By: John Lippman, Valley News Business Writer
When Marsha Wykes’ 15-year-old son said after dinner last week that he was still hungry, he did what a lot of teenagers do these days to satisfy an appetite. He downloaded a food delivery service app, DoorDash, and ordered a cheeseburger and Brussels sprouts — because his mom insisted he have a vegetable — from Salt hill Pub in Lebanon.
After 90 minutes passed without any sign of a cheeseburger and sprouts, they drove to Salt hill themselves. They found the order sitting on the counter getting cold and restaurant staff wondering why no one had come to claim it.
“I said we ordered it on DoorDash, and they told me they did not work with DoorDash, that some lady had called in the order but never showed up,” Wykes said.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in takeout and delivery, in many ways aided by a proliferation of apps used to order from nearby eateries — Grubhub, Snackpass, Seamless, Uber Eats and DoorDash are all available in Lebanon, Hanover and Claremont — which have extended the instant-side-hustle rideshare premise of Uber and Lyft to door-to-door food deliveries over the last few years. But a novel premise doesn’t guarantee success in practice, and mounting frustrations are leading Upper Valley restaurants to not just speak out but fight back.
Like the Wykeses’ forsaken cheeseburger, Salt hill had experienced a flurry of ghost orders in recent days, according to Josh Tuohy, whose family owns the restaurant.
“This week we started seeing DoorDash drivers picking up takeout orders from our pubs. Just days after I informed them that we were not entering into a relationship,” Tuohy explained via email.
“The issue for us was folks who’d ordered our takeout via DoorDash weren’t getting the orders and were being told by the DoorDash app that they couldn’t find any (drivers). End result being guests who did not receive their orders from us or received them after too long of a wait,” he said.
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