Consumer Alert: How ordering meal delivery can wallop your wallet

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some New Yorkers are taking Chick-fil-A to court. It has to do with the price you pay for delivery versus pick-up. And the controversy got me thinking about the true cost of a convenience we’ve come to rely on during the pandemic.

In the complaint filed in federal court, the complaint says the fast-food giant is cooking more than chicken. It claims Chick-fil-A is cooking up a clever consumer con that means you pay 30% more when they deliver to your door.

According to the lawsuit, Chick-fil-A promises customers low-cost delivery, but the restaurant chain does not disclose that the prices on their delivery menu are far higher than the same items when ordered inside the restaurant. Because you can get Chick-fil-A delivered to your door from the Greece location, I decided to check out those claims in the lawsuit.

I looked at the price of an order of 30 count Chick-fil-A nuggets. If you picked them up from the restaurant, you’d pay $15.69 plus tax. But if you ordered those nuggets on GrubHub, Uber Eats or Postmates, those same 30 nuggets cost $20.39.

That is 30% more. And that doesn’t include the delivery fee and tipping the driver. I asked Chick-fil-A for comment. Restaurant leaders didn’t respond. But according to the research firm Gordon Haskett, Chick-fil-A isn’t the only restaurant chain to rise prices for delivery. But it had the highest delivery prices of the 25 restaurant chains it analyzed.

Want to know why these restaurants charge you more? It’s because the delivery companies charge them as much as 30% commission.

Gordon Haskett shows what this means for the restaurant using Chipotle as an example. Let’s say you order a meal from Chipotle that costs $20.00 An analyst with the firm estimates Chipotle makes about $4.10 from your order. That’s because food, labor, rent and operating costs take a big bite out of their profit. Delivery companies like door dash charge a commission of as much as 30%. That’s $6.00, and that would eat more than their profit. Chipotle would actually lose $1.90 on your $20.00 order.

Chipotle’s profit margins are likely far better than your favorite locally owned restaurant. And remember, delivery company commission caps that Monroe County put in place during the pandemic expired in July. If you love that quaint family-owned diner that your family has enjoyed since you were in grade school, and you want to order out, perhaps it pays for us all to get in the car and pick up that order.