Washington state lifts pandemic mandate that capped delivery fees for third-party services

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(Uber Photo)

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday rescinded a pandemic-related restriction that limited fees charged to restaurants by delivery companies as Washington state prepares for its June 30 reopening.

The proclamation, which went into effect Nov. 25, required services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, Grubhub, and others to cap their delivery fees at 15%, and total fees at 18% of an order purchase price. It followed similar legislation in Seattle, and other U.S. cities.

Inslee’s proclamation also prohibited “the reduction of compensation to food delivery drivers, including the reduction of any amount of tips provided to delivery drivers that results from the restrictions on commission or delivery fees as set forth in this order.”

But now with all Washington state counties preparing to lift COVID-19 rules and allow public spaces to return to full capacity, the delivery fee cap limit and compensation rule is no longer in effect.

The caps were meant mitigate the financial hardship that small businesses are enduring under shutdown orders. Delivery food business more than doubled during the pandemic as governments approved stay-at-home mandates, as remote work and school expanded, and as in-restaurant dining disappeared in places.

Initially, many restaurants embraced the delivery companies as a way to sell food while their restaurants remained empty but problems ranging from fees to uneven service soon became an issue. For example, some restaurants complained that the delivery companies scraped menus and posted them on their own apps without first asking managers or owners.

In response, the Seattle City Council earlier this month placed new limits that would require delivery services to have agreements with restaurants before allowing their users to order food for takeout.


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