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New York vs. Grubhub – The New York Times




Seamless, the food delivery service that was launched two decades ago in Manhattan, calls itself "the New York's most app in New York." Eating like a real New Yorker, declares a subway ad.

But while delivery giant Grubhub, which owns Seamless, seems to have plenty of love for New York, that feeling can no longer be mutual.

In June, during a four-hour hearing of New York City Council's Small Business Committee, restaurant owners complained about the high commissions charged by Grubhub and other third-party delivery apps. Weeks later, New York Senator Chuck Schumer requested a federal investigation into widespread complaints that Grubhub charges restaurant charges for phone calls that do not actually result in orders. And the service has also faced criticism for its recently discontinued practice of creating web domains for the restaurants on the platform.

In response, Grubhub has launched a website to help restaurants recover their web domains and has promised to let owners listen to the recordings of some phone calls that generated disputed fees. On October 1, the company plans to hold the first in a series of "restaurant roundtables" in New York to let business owners release their concerns.

These steps have not molested the company's critics.

But with Grubhub and other delivery apps gaining popularity with customers, few restaurants can afford to opt out. "Grubhub has such large market shares that to say no, many of them feel they will miss out on a lot of business," said Melissa Autilio Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association. "There are many concerns, but I don't know of any restaurant that says, & # 39; I don't plan to do that through these apps. & # 39;"

"Now I have to take the time or pay someone extra to go through all the transactions and phone calls to see if they were bookings or reservations," Chirico said. "It can hurt you at the end of the month."

Over the years, Grubhub has publicly acknowledged that it uses an algorithm to determine if a telephone call resulted in an order rather than reviewing the transcript of each call. The company decides whether to charge restaurants based on a number of factors, including the length of the call and whether the customer who did so also placed an order online that day, according to spokeswoman Norris.

"We are constantly refining these systems and processes to ensure we are optimizing for accuracy," she said.

In August, Grubhub announced it would double the time it takes restaurants to make phone calls, from 60 to 120 days, and would refund inaccurate fees. But the 120-day window will not ensure that restaurants recover their losses, Enrico said. "It doesn't help with the thousands of dollars you lost in the previous months," he said. "You should fix the past to get ahead."

Fees are expected to be one of the main topics of discussion at the first restaurant roundtable, which will host a Grubhub manager, Kevin Kearns, at the company's Manhattan office on Tuesday afternoon.

Over the summer, restaurant owners also began to question another Grubhub practice: buying Internet domain names for thousands of restaurants, so customers searching for them online would be asked to place orders through the delivery service. Ms Norris, the Grubhub spokeswoman, said the company discontinued that policy in 2018 and at least always got the restaurant's permission to establish such “microsites.”

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