Ask HN: What's up with these DoorDash dark patterns?

135 points by flycatcha 5 days ago

I'm in the Bay Area. We don't order using apps often, but when we do we find that so much of the selection consists of mediocre looking Chinese, Indian, pizza and Mexican.

Using the current Android mobile app, you can't actually drill into and read reviews which makes assessing the actual quality of the restaurant difficult.

And I've found that restaurants will run their own "ghost kitchen" shadow restaurant out of their main (poorly rated) location. This delivery specific restaurant has good reviews on DD, but when you Google that restaurant name nothing comes up aside from listings on the app. And then the food arrives and it's terrible and you match up the physical address and realize it's a poorly rated Indian restaurant by a different name.

Or, you order from one of these weird ghost kitchen brands and the actual restaurant doesn't actually get your order (despite the app telling you they confirmed it) and your second driver finally tells you to cancel the order.

Is it asking too much to have a service that's transparent, functions well and have the end product taste good?

woutr_be 5 days ago

One of the absolute worst dark patterns I’ve seen was on Foodpanda. When you’re just browsing, you see prices crossed out, with a cheaper price below it, which seems to indicate there’s some sort of promotion.

You can continue browsing a specific restaurant, and order a “discounted” item, your total price will be the sum of the discounted items. That is, up until you actually want to check out, suddenly your total jumps back to the sum of the original valued of the items. Because, apparently, that discount was only for “pro” users. It’s nowhere mentioned that is the case. And since I’m logged in, they already know I’m not a pro user.

This pissed me of so much, I documented and reported this to the local consumer council, but haven’t heard back yet.

  • thinkharderdev 5 days ago

    I have a (not really serious, but kind of) theory that metrics driven organizations stumble into various dark patterns through software bugs. In this case, that would look like:

    1. You want to convert people to "pro" users so you try to show them all the money they can save by doing so.

    2. Because of a bug in the code somewhere, you end up showing the discounted price in the cart until checkout.

    3. Because some number of people don't pay attention and don't realize the switcheroo happens at the end this bug actually increases conversion.

    4. Someone eventually notices the bug (after customers like you complain about it!).

    5. When they fix it the metrics are adversely impacted.

    6. The bug is now a "feature".

    This is of course all very shortsighted since you are essentially burning customer trust for a short-term gain in conversion so it's bad for the medium/long term business. But the team has to hit its KPIs, which are tracked on a daily/weekly basis!

    • perlgeek 5 days ago

      I don't think you need bugs for that:

      1. You (as a product owner/manager) want to convert people to "pro" users so you try to show them all the money they can save by doing so.

      2. You don't care about the the experience of the non-pro users, because that's not the metric you're optimizing, so you never specify to developers what should happen when lower-class users shop, except that at the end they have to pay the full price

      3. Developers build something that works like the dark pattern described above (they are incentivized by keeping their sprint goals, not by making non-pro users happy).

    • woutr_be 5 days ago

      I don't think this was a bug, but more a deliberate feature. From my understanding, they probably target customers who don't order that much, but are willing to pay a monthly fee for the "pro" features, which includes free delivery, and some discounts.

      But I can't comprehend how this is worth it to Foodpanda, I'm an already paying customer, ordering 3-4 times a week, me not being a "pro" user should be making them money, since I pay full price, and pay delivery fees. What they've done now, is not converted me to "pro", and lost me as a customer.

      • thinkharderdev 5 days ago

        Yeah, that's why I can't help but think that some of these dark patterns arise as bugs. Maybe I just have too much faith in humanity, but I can't imagine some PM sitting there thinking this would be a good idea that wouldn't eventually blow up in their faces. But who knows, maybe I'm just naive.

        • magnus_blackarm 4 days ago

          i would think that it was the customer who came up with the idea, not the pm.

  • spike021 5 days ago

    I've had kind of similar things before with DoorDash or UberEats. They'll show I have a discount or some amount off ($5 usually), and then only once I'm ready to actually submit my order the full fine print shows up that I needed to have a subtotal of $30, $40, or whatever. Maybe that's fine for a family but for one person it stinks to think "oh cool I've got a discount" and I waste my time thumbing through restaurants and putting together an order only for it to not be worth it.

    • woutr_be 5 days ago

      I truly don't get these kind of patterns, because to me, it just looks like they'll miss out on orders from people (like you), who thought they would get a discount, but then end up not getting it and cancelling their order.

      Surely it would make more sense to advertise that customers can get a $5 discount, if they order for $30 or more. That way, if your order only adds up to $25, I would be inclined to order a side that gets me to $30 or more.

      • hackerfromthefu 4 days ago

        Not only cancel, but have a negative reaction to the app, and avoid ordering in future when they may have if treated fairky.

  • weberer 5 days ago

    Amazon does this bullshit all the time with VAT.

autoexec 5 days ago

My guess is that either DoorDash doesn't want to invest in preventing what is basically fraud on their platform or they've discovered that they actually make more money if they enable it and let it continue no matter how terrible the experience is for the people who order food.

Uninstall DoorDash and the problem goes away for you, and if enough people uninstall DoorDash the math changes and the problem goes away for everybody. As a bonus you'll save a fortune by not paying the higher food prices and fees and you'll stop giving up some personal information in the process.

  • JumpCrisscross 5 days ago

    > DoorDash doesn't want to invest in preventing what is basically fraud on their platform or they've discovered that they actually make more money if they enable it

    The latter. Of course, it drives users to uninstall. But it juices today’s returns. (Uber Eats does the same. Sometimes I report it to zero effect.)

