Too lazy to walk down the street for dinner? Well, when you order from DoorDash, your delivery order may cost you more if you have an iPhone. It's no secret there are hidden fees (and suggested tipping) on just about everything these days, and while I've given up trying to calculate fees attached to my cell phone and cable bills, I still pay close attention to restaurant fees, whether I'm dining out or ordering in.
According to a lawsuit filed in the District of Maryland, DoorDash charges an "Expanded Range Fee," an "Express Option," and it charges iPhone users more than Android to order delivery. So, is there any truth to this DoorDash class action lawsuit and what does it mean for you?
Why is DoorDash being sued?
A proposed DoorDash class-action lawsuit alleges that the delivery company tacks on extra fees to orders placed through iPhones compared to identical orders placed by users with Android smartphones. It also claims that those who use DashPass, the company's $9.99-a-month service, are still charged an extra fee per order, mitigating the supposed subscription savings.
The lawsuit was filed in the District of Maryland, by plaintiff Ross Hecox, a single father who uses DoorDash and subscribes to DashPass; he also mentioned his children who have used DoorDash in the past.
The lawsuit which cites "deceptive, misleading and fraudulent practices that illegally deprives consumers of millions, if not billions of dollars annually" sparked a response from a DoorDash spokesperson.
"The claims put forward in the amended complaint are baseless and simply without merit," a DoorDash spokesperson said. "We ensure fees are disclosed throughout the customer experience, including on each restaurant store-page and before checkout."
How does DoorDash mislead and defraud customers?
The DoorDash class-action lawsuit alleges that DoorDash misleads and defrauds customers by:
- Making the "Delivery Fee" seem related to distance or demand, but none of the money goes to the delivery person.
- Charging an "Expanded Range Delivery" fee that seems based on distance but is really based on a restaurant's subscription level or demand.
- Offering an "Express" option that implies faster delivery, but it then changes to "Priority" on billing, making delivery times irrelevant.
- Including a 99-cent marketing fee that's paid by the customer rather than the restaurant.
- Adding minimum order amounts to its zero-fee DashPass memberships and coupon offers.
- Manipulating DashPass subscriptions to look like savings, when the company simply creates new fees to seem reduced.
- Charging iPhone users more than Android users when ordering exactly the same thing.
Does DoorDash charge iPhone users more than Android?
The lawsuit's key claim states the Expanded Range Fee isn't defined on the list of fees on DoorDash's website. The fee is applied to some orders with delivery addresses near the pickup location and doesn't appear to be passed on to delivery workers. In a test, an iPhone user placing a Panera order was charged an Expanded Range Fee of 99 cents, while the Android user, who was much farther away, was not.
This fee has also been tacked on to some orders made through a regular DoorDash account when a customer uses an iPhone. According to the lawsuit, "DoorDash charges the expanded range fee on iPhone users more often than Android users and charges iPhone users more for 'delivering' (likely because studies reveal iPhone users earn more)."
The plaintiffs conducted multiple tests, and in each case the iPhone user was:
- Charged $5 more despite being closer to a Panera location than the Android user.
- Shown a "discounted" Delivery Fee despite paying $2 more than Android.
- Charged more for the same order than while on an Android device.
- Received less of a discount with DashPass than an Android user with DashPass.
The plaintiffs are asking for $1 billion in damages. DoorDash is an online marketplace with over 32 million users and billions of dollars in revenue. In 2020, they raised $3.2 billion during this initial public offering.
If you think you were impacted by DoorDash's deceptive practices, you'll have to wait until the official decision of the court.