A food delivery company created thousands of fake real restaurant websites to sell more (and it’s legal)

Grubhub, a food delivery company in the United States, has created up to 23,000 web pages with real restaurant names and food. With this they have managed to make these restaurants sell more and consequently they take more commissions for home deliveries. The problem? Most restaurants didn’t even know, nor did they get permission when they partnered with Grubhub.

The company, similar to Just Eat or Glovo in Spain, has collaborations with restaurants throughout the United States to allow home delivery of their dishes. The problem is that many of these restaurants have little online presence, making it more difficult to reach customers who stay at home and want to order at home. The solution Grubhub found was get restaurants to have an online presence, with or without the help of these.

A food delivery company created thousands of fake real restaurant websites to sell more (and it’s legal)

Restaurant food, Grubhub contact details

Research by News Food Economy shows that Grubhub owns more than 23,000 domains (there is a complete list) of restaurants with names, dishes and data of real places. The business here is to divert the orders made through these web pages to Grubhub, so they can take the corresponding commission (up to 20% in the case of Grubhub).

You also have to take into account that many times restaurants charge an extra if you order through these platforms, since otherwise they would lose some money due to the commission of the platform. Therefore, many users prefer to order directly from the restaurant and not through Grubhub or other similar services. But of course, in these web pages created by Grubhub nothing of that is indicated, users many times they think they are ordering directly to the restaurant. In fact, phone numbers don’t always belong to the actual restaurant.

A food delivery company created thousands of fake real restaurant websites to sell more (and it’s legal)

The thousands of web pages created by Grubhub are based on templates where they add the real logo of the restaurant, own photos of the same and more content to resemble it to the maximum with the real business. From there it is a matter of waiting for orders, more income for the restaurant and more commissions for Grubhub, a perfect business a priori.

The terms and conditions that nobody reads

As surprising as it may seem, Grubhub has not committed any illegality by impersonating real restaurants. Restaurants that had partnered with the home delivery platform also gave their consent for these web pages to be created. This is what can happen when you accept terms and conditions or sign contracts without reading them.

As indicated by Grubhub in an official email, have not created these websites without the permission of the restaurants. “We had a very clear provision in each of our restaurant contracts that said we would provide this service to bring them more orders.” And so it is, within the terms and conditions of use of the platform it was specified that “you can create, maintain and operate a microsite (” MS “) and obtain the URL of said MS on behalf of the restaurant.

A food delivery company created thousands of fake real restaurant websites to sell more (and it’s legal)

The conditions also indicate that it is optional and the restaurant does not have to accept this condition if you don’t want it. That there are already more than 23,000 domains registered by Grubhub only indicates that there are many people who have not read these conditions before signing them. In any case, the conditions also indicate that whenever the owner wishes, the website is transferred to him so that he can manage it on his own account.

Lack of clarity and communication? Unethical business practice? Grubhub says that no longer offers these website creations since last year, although sites that were created before 2018 are still active