    Caviar used to be a high-quality service in New York; I uninstalled it after DoorDash bought them. There is an open niche for a real-restaurants-only delivery service. Also, support for legislation requiring restaurants use the name on their food license on apps. (Using fake names makes tracking down food poisoning difficult. I assume someone lying about their brand is more likely to be sloppy elsewhere.)

    • devchix 4 days ago

      > There is an open niche for a real-restaurants-only delivery service

      ... but not at a sustainable price for workers and consumers. The trajectory of this industry is birthing crazy illogical things like ghost kitchens, weird liminal areas of food service that's not quite restaurant, not quite food-delivery, shaping bad human behaviors and creating dark patterns due to excess capital and perverse incentives.

      Food costs. Making it, serving it, cleaning up. It costs more than people are willing to pay, maybe there's a strata of the market for whom the value is worth it, but not for the majority. Pizza delivery within a radius is successful but not everything can scale.

    • jareklupinski 5 days ago

      what do you use now? caviar is still alright in my neighborhood but I'm looking for the next thing...

      • JumpCrisscross 4 days ago

        > what do you use now?

        Call the restaurant or go out.

        We had a window of honesty. But when purveyors lie about from where their food comes, and everyone from the delivery people to the restaurants and developers go along, the chain is morally bankrupt.

        • bradgranath 4 days ago

          See, obviously they just left out the blocks. If that chain was blocked? BOOM BABY! Absolute true fucking truth and the best Indian food you ever tasted.

          Just add some blocks.

  • gumby 5 days ago

    > or they've discovered that they actually make more money if they enable it and let it continue no matter how terrible the experience is for the people who order food.

    This seems like the most likely case, considering the other ethical problems with doordash.

  • flycatcha 5 days ago

    Totally, I imagine they incentivize / encourage bad restaurants to appear as ghost kitchen brands on their platform, and to algorithmically inflate reviews so that most averages appear to be over 4.0.

dejawu 5 days ago

It's insane. I once found a restaurant that had ghost kitchen'd itself EIGHTEEN times:

https://i.imgur.com/7jwBlFG.png

Some of the name variations are pretty funny though.

  • CPLX 5 days ago

    Wait.

    These are the same fake names that the deli a block from me in Brooklyn NYC uses. Literally exactly the same.

    That’s sort of fascinating. I’m realizing it just be some kind of software or vendor they’re all using to set up this ghost kitchen explosion.

    I wonder if there’s a clever vendor out there shipping them some kind of device to keep track of all this stuff, complete with menus and an instruction guide or something.

    Or, of course, the platforms themselves.

  • arcturus17 5 days ago

    Where I live (Spain), delivery restaurants have also become a total clusterfuck.

    There are thousands of options which are barely undistinguishable from one another - like those cheap Chinese brands that flood many product categories on Amazon. You'll occasionally find a name that stands out, like the ones you've posted, along the lines of "Thunderfuck Porn Burgers". But they don't entice me to order, since whatever the brand values being transmitted are, they are not what I'm looking for in a restaurant.

    The result is that you end up ordering from the same few oldies but goodies. Occasionally, once upon a moon, a friend will tell you about a new restaurant to expand your horizons. Some of these, while good, might not stand out in this sea of shit and end up closing, so you revert back to the oldies but goodies. And so it goes.

    The corollary is that this a shit business.

    • function_seven 5 days ago

      I wonder how long it'll be until I can order a burger from LAKPARCX Hamburgers with【1/4 pounds paty】, 【Nutritient cheese for whole family】, 【Come with choice of side】, 【Savor tasty meal】?

      • arcturus17 5 days ago

        They’re driven by search too, so my guess is, not long!

      • arkitaip 5 days ago

        Needs 3x more location keyword stuffing...

        • BizarroLand 5 days ago

          Soon it will be like Amazon's search.

          Customer: "I would like a burger. What burger restaurants are delivering to me?"

          App: "Here's a Mexican restaurant."

          Customer: "I said, "HAMBURGER RESTAURANT", not Mexican"

          App: "Don't be a wimp. You know you want tacos."

    • hakfoo 5 days ago

      Maybe we're expecting them to solve a different problem than they're built for.

      As far as I can tell, the point of a delivery platform is to provide delivery services in a market where they traditionally didn't exist.

      There's no claim they will improve the discovery experience. In fact, by obfuscating where you're actually ordering from-- making it less obvious "Oh, that's the place on Sixth where we all got food poisoning, let's not go back", they can further pollute it.

      I could see saying "use the service, I want to order from Golden Lucky Dragon Palace, but can't be bothered to drive there myself", but saying "let's browse and hope to get lucky" is no better than opening the Yellow Pages to the restaurant section and selecting at random.

    • cbovis 5 days ago

      I'm in a small town just outside Barcelona and although it's not widespread because we don't have many restaurants here there is one place which does this which is particularly frustrating...

      One restaurant which serves burgers, tacos and pizza. None of it particularly great but nice if you're feeling lazy. Problem is they split across three brands on Glovo for each food category even though it all comes from the same place.

      If one of us feels like burger and the other fancies tacos you gotta pay two deliveries. That is unless you pay for a subscription of course. Someone mentioned elsewhere in this thread that Doordash officially endorses these "virtual restaurants". I wouldn't be surprised if they like the idea that it might push people to premium subscriptions to access free delivery so they get a diversity of food options.

    • Bayart 5 days ago

      I haven't seen that (yet) in France. All the referenced restaurants are real places. This being said my city simply has too many places with a lot of them outright bad. Almost all the good restaurants are on location only and don't deliver. I find myself using TheFork a lot more than Über Eats nowadays.

      • arcturus17 5 days ago

        I was talking about Madrid, which is by far the largest city. I'm in Bilbao right now which is fairly large (metropolitan area or "Gran Bilbao" has 850k pop.) and the virtual kitchen fever hasn't taken off yet either.

