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Worried delivery drivers are eating orders? You have good reason.

A new study shows that more than 1 in 4 of the deliverers haven’t been able to avoid the temptation—and consumers are aware of the risk.
Photograph: Shutterstock

About 21% of delivery customers worry the driver may have nibbled their order en route—and with good reason, according to a new study of delivery gripes. Some 28% of drivers say they were unable to resist taking a bite.

The study, conducted by distributor US Foods, brings to light a number of concerns about the service that’s transforming the restaurant business.  The head-turning growth may not be as friction free as casual observers might think, according to the survey of both consumers and drivers.

The report shows that a significant portion (17%) of consumers who use a third-party delivery service have a gripe about the hotness of the food when it arrives, the top complaint unearthed by the research. Close behind (at 16%) is the order arriving late, with respondents citing an average of 40 minutes as the outer limit of a tolerable wait. Incorrect orders and neglected special requests were tied at No. 3.

The findings provide insight into consumers’ willingness to share the cost of third-party delivery. At a time when some restaurant operators are looking to preserve margins by pushing the burden of commission and related costs to customers, the study shows that a patron’s acceptance level extends to an average of $8.50. About a third (35%) of respondents said they would not pay more than $5, while a slightly smaller percentage (28%) indicated they’d be willing to pay up to $15. 

Respondents expressed a willingness to dig into their wallets for a tip. Ninety-five percent said they tip their driver, with 63% saying their did it through the app where they placed their orders. Fifty-three percent said their tip was influenced by the weather.  

Overall, the research uncovered a wariness on the part of consumers about the drivers who cart their meals. More than 4 out of 5 (85%) said they would like restaurants to adopt tamper-proof packaging.

The consumer respondents were given a hypothetical situation: “If you ordered a burger and fries, and the deliverer grabbed a few fries along the way, how upset would you be?” On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being an attitude of “no big deal” and 10 representing “absolutely unacceptable,” the average score was 8.4.

They also readily cited service snafus. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they’d experienced a driver refusing to leave his or her car to hand over the meal. Twenty-nine percent said a driver refused to walk all the way to their door for the delivery. Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) reported that a driver had dropped the food at the door and left, without any interaction. 

What annoys drivers

The drivers for third-party delivery services have deeper gripes, according to the research. Their top complaint, shared by 60% of that community, is getting a lousy tip or no gratuity at all. 

Close on the heels of that issue is the biggest issue they have with restaurants: 52% said orders aren’t ready on time. Thirty-three percent groused that customers took too long to answer the door, and 21% griped about the patron expecting them to take stairs or an elevator to a floor above ground level.

The findings came from a survey of 1,518 adults in mid-May. 

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