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‘Perfect timing’: Okanagan restaurants welcome cap on food delivery fees

Click to play video '‘Perfect timing’: Okanagan restaurants welcome cap on food delivery fees' ‘Perfect timing’: Okanagan restaurants welcome cap on food delivery fees
Okanagan restaurants are welcoming a new emergency order capping fees on major food delivery services. The B.C. government says the move-- announced on Tuesday-- is in an effort to provide immediate relief to restaurants struggling with COVID-19 restrictions. Shelby Thom reports – Dec 23, 2020

Okanagan restaurants burned by foodservice delivery companies are welcoming a temporary cap on fees, saying it provides much-needed relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s definitely going to help our bottom line and keep someone employed,” said Shayna Shulman, owner of the Smugglers Smokehouse Restaurant in Penticton, B.C.

The B.C. government on Tuesday capped fees that major food delivery service companies charge restaurants to use their third-party platforms at 15 per cent.

Read more: B.C. places 15-per-cent cap on fees for food delivery services

An additional cap of 5 per cent is also included for other fees, such as online ordering and processing.

Smugglers Smokehouse in Penticton, B.C., is known for its authentic Texas-style barbeque. Smugglers Smokehouse/Facebook

Previous to the temporary order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA), delivery companies like SkipTheDishes, DoorDash, and Uber Eats charged restaurants up to 30 per cent of each order, before tax, placed through their apps.

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Click to play video 'B.C. restaurants get a reprieve after Province caps food delivery fees' B.C. restaurants get a reprieve after Province caps food delivery fees
B.C. restaurants get a reprieve after Province caps food delivery fees – Dec 23, 2020

“We are heading into the slowest time of the year. A lot of restaurants struggle through the Okanagan winters, and I think it’s just perfect timing,” Shulman said.

B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor-General, Mike Farnworth, said the order, which took effect on Dec. 22, will be in place until three months after the provincial state of emergency is lifted.

Read more: BC Liberal MLA hopes government will support bill to cap restaurant fee charges for delivery services

“Due to the pandemic, restaurants and the hospitality industry have suffered significant losses and faced challenges. They need our support right now,” Farnworth said.

At least one food delivery service is pushing back.

Click to play video 'B.C. government announce 15% cap on restaurant delivery service fees' B.C. government announce 15% cap on restaurant delivery service fees
B.C. government announce 15% cap on restaurant delivery service fees – Dec 22, 2020

DoorDash said the move “could cause us to increase costs for customers, which may lead to fewer orders for local restaurants and fewer earning opportunities for Dashers.”

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When asked about food delivery potentially becoming more expensive for the consumer as a result of capped service fees, Farnworth said the market will dictate the price.

Read more: B.C. restaurant industry praises election promises to cap food delivery fees

“While there are major companies that are involved in it, there are now an increasing number of smaller companies, and so we expect the companies will be very mindful of the competition they will be facing from each other,” he said.

Shulman said they tried going off the apps in the past and offered free delivery.

Click to play video 'B.C. government debates cap on food delivery service fees' B.C. government debates cap on food delivery service fees
B.C. government debates cap on food delivery service fees – Dec 17, 2020

“Unfortunately, because people are so into social media and on their phones so much, we just didn’t get any response,” she said.

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The restaurateur added that the best way to support local business is to skip the apps, and dash to the restaurant.

“It definitely would be helpful if more people could just call us directly and come and pick up their food,” said Shulman. “It supports us 100 per cent.”