Probably anyone in their 50’s remembers the hullabaloo back in 1993 when a St. Louis jury stung Domino’s Pizza for more than $78 million after its delivery driver struck and severely injured a woman. It hadn’t been the only delivery related lawsuit against Domino’s, but it was finally the one that caused the company to stop promising such speedy delivery. Nonetheless, pizza delivery accidents, and lawsuits, are still happening. As late as 2016 a jury awarded $9m against Domino’s in yet another negligent delivery driver case.
Today, it’s not just pizza. Food delivery services are ubiquitous now and can deliver just about any restaurant food you have a hankering for – while its hot. You’ve heard of these services, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash and many others. Yes, once we got over the fear of catching rides from complete strangers hailed via Uber and Lyft, it wasn’t such a leap of faith to open the doors to our homes for strangers to hand us the food we crave.
Without question, these services that bring nearly any food we want, hot or cold, right to our door are convenient, helpful, and in very high demand. But, do not assume that every company through whom you arrange your food delivery knows anything important about the persons delivering it. Further, and more importantly, they do not all have the same verification standards. Some players are more scrutinizing, not because consumer/public safety is their number one concern, but because it cuts down a bit on being sued.
Would you really open the door of your home to a stranger whom you know nothing about, except that he/she is a convicted rapist, burglar or thief? What about opening your door to somebody whom you know nothing about at all, including whether he/she a convicted rapist, burglar or thief? Would you expect that the person delivering your food would at least be vetted to assure he/she has a license to drive – and insurance?
Comparing the driver application process of just two of these delivery services – Uber Eats, and DoorDash – reveals a great disparity of required background information. For instance, Uber Eats requires its applicants to tender documentary proof of age, residency, valid photo driver’s license, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance. Uber Eats also requires driver applicants’ social security numbers and authorization to run criminal histories. My past experience with certain clients who have hauled people for Uber (or Lyft) is that both really do run criminal history checks, and will terminate drivers with felony arrests prior to conviction.
DoorDash requires no documentary proof of identity, no documentary proof of age, and no documentary proof of driver’s license. DoorDash seems to just take the applicant’s word that the most basic information provided is true. Currently, one can deliver food through DoorDash by providing a (translated “any”?) name, date of birth, email address, and phone number. The electronic application has a space to enter “driver’s license expiration” date, and “insurance expiration” date, but the application can be processed without actually entering this data; and, again no documentary proof is required.
A lackadaisical “screening” protocol just begs for a lawsuit when somebody gets hurt, and there are countless opportunities for harm when food, driving and home access are in the equation – more scenarios than the time and space here allows for. So, the next time you decide you’d rather stay at home and still enjoy your favorite restaurant quisine, you may want to consider which hub is doing more to protect itself from lawsuits – which may translate into less risk of harm to yourself and others. As always, be vigilant when it comes to seeking convenience.