    • SomeBoolshit 5 days ago

      That name would make me order at least once if there were no ratings to decide off of.

  • mbit8 5 days ago

    Is this even legal? In the country where i live you need to first register a business and can't make up funny names out of your mind directly into DoorDash

    • ksherlock 2 days ago

      Fictitious names aka trade names aka doing business as aka d/b/a is a thing and it's legal. But generally to be legal it needs to be filed with the state or local government (or whatever). Some places in the US also require a notice in the newspaper as well.

  • gsk22 5 days ago

    Weird, I've seen some of those exact names on delivery apps in Minneapolis.

    Ghost kitchen chain?

    • joshstrange 5 days ago

      Yep, there are 2 kinds of ghost kitchens I've seen:

      1. Ones that pretend to be a real brand name but serve out of an unrelated restaurant's kitchen

      2. Ones that are 100% fake chains made up just for delivery apps that are used across the country

      Before I order on apps I first google for the name to make sure they have a real physical location in my city and it's not a scam (yes, I believe all ghost kitchens are scams).

  • albrewer 5 days ago

    I think that was just the restaurant owner having fun while making sure every part of their menu showed up as a restaurant search result

  • philwelch 4 days ago

    Are you sure that’s not just all ghost kitchens? Or maybe a parking lot for food trucks?

  • nikau 5 days ago

    I guess if you ordered from "deli belli" you can't do a chargeback for food poisoning.

stephenboyd 5 days ago

The worst ghost kitchen I've seen is for an exclusively gluten-free pizza place in Seattle. That's an appealing prospect if you have a serious celiac case and you can't eat food that's made in a typical pizza place where flour gets everywhere in the process. I looked up the address and it's actually a typical pasta and pizza Italian place with gluten in most items.

  • rootsudo 4 days ago

    Try Mod Pizza, in Seattle. Great price, unlimited toppings, they do not offer exclusively gluten free but they have the option and IMO they are very accurate. - no issues yet. I would order from their website over the doordash app, but if the promo works for pickup, it probably would be cheaper. I was for a while ordering them on Doordash for $6 picked up w/ unlimited toppings, and $3 of that was for the gluten free option.

  • pipeline_peak 5 days ago
    • _tom_ 5 days ago

      Yes, a lot of gluten free is just hype. But I have friends that may die if they get gluten. Celiac is not a joke and can kill.

      • MrRiddle 5 days ago

        Then they should just give up takeout?

        • Arisaka1 5 days ago

          I have Celiac. If I buy something from the super market tagged as "gluten free" I shouldn't have to gamble thinking that whoever's in charge of the packaging though about selling this to fad-chasers. So I decided to instead purchase gluten free products that are actually certified gluten free. That way if I actually get my Celiac acting up I'll have a case to make.

          But the idea that one should give up purchasing stuff from super market altogether just because there are companies out there who don't really care about stating the truth about their product is ludicrous. Same goes with takeout. If you advertise your pizza to be "gluten-free" like Dominos used to do with a specific pizza in Australia, I expect to at least find some small letters at the bottom saying something similar to "not really gluten free".

          • soco 5 days ago

            I cannot understand how blatantly lying to your customers can be made acceptable if it has fine print. "Gluten free* pizza! (terms and conditions may apply)" is just that: a lie for which there should be some legal/regulatory consequences.

        • pipeline_peak 5 days ago

          That’s true, if I suffered something that difficult I wouldn’t gamble with takeout. You know how many dishes contain traces of grains?….

          • prawn 5 days ago

            At all? Or from a professional kitchen advertising gluten free dishes and taking their production seriously because they know it can cause debilitating pain for coeliacs?

gricardo99 5 days ago

What about the hidden service fee? They gladly tell you the delivery fee is only $5 (or free!) but it’s not until you’ve fully ordered and paid that you see the itemized service fee that can be greater than 25%.

But at least they tell you how much you paid for the service. The worst for price transparency is “same day” costco delivery by Instacart. They markup the prices but never tell you how much more you’re paying for their service, it’s completely hidden unless the shopper/driver accidentally leaves you with the costco warehouse receipt. Once I saw the 35% markup on a nominal $300 order, I never used same-day costco again. I knew I was paying some markup for the service (they tell you on the website that prices are higher than in the warehouse), but I could not justify that much.

  • orangepanda 5 days ago

    > The worst for price transparency is “same day” costco delivery by Instacart. They markup the prices but never tell you how much more you’re paying for their service

    I'd rather know upfront what the total will be, instead of meaningless itemised receipts with added fees that I have no choice but to pay.

    Then again, there are countries that dont include sales tax on price labels, so people must prefer the hidden fees approach.

  • pipeline_peak 5 days ago

    Even with membership, I’ve never paid less than $300 on Costco Instacart.

    It’s a total joke, the whole point of wholesale is to save money.

    I’m far too lazy to do the math, but I think I save more money Instacart shopping Aldi than Costco

    • lovich 5 days ago

      If it’s likes BJ’s you need to not select BJ on instacart directly but instead use their direct site which appears to be a white labeled Instacart service, if you want the wholesale prices . In this example it’s https://delivery.bjs.com/ vs instacart.com.

      They scrub most evidence of this being a white label service but it’s the same ui/ux and even the favicon is the Instacart carrot as of the time of this comment. Last time I compared my households ~$300 bill on the white labeled site was ~$450 on the main Instacart site

      • pipeline_peak 5 days ago

        Did you use a BJs account? Weirdly enough, I live right next to one.

    • datavirtue 5 days ago

      Costco is for people who's main activity outside work is spending money. It saves those compulsive spenders some money and makes them feel better about their problem.

nharada 5 days ago

Yes! I thought I was crazy!

