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How Does Chipotle's Postmates Delivery Work Across the Country?

A review in three parts.

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Maybe you've heard: Chipotle now delivers to 67 cities across the country via Postmates. The delivery company — which uses both bicycle as well as car driver couriers — describes itself as a "way to get any product delivered in under one hour." But can a relatively small company like Postmates handle the demand of a multi-billion dollar chain like Chipotle?

First, a primer for anyone who has never used Postmates before:

How to get Chipotle delivered via Postmates:

1. Open the Postmates app on your phone or go to Postmates.com
2. Enter or confirm your address
3. Select Chipotle among the list of restaurant options
4. Add menu items to your cart
5. Checkout
6. Click or tap 'Get It Now' to confirm delivery
7. Wait
8. Accept delivery & eat!

Except, things don't always work out as planned. We tested out Postmates's partnership with Chipotle on a recent weekday afternoon. Here are the real life experiences from three intrepid Eater reporters:

PORTLAND, ORE.

This was one hungry blogger. [Photo: Erin DeJesus]

This was one hungry blogger. [Photo: Erin DeJesus]

Order placed: 11:25 a.m.
Order arrived: 11:57 a.m.
Delivery fee: $5, plus a service fee of $1.50 (more on that figure below)

For this experiment I ordered strategically: One burrito (to gauge how warm the food arrived), one hard-shell taco (to measure if sogginess set in en route), side of guacamole (to see if incidentals might be forgotten, but mostly because it's delicious). After waiting three minutes for the Postmates website to find an appropriate delivery person, a courier agreed to pick up the order at a Chipotle location roughly 15 blocks from my apartment — about a 20-minute walk, a five-minute drive. The cost: a $5 delivery fee, not including Postmates' nine-percent charge on each order.

The actual delivery time was a respectable 32 minutes.

Although the automated email estimated a wait time of "within one hour," the actual delivery time was a respectable 32 minutes, faster than the local Chinese take-out place usually averages by at least 20 minutes. My delivery arrived via bike (this is Portland, after all), and the courier presented the Chipotle bag, neatly tucked into his cycling backpack.

When he left, though, the Postmates app prompted me to leave a tip, and the resulting total was much higher than the price I'd been quoted. A look into the bag revealed the "one taco" I had ordered (at the promised price of $2.40) arrived as what I can only assume is the usual plate of three tacos ($6.70) — only with three tacos' worth of filling stuffed into one tortilla. (Essentially, this was an open-faced burrito, no hard shell to be found.) At no point did the app or delivery person ping to notify me of this until the checkout phase, leading to an unexpected up-charge of $4.68 (for the additional food and Postmates surcharge), not counting the 20 percent tip.

Luckily, I had help to eat the extra food, but the nearly additional $5 I paid for lunch — not counting the $5 delivery fee to begin with — would've been salvaged had I gone to a store myself, picked up the order, and noticed the error on-site. But, real talk: I'm too indolent and lazy to actually complain over a lost $5, especially since (real real talk) turns out I was hungry enough for three tacos after all.

— Erin DeJesus, Eater Reports Editor

AUSTIN, TEXAS

That's a good looking burrito bowl. [Photo: Meghan McCarron]

That's a good looking burrito bowl. [Photo: Meghan McCarron]

Order placed: 12:01 P.M.
Order arrived: 12:21 P.M.
Delivery fee: $6, plus at 9% service fee of $1.10

Confession: I am mildly afraid to use delivery apps. I've used Favor once, but never Postmates, so I first had to download the app. The onboarding process was fairly straightforward. As far as I can tell, the only difference between Postmates and Favor is Postmates costs a bit more (Favor's delivery fee is a flat $5), and Postmates can deliver Chipotle.

I associate eating at Chipotle with being in walking distance of a Chipotle.

A co-worker and I ordered a burrito bowl and a couple tacos, since tacos were my go-to takeout order when I was a hardcore Chipotle regular in graduate school. It was easy to customize our order: the app offered drop-down menus and check boxes for every conceivable add-on. Delivery was originally estimated to take an hour, but instead the turnaround was a speedy twenty minutes, with a helpful alert when the delivery driver was on her way. The food was fairly hot and our order was correct. After a brief stint of photo-taking we silently ate at our desks.

It's unclear to me who would use this delivery method, since I associate eating at Chipotle with being in walking distance of a Chipotle. I also pity the admin who might have to enter in thirty different people's hyper-precise orders into their phone. But if you wanted the comfort of a predictable lunch order without even leaving your desk, Postmates will fulfill that need speedily, at least in Austin.

