Yelp swaps restaurant phone numbers with Grubhub’s to boost referral revenue

A new report suggests that Yelp and Grubhub conspired to boost referral revenue for the delivery service.

According to a Vice report, Yelp is “screwing over” restaurants by secretly removing their direct phone numbers under the “Delivery or Takeout” tab and replacing them with Grubhub’s referral line to justify charging a marketing fee.

Yelp swaps restaurant phone numbers with Grubhub’s to boost referral revenue

According to the report, Yelp started prompting customers to call Grubhub phone numbers in October 2018 after the 2 companies announced a “long-term partnership.” 

But restaurant owners claim they were never notified of the switch.

What does it all mean?

Grubhub offers a “marketing” service to restaurants, which includes being listed on the Grubhub platform, for between 15% and 20% of each order total — they call it a “referral fee.”

Basically, it’s free money. Also, the perfect swindle: If a customer is transferred to Grubhub (albeit unknowingly), why not opt to order through the company’s physical delivery service? 

But, delivery through Grubhub bills yet another 10% fee to the restaurant. 

“It’s not fair because this is our customer who called directly into our restaurant,” says Mohammad Zaman, an owner of a Brooklyn kabab and grill house. “It’s a trick.”

Is it time to finally call a spade a spade?

Earlier this year, Yelp avoided a Blackfish-esque takedown after snatching up the domain for the website Billion Dollar Bully, a crowd-funded documentary of the same name that takes aim at how the company extorts small business owners for advertising fees.

And Grubhub isn’t a stranger to the shade either: In June, The Verge reported that Grubhub bought as many as 23k domain names that resemble some of the restaurants on their platform in order to upcharge customers with commission fees.

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