‘Why?’: KIRO 7 investigates DoorDash, Uber Eats extra fees

Uber Eats appears to be making an about-face in the wake of growing backlash over its $5 local operating fee on deliveries. That extra $5 charge is in response to Seattle’s City Council raising the minimum wage for drivers. The charge is also extending to deliveries outside of Seattle’s city limits, and some customers are crying foul.

KIRO 7 went to Mill Creek and placed an Uber Eats order with a Starbucks less than a mile away. That delivery location on 165th Place Southeast and 4 Drive Southeast, was also about 20 miles from downtown Seattle, yet that order still had the $5 local operating fee, due to the Seattle ordinance, tacked on.

“I’m in question, why?” asked Uber Eats user Jayden Schulke. “Why that needs to be out here considering we’re not in Seattle.”

Schulke lives and works in Mill Creek, yet whenever he orders food on Uber Eats he has to pay a $5 fee because of that Seattle City Ordinance. The ordinance raised the minimum wage for drivers to just over $26/hr.

“It’s just another one of those ugh here it goes again prices skyrocketing on yet another thing,” said Schulke.

He said he’s even cutting back on using the app because of the fees.

“Honestly it’s gone down, pretty recently because of their fees but I was using it three to four times a week,” said Schulke.

When KIRO 7 asked Uber Eats why people like Schulke, who lives outside Seattle, are being billed that $5 local operating fee, a spokesperson said:

Unfortunately, wide-sweeping regulations, including Seattle’s Delivery app ordinance, often have broader ramifications. Due to the increased costs associated with operating in the broader Seattle area, consumer fees are increasing within the broader Seattle metropolitan area. We are working hard internally to reduce costs so merchants and customers outside of the City of Seattle see less impact.

KIRO 7 asked the spokesperson where in the Metro Area the operating fee is applied but they didn’t answer that question. 

To find out more, KIRO 7 crews in Mill Creek, Kent, and Tacoma put in Uber Eats orders to see which had the Seattle ordinance imposed. The Mill Creek and Kent orders saw that Seattle fee, but the Tacoma orders didn’t.

When Schulke saw the results of the Mill Creek crew’s order, which was from a Mill Creek Starbucks next door to Schulke’s work he said he wasn’t that shocked because he’s seen orders like that before. The Mill Creek order had four items, two drinks and two food items. The total before fees came out to just under $24, but after the order was placed that amount jumped to just under $40. A third of that increase was due to that $5 local operating fee implemented because of the Seattle ordinance.

“My eyes are absolutely wide, $38.99 for four items from a Starbucks is absolutely outrageous,” said Schulke. “I can’t afford it. I’m a single dad out here by myself so affording those things in general is a luxury but to raise those fees it makes it even harder for somebody like me to be able to do that.”

A spokesperson for Uber Eats did share there was a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Starting Monday, February 26, that $5 local operating fee will only be applied to orders placed within Seattle city limits. As for the people outside the city limits who’ve already paid that local operating fee on past orders, that money will not be reimbursed.

DoorDash told KIRO 7, that their local operating fee was implemented because the Seattle ordinance is only imposed on orders placed within Seattle.

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