Grubhub Is Suspiciously Adding Restaurants That Don't Do Delivery
A tweet from the owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant led other restaurateurs to discover they were also on the platform without permission.
The explosion in online restaurant delivery has come with plenty of growing pains: Restaurants have complained about being overcharged, customers and drivers have questioned tipping policies, and the services themselves have come under government scrutiny. And that’s just scratching the surface. Here’s another topical issue: food being delivered without consent.
In theory, some may say what’s the big deal if someone picks up and In-N-Out order on your behalf? But when this actually happened, the burger chain argued that these kinds of unauthorized deliveries can ruin the brand’s reputation since they have no quality control over the operation. And that’s just fast food burgers. Imagine if this was happening with a Michelin-starred restaurant? As it turns out, it was—even though the restaurant didn’t offer takeout at all—and now, more restaurants are coming forward with similar complaints.
Over the weekend, Pim Techamuanvivit turned to Twitter to vent her frustration about an incident at her San Francisco-based Thai restaurant Kin Khao. In a string of eight posts, she explained what happened. “At 8.30pm I answered the phone, someone called to ask about their delivery order that was placed 45 minutes ago. Perplexed, I told him we didn’t do delivery, not even take-out. He said what were you doing on [delivery platform Seamless] then?”
In her tweets, Techamuanvivit clarified that her restaurant had never been on Seamless. "He sounded really confused, so we said goodbye and I hung up the phone,” she continued. “Then I got a little curious, so I went into the office and googled ‘kin khao delivery’, and guess what came up.” The answer: Not only was her restaurant on Seamless, but also Grubhub (which owns Seamless), and Yelp. Furthermore, as the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the menus on these sites were wrong, too, including items the eatery doesn’t even offer—admittedly a moot point since Kin Khao doesn’t even do takeout, let alone delivery.
“It’s outrageous,” Techamuanvivit told the paper. “They can’t get away with this. They can’t totally fake a restaurant that doesn’t do delivery and go pick up food from, I don’t know, some rat-infested warehouse somewhere and deliver to my guests.”
In the wake of this news, Grubhub has said they’re happy to remove any restaurant that doesn’t want to be on their site. And they responded to the Chronicle by stating, “Kin Khao was one of these restaurants we added to our marketplace for this initiative to include more restaurants on our platform, and unfortunately, we referenced the incorrect menu for this restaurant. As soon as they reached out to us expressing they’d like to be removed and flagged the incorrect menu, we honored the request. They are no longer on our marketplace.” For her part, Techamuanvivit mentioned a potential lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Kin Khao isn’t the only San Francisco restaurant facing this dilemma. Adam Mesnick, owner of the sandwich shop Deli Board—which also doesn’t do delivery—provided a very similar tale to the SF Gate: confused delivery drivers working with outdated menus. Mesnick reportedly told the paper that Techamuanvivit’s tweet helped tip him off to the root of the problem. “It’s time-wasting, and it’s someone’s job,” he told the Gate. “It really creates so much confusion for the workers.”
Frankly, it seems like this policy could create a lot of confusion for diners too. It’s frustrating enough when an order is slow to arrive; it would definitely be more annoying to find out that the order you just ordered delivery from doesn’t even do delivery! And if we have to call to confirm that a restaurant really offers delivery at all, what’s the point of going through an app to begin with?