NEW YORK (AP) — It’s never been easier to get burgers, burritos and other items from fast-food chains delivered to your doorstep. But the convenience can hurt your wallet.
More fast-food companies have been offering delivery by teaming up with food-ordering apps, many of which charge fees or other added-on costs. The chains see delivery as another way to boost sales, but for customers, it can turn a typically cheap meal into a pricier one.
“If you’re not careful, your fees can add up to be more than the cost of the food,” says Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert at deal site RetailMeNot.
Fast food companies typically use several online ordering services, and their fees and rules differ, so you’ll need to do some research on your own to know what you are spending. Here’s what to look out for:
FEES WITH THOSE FRIES
Many apps charge delivery fees, and the amount can differ widely depending on the city you live and app you’re using. Online ordering apps charged fees ranging from $1 to as much as $11, according to a report last month from analysts at investment bank Mizuho. Typically, the app will tell you what the fee amount is before paying.
Another thing to look out for: surge pricing. Uber Eats, which delivers for McDonald’s, and Postmates, which has partnered with burrito chain Chipotle, charge more during busy ordering times. Both companies notify users that they will be charged more for delivery before they pay. And both companies say they need surge pricing in order to give delivery people more incentive to deliver for them when more customers are placing orders.
LOOK OUT FOR HIGHER MENU PRICES
Some apps may charge more for menu items than they cost if you walked into the restaurant. Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash all say the prices on their apps may vary from what is charged in-store. You can find out if the app you are using does the same by looking at its frequently asked questions section in the app or website, or in the “help” section.
Grubhub, which recently announced a deal to increase delivery at KFC and Taco Bell, says its prices are the same as those inside restaurants.
Some apps automatically set a tip amount that could be as much as 20 percent. Make sure to check how much of a tip the delivery person is getting. Typically you can change the amount before paying.
Be aware of any delivery minimums. Restaurants might set an order minimum, forcing you to buy more than you normally would if you were at the restaurant.
SEARCH FOR DEALS
Some apps will offer discount codes, especially if you’re ordering for the first time. So before you make an order, do an internet search for the app along with the words “coupon code.” Sites such as RetailMeNot and Groupon may have codes to save you money. Also, some might offer deals for future orders if you post about the service on social media, Skirboll says.
Contact Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani