- Grubhub/Seamless revised its phone service for diners using it to contact the restaurant nationwide. Diners will be prompted to press #1 to place an order or #2 for everything else, according to a letter Grubhub sent to the New York City Council obtained by Restaurant Dive. The letter was sent following Grubhub's formation of a task force in November, which included product, technical and restaurant partnership teams, to address concerns over restaurants being charged for diners using its service to contact a restaurant even though an order was not placed.
- The company is nearly doubling its account advisors on its restaurant success team. These account advisors can assist restaurants with phone order inquiries and are also available to provide strategies to grow order volume and drive revenue.
- Restaurant partners will still be able to listen to each billed phone order, oftentimes within minutes of the call, and will have four months to dispute a phone order commission. The company said it will continue to conduct regular roundtables in New York and elsewhere.
From scrutiny over tipping policies and charges of cybersquatting to criticism for posting restaurants on their platforms without permission and struggles with profitability, delivery providers have been in hot water lately.
Grubhub, in particular, has taken on much of the complaints from restaurant partners and investors. Its latest reforms follow New York City Council's threats that it would consider legislation if the company didn't address complaints over how it handled phone orders. In November, it extended its look-back period for restaurants to review phone orders from 60 to 120 days.
But the city council has increased its scrutiny over delivery providers overall, and it's becoming clear that the council's criticism is helping revise company policies nationwide. City Councilmember Ritchie Torres introduced legislation making delivery providers explain how much of customer tips actually go to drivers. This proposal appears to be targeting DoorDash’s tipping practices, which were revised late last year following criticism of its policy that made it appear that entire tips weren’t going to drivers.
Even though Grubhub's revisions and open dialogue will make it easier for restaurants to dispute phone order charges and provide additional feedback, some New York City officials are not satisfied. New York City Councilmember Mark Gjonaj told Nation's Restaurant News that the reforms were "insufficient" since they don't address restaurants that already paid for phone order fees charged in error.
Grubhub has good reason to ease tensions among restaurant providers and regulators. Its market share fell last year to 22%, with DoorDash and UberEats gaining ground as the top two players. It's also under scrutiny from investors following its Q3 2019 earning release where CEO Matt Maloney said it would have to revise the company’s policy of posting non-partnered restaurants on its platform and bolster its loyalty rewards program to rebuild market share. Its latest moves reveal that it is willing to make its model work for all, but it will have a long way to go to temper tensions with its partners and calm investor fears.