uber eats toronto

Toronto restaurants are planning a boycott of Uber Eats

It's been seven weeks since Toronto restaurants had to quickly adapt to offering takeout and delivery only in light of the pandemic, and along with the hit of a significant drop in revenue, they've been struggling with third-party food delivery apps that are taking substantial cuts of their earnings.

Apps such as DoorDash, SkipTheDishes, and Foodora (defunct as of May 11) claim anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent of an eatery's profits from each order, but Uber Eats has been the worst culprit of the lot, keeping a whopping 30 per cent of an already slim profit.

(One Canadian chef's now-viral Instagram video shows how gross profits for restaurants are usually around 5 per cent of a sale under the best conditions, let alone amid a global health crisis. Using delivery apps, these profits quickly end up in the negatives.)

As a result, businesses across the city are now boycotting the popular app, turning it off or asking customers not to place orders through it.

This was spawned in part by the massive San Francisco company's high commission rates, but also by things like its notoriously bad customer service, poor treatment of its workers and recent random outages that have lost local establishments thousands in potential sales.

Restaurants on board with the boycott so far include multi-location Italian staples like Il Fornello and Cibo Wine Bar, who will no longer be using Uber Eats on Wednesdays, which is Canada Takeout Day.

Others are warning one another not to work with the app, while Sugo and Craig's Cookies are among those that have completely gotten rid of the platform.

And, it seems like some diners have, too.

Though many customers have been trying to support their favourite local spots by ordering food delivery through apps like Uber Eats, they may not have realized that doing so often equates to losses for the business.

Instead, restaurant owners and residents alike are asking others to call and place orders directly through a restaurant, or to at least use an app with a lower commission rate.

Though Uber Eats has drummed up a lot of business for some eateries — it has started to run special offers for local restaurants, nixed some delivery fees and had in-app banners encouraging customers to support local — the portion it takes is untenable for many.

The company also has a bad reputation for not adequately addressing complaints (or responding to them at all), for gouging customers with fees and surge pricing and for a number of major scandals due to generally sketchy practices.

Change for local restaurants that are struggling right now may indeed come from the boycott, and from things like a potential cap on delivery app commissions.

And, hopefully those that can weather the storm of the pandemic and the economic havoc that its wreaking will be able to bounce back better than ever.

Lead photo by

Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

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