This post contains referral links. I may be compensated for sign-ups through them.
Well, I did the unthinkable on Tuesday and ordered through GrubHub.
Normally, I just go pick up any takeout. If I don’t have the energy, I just don’t get it. But I had very intense cravings that made everything in the house sound super unappealing. Meanwhile, I’d only gotten 2 two-hour stints of sleep and a one-hour nap, meaning I was exhausted and it wasn’t safe for me to drive.
So I bit the bullet. And what a bullet it was!
A heinous convenience tax
I really wanted my favorite takeout place’s food, but it had closed while the spike was so bad. So I chose my favorite Thai food.
I’m always torn about which dish to get at this particular restaurant: pad kee mao noodles or pad thai. So I usually just get both, then have one the following day. In this case, it was an extra good idea, since it amortized the cost of fees over two meals. If I’d just gotten one meal, the price would’ve been exorbitant!
Specifically, I paid a $3.99 delivery fee, a $2ish service fee (which is what, exactly?) plus a $6 tip. So getting it delivered added $12 to my total. If I’d gotten only one meal, it’d have been a $8 add-on (since the service fee and tip would’ve been smaller). Meanwhile, the meals themselves were $9.65 and $10. So the fees I’d have paid for ordering just one meal would’ve nearly doubled the cost.
That’s insane. How do people afford these services regularly?!
The bad way to save
Well, when I tweeted complaining about the cost and asking how people can keep using the service, two former drivers piped up to say that a lot of people just don’t tip. Which frankly, is incredibly crappy of them.
If you’re going to get delivery at any place, you should be tipping. But also, it’s important to note that, like any restaurant’s or pizza place’s delivery fee, that amount doesn’t go to the driver.
Instead, the driver is paid a per-order amount (around $3-4 according to GigWorker.com) and some mileage. I guess people rationalize that the per-order amount is tantamount to a tip. But c’mon, folks, not cool. If each order takes an average of 20 minutes to pick up and deliver, a driver working eight hours would only get $72-96 if they’re not tipped. For eight hours’ work.
Delivery fee variety
One tip I heard from Twitter is that delivery fees can vary among restaurants. Some even have a $0 fee. (Though there may be a small-order fee if your bill doesn’t reach a certain threshold.) So you can browse an app’s offerings (in general or by cuisine type) and see if you can find a place with a low or $0 delivery fee.
The problem is that I’m super loyal to restaurants. I don’t like the unknown — especially with Asian food here in Arizona. It’s a total crapshoot.
So another Thai place with a $0 delivery fee isn’t going to help me much if I specifically want my place (which has a $3.99 fee) where I know I’ll like the food.
Next good way to save: referral codes.
For example, if you have a friend who uses GrubHub and it’s your first GrubHub order, have them refer you. You’ll each get $10 off. If you don’t have a GrubHub-using friend, here’s my referral link.
It’s also great to go to sites like Savings.com, RetailMeNot, etc. to find sign-up offers.
Important note: To get a new user signup discount, you’ll usually need to specifically sign up through their links. In other words, don’t download the app until you’ve looked around for promotions.
By the way, don’t forget to check out all the apps’ websites to see which ones have the restaurant you’re interested in. Some apps have much more substantial new user discounts. UberEats is offering $20 off your first two orders of $25 or more through certain referral/affiliate links.
Get coupon codes
Even if it’s not your first order, the coupon sites will often have other discounts (5% off, $5 off, waived delivery fee, etc.). Of course, many of those offers are user-submitted, so you may have to go through several before finding one that works. But that should only take a few minutes, max, so it’s worth it.
It’s also worth noting that some of these apps are on cash back sites like Mr. Rebates. There will be coupons there, too. For example, it currently has $10 off $30 at GrubHub plus 3% cash back. DoorDash and Postmates don’t have coupons but offer $3 and $6 back, respectively.
That said, I know Postmates frequently has sign-up offers for free delivery fees in your first month, up to $100. In fact, I used that offer the only other time I’ve ever used a delivery app. Admittedly, that was two years ago, so the offer may have changed since. Point being, once again, it’s worth doing your homework before actually downloading the app.
And once you’re signed up for an app, you’ll probably get a slew of offers on a semi-regular basis. I haven’t ordered anything from Postmates in two years, but I still routinely get free delivery offers or other incentives.
Another savings option that’s popular is the use of programs like the Eats Pass (UberEats), GrubHub+ and DashPass (DoorDash). These offer discounted or free delivery (plus sometimes a discount) for $9.99 each month.
For UberEats, you get free delivery and 5% off $15+ orders. It applies to all restaurants.
GrubHub+ also offers free delivery, but there’s no mention of any additional discounts. It’s also not applicable to all restaurants. You have to look for GH+ by the name.
DashPass offers $0 delivery fees for $15+ orders for $9.99 a month. Like GH+, not all restaurants participate. But the program is free for a year if you have the following cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Freedom
I have the Freedom card, so I’ll have to look into that. If you don’t have one of those cards, then some quick math shows that you’ll only save money with these programs if you order at least three times a month. So depending on how often you get takeout, the membership may or may not benefit you.
But maybe just don’t do it?
All of this being said, I’d actually urge you not to use these apps — especially for small restaurants. Not just because of the fees you’ll pay, but because it’s come out recently just how much these services charge the restaurants. In the most extreme example, a restaurant had $1,042 in charges and got only $376 after fees.
In other words, all these recent Postmates commercials about supporting your local community are pretty much BS. Yes, it’s better for the local business than not ordering food at all. But they’ll get substantially less than if you just order directly and pick it up yourself.
Obviously, there will be times when going to get your food yourself just isn’t an option: if you’ve been drinking, if you’re too sleep-deprived to drive, if you’re too sick to go anywhere, etc.
But if you have the option of leaving the house for a quick outing, I’d strongly suggest you just suck it up and do it. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be making sure small restaurants get the full cost of your food.
Do you guys use these apps?