Seattle now requires food delivery companies to ink partnership agreements with restaurants

(Uber Photo)

The Seattle City Council put new limits on third-party food delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats that would require them to have agreements with restaurants before allowing their users to order food for takeout.

Following the lead of California cities that made similar changes, the council on an 8-0 vote acted after restaurants throughout the city complained that third-party delivery services post their menus online without permission and then picked up and delivered the food with little effort at quality control.

Schmaltzy’s Delicatessen owner Jonny Silverberg had banned the third-party delivery services from his popular Seattle eatery after repeated issues with the slow delivery and incorrect orders.

“We got a bad review from a delivery driver who thought the food was taking too long,” Silverberg said last month in a previous Geekwire story. “I am done with it. For us, I don’t trust it. If that person doesn’t work for me, I don’t want them anywhere near our food.”

The mayor has not yet signed the legislation.

Third-party food delivery apps became massively popular during the pandemic as people began staying home for long hours. Initially, many restaurants embraced the delivery companies as a way to sell food while their restaurants remained empty but problems ranging from fees to uneven service soon became an issue.

The restrictions would require the delivery services to enter into service agreements with the restaurants and to get permission to post menus online. Currently, the companies can post menus without the consent of the restaurant and order food that they then upcharge to customers.

In many cases, the customers don’t know that the third-party delivery service had no agreement or arrangement with the restaurant. This led to complaints and bad reviews directed at the restaurant when the delivery was slow or the order was incorrect.

Seattle Mexican restaurant Cactus also made the switch away from third-party deliveries. On its website, it encourages customers to order delivery directly from its website to avoid extra delivery fees.

“Eating Cactus at home is a great option during this pandemic,” the restaurant says on its website. “But the reality of getting food delivered to your home presents additional costs that aren’t built into our regular dine-in or pick-up pricing structures.”

Cities in California recently banned these services from posting menus without consent.

Seattle’s version of the law, which will take effect Sept. 15, allows the city to assess a $250 fine per violation.

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