Local city council debates commission caps for third-party food delivery services


PORTSMOUTH, OHIO — One thing the pandemic has certainly shown is the ability to have almost everything delivered; but when it comes to food delivery, some city council members in Portsmouth say it needs to be more regulated.

Portsmouth City Council is debating legislation aimed at helping their local restaurant industry.

“Multiple cities around the country have done it. In fact, several cities in Ohio have done it: Cleveland, Columbus, and others. In many ways, we’re late to the game, others have begun doing this,” says Sean Dunne, the representative for the 1st Ward for Portsmouth City Council.

The issue at hand?

“We proposed putting a cap on third party delivery services in Portsmouth,” Dunne says.

It’s an issue they are taking up to help local restaurant’s bottom line—they say they’ve heard of delivery services charging fees of up to 30 percent.

“Well if you’re a restaurant and your selling a ten dollar hamburger, and a member of the public orders that through one of these third party delivery services, essentially the restaurant only gets seven dollars of that ten dollar price. Now in Portsmouth we are lucky to have a lot of locally-owned restaurants, and we want to keep them in business and so we’re looking at reducing that 30 percent fee to somewhere to 15 or 20 percent.” 

Sean Dunne, 1st Ward representative, Portsmouth City Council

Councilwoman for the 2nd Ward Charlotte Gordon says this measure will also shed light on the issue for consumers.

“I think the general public is really not aware of how it works and so this does bring some awareness as to where the customer dollars are going,” Gordon says.

Some local restaurants say they don’t use third-party delivery services at all due to the high price points.

“We wasn’t sure if our customers would go that extra amount,” says Terry Ockerman, owner of Lofts Coffee Company and Roastery.

Others are happy with their experience using these delivery services:

“As far as I know it’s fair for us. I don’t know of any charge that they’ve charged,” says Bill Harmon, owner of Fork and Finger Restaurant.

However, all tell 13 News they do support the commission price cap.

“I’m glad the council’s looking into it. That tells me that they’re really interested in keeping everybody going,” says Ockerman.

13 News reached out to some of those third-party food delivery services—namely DoorDash, Grubhub, and UberEats for comment; so far, only DoorDash provided us a statement saying:

“DoorDash has always supported restaurants. Pricing regulations could cause us to increase costs for customers, which could lead to fewer orders for local restaurants and fewer earning opportunities for Dashers. Pricing regulations can also remove options available to restaurants by limiting their ability to opt-in to additional services to help their business. We are focused on working with policymakers to reach solutions that better support restaurants, customers, and Dashers.”

DoorDash Spokesperson

Portsmouth City Council will be discussing the matter Monday night at 6:00pm.

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