On April 23, Seattle announced an emergency order that third-party delivery apps could only charge restaurants up to a 15 percent commission fee. The move — which San Francisco already implemented and other cities like New York are considering — was intended to help restaurants economically during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it doesn’t seem all apps are complying.
Capitol Hill’s Indian kati roll specialist Spice Waala and the International District’s Viet-Cajun destination Crawfish King claims Postmates has still been charging up to 21-22 percent commission fees as recently as this weekend (each provided screenshots of bills to Eater Seattle confirming the higher charges). Per Seattle’s new rule, any individual found “to have knowingly violated” the order could be penalized with a fine of $500 or a maximum of 180 days in jail (or both).
When reached for comment, Postmates said, “We are working to ensure our per-order fees are consistent with the Mayor of Seattle’s local emergency order while it remains in effect. Commissions are private agreements between Postmates and the business. As we implement these new protocols for each account, we are in touch with local business owners, and we communicate with each as soon as possible to address any outstanding issues or concerns they have with this new order.”
From all accounts, other apps have either reduced their fees for Seattle restaurants since the order went into effect or have kept them at or below the 15 percent mark. A rep for Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office says it received one other recent complaint for non-compliance that was filed against Uber Eats, but notes the matter ended up “being confusion over their billing process.” Uber Eats promised to refund the money to the restaurant.
Chefs and owners who notice any violations of the current emergency order, which is in effect until local restaurants can open at full capacity, can email OED@seattle.gov or call 206-684-8090.