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DoorDash surprises restaurant owners in market entry

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Last edited 4:04 p.m., Oct. 31, 2018

San Francisco-based food delivery service DoorDash recently entered the Springfield area – but the reception by local restaurants has been less than warm.

DoorDash hires drivers, like Uber and Lyft, to pick up and deliver takeout orders made on DoorDash’s app. The company has more than 150 local restaurants listed for delivery service in the area. The only problem: Some of those listings came as a surprise to the restaurant owners.

Jimm Swafford of Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub is one of them.

Swafford said he was not asked by DoorDash to use the Jimm’s Steakhouse logo and menu on its website. But there it was in mid-October.

“They attached their name to us without asking,” Swafford said. “I think it’s inappropriate and underhanded.”

After his discovery Swafford said he called DoorDash representatives about removing his listing.

“They said it would take 24 hours,” he said. “Nine days later it wasn’t removed. I called on Sunday evening because we had three orders and the listing was removed in five minutes.”

Swafford said he told DoorDash if the listing wasn’t removed, the orders wouldn’t be filled. It was removed Oct. 21, he said, after about 11 days on the site.

Other local restaurants listed on the DoorDash site are Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes, Nonna’s Italian Cafe, Springfield Brewing Co. and The Big Slice.

At Harbell’s Grill and Sports Bar, management was unaware of its listing on DoorDash when contacted by Springfield Business Journal.

“I’ve been making those type of decisions for a year, and I’ve never heard of that,” said Harbell’s General Manager Ryan Clark.

Upon reviewing the listing, Clark said Harbell’s posted menu was out of date and he would be informing the restaurant’s owner about the listing.

Here’s another thing restaurant owners have discovered: Their Google listings will show a delivery option through DoorDash on the right-hand side of the search engine, even if the owners haven’t agreed to list the restaurant.

Swafford said DoorDash modified his restaurant’s Google listing without approval.

Multiple attempts to contact DoorDash representatives, including Vice President of Communications Jen Rapp and Social Media Manager Ryan Ochsner, via Twitter and email were not successful.

While DoorDash is new to the Springfield market, its website identifies operations in over 600 cities. The company, founded in 2013 by four entrepreneurs, currently has a $4 billion valuation, according to Bloomberg and Fortune, and a blog post earlier this year says DoorDash wants to be in 1,600 cities by year’s end.

The DoorDash website does not list a Springfield-area office, but it offers the ability to sign up as a driver, aka Dasher, or to become a partner restaurant.

DoorDash is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, according to the Virginia-based BBB’s national website. DoorDash currently holds an “F” rating, and the BBB cites 531 complaints filed against the company, with a failure to respond to 137 of them.

Swafford said if he wasn’t able to resolve the situation, he would have contacted the BBB, then possibly the National Restaurant Association for help.

“I don’t think takeout represents our food, especially someone else delivering it,” he said.

Restaurant food delivery service is not a new concept in town.

QuikDine launched in 2001 in Springfield to provide a food delivery service with a small team of drivers.

QuikDine owner Randy Ruggeri said the playing field is uneven with DoorDash in the marketplace.

“It certainly makes it more difficult to compete,” he said. “They don’t have any verbal agreements or contacts. The restaurants don’t support them or have their approval to put their menus and logos on their websites.”

Ruggeri said at QuikDine “recent orders have gone down and a future concern is how much more.” He echoes the frustrations of the restaurant operators: the listing of logos and menus without knowledge or consent from owners.

Ruggeri said QuikDine has 28 contracts with local restaurants, including Nonna’s Italian Cafe, Dublin’s Pass and Purple Burrito Mexican Grill.

Under his model, restaurants receive a call when a driver is available, a text message is sent to the driver when the food is prepared and the driver then heads over to the restaurant.

“That’s part of having agreements with the restaurant,” Ruggeri said. “When you work with them, they know you; they know the drivers by name. It’s an ongoing business relationship so that the customer gets a good product.”

DoorDash charges a $1 delivery fee, according to its website. Ruggeri said QuikDine charges $5.99 and typically staffs six to 12 drivers, he said.

QuikDine, which opened in 2001, generates about $300,000 in sales a year, said Ruggeri, but “this year it’s going to be significantly lower.”

After speaking with his attorney, Ruggeri said he will be pursuing legal action through a civil lawsuit against DoorDash.

Issues of trademark usage and owners’ consent have surfaced for DoorDash in the past.

Chicago-based Burger Antics Inc. filed a trademark lawsuit in January against DoorDash in Illinois for using its menu and logo without consent, according to court documents.

More recently, a lawsuit was filed Oct. 16 in Texas citing the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding the classification of its drivers, according to court documents.

Aclass action lawsuit, in California, also criticized DoorDash’s driver classification as independent contractors instead of employees to allegedly manipulate wages, along with claims of failing to reimburse Dashers for expenses while working.

Perhaps the biggest name to go head to head with DoorDash was In-N-Out Burgers. The California-based fast-food chain sued DoorDash in 2015, and the parties settled for undisclosed terms, according to court documents. In-N-Out no longer appears on the DoorDash website.

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