Operations

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. 

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Financing

Crumbl may be the next frozen yogurt, or the next Krispy Kreme

The Bottom Line: With word that the chain’s unit volumes took a nosedive last year, its future, and that of its operators, depends on what the brand does next.

Technology

4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.

Financing

High restaurant menu prices mean high customer expectations

The Bottom Line: Diners are paying high prices to eat out at all kinds of restaurants these days. And they’re picking winners and losers.

Trending

More from our partners