DoorDash Defends Charging Customers Extra $1 'St. Louis Fee'


DoorDash customers ordering from St. Louis City establishments are finding a new line-item on their receipts: A $1 "St. Louis Fee."

In an emailed statement, a DoorDash spokeswoman acknowledged the extra charge is "not ideal," but said it was necessary to keep drivers paid amid "pricing regulations" recently passed by the St. Louis' Board of Aldermen.

"With these regulations in place, these fees help us to continue providing convenient delivery for customers, meaningful earning opportunities for Dashers, and valuable services that help drive orders for merchants," the statement continued.

The regulations in question went into effect in July, setting a 20% percent cap on per-item delivery fees charged by "third party delivery delivery services" to restaurants. Otherwise, the fee number could range as far as 25-50% per item, according to the bill's sponsor, Christine Ingrassia.

Ingrassia introduced the measure in May as the pandemic conditions that had already brutalized restaurants stretched into the summer, though the final version bore several notable changes: The introduced version would have capped the company's fees at just 5%. The cap was amended to 20% by the time the board passed the bill in July.

The final version also included a 60-day sunset provision tied to the ending of the city's pandemic health orders, which are still in effect, as well as an exemption carved out for local delivery services that serve fewer than 40 establishments.

DoorDash was among several third-party delivery companies that opposed the fee-cap when it was introduced in the spring; at the time, a company spokesperson argued that "proposals like this will ultimately penalize restaurants, consumers and delivery drivers," and cited previous efforts by the company to cut commissions for local restaurants.

Postmates went even further, contending that fee-cap legislation would "kill the whole industry’s ability to provide the services restaurants need to stay open during this national emergency."

Ultimately, DoorDash reacted as it did in other cities that passed laws capping delivery fees: In December, the company instituted a "Chicago Fee" of $1.50 after lawmakers there approved a 15% cap on delivery fees.

It's not clear when the St. Louis fee went into effect. Posts from a handful of Twitter and Reddit users noted the appearance of the new line-item on delivery receipts in November and December, though some also claimed they had been charged despite not ordering from a St. Louis City restaurants.

In the end, however, the tension between city regulations and company fees doesn't change the plight of local restaurants and drivers who are relying on some version of the food industry to survive.

For we the eaters, the enjoyers of the items delivered from afar, through snow and potholes and pandemic, the quickest available solution remains the same: Tip like a MF.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at
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