It’s easy to settle issues when you dine in at a restaurant.
Bad food? Bring it up with the server or a manager and there’s a good chance that you’ll get a refund or some other compensation.
But things get complicated when you add a food delivery app into the mix. Who do you ask for a refund, and who ends up paying the cost?
Does the restaurant pay, does the delivery app pay, or does the driver pay?
Here’s how refunds work:
- The delivery app pays for your refund if there is a delivery issue, like an order delivered to the wrong address
- The restaurant pays for your refund if there is an issue with your food, like incorrectly prepared or missing items
- Delivery drivers never pay the cost of a refund but can be penalized for mistakes
Generally speaking, whoever is responsible for the mistake pays the refund cost. But individual delivery drivers never have to go out of pocket for an error.
That’s the summary of how refunds work, but there are more interesting details for customers and merchants. Read on!
How to ask for a refund on DoorDash and Uber Eats
Delivery apps don’t generally provide a direct way to request a refund.
Instead, you have to start by reporting an issue with your order using the Help tools inside every order receipt.
In the order receipt, you’ll find options to report common problems like missing items or a missing delivery.
You might immediately get a refund after you first report your issue.
But if you don’t, you can chat with customer service to ask for compensation. A thread with customer support is typically generated after you initially report the problem.
Restaurants pay for food mistakes
Restaurants pay the cost of a refund if the problem was the restaurant’s mistake: Missing items, incorrect times, badly prepared food, or an entirely incorrect order.
But restaurants don’t directly pay refunds to customers. Instead, the delivery app handles refunds and gets compensated by the restaurant later.
The delivery app first sends the refund to the customer, then deducts the cost from the restaurant’s next payout.
Delivery apps pay for delivery issues
Delivery apps cover the cost of a refund if the problem is with the delivery process.
Delivery issues that might trigger a refund are problems like:
- The order was delivered to the wrong location
- Extremely late delivery
- Items damaged in transport
- The order was picked up from the restaurant but never arrived
Merchants aren’t responsible when the issue is with the delivery process, so the delivery app absorbs the refund cost in those cases.
Delivery couriers do not pay the cost of refunds—even if the problem was their fault.
There are consequences for mistakes—like lowered ratings and reduced delivery opportunities—but drivers will never have to go out of pocket for a mistake.
Consequences for drivers on refunded orders
Delivery drivers can be penalized when customers report problems with an order—sometimes even if the problem isn’t the driver’s fault.
For example, on DoorDash, dashers can receive ‘contract violations‘ when a customer complains about issues that were potentially the driver’s fault.
Dashers can be deactivated from the platform after too many contract violations.
Dashers can receive a contract violation for a late delivery, a missing delivery, or even missing items.
On Uber Eats, delivery drivers are informed of customer complaints and face deactivation if too many complaints occur.
Can’t get a refund on Uber Eats or DoorDash? Here’s why
Delivery apps may limit your ability to get a refund if you have received more than one in the past.
Generally, your first one or two refund requests will happen automatically without any issue. But after several refunds, they may start to deny your requests.
Delivery apps don’t have a stated maximum number of refunds you can receive, but the more you get, the less likely you are to get more in the future.
Fraud is a massive issue for delivery apps, and each has its own way of determining if a refund request is valid or not.
The apps don’t want users to game the refund system, so their decision making process is not entirely transparent.
Some users get refunds for missing items all the time, and others stop getting refunds after only one. It’s an unpredictable system that can feel unfair.
Quotes from customers who were denied refunds
“Ever since I got a big refund, DD has been very weird about giving me refunds for missing things”
“Had 4 orders from the same restaurant with either missing items or someone else’s order, and they refuse to reimburse me.”
“I nearly lost it because most of my recent order was missing and they provided NO compensation not even credits”
Want a refund? Here’s some advice
It might seem counterintuitive—or even go against your principles—to not ask for a refund when you deserve one.
But now that delivery apps are starting to limit refunds, you might want to save your complaints and refund requests for larger orders or high-cost items.
Consider holding off on reporting a missing drink or other inexpensive items—Too many small refunds for missing items might limit your ability to get a refund in the future.
Let the small stuff go so you can easily get a full refund when you get the wrong order or your driver drops it off at the wrong location.
More help with delivery apps