Isn’t this fraudulent misrepresentation?

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 ordersGrubHub 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.



  1. A smart business man would have done this:
    1 Customer calls restaurant and orders pizza for delivery.
    2 restaurant calls Doordash and orders what customer wanted, to be delivered to customer's house
    3 Restaurant gets profit from pizza, customer gets pizza,
    4 Doordash pays restaurant $8 per pizza to deliver the food.

  2. Yeah but this is Doordash we're talking about. Doordash is actually the worst. They're the ones that will use your tips to pay wages so that they don't have to dig into their own pockets to pay something so trivial as wages. They're the ones that forced their workers into binding arbitration clauses and forced them to forfeit the ability to join class-action lawsuits. They're the ones that then tried to weasel their way out of that arbitration when a large number of their workers scraped enough money together to activate the arbitration clause.

    They are the ones that had to be told this by a court:
    “For decades, the employer-side bar and their employer clients have forced arbitration upon workers, thus taking away their right to go to court, and forced class-action waivers upon them too, thus taking away their ability to join collectively to vindicate common rights. The employer-side bar has succeeded in the United States Supreme Court to sustain such provisions. The irony, in this case, is that the workers wish to enforce the very provisions forced on them by seeking, even if by the thousands, individual arbitrations, the remnants of the procedural rights left to them. The employer here, DoorDash, faced with having to actually honour its side of the bargain, now blanches at the cost of the filing fees it agreed to pay in the arbitration clause. No doubt, DoorDash never expected that so many would actually seek arbitration. Instead, in irony upon irony, DoorDash now wishes to resort to a class-wide lawsuit, the very device it denied to the workers, to avoid its duty to arbitrate. This hypocrisy will not be blessed, at least by this order.”

  3. I have yet to order food delivered (even pizza). My experience is that take-out food is always sub-par just because of the added time to get it home. Add on to that the vagaries of the timing of a delivery service and the food becomes unacceptable.
    When I order take-out on the phone I try to be at the restaurant a few minutes before the food should be ready. That way, at least, only travel time and not wait time are a factor.
    Reading the past few days about what delivery companies are doing to restaurants over the past couple of months has stiffened my resolve and made me very careful about finding a proper telephone number. Our food options are somewhat limited because of my wife's dietary restrictions. Putting the few restaurants that have items she can eat out of business because they can't make money is shooting myself in the foot.

  4. I stopped ordering delivery from Pizza Hut when (for unknown reasons) they opted to start routing my orders through a store on the other side of town, rather than the one that was just down the road.

    Nope, sorry, I'll just pick up a Papa Murphy's and bake it myself.

    I have no objection to getting takeout — several restaurants in the area are happy to let you take the food home. But delivery does seem to attract the worst offenders when it comes to work ethic.

  5. I have a friend who recently started driving for DoorDash as a side hustle. While he can't speak for any of the corporate policies, he has observed that it's been a pretty solid gig, at least for him. He's averaging around $12 per hour (net) and can pretty much set his own hours. Most of the restaurants in that he picks up from seem to be pretty well set up for takeout right now, and a number of them are still only doing takeout/delivery even though his state has started opening up now. Plus, unlike Uber or Lyft, food doesn't get drunk and throw up in your vehicle.

  6. I tried DoorDash twice, and both times the experience was beyond awful. Once while traveling and unable to just run out and grab food – the order arrived two hours late and stone cold almost inedible. The second time was locally, because my kids wanted to try it and I had some credit from the first disaster. Same thing happened. I'll never try them again. I'd be furious if I realized I was trying to call a restaurant direct and got routed to a third party.

  7. I do not do delivery. Too many bad experiences decades ago. I have done "take-out" for 20+ years.

    My kids tried it when they were in college and resorted to "take-out".

  8. The only companies that do "delivery" out in my neck of the woods are UPS, Fed-Ex, and the oil and propane companies.

  9. They aren't the only industry that poses as somebody else.
    I always go to a hotel's official website for their contact information; too often web searches pop up claiming to be the hotel but they are actually adds for booking services.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see the same happen in other industries also.

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