Unauthorized Storefront

A restaurant group in Florida is suing Google for allegedly setting up landing pages that don't belong to the eateries. According to the group, Google is providing a profile within their search results that have "Order Online" buttons but those point to delivery apps. Tim De Champ at Ars Technica has the story.

When users click the “Order Online” button, they’re directed to a page that in many cases contains large links to food delivery companies, complete with their logos. The restaurant’s own site gets a link as well, though it’s a small, generic “website” button. In some cases, Google provides an interface for assembling an order, complete with prices and descriptions of the menu items. Companies that have completed the “Order Online” setup with Google can also direct customers to their own online ordering services. Yet because many restaurants’ ordering sites are run by third parties, those links may not contain a restaurant’s name. In the case of Cambridge, Massachusetts, cafe Flour Bakery, for example, the option to order directly appears as “thelevelup.com”.

Ars Technica

The worst part of this whole thing is this is a tactic DoorDash and GrubHub have used for years. In order to strongarm businesses into signing up, they will lift a restaurant's menu and information and build dummy pages within DoorDash itself. Customers don't know the difference and when they place an order, DoorDash simply relays the order to the restaurant as a takeout order.

While the pandemic forced many establishments to enroll into delivery apps in order to survive, the fees are large. Most of these apps double-dip because they charge every customer a fee AND charge the restaurant fees ranging from 15-30 percent. That removes nearly all profits they can make from an order and is a losing proposition. In fact, I have seen many places asking customers to order direct for takeout in order to get around delivery apps' fees and nonsense.

What Google is doing here is wrong and unnecessary. They may be in the business of indexing information and packaging it to run ads against it, but to not do right by the companies who make up that information is just not needed. Like Google needs that money?