The most annoying thing for me is constantly getting notifications for "discount codes" that don't actually work. When I've contacted support they tell me "they're expired" or "it was a bug in the app" and they offer me a much worse version of the coupon.

If it's a bug, they've had it for months, and it conveniently is very beneficial to their engagement numbers (you enter the app, make an order, and settle for a tiny discount when the deal doesn't work).

  • danpalmer 5 days ago

    I get these for Uber Eats all the time. I’ve just stopped using the app. If they’re not going to treat their customers with some dignity then I don’t want to be a customer.

    • badpun 5 days ago

      Same here. The whole experience feels like buying something from mafia.

alkonaut 5 days ago

There are a few of these delivery firms now, has at least one realized the best niche to use should be “trustworthy”?

E.g require any restaurant to have a brick and mortar restaurant with actual customers in it, or it’s banned. And requiring each such restaurant to have only one listed name in the app - which must be the same as the name on the sign of the physical restaurant. And clearly highlighting the age of the physical restaurant (under the current name) in the listings.

Basically: I want to use services that aren’t trying to grow quickly by inflating anything. I don’t want VC funded startups operating at a loss for growth for anything. I want to pay the true price of the service and only use services that aren’t “disrupting” by using legal loopholes or pricing to a loss to drive established actors out of markets.

  • LorenPechtel 5 days ago

    Same name as the sign???

    Many of the Chinese places around here have different names in Chinese and English. Sometimes slightly different, sometimes seriously different. I don't find it at all surprising, the Chinese names make sense to Chinese people but are hard for Americans to pronounce. It's the same thing as most Chinese people taking an Americanized version of their name (usually just informally) because their proper names get too badly mangled. (My wife is Chinese, more than once we've had the experience of being called from a waiting room and neither of us recognized what they had done to her name. At least with my last name the butchering is pretty consistent so I don't have a problem.)

  • golergka 5 days ago

    > E.g require any restaurant to have a brick and mortar restaurant with actual customers in it, or it’s banned.

    Why on earth would it matter to me as a delivery app user if I'm ordering from an ordinary restaurant or a dark kitchen? The only thing I care about is the food being good. And ordinary restaurants with actual customers in it often treat deliveries as something not really important.

    • craftkiller 5 days ago

      Because ghost kitchens have less skin in the game. They can ship a subpar product and then whenever their reviews get bad enough, they just pick a new name and start over "fresh" as an exciting "new" restaurant. Brick and mortar restaurants have a reputation to uphold. Every time I've ordered from a ghost kitchen the food has been considerably worse.

throw03172019 5 days ago

This is very common on UberEats. I’d say well over 50% of the restaurants are ghost kitchens. I usually Yelp the names. Some of them are low ratings (1.5 stars) but on UberEats they are 4.5…

Very frustrating to “search” on UberEats. Fine if you know the restaurant you want to order from ahead of time.

  • JumpCrisscross 5 days ago

    > I usually Yelp the names

    I look up the address on Street View.

joshstrange 5 days ago

I absolutely hate ghost kitchens, I think they should have to be labeled as such since they are often only a step at best above straight up scams. The 2 times I accidently ordered from one ("Oh nice, I didn't know we got an X nearby") the food has been below subpar and generally a huge disappointment.

These days I really hate using delivery apps. You have to dodge the ghost kitchens which isn't easy (both the fake brand name ones and the fake made-up restaurants like "It's just Wings", "F*cking Good Pizza", and "Super Mega Dilla"), you have to compare the DoorDash/GrubHub/UberEats prices to the restaurant's app prices to see which it the better deal (sometimes even if they use DoorDash for the actual delivery it's cheaper to buy through their app), and unless you are paying for the monthly/yearly subscription you can get fleeced on fees even after wading through all the bullshit to find real restaurants that have real storefronts in town.

  • leros 5 days ago

    There's nothing inherently wrong with ghost kitchens. A restaurant that only serves food for delivery is completely valid.

    The problem is when existing restaurants pretend they're a ghost kitchen. You order from a cool new chicken wing restaurant and get an order from Chilies. You order from a new pizza restaurant and get a box that says Chuck E Cheese on it. That's just purely deceptive.

    The other thing I see is the same crap food getting sold by a variety of names that are constantly coming and going.

    So yeah, I was originally in love with the idea of ghost kitchens. We have so many good creative food trucks where I live and I thought we'd get good creative ghost kitchens, but instead you get tricked into buying a burger from Hooters.

    • joshstrange 5 days ago

      That's the thing, I know there are 2-3 kinds of "ghost kitchen". The kind that is a real brand being sold out of a different restaurant, the fake brands sold out of a regular restaurant, and the fake/real brands sold out of a mixed kitchen that only does delivery.

      Of all of those the 3rd is the only one that I'm even slightly ok with but I feel like the incentives for these kitchens don't favor the customers and it's just a race to the bottom of using the cheapest/crappiest ingredients to make a quick buck. I don't believe there are any "delivery-only, multi-brand kitchens" in my city (yet) but there are a ton of real and fake brands being sold out of other kitchens and the results less than stellar. I think the chicken tenders I got from one them would have better if I had made frozen chicken tenders in the oven verses what I got.

      I too was intrigued by the ghost kitchen idea when it first came out but so far from what I've seen it's the worst of all worlds. The quality sucks and they can easily just rebrand under a new fake name after burning their reputation. Again, the incentives are pretty gross when you think about it and I won't support it.

      • leros 5 days ago

        We have some actually legitimate ghost kitchens where I live that are good. We also have some shared kitchen spaces where you can pickup or order delivery from a bunch of different restaurants with a single order. It's just hard to find them in the delivery apps since those are flooded with the corporate fake ghost kitchens.

