The next time your takeaway delivery arrives late or stone cold, hold off writing a scathing review.
Wollongong restaurateurs have spoken out about the necessary evil of using delivery platforms like MenuLog and DoorDash to survive, but also attested to appalling behaviour by drivers which is damaging their business.
Eateries use delivery platforms for the bonus of reaching hundreds more customers but it's claimed some drivers are stealing, finding loop holes to rort the system and in turn leaving customers fuming.
Co-owner of burger restaurant Sauce, Goutham Thota said since moving from Dapto to Figtree in May, around one in five deliveries have arrived at their destination cold, soggy and late - some by two hours - and his online reviews have been "dropping like crazy".
"It's definitely very harmful for our business," he told the Mercury.
"There's so many people saying 'please get your own drivers', but ...when we have our own drivers we don't get as many sales because customers are already going on to these platforms because of Snoop Dogg and Katy Perry."
Thota said it was another hurdles hospitality businesses were trying to overcome, along with the rising cost of living and decline in people eating out, and they were trying all they could to keep the faith in customers.
After complaining to services like MenuLog and DoorDash to no avail, Thota is one of many Illawarra businesses to plead with customers over social media to give them another chance.
When we have our own drivers we don't get as many sales because customers are already going on to these platforms because of Snoop Dogg and Katy Perry.- Goutham Thota
The owner of Big K Kebab House in Fairy Meadow was equally fed up, and said all they could do was ask their customers to make a complaint with the platform.
"It's a reflection on us because the customer doesn't realise that once the food is made and it's exchanged to the drivers we no longer have any control of that whatsoever," said the owner (who wished not to be named).
He said they also lose money as sometimes food could be waiting up to an hour to be picked up by a driver, even though the platform said they were minutes away or had already arrived. Often food would spoil and be thrown away and a second or third order made by the time the driver arrived.
"But the customer still jumps on and gives you a one-star review and it gets abusive sometimes, and just reflects poorly on your business," the restaurateur said.
Like other eatery owners the Mercury spoke with, he claimed drivers would use multiple account names across the same platforms and be delivering multiple orders at a time, while exploiting other loop holes so they wouldn't get penalised by the platform for lateness.
Meantime, it's claimed some drivers pick up orders then "cancel" them once they have left the store with the food, leaving the restaurateur to foot the bill and make another order and assign to another driver.
A spokeswoman for DoorDash denounced the alleged practices and said they had "zero tolerance" for this behaviour as it went against their policies.
"If anyone identifies unusual activity, we strongly encourage them to reach out to DoorDash Support so we can rectify the situation as quickly as possible," she said.
A MenuLog spokesperson said they were committed to investigating all issues that were reported.
"Menulog prides itself on providing couriers with all the tools they require to make efficient and safe deliveries," the spokesperson said.
"We encourage all partners to get in touch with the Menulog team with any issues so that we can assist them in resolving as efficiently as possible."
Woonona Kabab House co-owner Ali Karavacak attested to working with many great delivery drivers, but said sadly there were also those who let businesses - and customers - down.
"Anyone that I know that uses [delivery platforms] literally has the same problems, some more than others ... but we can't do without them," Karavacak said.
As a business that's been serving Woonona for three decades, Karavacak said they could weather the storm but felt for newer businesses - like Sauce - that could see trade significantly affected.
"It's actually out of our control, we're responsible to make the food in the correct manner in the correct time and pass along to the correct driver. Anything after that is not up to us, and a lot of people don't understand," he said.
"The first place where a customer can just breathe and complain about their problem is giving a bad review."
Paul is a full-time delivery driver and prides himself on treating restaurants and customers with respect, as it's his main livelihood.
Being in the game several years he said not all delivery drivers were dodgy, but he often witnesses fellow drivers taking advantage of the system.
"The customers should report back to the delivery service that they're using because it's the delivery company that needs to take actions on the drivers, because they have the full record of who's doing what," he said.
"And the delivery platform needs to change their service agreements, because they end up costing the merchant [restaurant] if the delivery driver does the wrong thing."
Want to join the conversation? Comment below or write a LETTER TO THE EDITOR.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.