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Restaurants rebel against delivery apps with whom they partnered

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Rappi takes a third of the check away from restaurants, which are feeling the pinch. Photo: John Vizcaino / AFP / Getty Images

Merida, Yucatan — Several restaurants on Rappi or Uber Eats are getting weary of splitting the check with delivery platforms.

Before the quarantine, the platforms helped restaurants expand their customer base. Now, delivery is a restaurant owner’s only option. The platforms are paid by taking a lion’s share of the take.

Restaurants complain the split is less and less in their favor. Previously, the platforms charged commissions ranging from 10 to 30% per order, but under the contingency, the platforms are accused of exploiting the situation.

“Food platforms are abusing the restaurant crisis. They are taking 32% of the commission from the sale, minus 30% of the cost of the dish … and you have 38% left (of $100 pesos you have $38 pesos left). We are paying expenses without earning a peso, the restaurants are breaking down!” reads a restaurant owner’s message widely shared on social media.

Restaurants are responsible for cooking and packing the meals; the platforms send their own drivers and fulfill the order. Just as ride-share passengers pay on a shifting scale based on demand, the platforms can adjust their share of the take.

The apps are convenient for customers. Ordering, payment and tracking are easy — especially good for diners whose Spanish isn’t particularly strong. And there is no fumbling with cash or prolonged interaction with the driver at the door, so it feels safer.

Often on bike or motorcycle with brightly colored meal containers, Uber Eats and Rappi workers were increasingly visible in the streets even before the pandemic.

Restaurants were allowed to stay open, but without their dining rooms, on March 31. That meant adjusting to a takeout/delivery model unfamiliar to many.

Rappi and Uber Eats may have seemed tempting despite the high commissions. But some eateries bypassed the platforms from the beginning of the shutdown, distributing menus online and accepting cash, Paypal or sending their own face-masked employees with wifi-enabled credit card machines.

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