Yelp says it wants its "partners to be transparent."

By Mike Pomranz
August 20, 2019
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When it rains, it pours — and recently, Grubhub has been stuck in monsoon season. Granted, the Chicago-based delivery service is still a $5 billion company, one of America's two largest online ordering brands — though even that has included some disappointment as it has reportedly ceded the top to DoorDash. But the real trouble started when complaints began to arise over some fees Grubhub had been charging its partner restaurants: That led to a lawsuit and an invite to appear before the New York City Council. With even more eyes scrutinizing their business, more controversies began to emerge, leading Grubhub to announce a number of policy changes. And yet New York is still reportedly looking to further regulate delivery services.

Now, news of another small change for Grubhub has emerged, showing how sentiment is continuing to shift. As Nation's Restaurant News reports, Yelp — which partners with Grubhub — has begun specifically labeling which phone numbers on its site are "powered by Grubhub" — a subtle way of telling users when Grubhub may be taking a percentage of orders placed through a particular phone call. Previously, as Vice pointed out in a story a couple weeks ago, it wasn't clear which calls were going directly to restaurants and which were being routed through Grubhub's system.

"While it is our understanding that the restaurants with Grubhub referral numbers have a marketing and customer acquisition agreement with Grubhub, which allows the company to utilize referral numbers on third party partner sites like Yelp, we've come to realize that not all restaurant owners understood these terms applied to Grubhub's integration with the Yelp app," Yelp explained according to Nation's Restaurant News. "We always ask our partners to be transparent and communicative with their customers and consumers alike and have continued to urge them to do so in this case."

The idea that a call is "powered by Grubhub" might not mean much to customers who simply think that an order is an order, but for restaurants, it can affect their bottom line: Calls routed by Grubhub can result in fees where calls made directly to the restaurant may not. Clearly, Grubhub offers a worthwhile service or restaurants wouldn't use them, but as restaurants, government officials, and even the public begin to better understand how these services operate, expect more questions to continue to arise. Or to put it another way: Grubhub doesn't appear to be out of the storm quite yet.

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