Restaurants see extra charges from delivery services despite county fee cap

Olivia Treynor / Town Cryer

Several restaurants in Los Altos have reported that third-party delivery service fees are higher than the limit recently set in a regulation by the Santa Clara County Regulatory Authority.

Some third-party delivery services have been slow to follow a recently passed ordinance in Santa Clara County that capped restaurant fees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several restaurants in Los Altos said the fees were higher than set out in an ordinance passed by the Santa Clara County Board of Directors effective December 19. This limits the fees for the delivery service for restaurants to a maximum of 15% of the order. Screenshots of online receipts shared with the Town Crier by multiple restaurants last week show that DoorDash and Postmates charged more than 15% commission on orders, in some cases up to 28%. Several restaurant owners said after initial overload, Uber Eats committed to reimburse restaurants on the next payment period.

A DoorDash spokesman told the town crier that the ordinance stipulates that delivery services charge optional advertising services at negotiated prices. By Monday, Kim Mosley, president of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce, said at least one restaurant had not been notified of the upfront fee, but spoke to DoorDash, who agreed to take it off the shelf and consider a refund. Neither Postmates nor Uber Eats responded to a request before the Town Crier’s print deadline. Last week the chamber met with the county council to discuss the issue, and Mosley said the county had committed to doing everything possible to tighten the ordinance.

“I would like to ask our residents to call our restaurants directly for pick-up on the roadside to avoid these fees altogether,” Mosley said via text. “Commission fees of up to 30% leave our restaurants profitable at a time when they are urgently needed.”

Restaurants are currently only open for takeaway and delivery due to accommodation restrictions.

“Many of these companies rely on third-party vendors like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub to meet their company’s delivery needs,” said Joe Simitian, county supervisor, in a press release announcing the fee cap last month. “While delivery providers offer an important service and are certainly within the scope of their fee rights for such services, the current pandemic unfortunately offers the possibility of price discounts. That is the problem we are dealing with. “

Jennifer Verner, business operations manager at Opa !, which has multiple locations in the county besides Los Altos, said last week that she had seen the problem in her restaurants across the county. She said the chain is struggling to break even – just to serve customers and keep staff – and will have to be laid off just before Christmas.

“It’s gobbling up every profit margin we have left,” Verner said of the overload.

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