I live in the dysfunctional, pothole-riddled college town of Albany, NY. When I want to order takeout food with a minimum of human interaction, I use the Web site Campusfood. I’ve used them since 2005, and was happy with them…until last week.
See, all is not well with the Campusfood business model, and they’ve made some changes that have irked restaurant owners and customers alike.
I hadn’t visited the site in a while before reader Stephen sent in a tip about the current situation. Campusfood has added two new features to their pricing. First, “loyalty cash” – a $1 credit when you order, applicable only to orders from that same restaurant placed within seven days. Great, if you eat a lot of takeout from the same place.
The other, more controversial addition is the 75 cent “service fee” charged by Campusfood on all orders. What’s the problem? For starters, it’s not obvious to customers who is charging the fee. At left is a screencap of part of the order page of one of my favorite takeout places, Mild Wally’s (try the California broccoli pizza). The delivery fee is charged by the restaurant—the “service fee” is not.
Until now, the business model of Campusfood has been to take a cut of the restaurant’s sales through the site. In return, the restaurant gets exposure to new customers, and an easy-to-use online ordering interface. Apparently, the company is still taking a cut, in addition to the 75 cent fee.
Freschott Pizza in Johnson CIty, NY, posted a notice on the pizzeria Web site, explaining why they are no longer using Campusfood. (As the writer mentions, Campusfood is owned by DotMenu, which also runs AllMenus.com.) The note reads, in part:
This was not part of our deal with them. Most people wouldn’t even notice the fee, so in their words, “what’s the problem then if they don’t even know they are paying it?”
We won’t do business like that and hope that customers who see this will call allmenus.com / campusfoods.com, and express their feelings about dealing with this type of underhanded billing practice. They will tell you that in return, they give you a $ 1 coupon for a loyalty program. That should be up to the customer if they want to participate and not just billed a service fee.
We felt that this was not a good business practice and don’t want to be associated with it and would encourage any would be internet orderers to not patronize allmenus.com / campusfoods.com.
If the conversation recounted by Freschott’s is true, “because the stupid college kids won’t notice it” is not a valid reason to charge a fee. Come on, Campusfood.