Hong Kong food delivery platforms charge up to 85% more for orders: watchdog – South China Morning Post

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Hong Kong’s major food delivery platforms charge as much as 85 per cent more for orders compared with takeaway prices at outlets, while some meals arrive outside the estimated time, the city’s consumer watchdog has found.

Consumer Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said on Thursday that it would be difficult to regulate food prices across the platforms due to operators’ profit considerations but customers could always weigh the pros and cons.

“The price discrepancies can cost a lot in the long run,” she said. “Consumers can think twice on whether they need to order a delivery. Even if they order, they should make smart choices.”

Employees of the food delivery platform KeeTa promote the service near Prince Edward MTR station in March 2023. Photo: Jelly Tse

Among delivery platforms of restaurant chains, all 15 food items ordered through McDonald’s McDelivery were higher than the pickup price, with a fish burger as the utmost case. It cost nearly 85 per cent more than its original HK$13 (US$1.70) takeaway price.

KFC’s delivery platform had 10 out of 14 food items costing more than the customer pickup prices, while Pizza Hut mainly offered its food at the same price.

For aggregate platforms Deliveroo, Foodpanda and KeeTa, 83 to 91 per cent of surveyed food items cost more than customers picking up their meals at the restaurants.

The most extreme case was a negitoro hand roll priced at HK$42 on Deliveroo, 1.6 times its original price of HK$26.

Most of the six platforms also included delivery fees ranging from HK$3 to HK$35 in the trials, while Deliveroo, Foodpanda and KeeTa also charged an additional HK$2 to HK$5 for providing services.

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The watchdog in December posed as patrons and placed a total of 56 orders through the six platforms during lunch and dinner sessions in 11 districts in Hong Kong.

It said nine out of 56 trial orders arrived later than the estimated time, while 25 of them came earlier than expected, flagging that this might disrupt consumers’ schedules.

Wong also called for patrons to think about environmental concerns as the watchdog found a problem of overpackaging in deliveries, highlighting examples such as adding plastic wraps in soup containers as well as using both bags and paper trays to carry drinks.

About 810 containers and cutlery, including 470 pieces of plastic items, as well as 110 plastic bags and 45 paper bags were used to serve the 177 food items ordered in the 56 trials.

Among the 51 orders asking to skip cutlery, 26 requests were ignored.

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Chief executive Wong noted that restaurants would offer alternatives on packaging but they might not be environmentally friendly either.

Regarding the nine orders that arrived later than expected, Foodpanda had four records – the most among all platforms being tested. The watchdog waited for an extra 19 minutes in the worst case.

The other cases involved Deliveroo, Pizza Hut and KFC. Their orders came around five to 13 minutes later than expected.

In response to the council, McDonald’s said its delivery platform and restaurants offered different exclusive discounts regarding their price differences.

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KFC said meal offers on its delivery platform and its restaurants were different to cater to different scenarios.

Pizza Hut said it would provide an estimated arrival time and deliver the meals as soon as possible.

Foodpanda said prices and discounts might be different when patrons ordered food through delivery services or picked it up themselves. It urged the watchdog to take a look at the pickup prices it offered.

Deliveroo said the food prices were all decided by the restaurants and would remind operators to be mindful of customer requests to skip cutlery.

KeeTa said it would implement measures to improve issues identified by the watchdog, adding that it would strengthen communication with restaurant operators.

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