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Seamless Blamed for High Commissions and Slow Payouts

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Photo: Seamless / Instagram

What's the latest online service to piss restaurants off? Seamless, according to Bloomberg. The internet delivery service — which recently announced a merger with competitor GrubHub — supposedly charges a 14% commission on each order, says Brooklyn restaurateur Pedro Muñoz. He added that the service's 30-day payout schedule has, upon occasion, left him "waiting for up to $20,000 from Seamless." (Luz will stop using the service after August 10.) A Seamless rep told Bloomberg "fees vary depending on the restaurant," but still, that's a lot of money.

Bloomberg only spoke with one restaurateur who had these complaints, but when Seamless launched in 2005, the New York Times reported a range of 5% to 15% commissions, plus a 2.5% per fee per transaction. More recently, the New York Daily News put the commission rate at "about 10%."

Now that GrubHub and Seamless have merged, there's more pressure on restaurants in delivery-happy cities like New York to join a delivery service. After a New York attorney general expressed concerns over a potential monopoly, the new mega-delivery service agreed to not force New York restaurateurs into exclusive deals. Yelp is one potential contender: the website recently announced they're getting into the online ordering game. But are more online delivery sites the solution to restaurateur woes like Muñoz's?

Other online services have caused restaurants similar grief in recent years: OpenTable, the online reservation system, has long been the subject of criticism. Some restaurateurs say it costs too much money, and some, like San Francisco's Incanto, have opted out of using it on principle. Similarly, deal site Groupon has been blamed for a wide array of problems, from being susceptible to fraud to putting pressure on businesses to cut into profits to ruining Japan's New Year to shuttering a waffle shop to being the actual, literal devil. Compared to that, a 14% commission doesn't actually seem that bad.

· Seamless and the Online-Takeout Trend Makes Restaurants Queasy [Bloomberg]
· All Seamless Coverage on Eater [-E-]