UPDATE 07/09 at 6:03 EST:
A representative from DoorDash sent the following statement to The Spoon: “We have corrected a separate error affecting fewer than 10 out of over a thousand of our SF restaurant partners and will be issuing reimbursements to these restaurants.”
UPDATE 07/09 at 5:37 EST:
San Francisco chef Christian Ciscle, who originally surfaced news suggesting DoorDash had violated San Francisco’s 15 percent cap on restaurant commission fees, sent an update this afternoon via Twitter:
“UPDATE: Doordash called around 5:30- I fucked up. While the Merchant Info STILL said 30%, they were actually only taking 15% when I looked at the invoice. They never responded to my emails about it from weeks ago. But, hopefully those “10” Restaurants will get reimbursed.”
The Spoon has reached out to DoorDash for clarification and will post another update in the event of new information on this story.
DoorDash looks to have violated the 15 percent cap the city of San Francisco put in place in April for the commission fees delivery services charge restaurants. Some businesses have reported getting charged unexpected 30 percent commission fees from the third-party delivery service after the caps went in place, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
DoorDash told the Chronicle that the charges were a mistake and that it will reimburse restaurants affected by said mistake. According to the delivery service, fewer than 10 restaurants were impacted, and those restaurants will be reimbursed.
However, Christian Ciscle, a San Francisco chef, said he had not been notified of any reimbursements “despite multiple calls to DoorDash.”
Ciscle was the one to shed light on the issue via a screenshot posted to Twitter:
Normally (read: no pandemic), the commission fees services like DoorDash charge restaurants can reach as high as 30 percent per transaction, a point that’s been an ongoing problem in the world of restaurant delivery. When the pandemic shuttered dining rooms around the country this spring, the problem became a major focal point in the debate over the ethics of third-party delivery.
San Francisco isn’t the only city to have introduced mandatory fee caps for delivery services. New York, Seattle, Chicago, and several others made similar moves in the recent past. Most of these fee caps are set to last so long as cities remain under emergency states due to COVID-19. That could be a while longer, given the record-setting number of cases the U.S. is now seeing.
DoorDash should absolutely pay back restaurants involved. However, let’s hold off a bit before we herald fee caps as the thing that will keep third-party delivery practices in check. They won’t. They’re necessary to some degree while restaurants are forced to do delivery and off-premises orders. But they’re still just a bandage on a much larger ailment, which is the convenience-driven, gig-economy-reliant model on which third-party delivery is built. Until some of delivery’s more fundamental issues, including the glaringly unprofitable nature of the model, are addressed, fee caps are just one in the crowd when it comes to problems for restaurants.