Miami, FL

A Florida Restaurant Chain Is Suing Google for Pushing Orders to Delivery Services Rather Than Restaurant's Own Website

Toby Hazlewood

The restaurant taking on a tech giant

A Miami-based restaurant chain has decided to take on tech giant Google, for what it sees as unfair practices employed by its search engine, in a lawsuit filed in the Northern California District Court..

The Florida-based restaurant group called Left Field Holdings runs Lime Fresh Mexican Grill franchises and it is taking on Google for the way that its search engine uses what have been alleged as "bait and switch" tactics in directing customers to websites other than that of the restaurant chain itself.

What they object to, is that when a customer clicks on the 'Order Now' button against a restaurant's website listing in Google Search results, the button takes them through to third-party delivery companies such as Grubhub or Doordash rather than the restaurant's own website.

These delivery services then take a delivery commission from the restaurant of between 15 and 30%, where direct orders wouldn't cost the restaurant any commission.

Tactics to increase clicks

The lawsuit alleges that Google are acting in a way that appears to be misleading to customers, implying that there's a formal agreement between restaurants and Google themselves. In reality, Left Field Holdings' case is that the tech giant are acting solely with their own interests at heart.

“Google never bothered to obtain permission from the restaurants to sell their products online. Google purposefully designed its websites to appear to the user to be offered, sponsored, and approved by the restaurant, when they are not—a tactic, no doubt, employed by Google to increase orders and clicks.”

Does it matter?

The average customer ordering food to be delivered may not be bothered who takes their money or delivers their food, but it clearly makes a difference to restaurants if they have to pay large commissions of up to 30% of the order, to a delivery company.

If you're concerned about supporting your local restaurants then the advice seems to be to reach out to them direct and ensure that they get to keep all the money you're paying to them. As we come around to the one-year anniversary of the Great American Takeout initiative, it's worth bearing in mind if you're ordering takeout food in the near future!

Do you think consumers should be concerned over where their money goes provided they get the product or service they ordered? Do you feel that large tech companies like Google are too dominant in their hold over entire marketplaces? Let me know in the comments section below.

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