A class-action lawsuit has been filed against DoorDash, alleging that the company uses deceptive and fraudulent practices to charge higher delivery fees to iPhone users compared to Android users. Ars Technica reports: The lawsuit (PDF), filed May 5 in the District of Maryland, came in hot. Plaintiff Ross Hecox, in addition to his two children and a presumptive class of similarly situated customers, briefly defines DoorDash as an online marketplace with 32 million users and billions of dollars in annual revenue. “Yet, DoorDash generates its revenues not only through heavy-handed tactics that take advantage of struggling merchants and a significant immigrant driver workforce, but also through deceptive, misleading, and fraudulent practices that illegally deprive consumers of millions, if not billions, of dollars annually,” the suit adds. “This lawsuit details DoorDash’s illegal pricing scheme and seeks to hold DoorDash accountable for its massive fraud on consumers, including one of the most vulnerable segments of society, minor children.”
Specifically, the suit claims that DoorDash misleads and defrauds customers by
– Making its “Delivery Fee” seem related to distance or demand, even though none of it goes to the delivery person.
– Offering an “Express” option that implies faster delivery, but then changing the wording to “Priority” in billing so it is not held to delivery times.
– Charging an “Expanded Range Delivery” fee that seems based on distance but is really based on a restaurant’s subscription level and demand.
– Adding an undisclosed 99 cent “marketing fee,” paid by the customer rather than the restaurant, to promote menu items that customers add to their carts.
– Obscuring minimum order amounts attached to its “zero-fee” DashPass memberships and coupon offers.
– Generally manipulating DashPass subscriptions to appear like substantial savings, when the company is “engineering” fees to seem reduced.
One of the more interesting and provocative claims is that DoorDash’s fees, based in part on “other factors,” continually charge iPhone users of its app more than Android users placing the same orders. The plaintiffs and their law firm conducted a few tests of DoorDash’s system, using different accounts to order the same food, from the same restaurant, at almost the same exact time, delivered to the same address, with the same account type, delivery speed, and tip. […] The plaintiffs are asking for $1 billion in damages for those who “fell prey to DoorDash’s illegal pricing” over the past four years. The suit also includes allegations that DoorDash improperly allows children to enter into contract with the company without proper vetting. “The claims put forward in the amended complaint are baseless and simply without merit,” said a DoorDash spokesperson in a statement. “We ensure fees are disclosed throughout the customer experience, including on each restaurant storepage and before checkout. Building this trust is essential, and it’s why the majority of delivery orders on our platform are placed by return customers. We will continue to strive to make our platform work even better for customers, and will vigorously fight these allegations.”