Spokane City Council considering cap on food delivery app fees

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane could become the next city to pass an ordinance that would cap fees on food delivery platforms such as Uber Eats and DoorDash.  According to the ordinance, businesses can pay up to 30 percent in fees.  The ordinance could cut it in half to 15 percent, which could help as businesses recover from the pandemic.

Other cities such as Seattle, Minneapolis, New York City, and San Francisco have adopted permanent caps.

While the ordinance doesn’t stop platforms from increasing charges on customers, the goal is to protect small businesses, according to councilwoman Lori Kinnear, who is co-sponsoring the bill.

Three Ninjas Curbside and Catering nestled in the Kendall Yards is hitting its financial goals while still recovering from the pandemic.

“Ups, and downs as one of our locations is take out only. It was not hit as hard during the pandemic as some others, but with everything opening, we’ve definitely seen a change in pace of what’s been going on,” co-owner Steven Kitchens said.

Three Ninjas is on Uber Eats, and says it’s charged 30% on the app’s orders.

“The caveat to it though, we are on the platform. And they provide the drivers, and our logo is seen out there with our food, so it is the flip side of the coin, however you want to look at it. But the lower the percentage we have to pay, the better,” Kitchens said.

Restaurants can still be charged more than 15 percent for advertising or any additional services, if they choose. However, the ordinance requires there be a 15 percent option.

Kinnear says the ordinance didn’t originate from city council. She says local restaurants reached out to council saying that the platforms are making it difficulty to bounce back from the pandemic.

“I would also note that we are supporting in this resolution, small business. Door Dash, Grub Hub these multinational corporations. We cannot prioritize them over our small business. That is the bottom line for me,” Kinnear said.

Kinnear says council is focused on helping businesses stay afloat.

Meanwhile, Kitchens says he can only hope the ordinance helps, but he’s not banking on it.

“I can’t make it a real knee jerk reaction to it. We would have to see, and wait what happens. Murphy’s Law in the restaurant industry, if you plan for it, it’s not going to happen,” Kitchens said.

GrubHub and Doordash have said they offer the 15 percent option already. Kinnear says if it wasn’t a problem, restaurants wouldn’t have reached out.

GrubHub claims caps put limits on local businesses visibility and marketing support.

City council will take up a vote on the ordinance December 5.

READ: DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats sue NYC over price caps