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Regulating delivery fees won’t help restaurants | READER COMMENTARY

A Grubhub driver pauses to get directions while making a delivery. Baltimore is considering imposing a 15% cap that third-party delivery companies can charge restaurants.
A Grubhub driver pauses to get directions while making a delivery. Baltimore is considering imposing a 15% cap that third-party delivery companies can charge restaurants. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

I owned restaurants for 30 years and have a pretty good feel for food delivery options. As much as I hated the large cut that companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash charge, I hate more the random targeting they are receiving from the City Council and mayor of Baltimore to cap their fees (”While COVID-19 rages, restaurant delivery apps shouldn’t take advantage,” Dec. 16).

Restaurants have choices when it comes to delivery. They can develop their own system, which involves marketing, hiring drivers, dedicating time to taking orders and processing payments, paying added insurance costs, etc. Believe me, it’s no picnic.

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Another choice is to have a company like DoorDash do all of the above. They are motivated to do this so as to become a profitable business. If restaurants and customers, both of whom pay a fee, think it’s too expensive, they are free to use another service or get off the couch and pick the food up themselves. We pay for service and convenience.

I suspect that if the fees are capped at 15% or about half of the current rate, the companies will cease operating. That would be bad for restaurants, drivers and customers. What gives government the right to tell a business they must charge 50% less for their product or service?

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If the dining public wants to help restaurants, here are three suggestions: First, call the restaurant directly for carry out and delivery. Often, they don’t need middlemen to enable the transaction. Second, don’t use coupons like Groupon. Just eat, enjoy and pay the full price. And third, instead of using Open Table to make reservations, call the restaurant directly. Open Table charges the restaurant for every person in the party — something people don’t know.

If the government wants to help restaurants, figure out ways to keep them operating.

Jeb Brownstein, Pikesville

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