DoorDash, which like other delivery apps must abide by a 15-percent delivery commission cap in San Francisco that was imposed back in April, was charging at least 10 local restaurants an outrageous 30-percent fee on delivery and pickup orders as recently as this week.
Local chef and restaurant owner Christian Ciscle — formerly of Wing Wings fame, now running SF Chickenbox out of the Brew Coop in the Mission — made some noise on Twitter earlier this week about the fact that DoorDash was still charging him 30-percent fees on all his customers' orders. "Hey @doordash Why are you still charging 30% when [the mayor] mandated that all Apps reduce Commission Percentages?"
Indeed, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed made it illegal for apps to charge more than 15 percent commissions for the duration of shelter-in-place orders. City leaders were responding to complaints from local restaurants that the apps were charging as much as 30 percent, and as Ciscle tells the Chronicle today, "It was impossible for restaurants before COVID to survive with all of these apps and their fees. If you’re giving 25% to 30% to an app, there’s no way you’re going to survive, or even get ahead."
Even at 15 percent, these fees are likely wiping out most if not all the profit a restaurant may be making on food orders, even if offering delivery may be increasing their volume.
DoorDash issued a statement to the Chronicle in response to Ciscle's complaint saying, "We have corrected this error affecting fewer than 10 of our SF restaurant partners and will be issuing reimbursements to these restaurants."
But could it be that such an "error" was only impacting so few businesses?
In a similar situation reported on by SFGate three weeks ago, rival app Grubhub began hiking commissions from 15 percent to 22 percent, claiming they believed that the temporary cap on app commissions had expired. But while stay-at-home orders have been amended over the last several months, none of this should impact the cap on these app fees simply given the fact that indoor dining remains illegal citywide.
SF supervisors may now have to step in again as these companies look to up their profits on the backs of small businesses that are barely making it as it is.
And, as a reminder to people ordering takeout and delivery: Try calling the restaurant on the goddamn telephone and placing your order that way. Maybe you can help them stay in business by being slightly less lazy/phone-phobic.