How to Spot Hidden Fees in Food Delivery Apps

Ever wonder why it costs $50 to get a pepperoni pizza delivered through DoorDash or why that Instacart bill seems astronomically high? It’s not just because inflation has driven up food prices. Online delivery apps and the restaurants that rely on them are also finding ways to add charges to your order that aren’t always transparent.

Consider an order I placed for a delivery of two Subway sandwiches. Uber Eats charged me $25.25 including the cost of the meal, service charge, delivery charge and a small order surcharge – a 91% markup over buying these sandwiches in person.

In a separate experiment, I found that some restaurants charge more for certain menu items when you order through delivery apps. The Family Feast Value Meal at Panda Express is $39 at the restaurant, but $47.10 if you ordered it through DoorDash, Grubhub, or Uber Eats. This was before paying additional resort fees. Restaurants sometimes inflate menu prices to cover the commissions they pay to delivery apps.

The next time you decide to order delivery, be aware of what it might cost you. Take a look at the bill and compare the cost of the items in the app with what those menu items cost on a restaurant’s website or at the grocery store.

The true cost of using a delivery app may require you to use the phone to order takeout and grab dinner yourself, or you may decide the delivery charge is worth it. In any case, you will be better informed.