According to a new study by consumer rights group Which?, food delivery apps including Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats wind up costing customers far more than if they were to order a meal delivery directly from the restaurant.

In addition, the investigation found that customers had more difficulties getting a resolution when they had problems with their food orders.

The research looked at the price of orders for two to four people from five restaurants and cafes, comparing orders from food delivery sites with those from the eateries themselves.

On average, a takeaway bought via an app cost £7.14 more than ordering directly from the restaurant (that's 23% more on the bill).

Which food delivery app is the most expensive?

Although each app charged differently for service and delivery, Deliveroo was found to be the most expensive app to order from, charging on average £9.91 (31%) more than ordering direct from the restaurant.

Next was UberEats, where orders cost, on average, £7.93 more (25% extra).

Just Eat was the most reasonably priced of the three, costing only £1.56 (7%) more.

Overall, the most expensive order in the study was a taco and burrito meal ordered via Deliveroo. It cost £43.94, which was £12.29 more (a whopping 44% higher) than ordering delivery food directly from the restaurant.

Which? claims that even before adding delivery and service charges, the burrito meal itself was priced £8.30 higher via the app - 26% more.

Why the higher prices? 

Although the prices on apps are usually set by the restaurant itself, they are often higher than those you’ll see on the restaurant’s own website. Restaurants say this is so they can cover the cost of service fees charged by the apps.

These commissions can cost the restaurant 15-35% of each order.

However, the apps says that charging the restaurants a commission is essential to their business model and that the charges cover insurance, delivery riders’ wages and other services.

Over half of app users have had problems with their orders

But it’s not just higher prices that customers have to deal with. When something goes wrong with the order, it’s not always clear who’s responsible. Customers can end up having to deal with the app, the delivery driver and the restaurant to get a resolution.

Which? surveyed over 2,000 UK adults in April of this year to find out more. The most common issues involved the order being late, cold or delivered with items missing. In the past year, 59% of Deliveroo users in the survey said they had a problem, with over half of UberEats and Just Eat customers (53%) reporting the same.

Although all of the customers entitled to a refund should have been offered their cash back or a card refund, depending on how they paid, Deliveroo and Just Eat customers were sometimes offered a voucher or credit on the app – which customers may not have realised they didn't have to accept.

Out of people surveyed who experienced a problem with their order, 53% of Deliveroo customers, 46% of Just Eat and 42% of UberEats customers had a difficult time finding the right person to resolve their issues between the restaurant, app and delivery rider.

Worse, only half of customers who complained were happy with how their complaint was resolved.

Woman looking in the fridge

The takeaway from the report

Which? found that pre-pandemic, 6 out of 10 people said they used a delivery app at least monthly. Post-pandemic, that number has risen to 7 out of 10.

With more people using food delivery apps, Which?'s consumer rights expert Adam French says: "Next time you fancy a takeaway, you should be aware that the undoubted convenience offered by a delivery app comes with a hidden additional cost. If something goes wrong with your order, you might also find yourself caught between the restaurant and the app.”

The consumer group says that customers should remember that, if they're entitled to a refund, they don't have to accept vouchers and that apps should make it clear whether the restaurant or the app itself is responsible for issues with orders.

Related articles for further reading:

Which apps collect the most data about you?

A Which? report into fake reviews on retail sites

Will your smart appliances only last for two years?