CHOICE membership

Poor service with Uber Eats - do Australian Consumer Rights apply?


#1

I recently succumbed to the allure of having takeaway food delivered to me, and ordered from Guzman y Gomez via Uber Eats. The projected delivery time (prior to ordering) was 25-35 minutes (and considering I live only a few hundred metres from the store, I assumed it would be at the lower end of that timeframe). On placing the order, the estimated delivery time was 40 minutes, but it was Friday night and I assumed they were busy.

My order finally hit the road around 50 minutes later (and was delivered via another drop off, so didn’t arrive for another 5 minutes after that). I opened the packaging to find congealed sauce on cold potato chips, soggy corn chips and cold rice in a soggy wrap. It was inedible (although the dog and chooks were less fussy than me). The preparation stamp on the food said it had been prepared about 5 minutes after I had placed the order, so the order had been sitting in containers waiting for delivery (3 minutes up the road) for 40 minutes.

I complained to Guzman y Gomez, who replied with profuse apologies…but it was not their fault and I should complain to Uber Eats and request a refund. So I complained to Uber Eats who said they were extremely sorry, but it was not their fault, and they would work with the restaurant to make the next “experience more enjoyable”. They offered a $10 credit to my account (which I am not interested in as it doesn’t go far on Uber Eats and I am uninclined to use the service again after several similar experiences).

So I am $27.70 (!!) out of pocket for a service that did not deliver a product that was acceptable, and neither party will take responsibility. I know that Uber Eats is a tax on laziness, but even so, it doesn’t mean I should accept unsatisfactory food because I was too lazy to drive up and get it myself. In my opinion both parties are culpable: the restaurant for making an order when there was no delivery driver available, and Uber Eats for not collecting and delivering an order in a reasonable timeframe in reasonable condition.

The Uber Eats support team appears to be based internationally if the date stamps on emails are any indication. So what are my consumer rights? Who should I complain to?


#2

My feeling is that if the food was inedible and the delivery was way later than the projected time it’s a major problem and you should be able to choose your remedy (it sounds like you would prefer a cash refund for the food and delivery rather than a voucher).

Every time I order from a delivery service I regret it because it inevitably takes longer than they say! Much quicker to pick it up (although sometimes it’s ok to be lazy I guess).

I’d keep pushing the point and say you’re going to complain to Fair Trading as a next step.

@MeredithCridland and @jalamyar are your experts though - they should be able to comment with more authority!


#3

I think Tilly is spot on- there was a major failure and you should be entitled to a refund under the ACL. So who has the obligation to give you the refund? My opinion is that under the ACL, Uber Eats should foot the bill.

Why? There are two( interrelated) issues: firstly, the fact the food was inedible; secondly, the fact that it arrived very late. The real issue was the food was delivered late, which caused the food to be inedible. It was the service provided by Uber Eats which was defective.

Uber Eats is carrying on business in Australia and so they arguably under an obligation to comply with the consumer guarantees under the ACL, even if they are headquartered overseas. If Uber Eats is unwilling to give you a refund, lodge a charge back request with your bank.

My personal qualm with Uber Eats is that they they put a temporary authorization hold on your account before the restaurant confirms they will accept your order.So in situations where the restaurant doesn’t accept your order, the consumer has to wait on average three days until the hold is voided, even though no food was delivered.


#4

Thanks @TillySouth and @jalamyar. I have received correspondence from UberEats saying they won’t refund and won’t enter into any further discussion about the matter. I am attempting to lodge a complaint with the Queensland OFT, but can’t find any Australian contact details for UberEats which makes things difficult… In my search, it appears that this is a common complaint - late or no delivery, no refund and no customer service. Still, I will give it a try out of sheer bloody-mindedness. I won’t be using them again, that’s for sure!


#5

Try these.

It is a little worrying for both the customer and restauranr when they aren’t in real control of fhe qua l ity of the food ulti m ately delivered…as the food’s quality will be dependent on the ‘independent’ Ubereats delivery driver.

I haven’t used them but your problem gives me less inclination to give them a go. At least if you pick up the food, which may be somewhat inconvenient, you are in control on what happens and there is no middle man to potentially leave a sour taste in ones mouth.

I feel for the restaurants as their reputation could be damaged by such experiences, even though the damage was not a result of fheir own actions…with expection of accepting Ubereats delivery service.


#6

Hi @phb. I certainly wouldn’t recommend using them - they really are just a tax on laziness, and in the bigger picture I think they are doing more damage than adding value. I really only tried them because I had a “first user” discount, and then continued because I was lazy.

In an exciting development in this issue, I thanked the customer support rep for their advice so far and reassured them that as they were unable to assist I would progress the matter through the Office of Fair Trading (as suggested by @TillySouth). I also considerately quoted some consumer rights stuff at them (for their information, of course, seeing as they were so regretful that they were unable to help). Lo and behold, the matter was escalated and I have just been advised that they have issued a refund for the full amount (as a “policy override”). As soon as it’s in my account, I’ll be deactivating and uninstalling the app from my phone.

Thanks all for your interest and advice. Success!


#7

@FarmerRaq my usual non-lawyer advice is to sound like a lawyer and then they’ll eventually comply :joy:

Glad you got a good outcome in the end!


#8

Glad you finally received the refund you deserved.

I would also suggest you put something on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/UberEATS/ to inform others about your experience. Perhaps if there is enough of a social media backlash, they may actually ensure they are providing the service they claim, and if not, change their ‘policy over-ride’ to policy.


#9

Customernumbers.com.au looks like a shonky business although providing a service.

Notice the number is charged at $2.20 a minute, maybe higher on mobiles/pay phones. Service provided by Hide Earning…

But if you look further it shows

and one could always make their experience public at https://www.facebook.com/UberEATS/


#10

Whoops, didn’t read the fine print.


