In the News: Grubhub Seamless in City Council’s spotlight

The City Council held a hearing on GrubHub Seamless’ habit of charging fees to restaurants for orders that were never placed, and a few local eateries were there to add their voices to the chorus, including Tribeca’s Kitchen. (The TC really dug into this issue and how the platforms’ fees are structured a few years ago, sourced with 15 local restaurant owners. See Erik’s excellent post here.)

The Post has been chasing this story for a couple months now (two good stories here and here), revealing that restaurants all over the city have examined their billing from GrubHub and found charges for orders that were never placed. (Any call made to the restaurant through any GrubHub-dedicated phone line that is also over 45 seconds resulted in charges, even if the customer never ordered anything.) With that, the Council’s Committee on Small Business jumped in, holding the hearing on June 27.

From The Post’s story on Friday:
Grubhub drew snickers and guffaws at a City Council hearing Thursday as its executives for the first time attempted to defend the company — which also owns Seamless — against allegations that it has been overcharging its restaurant customers for years.

And later in the story, as restaurant owners complained about having to examine their records and ask for refunds, rather than Grubhub taking on that burden, as the committee suggested: “There is not enough time to deal with this,” Andreas Koutsoudakis, owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen, told the committee of the fees. Before the hearing was over, the chair, Bronx Councilman Mark Gjonaj, warned Grubhub execs not to retaliate against the restaurant owners who attending the hearing. Ah…ok.

Just for background, Grubhub and Seamless merged in 2013 and the combined organization, Grubhub Seamless, went public in April 2014 and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under “GRUB.” The company also owns the platforms Eat24, AllMenus and MenuPages, and has “partnerships” (though that does not sound like the appropriate word in this context) with 80,000 restaurants in 1,600 cities.