D.C. Could Stop Delivery Apps From Listing Restaurants Without Permission

Bill Mount

D.C. is the latest jurisdiction to propose legislation that would curtail the problematic practice of third-party delivery apps like Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub listing restaurants on their platforms without expressed permission. California already has such a law in place, and New York is currently debating one that was introduced last […]

D.C. is the latest jurisdiction to propose legislation that would curtail the problematic practice of third-party delivery apps like Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub listing restaurants on their platforms without expressed permission. California already has such a law in place, and New York is currently debating one that was introduced last month. 

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie introduced the “Fair Meals Delivery Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2021” last week that would require a formal agreement to be in place between delivery services and local restaurants before they can be included on their apps.

The bill, which is on the Council’s agenda for tomorrow, is both emergency and temporary legislation. That means it could take effect immediately and remain in place for at least 225 days. McDuffie tells City Paper he hasn’t ruled out pushing for it to become permanent legislation based on feedback from local restaurants.

“We’re still in a public health emergency and restaurants are still hurting and fighting to stay afloat during this pandemic and they need every possible support to continue operating, employing D.C. residents, and serving their local communities,” McDuffie says.

While regulating third-party delivery services has become more common across the country during the pandemic, restaurant owners have long complained about this particular issue. “The problems with restaurants being listed without permission has been a problem that’s plagued our industry since the start of these apps,” says Baan Siam managing partner Tom Healy. “These apps do not care about us.”

Delivery services make their money off of commission fees. It doesn’t seem advantageous, then, for a company like Grubhub to add restaurants for free. But every delivery company wants to have the largest selection of restaurants because they believe that’s what keeps diners coming back instead of straying to their competitors. They also hope that restaurants will become accustomed to the bump in sales and exposure being listed on third-party apps can bring, making them easier to convert into partners down the line.

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