    • trynewideas 5 days ago

      I was furious with ghost kitchens as soon as I saw REEF carts pop up in Portland even before the pandemic. These things were wrecking local food carts from the start, taking good walk-up locations to serve delivery drivers but not walk-up customers, hiring away cooks from restaurants during a labor shortage with typical startup overinflated wages that they cut as soon as the business hit any bumps, and data-harvesting information about people and neighborhoods from transaction data.

      There is no good long-term result from ghost kitchens. The pandemic handed them a crowbar and they've wedged themselves into the landscape, and co-op/commissary kitchens are starting to push back, but now it's an infestation. There are fucking Wendy's ghost carts in my neighborhood now.

    • LorenPechtel 5 days ago

      Yeah, there was a local place that went delivery-only when Covid came. They wanted to remain in business but they were Chinese and didn't want to take the risk.

      (And it turns out that the owner had been playing games with the IRS and some other government stuff. He's in jail, all their places are gone.)

    • antifa 5 days ago

      > You order from a new pizza restaurant and get a box that says Chuck E Cheese on it.

      Do they actually do this? I at least expect the fake brand's name or generic brand. If it says Chuck-e-cheese I'd claim order never arrived.

    • Ekaros 5 days ago

      I wonder if it would make sense to actually report those clear cases to owners of trademarks.

sha256sum 5 days ago

PSA: If you have been burned enough times using these apps then Perhaps you should give up ever believing they will change for the better. Cook food at home or skip the delivery and eat at a restaurant you know will be nice.

Consider the ratio of experiences you’ve had with any delivery app after the first order, good experiences to bad. Was the food late, cold, poor quality, damaged, or was its price marked up beyond what you initially believed?

If the same thing keeps happening and you expect different results then… well, you know what I’m getting at :)

starky 5 days ago

>Is it asking too much to have a service that's transparent, functions well and have the end product taste good?

In my city (Vancouver), a restaurant owner actually setup a local only food delivery service during the pandemic with the idea that they keep costs as low as possible to run the service and restaurants didn't charge a markup which allowed for a flat service fee for every order and the restaurants pivoted employees to do deliveries instead of laying them off. The only downside for using it for most orders was that the options tended to be higher end dining.

It just shows how much VC money these larger services waste on their shitty services that get more and more expensive when maybe a couple of people were able to deliver the a better experience in a few months at the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately it seems like the service is shut down now as it always says "ordering unavailable", so maybe it wasn't that sustainable as a business.

  • Simon_O_Rourke 5 days ago

    I second that experience - our local (high-endish) restaurant had both deliveries and take-out at the start of the pandemic, and completely wiped the floor with any crappy delivery services in our area. Then, once the pandemic finished, they stopped the deliveries and take out, and mediocre food delivery services took over again.

    • BjoernKW 5 days ago

      Both with this particular case and from a more general perspective, I keep encountering examples where businesses and people seem all too eager to revert to their olden, pre-pandemic ways without putting any thought into if such a reversal really makes sense: "The pandemic is over. Finally, we can return to the office."

      In many ways, the pandemic worked as a catalyst for changes that were long overdue anyway. Yes, these changes were all the more beneficial in that specific situation. However, that doesn't mean those changes and the huge benefits they provided beyond the immediate response to an emergency become irrelevant once that emergency is over.

      For example, while dining out, with fine dining in particular, is at least as much about the experience as it is about the food and having that experience on site in a nice restaurant absolutely is preferable to just having the food delivered to your door, this doesn't have to be an either-or proposition: Why not complement your usual offering with high-end delivery and take-out?

      Since at least the Black Death, pandemics have also served as an accelerator for innovation and this one certainly is no different in that regard. The least we can do is to make use of that momentum and the opportunities it provided us with in addition to all the hardship.

      A crisis is a terrible thing to waste, after all.

      • lozenge 5 days ago

        I imagine they ran the numbers. The profit is huge on alcohol. They would also see a dip in home sales as people spend more time enjoying being able to go out.

Balgair 5 days ago

Aside: The piece on DoorDash and Pizza Arbitrage is always a great read [0]

Not sure if it's still working out for A.J.'s Pizza, but that it did at any time should tell you everything you need to know about DD's internal structure; there is no there there.

[0] https://www.readmargins.com/p/doordash-and-pizza-arbitrage

libraryatnight 5 days ago

My wife and I enjoy figuring out the origin restaurant. Sometimes it seems like an attempt to appeal to a different customer. We found one that traced back to a sports bar with a kitchen. The fake profile was more generic family appropriate in tone. We didn't try it but we didn't feel that was all that nefarious if that was the goal. We've also found places that were gross trying to masquerade as new and not gross. Once an address that resolved to apartment complex, which was weird.

sharemywin 5 days ago

Since they charge restaurants for the service which forces restaurants to raise prices and then charge the customers for the service(service 17% plus delivery fee plus suggested tip) and then pay drivers the least amount possible to take the order I don't understand how they aren't making hand over fist.

$20 for a big mac meal.

$30 for a large pizza.(might offer the driver like $5-$6 with tip.

I've stopped ordering delivery and pick it up myself now.

nicgrev103 5 days ago

I've had a few. The most similar was uber eats, they constantly have a promotion on. One such was get £15 off your next order via email. I clicked through and ordered only to find no discount was applied. When I qestioned it they said some bullshit like the offer was only valid for the first 100 customers. Needless to say I am never odering through them again.

