Is it the customer who orders, is it the restaurant which cooks, or is it the courier who delivers the meal? Who pays if the meal arrives spoilt or not at all?

Let us start with the customer. They order a meal from a restaurant using their Uber Eats app. They pay with their debit card or credit card. They wait 20 minutes for the meal to arrive. If it does not arrive, or is cold when it should be hot, or is spoilt, they complain to Uber Eats. Uber Eats will credit the cost of the meal. The customer is not out of pocket.

Let’s look at the courier. They pick up the meal from the restaurant, and promise to deliver it in 20 minutes. They place it into their insulated delivery bag. If they do not keep it properly packed, it will go cold, or be spoilt. If they can’t find the delivery address, it will not be delivered. There’s a good argument that the courier should bear the cost.

Finally, the restaurant. They cook the meal. They pack it carefully to keep hot. The courier collects the meal as soon as it is ready. There’s a good argument that if the meal is handed over to the courier good to eat, that the restaurant should be entitled to keep what they are paid for the meal.

Until now, the reality has been different.

Because Uber Eats controls the delivery and also collects the payment from customers, it decided to use its terms and conditions to exempt itself from liability for meals arriving spoilt or not at all. The terms provided that if the customer asked for a refund, then Uber Eats would take it from the payment to the restaurant, and keep its delivery charge.

The consumer watchdog, the ACCC has branded this an unfair term and has forced Uber Eats to take responsibility to refund the payment to the customer if the meal arrives spoilt or not at all.

To read my case note on the ACCC’s action click on ACCC succeeds in changing Uber Eats unfair contract clauses

Written by Anthony Cordato, Travel Lawyer E: