A few weeks ago I used UberEATS to order Friday night takeaway. My go to is a Halal Snack Pack from Istanbul Eats, a Turkish food truck that roams around Brisbane. The process was pretty simple. I select my options; combination meat, cheese and the holy trinity of sauces: barbecue, yogurt garlic and hot chilli. And with a click of a button I placed my order without leaving my couch.
Now all I had to do was wait. 7 o’clock on a Friday night is peak time for takeaway. UberEATS estimated 50 minutes, so I pottered around the house trying to pass the time. I put on a load of washing. I tidied the kitchen. I planned my weekend. 30 minutes had past. I checked the UberEATS app and the estimated delivery time was 30 minutes away. It had slipped by 10 minutes.
I felt annoyed. An extra 10 minutes feels like an age when you’re hungry. I sat intently watching the app hoping it was a mistake. The estimated delivery time refreshed. It slipped by another 10 minutes. This continued for the next hour as the intensity of my hunger and anger grew. I had always thought being hangry was just a marketing ploy for Snickers bars. But that night I learned it was a very real feeling.
As 9 o’clock neared my hangriness peaked. I called UberEATS customer service to cancel my order because I was sick of waiting. You know shit is going down when a millennial makes a phone call. While I was on the phone, I finally got a notification that my food was on it’s way. It was a bit of an anticlimactic end of the evening.
I wasn’t impressed with a 2 hour delivery time for a meal that takes 10 minutes to make and 8 minutes to deliver. In 2 hours I could have flown to Sydney, ran a half marathon or watched most movies currently in the cinema. The Uber customer service agent was apologetic and gave me a speel about how the food truck was just really busy that night. While I was skeptical, I couldn’t really argue while sitting on my couch.
The following week exactly the same thing happened. After showing an initial delivery time of 50 minutes, my HSP turned up 2 hours later. I was sick of getting hangry and not knowing who to be hangry at.
So I devised a plan; I would race UberEATS to find out why my food was taking so long. Last Saturday night at exactly 7pm, I left the house to drive to Istanbul Eats at Beaurepairs in Woolloongabba, order a combination HSP, wait for it and drive home. Meanwhile, also at 7pm, Jess would place an order with UberEATS for a combination HSP and wait for it to turn up.
I drove at the speed limit down to Woolloongabba. Placed my order. And the wait began. Not to be stereotypical, but I was looking sideways at every other Indian guy waiting in line in case they were there to pick up Jess’s UberEATS delivery. Turns out they just love HSPs as much as me.
Nearing 7:30, a guy with his phone out walks straight up to the counter. He’s very insistent on talking to all the staff and keeps showing them his phone. Sure enough, an UberEATS bag comes up to the pass and he is off.
Thinking I had lost, a couple of minutes later my name is called and my HSP was ready. I raced home trying to make up time by taking the quickest route. 39 minutes for the round trip. I walk in the door and there is a hungry looking Jessie still waiting for her food. Even though she placed her order when I walked out the door, 8 minutes before I got to the food truck, she was still waiting for UberEATS.
Eventually, almost an hour later UberEATS came through with the goods. It got me thinking there must be something wrong with their system. There is no way an order is placed with the restaurant when you use the app and your food arrives hot over an hour and a half later. Perhaps they do not start making it until an Uber driver has accepted the delivery. Which is an issue as speaking with Uber drivers it is not unheard of them avoiding accepting fares that originate in areas with lots of UberEATS restaurants. The delivery fees are low and it involves getting in and out of the car. Are misaligned driver incentives resulting in a subpar service?
I know there is always a price for convenience. Ice cream is twice as expensive at 7Eleven, it costs more to have roadside assistance replace your battery and there is a fee to have your food delivered. What I didn’t expect was to wait an extra hour for the privilege. So the next time you’re feeling like some takeaway on a Friday night, put down your phone, hop in your car and drive to the restaurant. Your wallet and stomach will thank you for it.