By Mike Thayer
These restaurant delivery services are convenient and have their place. It is nice these days to have delivery options aside from pizza and Chinese food. But remember that these services were for the most part fledgling and a bit limited in options pre-pandemic but became popular and almost necessary as a result of the pandemic and in fact, literally helped a lot of restaurants nationwide survive during the various state lock downs despite a cut into per meal profits for those restaurants. But which service is the best?
I've looked at cost, reliability, time to delivery and an overall convenience factor, even the little things like whoever picks up my order makes sure there are napkins, condiments and plastic ware as appropriate.
Each service provides an ability to track your order, whether online and/or text updates. That's a good thing. This is almost an expectation anymore, you can track everything these days.
For my test order, I ordered the same meal from all three outfits, a Fish & Chicken meal from Long John Silvers. It's interesting to note, that the prices for the very same meal can vary from service to service. It's tied to how each service pays their drivers, what kind of promotion they're running, all things affecting their bottom line. And about those promotions, if you haven't used a particular delivery service before, you'll probably get your first delivery, if not more - delivered free to get you hooked, the hope being you'll use them exclusively for delivery. With that in mind, the delivery fees vary from service to service and even food category to category as does the tip amount. It's NOT percentage based. You do get the flexibility to adjust the tip amount. To note, all the respective websites are very similar in navigation and are user friendly.
Here's the breakdown
UberEats: This is the first third party delivery service I ever tried. In writing this article, I already had a bias against UberEats, I used them on a business trip, ordered some Chinese, a no contact order but never got my meal. As soon as I got the "Your order has been delivered" text, I opened my hotel room door but there was no meal there, it was nowhere in sight. There was no knock on the door as instructed. The person delivering the order apparently delivered it to the wrong hotel room and I'm thinking perhaps not even the right floor, so I concluded they must have had a dislexia moment. I put the right room number on the order, looked at the room key cover it as I typed it in online, but maybe that didn't get transferred properly to the delivery ticket, I don't know. I confirmed the delivery person came in the hotel with the front desk, but no meal and no, I didn't get a refund. Funny how you get all kinds of communication when your order is being prepped and is on its way, but after the driver sends that "delivered" text back to the service provider.... You get NOTHING in response. UberEats SUCKS! That a delivery wasn't confirmed to be at the right hotel room was frustrating, but I digress. The cost of the Long John Silver's Fish & Chicken meal was $10.29 (viewed online through to check out). There was a $0.49 delivery fee (I can guarantee it won't be just 49 cents next time) and a suggested tip of $2.78.
DoorDash: After my bad experience with UberEats, I decided to give DoorDash a shot on my next business trip. The first couple delivery fees were free (see below), but now that I've got a few DoorDash deliveries in their history, lately it's been a $9.95 delivery fee, plus what amount in tip I wish to give. For the Long John Silver's Fish & Chicken meal the base cost was $12.59 (see the difference from UberEats?) and a $0 delivery fee with a suggested tip of $4. I haven't had any issues with DoorDash, they've been timely, I get condiments, napkins, plastic ware as needed, but the delivery fee has become a bit cost prohibitive.
Grubhub: The base cost for the meal is $12.59, just like DoorDash, but a $4.99 delivery fee and a suggested tip amount of $4.59. This drives an eat-in or carry-out meal of $10.29 to $22.17. Pricey, and a bit slow in delivery time not weather related, how much are you willing to pay for convenience?
Like I said, these services have their place, especially if you're on the road, flat out don't have time to cook, go get a meal because of a busy schedule or if temps are sub-zero outside. They are indeed convenient. The downside to that is they do manipulate the meal price, play with delivery fees and tinker with suggested tips based on what you're ordering. It's a business, they have to make their money to stay in business.
To be fair, if you don't like the varying/escalating delivery fees from repeated use, there's a cheat you can use to get around the varying delivery fees. Sign in by creating a new account and using a different email. I'm not a fan of that because I like to keep things simple, but it is a work around if you're looking to save a few bucks for a particular meal or two. But then, why not just get in your vehicle and go somewhere?
To sum, if I'm at home and I don't feel like cooking, I get in my truck and go get my meal. When on the road, depending on my workload, I may or may not use one of these services. It truly depends on how much I want to shell out for convenience. Of the three services reviewed, DoorDash has been the best, but they have also become pricey with their delivery fee for a repeat customer.
Overall, I'm giving these third party delivery services 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. I need to give UberEats another shot because that initial delivery was hopefully an isolated incident. DoorDash has become cost prohibitive with their delivery fee hikes resulting from repeated use and GrubHub is the most expensive on a per meal basis. Another service needs to enter the mix, a Walmart if you will, no manipulations in meal prices, delivery fees or tip amount. Just one consistent price to deliver a meal to your home, business or hotel room.