Technology

Florida bill would allow more communication between restaurants, delivery customers

Restaurants would be able to contact third-party delivery customers for up to two hours after their order has been picked up.
Restaurants would be able to message with customers within delivery apps. | Photo: Shutterstock

The Florida legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would expand restaurants' ability to communicate with customers who order using third-party delivery apps.

The legislation may be the first of its kind in the U.S. and represents a small step toward lowering the barrier between customers and restaurants on apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats. 

The bill says that by July 1, 2025, food delivery apps in the state must include a channel where restaurants can communicate with customers while preparing their order, during the delivery and up to two hours after the order is picked up by the driver. They also must provide a way for restaurants to respond to ratings or reviews left by the customer.

Most delivery apps already allow restaurants to send order updates and respond to reviews. The measure is designed to give restaurants even more latitude to address problems that come up during delivery. However, it stops short of giving them customer information like phone numbers or email addresses that could be used for direct marketing.

“It's a great step forward to help mitigate the problems caused when restaurants are not able to recognize their customers who order via the big delivery apps, and so are unable to respond to issues or changes with the order,” said Joe Reinstein, executive director of the Digital Restaurant Association, in an email. “Hopefully, it’s just the beginning.” The association advocates for restaurants on delivery policy and other issues.

The bill, which includes a number of regulations for delivery providers, is the result of an unusual collaboration between the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and the delivery companies. 

“This is one of those rare cases where everyone had to come to the table and give up something,” said Javi Correoso, Uber’s head of public policy and communications for the Southern U.S. 

The FRLA celebrated the bill as a win for all parties.

We are very proud of this comprehensive legislation that we hope will set the industry standard for positive and collaborative relationships between restaurants and food delivery platforms that prioritize customer service and satisfaction,” said Ashley Chambers, communications director for the FRLA, in an email. 

Other elements of the bill essentially codify things delivery apps are already doing, such as:

  • Delivery apps must get a restaurant’s consent before listing it on its marketplace. 
  • Delivery apps must provide customers with an itemized cost breakdown of their order.
  • Delivery apps cannot change a restaurant’s menu prices without consent from the restaurant.
  • Delivery apps cannot “unreasonably limit” the value or number of orders that may be disputed by a restaurant over errors.

Notably, the bill includes a preemption clause that gives the state of Florida sole authority over the regulation of food delivery apps in the state. It will need Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature to become law.

The bill follows several other efforts to give restaurants more access to third-party delivery customers.

In 2021, New York City passed a law requiring delivery apps to share customers’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, delivery addresses and order contents with restaurants. That measure is currently on hold pending a lawsuit from DoorDash.

And last year, Miami-Dade County introduced a bill that would have allowed restaurants to market directly to third-party delivery customers in some cases.

Restaurants know little about the people who order from them on delivery apps and have called for providers to share more customer data with them. The providers argue that handing over customer emails and phone numbers would violate users’ privacy and put their data in inexperienced hands. Both groups covet that data for marketing purposes.

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