

  • AT April 24, 2020 (4:11 pm)

    Yes!  Do order directly and pick up when possible, or look for places offering their own delivery service.  Catch-22 and The Intentionalist are two good resources  for that.

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