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.

August 6, 2019

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.

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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