Your favorite restaurant prepared meals delivered right to your door. That’s the idea behind popular apps like DoorDash, but several Lowcountry establishments are opting to 86 the on-demand delivery option.
A team of Lowcountry restaurateurs say the service is leaving a bad taste in their mouths.
Chef Joseph Jacobson and his wife Allison opened Black Wood Smokehouse in the former Med Deli location on Folly Road in James Island.
“I actually worked (at Med) as a bus boy when I was like 11 years old,” Joseph said.
You'll find Joseph in the kitchen smoking various meats, and making all sorts of culinary creations, while his wife, Allison, handles the front of the house.
Together, they make sure the restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine, or in this case a perfectly smoked brisket.
"We thrive basically on word of mouth, and based on our reviews and things like that,” Joseph says. “We try to quality control as much as we can.”
But starting late in 2018, the ends suddenly weren't the only thing getting burnt at Black Wood Smokehouse.
“We didn't even realize that we are part of DoorDash until the first delivery driver showed up,” Joseph says.
The orders mounted up, and so did the questions.
"Once we figured out it was a third-party company that was placing these orders for the guests, then we were attentive to it because we had no idea it was occurring,” Allison says. “We had not agreed to anything with the company itself, so we were kind of confused.”
And they weren't alone. Our investigation found nearly a dozen other restaurants in Mount Pleasant, on Daniel Island and in West Ashley all with similar DoorDash dilemmas.
Not one of those restaurants said they ever knowingly partnered with DoorDash.
Many posted to Facebook with complaints of food waiting to be picked up for hours, or not being picked up at all. Others reported listed hours and menus that weren't correct. Some even claimed DoorDash placed surcharges on the items customers purchased.
Worst yet, the reportedly poor service from DoorDash delivery drivers was reflecting back on the restaurants, leading to unhappy customers calling to complain or taking their frustrations out in online reviews. Blindsided, the restaurants had little control.
"If you put a to-go order up and that order sits for longer than we anticipate, and then it goes into someone's car and it sits in there way longer than they anticipated, then quality is out the door,” Allison says. "We didn't have any control over it at all. They put it on their website without the consent. They dictated what the menu was, even though it was an old menu. They even dictated when the cut off time was to place and order We had no control over that process at all.”
Joseph and Allison couldn't let their problems with DoorDash continue, so they picked up the phone and acted.
"I went to their website. They made it difficult to reach a representative, so I had to take some time on the website searching for a phone number that could actually reach someone,” Allison says.
But her diligence paid off. After a few days, Allison says someone finally returned her call.
"Obviously, they didn't want me to cancel, and I said, ‘There is nothing to cancel, there was no consent, take our name off the list,” Allison says.
Black Wood was successfully removed from the DoorDash website, which the Jacobson’s are thankful for. They hope their story and the problems others have dealt with will serve as an eyeopener for diners.
“Hopefully your general public has the wherewithal to know that if they are going to order from a site, that once you leave the doors of the restaurant there's only so much control that we can have over the product,” the Jacobsons say.
DoorDash provided ABC News 4 with a statement, saying they now remove restaurants from their list of partners immediately upon request, and have also provided an option allowing restaurants to change incorrect menus.
We didn't receive specific complaints about other platforms like Grubhub or Uber Eats, but we did reach out to both services to ask about their policies.