It’s a known fact that third-party delivery apps like UberEats, Grubhub, and DoorDash, have been adding restaurants into their listings without getting the business’ permission. Grubhub has gone as far as creating unauthorized websites for restaurants that display their menus and then taking orders without their knowledge—even if the restaurants don’t offer delivery.
Eater Chicago documented a case of this happening with acclaimed local restaurant Parachute last year. Chef and co-owner Beverly Kim took matters into her own hands when she made the discovery of the rogue website.
Kim decided to play detective and made a Parachute order using Grubhub. A Grubhub worker showed up to the restaurant with a credit card wanting to make an order and was disappointed to discover Parachute didn’t offer carryouts. On the other side, when Kim called to ask where her food was, she says Grubhub blamed Parachute. They told her that Parachute’s system was down, Kim says.
Last week, Eater Chicago reported that an Illinois lawmaker introduced a bill that would bar these delivery websites from adding restaurants to their services without their permission. Called the Fair Food Delivery Act, it would prevent third-party delivery services “from using the likeness, registered trademark, or intellectual property belonging to a merchant without obtaining written consent from the merchant.” The bill has made it through the Illinois Senate and awaits a vote from the Illinois House of Representatives.
Companies who violate the act would be fined $1,000 per violation per day, and allows restaurants to recuperate the financial damages, or $5,000, whichever is greater. Currently, California is the only state with a similar act in place, though lawmakers in Rhode Island and New York are considering taking similar action.
With the pandemic far from over, small restaurant owners are still struggling to make up for lost time and money. Third-party delivery services take up to 30% of each order, and having to deal with the added hassle of customers ordering from outdated menus that were posted without their permission only serves to hurt them even further. We’ll keep our eyes peeled to see if this bill makes it into law, which might set a precedent in other states.