#13

We have a generation of people living their lives in a chair pushing buttons to satisfy their every whim.


#14

Lazy option or not, people don’t realise what a boon these meal delivery services are for those who simply can’t get to the restaurant. Disabled people, frazzled parents or carers, or just recovering from the flu, you now have access to a huge variety of meals.
We’ve used it often and for the most part, with great success, so don’t let one poor experience put you off.
Having said that, definitely go the social media route to complain - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and anywhere else they have a presence as this can hurt them where it matters, with the demographic who uses them the most.
Good luck :blush:


#15

That is unfortunately true, but it can be bad form to presume everyone fits the latter, just as it is to assume a person is not entitled to a handicap carpark just because they do not use a wheelchair.

As @julietamaree pointed out, customers can range from busy professionals and parents to the sick and disabled, to the culinary challenged who just want something different at home, and even some who might be cashed up and lazy.


#16

For those who are interested, here is Uber Eats’ final response to the matter:

"When an order is placed through the UberEATS app, it connects the person ordering the meal with a restaurant that prepares the food order. The app also allows for the restaurant to connect with a local delivery driver to deliver the meal from the restaurant to their chosen location. As a technology app, Uber does not prepare the food or make the delivery. "

Sounds like a cop-out to me. Perhaps they adopt the viagogo business model: we’re just the app, we take no responsibility for the service or the product.

@julietamaree, I agree that these services offer value, my issue with Uber Eats is their attitude to customer service and the near impossibility of trying to pursue them through normal methods. For that reason, I won’t give them any more of my hard-earned :slight_smile: There are other delivery apps out there for the next time laziness strikes.


#17

Noted there is now a legal action involving one of the competitors - Fedora.

While this concerns the conditions and payment of delivery drivers it raises two concerns in common to Uber Eats.

Firstly the suggestion that if Uber Eats does not provide the out come you require the best solution is to take your custom elsewhere. Are the alternative services any more reliable or better when they also use the same business model? Any small genuine local and socially conscious startup faces an uphill battle against the giants such as Uber Eats.

Secondly companies such as Uber Eats, Fedora, etc have a business model that shields them from the responsibilities enforceable on any local competitor.

It’s possible that as consumers/customers we could beak their business model by refusing to use them. Perhaps there are not enough of us with a social or moral compass pointing in this direction?

It is no surprise that there has so far been no direct answer to the question first asked by @FarmerRaq.

Uber Eats and the like are not able to be held to account by Australian consumers in the same way an Australia only business can be. This as we are seeing affects not only consumers, but the food providers and delivery drivers.

There are also implications in respect of GST collection and taxation receipts. It’s note worthy that at State Government level another online service - ‘Online Gambling’ is now being taxed at source on transaction value. The same could be applied to all services delivered through foreign entities.

Alternately Uber Eats could set up a solely Australian Entity with 100% of the services delivered and income taxed in Australia. Let Uber then take its share of the after tax profit and no more out of the country.

Of course this will not happen because it would expose Uber Eats to all Australian Federal and State laws and regulations.

Of course the Australian Federal Govt could change the rules however both major teams in Canberra were falling over each other to sign up to then TPP. The views of many experts outside parliament suggested that as consumers the TPP was a bad deal and weakened our protections and freedom of choice.

As consumers we desire in one instance to transact with overseas business for goods, services etc. In the instance we don’t get what we asked for as Choice has advised in other topics - consumers have limited recourse for remedy.

Reputation is everything.
In the old days you could call the local take away, have them order a taxi and you paid for the taxi on delivery. You don’t need Uber to phone your local chef or make a credit card payment ( consumer protections apply) for the meal.


#18

The ACL has been imposed on Foreign Entities before, if they provide a service or sell to consumers here and they don’t necessarily have to be registered here then the Courts hold that they are responsible to adhere to the ACL (an example is Valve the US Corporation that owns Steam).

From the ACCC response to the Valve Judgement "Justice Edelman also took into account “Valve’s culture of compliance [which] was, and is, very poor”. Valve’s evidence was ‘disturbing’ to the Court because Valve ‘formed a view …that it was not subject to Australian law…and with the view that even if advice had been obtained that Valve was required to comply with the Australian law the advice might have been ignored”. He also noted that Valve had ‘contested liability on almost every imaginable point’.

“These proceedings, and the significant penalties imposed, should send a strong message to all online traders operating overseas that they must comply with the Australian Consumer Law when they sell to Australian consumers,” ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, all goods or services supplied to consumers come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold. If they’re not, consumers have a right to a remedy. These consumer rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”"

The trouble is enough complaints have to be made to the ACCC and Fair Trading Authorities to get them to move to action to take the offenders to task. In the Valve case it took over 20,000 complaints for the ACCC to take court action.


#19

I hope the same then holds for Uber Eats if complaints to the ACCC reach that critical mass. It will be useful to know how Fedora responds in court and to what extent it attempts to evade or mitigate Australian IR law.

Until this is tested in court by the application of Australian Consumer law or Uber Eats includes in its service terms and conditions an express commitment to comply with same, there is no certainty.

As for the Steam example, it should not need 20,000 complaints to demonstrate non compliance with Australian Consumer Law, or obtain redress for any verifiable failure.


#20

In the Foodora case it is the Fair Work Ombudsman that is taking the action, nothing yet has reached that level of complaint that the ACCC has taken Court action be it Ubereats or Foodora (more’s the pity).

The TPP still exists but currently does not include USA, though Trump has recently acknowledged some interest in reviewing that decision. The TPP deal was signed in March this year (2018) & I think final parliamentary approval is set for later in the Year, a very bad day that will be for most Australians.