Delivery Service Showdown: Which apps deliver on their promise of quality?

Whether it’s for a party with friends or dinner with your family, ordering meal delivery is a great convenience and sometimes even a necessity when dine-ins are closed. However, it can be difficult to choose from the various delivery apps with mixed reviews and pricing for each. Here’s your guide to choosing the best meal delivery service to fit your needs—and deciding if you need one at all.

There are four main contenders to consider: Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats. Though they are functionally the same in that they  pick up and deliver food to you, they all offer different restaurants and delivery pricing. The number one deciding factor is whether the service delivers the food you want.

Uber Eats is deficient in this category—for the most part, its selection features fast-food chains. All other services offer a selection of local favorites, like Basil & Co, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and more.

It’s important to note, though, that many restaurants don’t offer delivery on any app. If that’s the case, you may want to call them or check their website, because in light of the quarantine, many restaurants have opened or expanded their in-house delivery services. These services tend to waive delivery fees, get your food to you quicker and are more reliable overall.

One should also consider the ethics and practices of these services, because the convenience of having food brought to your doorstep comes at a cost to restaurants themselves. Each delivery service charges them a commission of as much as 30 percent of the order total, leaving many restaurants little to none of the profit on each order. Postmates, Grubhub and Uber Eats are the worst offenders, while DoorDash has a policy that halves the commission fee for small restaurants with five or fewer locations. Though many large cities like Los Angeles and New York City are drafting legislation to limit the amount these apps can charge, for the time being most of these apps’ practices remain unchecked.

The drivers and quality control for each delivery app tend to be about the same, given that many people drive for several of the services, so the only other main factor is the price. Each app has a variety of offers for new users, usually including free delivery and a trial of their “premium service.” Here’s a breakdown of what each app offers:

Grubhub: Aside from the usual free delivery on your first order, they also have a $10 off any $30 order deal for many restaurants. Furthermore, you get one free week of Grubhub+, normally $10 per month, which gives you access to free delivery and 10 percent cashback on every order. Assuming you order several times a month, subscription to this service is worth the price, given the normal delivery charge of about $6.

Postmates: Seemingly the most generous of the four, Postmates offers three months of Postmates Unlimited, giving free delivery on all orders over $10 and other offers like giveaways and entry to local events. They also give a month of free delivery and various other delivery waiving offers. For example, if you refer a friend and they place an order, you get $25 in delivery credit.

DoorDash: DoorDash’s delivery fees range from $2 to $10, but for the first order this fee is waived. Their premium service is called DashPass, and it provides free delivery and reduced service fees for certain restaurants. Though new users get a one-month trial, the limited scope of the service—normally $10 per month—means it’s less of a deal than the other apps’ offerings.

Uber Eats: Eats Pass, its premium service, costs $10 per month after the one-month free trial for all users. Just like its counterparts, it waives delivery fees but also gives 5 percent off of all orders over $15. As a limited promotion, they’re offering free delivery for many restaurants during quarantine and have lower average delivery fees than most other apps. Additionally, they have a $20 off offer for every friend you refer. 

Out of the four, the app that appears to offer the best deals and delivery experience overall is Postmates, with its extended delivery waiving and discounts. However, for one-time users, Grubhub is the way to go for the week of cashback that Postmates doesn’t have.

As far as the user experience goes, I had deliveries from both DoorDash and Grubhub—because they offered restaurants that the others lacked—to see if there was any difference in service or pricing. From Grubhub, I ordered a 12-piece meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken at a peak time, around dinnertime on a Saturday. To my surprise, the order arrived  within 45 minutes of placing the order. It was placed on my doorstep as part of their contact-free delivery, which every app offers, and my meal was still incredibly hot. As a precaution, I checked to make sure that my entire order was there, and it was all accounted for.

As for DoorDash, my experience was somewhat rockier. DoorDash guarantees drivers a set payment for each delivery, so if you tip in-app they pay the driver only to make up the difference. For example, if they say they’ll pay the driver $6 for delivery and you tip $5, DoorDash will only give them $1 and use your tip to make up the difference. So, I opted to tip in cash and left $5 in an envelope outside my door. This difficulty was my only issue, though, as the rest of my experience was seamless.

All four apps offer virtually the same delivery times, but when it comes down to price and variety, Postmates is the way to go.