National Restaurant Association, delivery companies take step toward easing restaurant-delivery tension

A set of new guidelines addresses key pain points between restaurants and third-party providers, with the intention of helping to shape public policy.
Photograph courtesy of DoorDash

The National Restaurant Association and leading delivery companies took a step toward improving the relationship between restaurants and delivery providers Wednesday with the release of a set of best practices.

The new guidelines touch on a number of pain points between the two parties, including fees and commissions, customer data, and delivery platforms listing restaurants without their consent. They are intended to both shape public policy around delivery as well as set some boundaries for interactions between restaurants and delivery companies.

Over the past year, the Association worked with DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Postmates to come up with the seven Public Policy Principles. Some state and local governments have taken steps to address issues included in the principles, but this is the first time they have been outlined in a unified way.

“Until now, the relationship between restaurants and third-party delivery companies lacked a national framework to protect restaurants,” said Mike Whatley, the Association’s vice president for state and local affairs, in a statement. “These new principles, which center around permission and transparency, add consistency and structure that will benefit all restaurants.”

The seven principles are as follows (emphasis added by Restaurant Business):

·        Restaurants have a right to know and determine when and if their food is delivered. Third-party delivery companies should obtain written consent from restaurants before listing them on their platforms.
·        Customers should expect the same degree of food safety from delivery as they do when dining in a restaurant.
·        Restaurants should be able to offer alcohol to customers through third-party delivery in a safe and legal manner.
·        Restaurants deserve transparency on fees (including commissions, delivery fees, and promotional fees) charged by third-party delivery companies.
·        Third-party food delivery contracts need contractual transparency, and issues surrounding fees, costs, terms, policies, marketing practices involving the restaurant or its likeness, and insurance/indemnity should be clear.
·        Sales tax collection responsibility must be clear in terms of which party is collecting and remitting the specific sales tax to the appropriate authority.
·        As a best practice, third-party delivery companies should offer restaurants access to anonymized information regarding orders from their restaurant that originate on third-party platforms. That includes when orders were placed and where they originated and whether they came from a new or existing customer. Restaurants should also be able to see and respond to guest feedback. 

Whatley said the agreement is a “first step” in an ongoing dialogue aimed at improving the relationship between delivery companies and restaurants. The tension between the two has been amplified during the coronavirus pandemic when many restaurants have come to depend on delivery services more than ever. 

Representatives from the four companies said the guidelines will help them to continue serving restaurants. 

“We are proud to support these principles through the range of products and services we’ve developed for restaurants, and we look forward to continually improving our offerings to best serve our restaurant partners,” said Max Rettig, global head of public policy for DoorDash, in a statement.

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