Grubhub Will Stop Charging Restaurants Fees for Rerouting Their Phone Calls

The online ordering platform will be operating its own customer service call centers.

Digital services and apps have changed the way we order from restaurants. In the past, you had to call, phone lines had to not be busy (remember that frustration?), and you had to read them your debit card number digit by digit. Nowadays, it's just a lot of scrolling and tapping. That's not to say that sometimes you don't still need to call a restaurant, however. Questions arise; mistakes are made. But to what extent should the app you ordered from be involved in these calls?

Previously, online ordering platform Grubhub found itself in a bit of a controversy: The phone numbers they provide for restaurants route calls through Grubhub, which charged the restaurant fees if orders were placed. But sometimes these fees were reportedly being charged even when discussing existing orders or when an order wasn't placed at all because whether fees should be charged was determined by an algorithm.

Grubhub App On Apple iPhone Screen
Shutterstock / BestStockFoto

Turns out the robot takeover — in this instance — hasn't quite worked, and starting on August 23, Grubhub will roll out "assisted ordering" to replace the current phone system. In the new system, calls will be "backed by white-glove service from Grubhub customer service representatives," according to the company website. And at "no additional cost" beyond the current fees.

So in the future, when calling a Grubhub generated phone number for a restaurant, customers will be given three choices: Place an order, ask questions about an existing order, or ask any other questions. In the first two instances, a Grubhub rep will handle the call. But for the third option, Grubhub states that the calls "will be routed to your restaurant (your restaurant will not be charged for this call)." In theory, this new system will eliminate inaccurate fees by putting a human in control of all the options.

"We're always looking to make the ordering experience easier for restaurants and diners," a Grubhub spokesperson told me via email. "That's why we're offering this new, assisted way for diners to order from Grubhub's restaurant partners to replace phone orders, while still enabling diners to reach restaurants directly to ask questions or confirm information."

Of course, customers have another option for saving restaurants fees: Try calling the restaurant directly yourself from a number they advertise and circumvent delivery services entirely. But Grubhub isn't in the business of cutting themselves out of the equation; they're just trying to do what they said they would do from the beginning: not charge restaurants fees where they aren't supposed to.

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