Finally, an alternative to Seamless – Vittles
Note: Because Seamless is owned by Grubhub (notice how similar their sites look?) we use Grubhub and Seamless interchangeably in this article.
If you’re a restaurateur in New York City, then it’s likely you’ve either heard the controversy surrounding online ordering, or you’re quietly fuming over it and wondering if other owners feel the same (spoiler: they do).
The year 2019 wasn’t a smooth ride for any of the online ordering apps and the news seems to worsen every week. From deceptive tipping practices to service fees that can only be adequately described as rapacious, it has mainly been restaurants that have been absorbing the blows. At one point, it came to light that Grubhub had been charging restaurants additional fees for phone calls that didn’t even result in orders.
In recent news, politicians have entered the fray and demanded that Grubhub, which owns Seamless, refund these restaurants for false charges. While Grubhub reluctantly agreed, they imposed a time limit for business owners to dispute the false charges and even saddled them with the work of determining whether the charges were wrongfully transacted.
If you’ve been in New York for a while, then much of this bad news isn’t news at all. You may have been to a restaurant that has signs up asking their customers to avoid ordering from them through Seamless. This has been going on for years and it’s not an easy problem to fix.
How to be a better patron … If you can
If you’re like most of us and you just like to eat, then there’s a good chance that you don’t know that when you order through Grubhub/Seamless, those platforms charge the restaurant anywhere from 20%-30% commission for that order. Want to be a good patron and order directly through the restaurant? Be careful: Seamless has registered tens of thousands of domains made to look like the restaurant, but are actually still Grubhub/Seamless sites. Thinking of placing an old-fashioned phone order? Still be careful: Grubhub replaced the phone numbers of restaurants with fake ones so that they can charge the restaurant a commission fee even on the phone.
By signing a contract with Grubhub/Seamless, restaurants are effectively trapped into shelling out big bucks from all corners of their business. They now pay a fee for just about everything. At this rate restaurants may as well let TicketMaster handle their food delivery.
To call restaurants “partners” after all this is insulting. At the same time, it’s not exactly false, either. If a tapeworm crawled into someone’s stomach, they could technically considered to be its partner. Terms and conditions would apply, of course, but every parasite needs a host.
But if online ordering platforms are all charging restaurants these fees and locking them in — whether they want to be or not — then how are restaurants supposed to make meaningful profit from delivery? And how will customers be able to be the best patrons they can be for their favorite restaurants?
That, my friend, is the question that Vittles has come to answer.
More than just a platform for ordering food, we prefer to consider Vittles to be a resounding “Yes!” as an answer to the age-old question: “Is there a way to participate in online delivery without fucking myself over in the long-term?” Yes, that is what Vittles is.
We do this simply by reducing the costs of taking orders online to $1 per order for any given restaurant. Other than that one dollar, everything else, including your tip, goes to the restaurant.
We created Vittles for two kinds of people:
- The restaurant owners who want to participate in online ordering and actually profit from it.
- People who want to order online without stabbing their favorite eateries in the heart by doing so.
And finally, the why
It’s somewhat prosaic, but we believe that technology should be designed to improve people’s lives, not to line the pockets of shareholders and executives. In a world where technology is so plentiful, there is no reason for restaurants to pay outrageous fees that cut into their bottom line. Customers should not have to dig deeper to compensate for these fees. Restaurants should not be paying bullshit “marketing fees” to answer their own phone.
To sum it up: we created Vittles because we believe online ordering should be easy, affordable, and ethical.
If you or someone you know owns a restaurant in New York City, we hope that you’ll share this article with them, and let them know that there is a way for everyone to win in online ordering with Vittles.
At this time, the Vittles platform is only for restaurants that are able to provide their own delivery drivers. We intend to provide affordable drivers in the future, but for now, restaurants must be capable of handling delivery themselves. We will update this article when this changes.