I had another one when travelling. I used skyscanner (flight comparison site), the cheapest flight took me through what must have been 3 forms and 30+ questions taking several mins to fill out. When you get to check out they say the price has now increased since you started the checkout (incuding fury and panic) and suggesting you accept the increase before the price goes up again! I quickly did a new comparison and funily enough the first price was still being shown on the comparison site. I opted for the second cheapest option and no such last min price increase was administered and I thought i'd doged a bullet. Sadly not, when I got to the airport to return home I found that the agent I had gone with had not booked my luggage on the retun flight, que a £50 surcharge to get it on last min. I am still trying to get my money back from them and the flight was in April. Unfortunately the comparison site model has encoraged agents to 'show' the lowest price at apparently any cost - some up the price last min others book your luggage only one way.

This is not limited to tech or internet companies. I found a worrying and annoying dark pattern in jewllery. Many companies use their own measurement lettering systems and there is a surprisingly large varience between companies, so you think your wife is size x and you order the ring but it turns out to be a different size which means you have to send it back to be resized (for a fee of course) and they know that you won't quibble because you don't want to look cheap in front of your partner for what is probably an emotionally driven purchase.

Compaines are literally in the business of extracting as much money from you as they can for the least resistance, so unfortunately unless people write reviews or share their expereinces it's business as usual.

  • LorenPechtel 5 days ago

    Third party sites almost always offer inferior booking options to the actual company and they're much worse about hiding gotchas.

zbjornson 5 days ago

"Virtual kitchens" (ghost kitchens) are encouraged by doordash as a way to diversify and boost revenue and stuff:

https://get.doordash.com/en-us/blog/virtual-restaurant-brand

They seem to be used frequently as decoys to allow restaurants to drop bad reviews though.

  • ryanmercer 5 days ago

    "we can't delete bad reviews, but you could always make a virtual kitchen" is how I take that 'feature'.

silicon2401 5 days ago

The beauty of the food world is that if you're willing to choose a restaurant that doesn't use a delivery app, or if you're willing to do takeout, you save money and get a way better experience. The first time I tried using a delivery app I saw that the service fee was something like 20%, whereupon I laughed and never went back. I'd rather pick up the food myself and pay nothing more than the cost of food itself, or get delivery from a local place where I can ensure the only extra cost, i.e. my tip to the driver, goes directly to the driver, cash in hand.

  • ironlake 5 days ago

    My family orders take-out once a week. I used to go pick it up almost every time. DoorDash reduced my personal stress level by so much that the 20% service fee is an absolute bargain.

    DoorDash itself is predatory and harmful to local restaurants and worldwide labor practices.

    If you are a developer and a product manager asks you to implement a dark pattern, you should raise objections at every step of the process, implement it slowly and with defects, and talk about it publicly to shame the company. We're holding the shovel. Make dark patterns expensive.

    • silicon2401 5 days ago

      > My family orders take-out once a week. I used to go pick it up almost every time. DoorDash reduced my personal stress level by so much that the 20% service fee is an absolute bargain.

      In your case I'm glad you have an option that works for you. At the end of the day it's a case by case value analysis. I'm so viscerally against things like tips and service charges I'd rather just buy a frozen pizza from the grocery store and snack on that or do takeout than support something like doordash. I think a lot of people need things like doordash less than they think they do, so I like sharing examples of how that can be done.

    • UncleEntity 5 days ago

      > DoorDash itself is predatory and harmful to local restaurants and worldwide labor practices.

      And why would they change when people who know this still use their service?

      All these Silicon Valley companies get away with this stuff because people value the convenience over the small businesses getting screwed over.

    • quinnjh 5 days ago

      >If you are a developer and a product manager asks you to implement a dark pattern, you should raise objections at every step of the process

      In what way would this benefit the organization?

      Its great sentiment and I would agree, though i fear the reality is "The squeaky wheel gets replaced"

      • datpiff 5 days ago

        >In what way would this benefit the organization?

        Who cares. Benefit the customers. Improve the world you live in.

modeless 5 days ago

While we're piling on Doordash, how have they managed to produce a website that takes more than a second to respond to every single button press? Like even something as simple as clicking on the hamburger menu icon takes over a second to register. It's infuriating.

  • drugstorecowboy 5 days ago

    Thank you for saying this, I work in the web space and there is just zero excuse for how poorly it works, none. I don't believe any amount of tracking or anything else would cause things to be as slow as they are. I have often thought that it would actually be a little difficult to make something so slow without intentionally throwing in a few second delay.

  • tinus_hn 5 days ago

    Sounds like it’s trying to track all your mouse movements and clicks and either it’s broken or you’ve halfway blocked it.

  • joshstrange 5 days ago

    Or switching out of the app and back causes it to throw up a spinner for longer than feels reasonable. As someone who has interfaced with their API I can tell you it's a trainwreck and I have no expectations that their actual backend is any better.

emsign 5 days ago

An old wise man once said: For some problems like getting screwed over by people there is no absolute technical solution.

nailer 5 days ago

In the UK one restaurant constantly has a “30% promotion” on Uber eats / Deliveroo, which pushes them to th top of results.

The only item that is 30% off is the restaurant’s merchandise.

AndyMcConachie 5 days ago

I live in The Netherlands and order food at least once a week, usually from Thuisbezorgd. I've never had any of the problems people are discussing here.

I will say that Thusbezorgd is often more expensive than just going directly to a restaurant's website. But also we find restaurants that we like and keep ordering from them. I typically know precisely where my food is coming from because I physically know where the restaurant is.

  • SOLAR_FIELDS 5 days ago

    Usually the ones in the States are quite more expensive than ordering from the restaurant as well. GrubHub adds markup to individual food items, DoorDash does it via hidden fees. Usually about 10-20% above the normal restaurant price, not including delivery fee and tip. Most often there is no other way to get food delivery from said restaurants though.

mbit8 5 days ago

DoorDash is for digestible food. If you want rather quality food, you either need connections or step out the door into a restaurant.

faangiq 5 days ago

Yea that whole company and industry is a dark pattern. Convenient though.

