The owner of London's oldest family restaurant has called for a boycott of Deliveroo in August during chancellor Rishi Sunak's ‘eat out to help out' scheme, to take back control of their delivery systems and commission rates.
The scheme will see the government subsidise 50% of sit-down meals eaten at participating restaurants from Mondays to Wednesdays in August to the value of £10 a head.
Speaking to The Caterer, James Chiavarini, of Il Portico as well as Pizzicotto in London's Kensington, said he had been unhappy with Deliveroo's customer service for some time but that his complaints and those of his fellow restaurateurs have fallen on deaf ears, even though the platform charges 30-35% commission.
He said: "The customers don't realise that the restaurants have to stump up 35% - they just think that they pay the £2.50 just for the convenience of having it delivered to them cold and soggy. And then the customer rings me up and tells me ‘my pizza's cold'.
"We're the ones who are putting our necks on the line, putting our name out there. And all they're doing is putting all the liability onto us and taking all the money."
He said that, unlike restaurant platforms like OpenTable, which have worked with him to maximises his restaurants' profits, Deliveroo's system doesn't benefit restaurants, but with the government-enforced closure of restaurants since March, many have been left feeling they have no other choice.
Chiavarini said: "It just doesn't work for us but we feel like we've got no choice. But now the tables have turned slightly in our favour with the 'eat out to help out'. If there are any other restaurants out there like us who want to regain control of their profit margins and send them a message that we're not happy with their terrible service and crucifying commission rate, get in touch with me and let's stick together on this.
"If we can get together and start a campaign, we've got a chance. And in August we can say to customers, why are you paying over the odds for a soggy pizza when you can have it [practically] for free in our restaurants? All of a sudden, from a customer perspective, it no longer makes sense to use Deliveroo in August."
A Deliveroo spokesperson said: "Deliveroo is committed to supporting local independent restaurants. We have been there for them throughout the crisis and we will be there during the recovery. From campaigning for a change to government policy to support restaurants, such as the cut in VAT, to introducing new tech tools to help customers dine-in safely, we have a positive track record of responding to the needs of our restaurant partners during this challenging time and this will continue to be our absolute priority."