DoorDash and other food delivery companies have become increasingly popular in the social media era. Consumers have generally paid more for their food in order to compensate the driver who drops their food off outside their door. However, a recent lawsuit alleges that DoorDash is charging consumers far more than they realize and for more than what the deliveries are worth. DoorDash was sued in a class-action suit for “deceptive, misleading, and fraudulent practices” with “illegal” fees charged to iPhone users. The suit claims the following:
· That DoorDash charges orders on iPhones as much as $2 more than other devices.
· Charging its “Delivery Fee” seemly based on distance or demand, but such fees are not given to the driver.
· Providing an “Express” option but changing “Express” to “Priority” on the final billing.
· Charging an “Expanded Range Delivery” fee apparently based on distance but really based on a restaurant’s subscription level and demand.
· Adding an undisclosed “marketing fee,” paid by the customer to promote menu items
· Obscuring minimum order amounts attached to its “zero-fee” memberships and coupon offers.
· Manipulating DashPass subscriptions to appear like substantial savings without actually applying actual savings.
The lawsuit includes screenshots from Lawyer Angela, a popular content creator on TikTok. Angela made several purchases on DoorDash with both an iPhone and an Android device, and ordered the same food from the same location at the same time. The iPhone was consistently charged between $1 and $2 more in delivery fees than the Android.
DoorDash denies the allegations and claims that the price differences in the Angela videos likely came from a feature or promotion that was being tested at the time of the order.
Can Businesses Charge One Set of Customers More Than Another Set of Customers?
Prices on mobile food delivery websites are often more than what the actual restaurant charges. These prices are not factored into the delivery fee, but are baked into the price of each item ordered, such that it appears that the restaurants are charging the consumers directly rather than the delivery service’s website charging more. In other words, a burger from McDonalds on DoorDash’s website might be more than what a consumer could buy if they just walked into the McDonalds. This price does not include the fee that DoorDash charges for bringing the food from the McDonalds to the customer’s home.
Price discrimination is not by itself illegal. Sales are ultimately a contract between each person among themselves and items will sell based on what person is willing to accept and give. The law only requires that both persons are honest in their dealings.
Mobile food delivery websites may get into trouble if they misrepresent a restaurant’s prices and their own delivery services. Suppose customers are lead to believe that McDonalds are charging $6
for a burger and that DoorDash is only charging $2 delivery, when in reality McDonalds is only charging $4 and DoorDash is actually getting $2 from the sale and $2 from delivery. In this example, DoorDash is both misleading the customer and defaming McDonalds. The solution would be for the mobile food delivery websites to be upfront with both the restaurant and consumers that it is charging more for food as well as charging for a delivery service.
Is It Illegal For a Business To Charge More Depending on the Mobile Device Used?
Businesses can generally charge their own prices based upon their own criteria. While there are laws against discrimination, such laws are based on characteristics of people, such as race or sex. There are no laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating based on what other products people buy. Indeed, restaurants often ban people from bringing in outside food inside. There is nothing illegal in charging iPhone users more over Android users.
However, businesses are generally not permitted to lie to consumers. Companies can exaggerate in their advertisements, but they cannot make an outright false statement. Businesses should be upfront about how much they are charging consumers. If the allegations are true, DoorDash should have been honest that they were charging certain device users more than others. Instead, DoorDash allegedly mischaracterized the extra fees as part of the “delivery fee” even though delivery would have been the same except for the device that made the order.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Deceptive Trade Practices?
If you have been the victim of deceptive trade practices, you should contact a skilled business lawyer immediately to help protect your rights and represent you in court. An attorney can also defend businesses accused of deceptive trade practices.
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