Regulators Are Fed Up With Food-Delivery Fees

American consumers have been forced to eat food-delivery costs sometimes nearly as big as the meals themselves. Regulators are fed up.

In addition to new laws boosting compensation and benefits for delivery drivers, restaurant protections such as pandemic-related commission caps have been proliferating at the city and state levels. Consumer protections could be next.

New laws have been costly for delivery players that have been struggling to generate consistent profits lately. On its third-quarter conference call, Uber , which owns and operates Uber Eats, suggested it wouldn’t absorb all of the added costs related to the passage of Proposition 22 in California. Instead, Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai said he expected additional wage or benefit costs to be passed along to customers. DoorDash and Grubhub say they are doing the same.

When the state’s voters opted to keep drivers classified as independent contractors, they didn’t necessarily realize they would be picking up the tab for the added benefits drivers got as part of the deal. Yet, on Uber Eats orders in California as of Dec. 14, for example, consumers’ itemized receipts include a “Driver Benefits” fee, which is explained in the app as a direct consequence of Proposition 22.

The platforms seem to be testing price elasticity wherever possible. Other fees on Uber Eats in California include the delivery charge, which depends on location, availability and priority; a service fee that can cost as much as 15% of an order’s subtotal; and, depending on the order size, a “small order fee.”

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