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Hidden costs found in delivered food menu prices

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 10:07:35-05

If you use food delivery services, you know there are a lot of added costs you pay for the convenience. But did you know in many cases, you also pay more for the food itself?

That's what we found as we looked at three popular food delivery services: Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash.

I'm not talking about all those costs you already know, like the delivery fee, the small portion fee, the services fees and tips.

We found added costs hidden in the price of the food itself.

Take Panda Express, popular for it's low prices.

At the restaurant, on the day we checked, you pay $7.90 for a two-entree plate. But the same food is $9.55 on the DoorDash menu.

Uber Eats and Postmates had similar increases.

With another item, a one-entree bowl at the Panda Express restaurant charges $6.50.

Through Uber Eats, its $7.90, about the same at DoorDash and Postmates.

So with this one delivery, you're paying $3 more than restaurant prices for the exact same menu items.

And that's before paying anything extra for delivery.

Surprised? All three disclose it on their websites, if you can find it.

With DoorDash, click on terms and services, scroll down to number 11 and read "prices for menu items displayed may differ from prices offered by merchants for the same menu items."

But we were surprised by how much they can differ.

We picked another popular restaurant: Rubios.

Take their California Bowl with chicken. It's $8.49 at Rubios and the same price off the Postmates menu.

But it's $10.79 through DoorDash. And the same food is $11.49 at Uber Eats.

Their Original Fish Two Taco plate is $7.89 on the Rubios menu. DoorDash and Uber Eats each cost more than $2 more.

But at Postmates, we get a surprise. Their price was actually 30 cents lower than the Rubio's price.

With this order, DoorDash charges $4 more and Uber Eats a hefty $5 more than restaurant menu prices for the same food.

And again, that's before all of those delivery costs.

So who gets the extra money? Depends on who you ask.

I asked all companies to respond and here's what I received:

From Postmates: "Sometimes prices will vary from restaurant to restaurant, city to city and in-store versus online. At Postmates we are transparent about pricing and ensure customers can review the final price, including any delivery fees, before completing their order."

From Uber Eats: "The prices for food items that appear in the Uber Eats app are set by each restaurant. And while we advise pricing to be the same, whether restaurants charge the same in-restaurant or delivered is ultimately at their discretion. Food pricing is separate from any delivery or service fees."

From Rubio's: "charges vary by delivery partner - they each have their own fee structures and that it usually is more expensive for a customer to order through a 3rd party delivery provider than it is to order directly from Rubio's and either pick up at the restaurant or use Rubio's delivery."

Local managers with both restaurants tell me they do not charge delivery services more for food items.

Wherever the extra money goes, one way to pay less: order off the restaurant website using their delivery service.

It guarantees you get their menu prices, though some delivery charges may still apply.