Just Eat: Worth The Middle Man?

A year or so ago I was introduced to the website Just-Eat by my fast-food-loving husband. It is a site which includes a number of cultures of food, in a range of locations, and allows you to browse the menu and then pay without ever leaving your sofa. Since then it has often been a site we have frequented, mainly due to our incomprehensible laziness in Dundee. Since coming to Birmingham we have avoided all but once the lure of convenience, but I have questioned the logic behind using such a site. These questions I will pose now and weigh up, the rest is down to you – after all, it’s your money.

Do you want to pay a little extra for the privilege?

There have been times where I have had a physical copy of a menu in my hand and compared it to the Just-Eat website menu for the same takeaway. One occasion seemed to suggest that each item we ordered would have an extra twenty pence added. That meant for two of us we were adding an extra £1-2 if we ordered online. This seems to have changed now we’re down in Birmingham but only because Just-Eat seem to be hosting the takeaway’s own websites, meaning they could very well have increased the prices across the board. This means that for every order that passes through their system, Just-Eat earn a pound… this seems quite a lot for a page with a menu on it. My husband’s theory is that the paper copies of the menu, where you call the takeaway and/or visit, will have the original price, I’m not so sure..

Is it actually any quicker than ordering from a normal takeaway?

To look through your chosen takeaway menu seems faster, even if you’re a little IT-illiterate, and once you’ve ordered it should be pretty fast getting to your door. If you’ve pair online you don’t even have to exchange in the doorway or fiddle with change. I did wonder why the takeaways I had were always a little slower getting to me than when I just called directly. My theory for this is that at certain times of day the system is busy so Just-Eat could take a little time to  get the order to the takeaway itself. The problem comes when your takeaway doesn’t turn up on time, or doesn’t arrive at all. Then you’ve got the awkward time of trying to find out from the IM customer service person why it hasn’t, and if (as once happened to my order), it was never actually sent, they have to redo the order and add another 45 minutes to an hour which leaves you very hungry and rather frustrated. This comes back to the old issue of face-to-face contact and computer simulated contact = which would you rather dealing with your food: a person or machine?

Is the customer service worth the extra money?

As already mentioned, the customer service platform is an instant messaging box at the top right side of the screen. Once you’ve typed in your order number, etc, etc, blah, blah, you wait for a response from the customer service representative sitting on the other end. Not that they can actually do anything more than you could by calling up the takeaway directly. If your meal is late, you can wait longer or check up on it.. commonsense is what it used to be called. Oh, and Just-Eat don’t do compensation. Last time I had a problem (food not arriving for over 2 hours after I ordered), I asked whether I could have money off (as a friend wouldn’t get her food due to it being late) or at the very least a discount. Nothing was given and they cut off communication when we suggested this wasn’t a great way to treat customers, especially when it was self-confessed system error. I don’t like arguing with customer service people, they are very often just doing their job, but this particular representative was just rude. Just thought I’d warn you.

Is it really anymore convenient?

Yes, it’s online. Yes you have a choice of takeaways without going through a search engine (although that wouldn’t have been difficult would it?), and yes the menu is right there. Even better you get to pay online. If this is what you want, go for it. The thing is you could be paying extra for very simple things, you could end up wasting more of your time waiting for Just-Eat to sort out any problem that may arise, and you could end up frustrated and annoyed at the service. Every side has it’s story, so if you have any experience do say in the comments below.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. also what about the impact on local commerce? Do restaurants have to pay more to be on the site? Do you want restaurant businesses investing in advertising or cheaper prices, better food?

    Can a takeaway speak through its food alone? Or is it the reception you receive on the end of the line etc that makes your experience? Particularly in the case of refunds etc I would suggest you would have more luck with an individual from a restaurant than a corporate website.

    When I’ve used Just-Eat to look for local take aways in a place I was unfamiliar with I actually didn’t find it that helpful for choosing a place to eat. Most of the take aways were hosted by just eat so I couldn’t quantify what was being said anywhere else and there wasn’t enough info on the menu to decide either!

    Just my two p!

    1. EKMCronin says:

      As far as I can tell, delivery costs, and the supplementary costs, tend to be what Just-Eat make, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a one-off cost or monthly rent due for the advertising.

      I did try and find details (as if I was a takeaway owner trying to find details of how to link up) but there main website has none. What I did find was a stream of legality which tends to go to the tune of: we’re doing you a favor, so if it goes wrong, tough.

      Completely agree – especially about the choice, arriving in Birmingham and not knowing how close things were because not familiar with the area Just-Eat was not useful. Plus although they have a ratings system, how many people leave ratings that often after they’ve received and eaten their meal? This means you have to choose based on ratings taken with a pince of salt due to the extremes often given about a place.

      1. SJGEN says:

        To the best of my knowledge, the takeaway owners pay an annual fee plus about 10-12% of the order value. The takeaway owners have higher prices on the websites to make up for their high expence to participate on the just-eat site.

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