Most people in Toronto have been severely cutting back on their usual spending since inflation rates last year hit a peak not seen in decades, with the skyrocketing prices of necessities like food and rent stressing people out the most.
While there are clear ways to cut unnecessary costs, there is the question of one’s quality of life and what luxuries you’re willing to forgo.
One of the things that might be an obvious one for the Millennials and Gen Zers hit hardest by cost of living increases to cut back on is food delivery services like Uber Eats, which offer convenience (especially for those lacking food prep time), but at a steep price.
And, it seems people are noticing those costs getting more exorbitant lately, and the financial impacts of using these apps, much worse.
One resident took to Reddit to share the huge price hikes they’ve observed for food from their favourite local spots on Uber Eats, which have been so much that they’ve stopped using the service altogether.
“I don’t use Uber Eats anymore due to the cost and I was wondering if it was all in my head, so I did two comparisons with my favourite spots two years ago and today,” they wrote in a post that picked up a ton of traction on the social media platform last week.
I don’t use Uber eats anymore due to the cost and I was wondering if it was all in my head… so I did two comparisons with my favourite spots 2 years ago and today. What I found was a %33 and %40 difference in price. Some items had gone up as much as %56 percent.
What they found, as shown in screengrabs from the app, was a price difference of up to 56 per cent for some items at two given restaurants — Banh Mi Boys and MaMa Chef Korean Restaurant — which is shocking, even given the acceleration of inflation and the overall cost of living in the city in the last two years.
Hundreds have flocked to the comments section to bemoan food delivery apps and the prices associated with using them, and also to point out the hit restaurants take to sell through the apps, too.
Many establishments called out these fees and vowed to boycott Uber Eats during the extremely difficult COVID years, noting how slim profit margins quickly ended up in the negatives, with 20 to 30 per cent of a sale ending up in the pockets of these apps, as one chef noted in 2020.
Then there are the sloppy deliveries — which restaurants face backlash for — losses from outages, scam risks, issues with receiving payments, and a general business model that some restaurant owners have called “predatory towards restaurants and drivers.”
Even during the peak of the pandemic, when Ontario capped delivery app commissions after widespread complaints, it wasn’t as low as restaurants had hoped, and they rose back up shortly after when indoor dining returned.
With all of this in mind, many often end up marking their prices up on Uber Eats, and customers are now deciding that it’s more than they can afford in this economy.
— blogTO (@blogTO) April 28, 2020
Uber tells blogTO that the expansion of the use of the app over the lockdown era has meant that people have gotten used to the convenience of using such apps, which “have become an important part of their weekly routines.”
They also note, without speaking to any specific price increases that users may have noticed in recent months, that “merchants set their own prices on Uber Eats,” which may or may not be the same prices as in-store.
Merchants have to weigh the potential cost of having their own delivery fleet (or not offering delivery at all, which would be pretty possible in this day and age) with the negotiable and fixed-pricing options from brands like Uber Eats, along with the promotion that these apps can provide.
The Uber rep says that the fees charged help cover operational services, delivery driver wages, insurance, marketing, payment processing, and other support.
But, with the financial pressures on restaurants being partly passed on to consumers amid an ongoing cost of living crisis, it seems the price to use such apps is becoming too much for the benefits they offer, for many people.