— Meghan McCarron, Editor Eater Austin

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

A sad-looking burrito bowl. [Photo: Khusbhu Shah]

A sad-looking burrito bowl. [Photo: Khusbhu Shah]

Order placed: 12:37 p.m.
Order arrived: 1:18 p.m.
Delivery fee: $7.25, plus a service fee of $1.01
Calls from Postmate: 5

My biggest qualm with my Seamless account — minus how much money I spend on it — is that there is no Chipotle. So when I learned Postmates was teaming up with the burrito chain, I was excited to hit peak laziness and have burrito bowls delivered straight to me. "This will be easy and fun," I thought. That was the moment I jinxed it.

Placing the order was easy enough. I created an account — which annoyingly had to be linked to my Facebook account — on the website. I was given five options and picked the Chipotle that was closet to me — about a 10 minute walk from my apartment. From there I was given a series of menu options: I chose a vegetarian burrito bowl (hello, free guac) with rice, black beans, cheese, guacamole, the corn salsa, lettuce, sour cream, and the pico de gallo and a fountain drink. Easy enough but pricey. The burrito bowl and drink came out to $10.34 total, plus a 9 percent service fee, and a $7.25 delivery fee.

Turns out he was supposed to be the one to place the order at the Chipotle.

A Postmate accepted my order, but that is when the trouble started. Within three minutes I received the first of many calls from the Postmate: He was at Chipotle but wanted to know my address — something he said he could look up in the Postmates app, but was apparently too lazy to do. So I gave him my address. I received another call from him five minutes later saying that he wanted to know my name — again, something that is included in the order I placed, and which is accessible on his phone — so that Chipotle could find my order. Fine. I spelled out my admittedly not-so-common name. Still, every time he called me, he addressed me by a different and incorrect name: This time it was "Krishna." If I've learned anything so far, it's to never order Chipotle for delivery with a mildly-complicated name.

Another four minutes passed and he called again saying that Chipotle didn't have my order, even though I followed all of the instructions on the website. I had no idea what to do or how to fix it (not that I should have to be the one to solve it), so he said he would call his manager. Turns out he was supposed to be the one to place the order at the Chipotle. So he does, and calls to let me know that he on his way soon. While I'm already four calls deep with the Postmate and a bit irked, the app's website has a redeeming tracking feature. It's easy to follow exactly where the Postmate is, and as I see him pull up to my apartment building, I get a notification from the doorman that I have a food delivery.

He handed me my bag, and when I asked what happened at Chipotle, he claimed that the Chipotle staffers were "unsure" of my name and that if I was a real person who actually placed an order. It's annoying, but I've dealt with people misunderstanding my name for my entire life, and at this point I was just hungry and ready to move on. The bag he handed me included a straw for the drink, but there was no fork, and I had to pull a dirty one from the sink and rinse it off. In the grand scheme of things, it's really not a big deal, but when you pay $19.51 for a single burrito bowl thanks to Postmates hefty delivery fee, you want the damn plastic fork. The disappointment didn't stop there: When I opened the container, the bowl was missing the sour cream and pico de gallo, or a fourth of the items ordered. By then, I just wanted to move on with my life, and I figured I would just email Postmates about it later.

Then I received call number five. The Postmate had forgotten to take a picture of the receipt so that he could confirm the delivery. I had to let him up into my building again and hand him the receipt. I asked him why the burrito bowl was missing two ingredients when the order was explicitly written out and he admitted that he "just ordered it based off of what he thought was written in my order" instead of double checking. Is the app for Postmate delivery personnel that difficult to access? He didn't offer to remedy the situation.

I have a feeling I won't be using Postmates again.

I called customer service. The representative I spoke with was kind enough to offer me a refund on the delivery fee and a $10 credit to my account. I, however, have a feeling I won't be using Postmates again, and asked if I could just get a full refund, which the kind customer service lady said she would ask her managers about and get back to me. She apologized profusely for the indolent and lazy Postmate and agreed that sour cream was a crucial component to any good burrito bowl. I went back to eating my order, pretending that there was pico de gallo on it and relieved that this ordeal was done.

That's when I noticed a strange discrepancy between two screen shots of my order: All of a sudden, Postmates had charged me $.91 extra. When I placed the order, the cart total for a burrito bowl ($8.27) and a soda ($2.07) was $10.34, which is accurate. However, a second, later screen shot shows that the cart total was upped to $11.25 even though the items were still priced at $8.27 and $2.07 respectively. I have no idea where the mystery charge came from, but what I do know is that the next time a hankering for baby-sized burritos hits, I'll walk.

— Khushbu Shah, Eater News Desk Writer

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