The spring of 2020 was supposed to include the celebration of a big milestone for Kate (who asked to be identified only by her first name): her champagne birthday. On March 26, she turned 26 years old.
Normally, she would have a big dinner with her family—her parents, siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles always attended.
This year, due to the pandemic, that number was just three—her partner, her child, and herself.
In an attempt to make the best out of a bad situation, Kate decided to order takeout food for her family—something to help cheer her up while celebrating her birthday during these uncertain times.
She spent $80 on her food, which included the delivery fee and a tip for the driver. However, her food never arrived.
After having waited some time for her food to show up, the app notified Kate that her order had been cancelled.
“I checked my phone, and it said my order had been cancelled because the driver tried to call me and notify me of his arrival, but I didn’t answer. However, I never received any calls or notifications that he had arrived,” she says.
Kate spoke to a representative from Skip the Dishes, the delivery service she had used to order her food, through the app on her phone, but they said there was nothing they could do, and they wouldn’t be giving her a refund.
According to Kate, the customer service rep had a pretty harsh message for her: “The person I spoke to said, ‘pay attention next time,’” Kate says.
Not satisfied with this result, Kate called the company. After being put on hold, she finally got through to a representative, who was more understanding. The person said she was entitled to a refund, but, more than a month later, she still hasn’t received one.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident—many Skip the Dishes customers have been left feeling hungry and angry, after part, or all, of their order was never delivered, while they were still charged for the missing items.
“The last time I used Skip the Dishes, I received a message saying it would be contactless delivery due to the pandemic, so I left instructions for the driver to just leave it on my front deck. Not long after I ordered, the driver phoned and said my order was there, then hung up. However, when I went to go and get my food, it wasn’t there,” Shana Chartier says.
“I tried to use the customer support feature on the app, but it wouldn’t load, so I called customer support and waited on hold for an hour before I finally got through to someone,” she says. “After I finally got through to a customer service representative, they just said they wouldn’t provide a refund because the driver said he had dropped it off.”
Chartier asked to speak to a manager, but was told she couldn’t do so over the phone, and would have to send an email.
“I was surprised someone even responded—a manager called me the next day, but she said the same thing; Skip the Dishes wouldn’t provide a refund,” Chartier says.
In Kathy Hardy’s case, she received only part of her order. “I placed an order on April 24, which was a Friday, but I only received half of it; apparently the other half wasn’t available—even though it was out of stock, the app still allowed me to include it in my order,” Hardy says.
Hardy called the restaurant right away, and they informed her she would receive a refund from Skip the Dishes. However, because the order was placed on Friday evening, Hardy’s card wouldn’t be charged for the order until Monday. When she checked her statement three days later, she saw she had been charged for the full amount.
“I contacted customer support, but they said because it had been more than 48 hours since I placed the order, there was nothing they could do—they wouldn’t give me a refund,” Hardy says. Hardy followed up with customer support via email but has yet to hear anything back. “I called the manager of the restaurant—he was very apologetic, but he said there was nothing he could do. It was up to Skip the Dishes to provide a refund.”
The manager of the restaurant, a Wendy’s, even contacted Skip the Dishes on Hardy’s behalf, but he was told the same thing—she wasn’t entitled to a refund.
“He felt so bad that he offered me a coupon for the restaurant for the amount of my missing item,” Hardy says.
While Skip the Dishes is similar to other food delivery services such as Door Dash and Uber Eats—all three have a similar interface when it comes to placing orders, and a map that allows users to track their orders while they wait. Unlike the latter two, Skip the Dishes doesn’t allow users to contact their driver before, while, or after their food has been delivered.
Chartier realized this when she tried to contact her driver to find out if he may have dropped her order off at the wrong location.
“I tried to call him, but the app doesn’t allow customers to contact the drivers,” she says.
Another difference between Skip the Dishes and other food delivery services is their refund policy—Skip the Dishes often refuses to provide refunds to customers once their order has been placed—even if they never receive it.
“When I tried to contact customer service, they told me if the driver said they delivered it, they delivered it,” Chartier says. “They didn’t seem to care about me or my situation at all.”
This contrasts with Uber Eats, which provides refunds to customers who don’t receive their order, even if the customer might have been partially responsible.
“A few weeks ago, my roommates and I went out for drinks in the evening. We got home pretty late, so we decided to order takeout. We ordered about $65 worth of food using Uber Eats,” Tevin Shadd says.
“However, by the time the driver showed up, we had fallen asleep, so we never answered when he knocked on the door, and we never got our food. I checked my phone the next day expecting to have been charged for the food but, since it had never been delivered, they had refunded me the full amount,” Shadd says.
According to Skip the Dishes’ terms of service, as a customer, “you may place orders for goods from vendors, you may receive delivery of the goods and Skip may provide customer care support between you, couriers and vendors (these services and associated services such as order management, payment processing for orders and provision of access to the Skip Platform provided by Skip from time to time are the ‘Skip Services’).”
Additionally, the terms and conditions explicitly state Skip the Dishes “[doesn’t] prepare or fulfil any orders for goods or provide delivery services directly and no members of the Skip Group will be liable for any transactions between customers, couriers or vendors. Skip may provide products or services to couriers or vendors through a separate agreement executed with such parties. Menus and other vendor-related information on the Skip Platform is content provided by the Vendor and not Skip.”
“Essentially, this means Skip the Dishes is using outside couriers to do their work and vendors to prepare the food, then they collect a fee as a broker,” says Aaron Meng, a lawyer and the managing partner of Aaron Meng Law Professional Corporation, a law firm in Toronto.
“What Skip is saying is that they are not responsible for anything that is done by their vendors and couriers,” he says.
“Legally, Skip would be responsible for its own wrongdoings or negligence, such as a communication error with vendors and couriers, etc. as they are the broker. However, Skip seem to indicate that if a courier or vendor is at fault, Skip will not be held liable. For instance, if a vendor didn’t prepare the food, it is the vendor’s fault, so the customer should go after the vendor, unless the vendor notifies Skip that the food was not prepared. If the courier is at fault, the customer should go after the courier. However, this is very difficult to prove,” Meng says.
“In any case, whether Skip provides a customer with a refund for the fault of its vendors and couriers is up to its discretion, but it is not obligated to do so, according to its Terms of Service,” he says.
Meng believes this structure creates a power imbalance, as it becomes an issue of ‘he said, she said.’ Moreover, it could incentivize drivers to claim they delivered orders when they did not, and keep the food for themselves—what’s to stop them if Skip the Dishes doesn’t have to provide the customer with a refund?
However, Meng specifies that Skip the Dishes users do have the power to choose other food-delivery options—Skip the Dishes isn’t the only one out there.
Something Kate, Hardy, and Chartier are aware of.
“I deleted the app, and will never use them again,” Chartier said.
Hardy echoed these sentiments, saying: “I’m totally dissatisfied with them, and I’ll never use their service again.”
InBrampton reached out to Skip the Dishes for a comment, but they declined to provide one.
Cover photo courtesy of @hecallsmelinda’s Instagram