From the viewpoint of the hungry, the food delivery transaction is a cinch: You dial, and they’re at your doorstep with the meal in minutes. The transaction is costly both for the consumers who order it and the restaurants that pay a premium to have it delivered.
At the family-owned, award-winning Italian beef joint Novi’s in Berwyn, Uber Eats seemed like one of those necessary evils. Especially as the pandemic set in, and customers stayed home.
“We were in real trouble, and delivery services do provide a service,” says George Lattas, whose family owns Novi’s. “They helped save us in the early weeks of the crisis.”
But then came time to collect Novi’s portion of the money Uber Eats had already collected for its beloved beefs.
Three months of Novi’s food was out the door and no money back in, its owners told NBC 5 Responds, with more than $7,000 in play.
“And when my cousin called me and told me they weren’t getting money from Uber Eats, I was astounded, like confused,” Lattas said. “The money had been missing or outstanding for three months. $7,000 for a restaurant like this is substantial.”
Lattas, an attorney and also the proud son and cousin of Novi’s owners, said he pulled out his biggest weapon when Uber Eats inexplicably would not pay up.
“I said, look, I am an attorney. I’m going to file a lawsuit if you don’t get this done by the end of the week,” Lattas said.
Uber Eats, the food delivery arm of the rideshare giant, is by recent estimates the second-largest in the booming food delivery industry, recently acquiring rival Postmates and behind DoorDash in the space.
“I got nowhere,” Lattas said of his attempts to convince the company to pay up or face legal action.
When the court thing fell flat, Lattas said he found himself with one more play:
“I knew if there was a call from NBC 5 that there would be attention given to it ... and we are really thankful you guys did, because we got the money two days later.”
Whatever it was that stood between Uber Eats and Novi’s money, we may never know. But after our inquiry, the approximately $7,000 landed right where Novi’s owners said it should have been, months before.
“I don’t think Uber Eats was trying to defraud us. I just think it was a black hole of administrative failures and really a lack of customer service that led to us having to call you,” Lattas said.
An Uber Eats spokesperson did not specify what caused the delay but apologized for the mix-up. For now, Novi’s is saying “no” to Uber Eats deliveries, hoping its brand new drive-thru window will help make up for the missed delivery revenue.