Ordering Food Delivery? Watch Out for This New Fee

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  • Some delivery apps and rideshare services have added fuel surcharges to help drivers keep their tanks filled.
  • Gas prices are going up, not back down, so "temporary" charges become permanent -- and may spread to more apps.
  • Consider boosting your tip when ordering from restaurants more than a mile or two from your home.

Delivery fees are already crazy, but this one actually makes sense.

The advent of companies like DoorDash and UberEats has revolutionized the way we dine. Instead of being limited to a handful of local restaurants for delivery, you can order from just about anywhere in town and have it delivered to your door.

Sure, that convenience comes at a cost. Between the higher prices, extra service fees, and tipping your driver, you're easily looking at an extra $10-$15 dollars a meal. But, you can order food with no pants. And that's priceless.

Unfortunately, this already-expensive pants alternative has recently gotten even more expensive. The massive increase in gas prices has had a not-unexpected impact on delivery services in the form of a new gas surcharge.

Every little bit helps drivers stay on the road

As it stands, gas surcharges are quite modest in the scheme of things. My recent UberEats order charged just $0.45 for its "temporary fuel surcharge." 

According to Uber, my fee was on the high end of the scale, with UberEats fees said to range from $0.35 to $0.45. (Uber rides have a slightly higher fee scale, ranging from $0.45 to $0.55 per ride.)

And yes, Uber says that 100% of the fee goes to the drivers.

In the scope of all the other fees I paid, the $0.45 is small change -- literally. Especially when you consider that a gallon of gas is over $5 in most areas.

Looking at the math, a driver getting 25 mpg and paying $5 a gallon would get a little over 2.5 miles' worth of gas from the $0.45 surcharge. Ideally, customers who live farther than this from their restaurant of choice are helping to make up the rest.

UberEats stands alone -- for now

Multiple delivery and rideshare services, as well as a number of smaller restaurants, introduced these surcharges earlier this year with the idea that it would be a temporary measure. But those temporary solutions are starting to look a little more long term.

For example, the UberEats surcharge was initially slated to expire June 15. However, in light of still-rising fuel costs -- and significant driver pushback -- Uber just extended the extra fee "indefinitely."

However, some companies have already let their programs lapse. Competitor DoorDash, for instance, had a short-lived driver bonus program that ended in April. Instead, it’s relying on an in-house cash rebate system that was extended through the end of the summer. 

Essentially, DoorDash drivers who pay for gas with their DasherDirect prepaid business Visa debit cards are eligible for 10% cash back. While this can be more lucrative for drivers on the surface -- 10% of $5 a gallon is $0.50 back -- they lose an important bonus: gas rewards.

UberEats drivers can boost their savings by using a gas rewards credit card to pay for fuel on top of the income from the surcharge. DoorDash drivers have to use their debit cards, forfeiting their own gas rewards.

More fees may be coming down the line

Unfortunately, gas prices aren't expected to drop anytime soon. The current fuel crisis is a global issue -- one that won't be solved quickly. In fact, Americans may have it easy compared to many other countries. Drivers in Canada are paying close to $7 (USD) a gallon, and the petrol in the U.K. is over $8 (USD).

If costs continue to rise -- or even if they just maintain their current record-high level -- drivers could be forced to look for other jobs with fewer out-of-pocket expenses. This may push more companies to add fuel surcharges to orders to keep their workforce in place.

Either way, it's not a bad idea to evaluate how we, as customers, tip our drivers. If you're ordering from somewhere a little further afield, consider adding a little extra to your tip.

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