How UberEats drivers could use a loophole to eat customers’ food

Photo: Uber

A Lutz, Florida woman’s frustration with her missing UberEats order has exposed what she calls a “loophole” in the delivery service’s policy. Angel Diaz claims a $60 food order she placed was never delivered, nor did she receive a refund. She tells TV station WFLA she suspects the driver ate her food, and that a loophole in UberEats’ policy allows this to happen.

According to posts in some online forums from people claiming to be UberEats drivers, if a driver makes an effort to contact the person who ordered the food but isn’t able to reach them to complete the delivery, the driver can keep the food. WFLA reviewed such postings that claim it’s an easy way for drivers to score a free meal. One post stated: “Full rack of ribs this weekend. Yum.” Another read: “I always wanted to try the food from this place. … Thanks entitled snowflake.”

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Diaz claims UberEats knows about this scheme but has done nothing to fix it.

Is that true? The Takeout asked an Uber spokesperson to clarify the company’s policy:

“Though there are instances where the driver partner encounters situations where no one is there to retrieve the order, we do take a number of steps to monitor and prevent any kind of theft or fraud on the app with both delivery partners and customers,” the spokesperson stated via email. “If a driver asks us what they should do with the food, we advise them to discard the food vs. leaving it outside where there is potential for it to be tampered with.”

Sure, leaving an order of pad Thai on someone’s door step probably isn’t advisable, but wouldn’t some drivers be tempted to “discard the food” into their stomachs? I brought up the specific claims of deliberate theft made in those online forums.

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Uber responded: “Regarding the web forums you’re referring to, it’s difficult to look into the veracity of statements made on web chat rooms since there is no way to identify the poster or even verify if they are a delivery partner.”

In its delivery guidelines, UberEats states that the company will deactivate drivers’ accounts that are associated with fraudulent activity, including “claiming to complete a delivery without ever picking up the delivery item; and picking up a delivery item but not delivering it in full.”

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While UberEats may not be able to determine whether one incomplete delivery was an incidence of fraud (a customer claims they weren’t contacted; the driver says they were), a string of cancelled orders would trigger a suspension. According to the community guidelines, “high-quality delivery partners typically have a cancellation rate lower than 5 percent.”

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About the author

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.