NEW YORK — Having to shut their doors to diners has been tough enough for restaurants struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even worse is that some eateries, who now depend on take out and deliveries, are being cheated by some unscrupulous app-based delivery drivers.
"It's a scam that delivery drivers have figured out how to work the system", says Grace Sciancalepore, co-owner of Leo's Grandevouz, a Hoboken, New Jersey landmark for 82 years.
Sciancalepore says drivers will sign up for delivery but then fail to show up to the restaurant to pick up the food.
"This happened with the same driver for 10 orders," Sciancalepore said.
The driver will send a notice to the customer that they've delivered the food — even though they never picked it up from the restaurant. The driver sends the same message to the restaurant, even while the food is still being cooked and waiting for pickup.
Once drivers indicate they've made a delivery, they automatically collect the delivery fee and a tip — even if they've never left their house. Angry and hungry customers might blame the restaurant, and the restaurant is stuck with the food.
On a recent Friday evening, Leo's had over $500 of undelivered orders from delivery service Grubhub. When Sciancalepore called Grubhub, she said they refused to send another person to deliver the food.
"They said they can't because once the driver says the order has been delivered, it's done. It makes no sense," she said.
The customers have to contact the delivery service or their credit card company to get a refund, but it's not always easy.
Drivers will also abandon deliveries after agreeing to them because they can see how much they've been tipped after agreeing to the job. If it's a long trip and a small tip, some drivers will simply not pick up the food without notifying the restaurant or customer.
Some drivers will even change their profile picture and contact information to make it hard to reach them.
"We have zero tolerance for this type of misconduct and will terminate any driver who engages in this behavior," Grubhub said in a statement.
This story was originally published by Arnold Diaz on WPIX in New York.