Technology

Senators question DoorDash and Uber Eats over 'hidden fees' for consumers

Letters from three Democrats including Elizabeth Warren accused the delivery apps of price-gouging and asked for more information about how the fees are used.
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DoorDash said it has actually lowered fees for many customers over the past two years.| Photo: Shutterstock

Three U.S. senators sent letters to DoorDash and Uber Eats this week accusing them of taking advantage of consumers via “hidden fees.”

In the letters, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bob Casey and Ben Ray Lujan said the fees delivery apps charge customers can inflate the overall cost of an order by as much as 95% at a time when Americans are struggling with high inflation as it is.

They argued that the “confusing, unnecessary, and unexplainable fees” amount to price-gouging and go beyond what is necessary to cover the companies’ costs.

The charges include delivery and service fees that can vary based on things like distance and order size. The apps have also added extra fees in cities like New York and Seattle in response to minimum wage laws for delivery workers.

The fees, the senators said, don’t appear until the very end of the transaction, when the customer has “only one button left to press.” And the purpose of the fees is often vague, they said.

They asked DoorDash and Uber Eats to provide a list of every type of fee they charge; the minimum and maximum level of each fee; and a detailed breakdown of what each fee covers.

They also asked the apps to disclose how much of the fees go to delivery workers and how much go toward executive compensation. 

A DoorDash spokeperson in a statement said the letter “completely misrepresents how DoorDash operates.” 

The spokesperson said the company discloses fees in multiple places, including on the homepage of the app and on restaurant menus, and noted that has actually reduced its fees by 12% over the past two years for customers who aren't part of its DashPass membership program.

Its fees cover pay and occupational accident insurance for delivery drivers; driver safety support; app improvements; logistics; and merchant and customer support, the spokesperson said.

The person added that there is no connection between fees and executive compensation.

“Facts matter: DoorDash is an industry leader in pricing transparency and affordability, even in times of persistent inflation,” the spokesperson said.

Uber Eats had not responded to a request for comment as of publication time.

The letters come amid a growing focus on so-called junk fees by the Biden administration. The Federal Trade Commission last year proposed a rule that would ban a wide range of fees, including common restaurant add-ons like service fees and surcharges. 

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