Customers were sent to unapproved Google-branded food ordering web sites rather than the restaurant’s own website, according to a lawsuit filed by a restaurant group in the United States.
According to Ars Technica, the Florida-based restaurant firm Left Field Holdings, which operates Lime Fresh Mexican Grill franchisees, claims that Google uses “bait-and-switch” techniques by displaying its “Order Online” button at the top of restaurants’ profile panels on the search engine.
The large blue button takes users to a food.google.com page where they may choose items from a restaurant’s menu and make an order through one of many food delivery services, such as GrubHub, DoorDash, or Seamless — rather than the restaurant directly.
Participating restaurants pay a commission to these services, which can range from 15% to 30% in some situations.
According to the lawsuit, “Google never tried to seek authorization from the eateries to offer their items online.”
“Google purposely constructed their webpages to appear to the user as if they were offered, sponsored, and approved by the restaurant, even though they were not – a method, no doubt, used by Google to increase orders and clicks.”
Google confirmed late Monday in a statement to Ars Technica that it will defend against the case.
“Our goal is to connect customers with restaurants from which they wish to order food and make it easy for them to do so via the ‘Order Online’ button,” a company spokeswoman said.
“Orders or integrations with this feature do not earn us any money,” the business added.
When consumers click the “Order Online” button, they are taken to a website with links to several food delivery services, complete with logos.
Digging In More Details
“There’s also a link to the restaurant’s own website, however it’s just a little, generic ‘website’ button. According to the study, “in some situations, Google provides an interface for creating an order, complete with pricing and descriptions of the menu items.”
The lawsuit stated, “Google’s ‘Order Online’ button leads to an unauthorized online storefront — one owned and managed by Google — where consumers can place orders for the restaurant’s products under the restaurant’s trade name.”