  • waqf 5 days ago

    "whole industry": I am currently in Germany and the major apps here (Lieferando and Wolt) are a lot less dark patterny, the prices seem to be usually same as in-restaurant and there aren't hidden fees.

    (My crunchy friends still criticise them for being an oligopoly that squeezes restaurants though, which may well be true.)

Victerius 5 days ago

I understand and I sympathize. But... you could also cook. Prepare rice in a cooking pot and chicken in a frying pan with onions or shallots. 20 minutes. Or cook pasta and an egg. 10 minutes. Or fried potatoes with sausages and boiled eggs. 15 minutes. Or an omelette with spices and an avocado on the side. 10 minutes. Or a big sandwich if you're in a hurry. And half or more of those times will be spent waiting for the food to cook and monitoring them and stirring them.

  • nullhack 5 days ago

    Transparent: Moreso than Restaurant + Delivery!

    Functions well: How dutifully can one shop, and hand/machine-wash plates after eating?

    End product tastes good: taste food while you're preparing it (and the food is safe to eat)

    Home-cooking is a good start to OP's requirements

    • flycatcha 5 days ago

      Absolutely, my wife and I cook most of our meals. The bad experience I had with DoorDash earlier today was exacerbated by the fact that we're both at home recovering (suffering) from COVID at the moment and so using their service was more out of necessity than anything else and they really fell short.

Ekaros 5 days ago

I think it is too much to ask knowing how much money these rent-seeking companies want to make and how expensive it is actually to have individuals deliver you stuff.

  • Nextgrid 5 days ago

    > how expensive it is actually to have individuals deliver you stuff

    That's not actually the expensive part. The expensive part is the greedy investors behind it and their attempt at monopolizing the industry (which thankfully is failing).

pipeline_peak 5 days ago

I like the idea of forking over half a million to live in some Bay Area crawl space and just listen to people like OP complain about ghost kitchens and refusing to Google restaurant reviews. The reviews already exist, how is providing even more in DoorDash’s interest?

“Let’s use UberEats instead, DoorDash doesn’t have reviews”.

If you don’t know what it is, either go by car or don’t order it.

raverbashing 5 days ago

Here's an idea. Order from restaurants that actually exist

If you haven't seen it and knows where it is then don't order from it

Jasper_ 5 days ago

Yes, it's asking too much, it's VC funded lmao. They want to make money and the dark patterns work. Ghost kitchens are encouraged and supported by the industry. Stop using DoorDash, find a restaurant that delivers and call their number directly. Or learn to cook.

tehwebguy 5 days ago

Same on the other platforms now. All these weird “restaurants” use the same photo style too, basically all indistinguishable.

  • Ekaros 5 days ago

    I actually hate the photos or lack of there of on these sites. If I see a photo of product in banner of restaurant I expect it to representative of the food they make. But often it looks more like styled stock footage...

peanut_worm 5 days ago

The ghost kitchen thing seems like it should be illegal. It is a huge problem on Uber Eats as well.

  • Ekaros 5 days ago

    I think Ghost Kitchens are perfect pairings for delivery service. For all parties. Now I admit, each should be individually presented location and actually the place making the food.

noja 5 days ago

Say what you like about DoorDash, but who wants to go back to the days before it?

Nowadays I can order straight from the app, simply pay for my pizza, the service fee, tax, delivery charge, and tip. Wait a little while and it comes straight to my door.

Sure, now it costs a little more, but that money is going straight to the guys that deliver my food. That's great for everyone.

  • gumby 5 days ago

    > but that money is going straight to the guys that deliver my food.

    Ha ha, sorry that isn’t the case. Door dash etc are actually killing some restaurants by impersonating them, forcing huge discounts on what they will pay, and of course notoriously stealing from their delivery people.

  • turkishmonky 5 days ago

    I've actually stopped using third party delivery services all together - the food is routinely cold, there are hidden fees everywhere, drivers are severely underpaid, many times you can't even order from the full menu.

    Pizza and Chinese food delivery has been a thing long before doordash, and the quality of directly employed delivery seems to be much higher.

    If a restaurant doesn't have delivery I'll just making a to-go order and go pick it up.

nonrandomstring 5 days ago

Seriously, all of you lazy toads, learn to cook

It's one of life's exquisite pleasures. You'll save a ton of money. Massively improve your health. It really impresses any potential partner - many a lifelong relationship started in the kitchen not the bedroom. Cookbooks are recipes are really fun. Surely my fellow hackers, don't we love to know how things work and be in control?

  • mikkelam 5 days ago

    I love to cook, but this view is incredibly condescending. People have busy lives, you don't know what some internet person's life is like. I know a lot of people that simply don't enjoy cooking.

    • nonrandomstring 5 days ago

      Interesting choice of word. Condescending implies talking down, whereas I am in fact talking up.

      Poorer nations spend much more time per capita on cooking. India averages 13 hours per week. The average American male spends two and a half hours per week (20 mins per day) in "food preparation". We all have equally "busy" lives, yet our labour is distributed in different ways.

      The 'first world' problems I am poking fun at (in a light way so please don't take it so much to heart) is known as "Time Poverty" [1].

      My serious point is that western "oh so terribly busy" people allocate labour that preferences sitting in traffic en route a job sitting at a desk over cooking food. Cooking feels beneath us, because our time feels so valuable, in turn because we are robbed of it trying to be "productive". That is really unhealthy, mentally and biologically. It is a symptom of "affluenza" [2].

