Toronto restaurant desperate as they lose thousands to delivery app scammers
A Vietnamese restaurant chain in Toronto says it's losing hundreds of dollars a day thanks to a food delivery loophole that allows customers to claim false missing orders.
Toronto Pho is a chain owned by Christina Tran and her family that specializes in rare beef pho and rice dishes at two locations in Toronto and another in Hamilton.
But it's the first time in the family's 13 years of business that Toronto Pho has bled money like this: hundreds of dollars a day at all three locations.
The culprit: missing food orders that Tran says didn't really go missing.
And they're not the only ones.
Restaurants around the city have reported paying out of pocket for a glaring delivery app loophole that leaves businesses vulnerable to fraud.
Roxanne Ramedani, the Toronto Pho's social media manager and spokesperson, says Toronto Pho has been experiencing it for months, with incidents ramping up over the last few weeks.
Receipts from Toronto Pho show customers claiming entire entrees missing from their Uber Eats and SkipTheDishes orders, with only a side of spring rolls and pop received. Claims like these come in through the apps on a daily basis, Ramedani says.
"We can totally take accountability for the rare occasion that we do forget an item but some of these claims are just plain ridiculous," says a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
"Imagine us sending out these orders but completely forgetting all of the entres and only sending a couple spring rolls or only the drinks arrive. It's impossible. We have been doing this for years and have never had so many missing-item claims."
Ramedani says Toronto Pho is now losing about $100 to $200 a day.
Unfortunately, restaurants aren't protected by delivery app policies. All it takes for customers to get refunded immediately for missing orders is a press of the button.
Even if they're not actually missing.
Restaurants, on the other hand, must go through a dispute process after pay is deducted directly from their accounts.
Uber Eats deducts customer refunds on behalf of restaurants automatically after reports of missing items, incorrect items and incorrect orders. That includes tax, and if it's the entire order, the delivery fee as well.
"Multiple factors are considered and we have measures in place to protect against potentially fraudulent customer or delivery partner reports," says Uber Eats on its policy page.
The company suggests that restaurants check off items on their printed receipts, write order numbers directly onto bags, and double-check during hand-off to ensure everything goes smoothly. But restaurants are still left in the dark when it comes to scam-proofing the process.
Toronto Pho is now taking measures to monitor its own deliveries. The restaurant has started taking photos of each of their completed orders, a time-consuming process that can be especially onerous during peak hours.
The family is now also considering placing a dashcam where they pack orders, documenting everything so they can dispute the claims with Uber Eats.
Ramedani says that creating a rating system for customers, similar to how Uber drivers and riders can rate one another, would be helpful.
"Honestly taking [photos] one by one individually is a lot of work. We have to find a solution," says Ramedani. "If it it continues like this, a lot of the restaurants are going to shut down."
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