San Francisco put in place an Emergency Order on April 9 that capped fees food delivery apps could charge restaurants at 15 percent to help support local eateries. Uber Eats, specifically, was swift to warn of the less-than-savory outcomes that may come as a result. Treasure Island — with half of its population sitting below the poverty line — will no longer be served by the Uber-operated company.
It's a certain kind of capitalistic malice to strip a historically low-income population of what's now an essential service. Over the past few weeks, the notion around app-enabled food delivery has evolved from something of a novel convenience to a newfound necessity, particularly for those with disabilities or who live in "food deserts." Uber Eats, valued north of $1.4B, engaged in such a malevolent act yesterday when they announced, due to the latter-mentioned order, they'll no longer serve Treasure Island residents... implying that they can't afford to do it.
This is DESPICABLE, outrageous behavior from @UberEats.— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) April 24, 2020
They are now saying that they can no longer deliver to Treasure Island residents bc of new regulations capping commissions.
So they are RETALIATING against SF by punishing one of our most low income, isolated communities pic.twitter.com/URlgpWleWB
“[Because of San Francisco's new regulations] we can’t deliver to you,” an email sent out to customers yesterday reads. “The Order limits our ability to cover operational costs … unfortunately, this means we cannot continue serving customers in Treasure Island.”
Restaurants are struggling to survive and delivery is their main option for staying open. I'm instituting a cap on the fees that delivery services can charge restaurants during this emergency, because it can make the difference between them staying afloat or laying-off staff.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) April 10, 2020
The Emergency Order, organized by Mayor Breed and two Board of Supervisors members (District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai), aims to offer financial respite for local restaurants and bars through these times. Previously, operations like Uber Eats and Postmates could charge eateries and saloons some 30 percent of order totals; in many cases, this meant those establishments made literal pennies on the dollar. Limiting such fees to 15 percent helps those institutions absorb more app-procured profit.
Prior to the sudden announcement, Uber Eats had been serving the area for all of three weeks, officially coming online to Treasure Island on April 3. (Never mind that the now-defunct military base is a mere twelve-minute drive from Uber's downtown SF headquarters.)
Adding insult to injury, inserted at the bottom of that mass email was push for account holders to contact SF Supervisors to wax their displeasures. Alas, it appears that call-to-action didn't go accordingly.
“That’s outrageous," says District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney to the SF Examiner concerning the Uber Eats announcement. "It takes no longer to get to Treasure Island right now than any other parts of The City. There’s no traffic, so it’s ten minutes from downtown."
I had nothing to do the original regulation. The deliveries on TI are minimal, likely just a couple a day. We are in a global pandemic. They still could even charge a higher delivery fee. People within the company have told me that TI is being used as a bargaining chip.— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) April 24, 2020
“They are upset about regulation, so in the middle of a pandemic, they are retaliating by punishing and redlining Treasure Island residents who live in a food desert," he adds. "That’s actually despicable.”
Haney wasn’t alone in his salted criticisms, either. Twitter is flapping with like-minded takes on the food delivery business's recent behavior. Remarks like "Goodbye [Uber Eats]" and calling the company’s actions "disgusting," along with more colorful condemnations, populate the platform in numbers akin to flocks of street pigeons: abundant and omnipresent, at times brazenly forward.
Small businesses are getting squeezed by @UberEats and rather than comply, they redline an entire neighborhood-cynical and greedy. We stand with @LondonBreed on her orders and the small business trying make it. #1u #sickofgiggreed @MattHaneySF pic.twitter.com/cvnnOjXR5n— SF Labor Council (@sflabor) April 24, 2020
The San Francisco Labor Council, as well, took to the social media pulpit to add "small businesses are getting squeezed” by Uber and they’ve now “[redlined] an entire neighborhood — cynical and greedy.”
Conversely, it appears DoorDash, Postmates, and GrubHub still offer service to Treasure Island. In fact: GrubHub is offering free delivery to first-time customers — including those sheltering inside their domiciles on the man-made islet.
Image: Wikimedia Commons