      So rather than being "condescending" I am politely inviting you to descend amongst those of us with dirty hands from chopping vegetables (those weird shaped plants you mum used to ruin supper with :)

      [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money-rich%2C_time-poor

      [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza

      • Invictus0 5 days ago

        If you're earning $100/hr as a software engineer/lawyer/whatever, it makes a lot more sense to buy a $30 doordash order than it does for a peasant in India. The comparison is so ludicrous I'm actually laughing.

        • LorenPechtel 5 days ago

          This. If you make lots of dollars per hour you'll likely have a better quality of life putting in extra hours at work and hiring out much of the stuff we usually do at home.

          Food is a problem, though, because restaurant food is generally skewed to tasty rather than healthy.

      • scarface74 5 days ago

        Why just focus on cooking? Do you give up other creature comforts that you can afford just because “people in poorer countries do”? Do you also farm or is that “beneath you”?

        • nonrandomstring 5 days ago

          > Why just focus on cooking?

          You're absolutely right. It would be silly to just focus only on cooking, much as I love it.

          > Do you give up other creature comforts that you can afford

          Absolutely yes. Instead of being enslaved to comfort I find that many of the things one "gives up" create vast swathes of opportunity and freedom in life. Walking instead of driving creates precious thinking time. I also find that being less 'available' by digital connectivity makes people value my time more and the more opportunity I obtain from fewer meetings - paradoxical perhaps, but it's sometimes odd how things work. Once you start "giving up" things it's amazing what riches the world offers up.

          > Do you also farm or is that beneath you?

          It's behind me. I lived in a village where we grew more than half our food and kept small livestock. Definitely miss that. But I was a kid, and so most of the hard work was done by my parents and neighbours. Obviously though, it set me up in life with a mindful relation with food. Never give names to the ones you're going to eat :)

  • alx__ 5 days ago

    Fun fact, most people know can cook. They just don't want to cook every single meal. And for a variety of reasons, that no one should have to defend.

    Especially from snobby "hackers" with who lack a sense of perspective and empathy to other people's situations.

  • UncleMeat 5 days ago

    I love to cook. It is a skill I have developed deeply. I can look at what I have in the fridge and throw together a coherent meal even with dregs. I can cook a better meal than all but one restaurant in my entire city, and even that is a close race (it is a small city). I am skilled and cooking meals from a wide range of different cuisines.

    There is one day a week that my wife and I both have a ton of meetings. At the end of the day we are both exhausted and neither of us want to cook. We frequently order food on this day. That's not a moral failing.

  • jon-wood 5 days ago

    It's possible to both be able to cook and to want takeout now and again. Sometimes you just want someone else to do the cooking for you, but you don't want to go out to a restaurant.

  • doix 5 days ago

    I refuse! I mean I know how to cook, I just refuse to cook now days. The actual cooking isn't _that_ bad, but all the stuff around it absolutely sucks and isn't worth it for me.

    You need to go shopping for food, you need to pick ingredients, manage "freshness" so that food doesn't go off and plan what meals you'll cook with the ingredients you bought. It would create situations where I had to choose between going out after work to a restaurant or letting food spoil.

    You also need to clean up after cooking, either washing dishes by hand or loading/unloading the dish washer. If you use the dish washer, it creates a "task" in the future where you need to unload it. If you wash them by hand, it takes a long time.

    I never really thought about all those things before, but when I stopped cooking/shopping it was like a huge mental load was lifted and I was free. I am much happier with this lifestyle and so is my SO.

    But I don't really like delivery services because they deliver things in plastic containers and are bad for the environment. I prefer meal replacement powders and eating at restaurants. That being said, some delivery places are better than others when it comes to packaging waste.

    • ryanmercer 5 days ago

      >You need to go shopping for food, you need to pick ingredients, manage "freshness" so that food doesn't go off and plan what meals you'll cook with the ingredients you bought. It would create situations where I had to choose between going out after work to a restaurant or letting food spoil.

      This reminds me of Rob Rhinehart's (Soylent) old (now deleted) blog post about groceries:

      >I have not set foot in a grocery store in years. Nevermore will I bumble through endless confusing aisles like a pack-donkey searching for feed while the smell of rotting flesh fills my nostrils and fluorescent lights sear my eyeballs and sappy love songs torture my ears.

      Still quoted here: https://www.businessinsider.com/soylent-ceo-rob-rhinehart-qu...

    • kenneth 5 days ago

      I hate all of that just as much as you. But I love cooking.

      But here's the thing: I live in HK — so I just pay for a full time domestic helper who takes care of all of that (though the main reason is to have someone to take the best care of my dog). All in cost is <$1000/mo. I never have to worry about any unpleasant chores whether it's keeping the house spotless at all times, laundry, post office visits, etc. And as far as cooking, I send her on grocery runs, use as many dishes as I want to be the most comfortable cooking, and don't worry about any cleanup. It's wonderful.

      I could easily spend more than that on restaurants (and I still do), but overall the value here is a no-brainer.

    • artogahr 5 days ago

      I wonder how other people think about this kind of living.

  • scarface74 5 days ago

    Unfortunately, the hotels I spend around 40 days a year at don’t have full kitchens.

    There are dozens of things I would rather do in my limited time than spend time cooking.

  • b3lvedere 5 days ago

    Oh i can cook. It just takes so much (free) time. Last week i made my own hamburgers. :)

  • Gatsky 5 days ago

    Do you have kids?

    • nonrandomstring 5 days ago

      Sure, they join in with healthy food (much to my surprise) and are interested in shopping, making choices. Sometimes they get stuck in a groove though - "I like what I like" which can make variety challenging when cooking for everyone.