If you live in a big city like New York or Los Angeles, food delivery service Seamless becomes an inevitability. No matter how dedicated you are to saving money and cooking food at your apartment, you’re eventually going to break down and order food online. But next time you log on to place an order, you might want to keep some new information in the back of your mind.
Earlier this week, NBC 4 New York published the results of an investigation into 100 popular restaurants that operate through Seamless, revealing that “slightly more than 10 percent of the kitchens were ghosts, meaning they had names or addresses that failed to match any listing on the city’s database of restaurant inspection grades.”
Now, the Internet is freaking out.
While searching on GrubHub (which merged with Seamless in 2013), the team came across an ad for a restaurant called “Really Chinese,” located at 235 E 31st Street. The team visited the address, but found a private residence rather than a restaurant.
The team then ordered food from “Really Chinese,” but when the delivery worker arrived, he told the team that he had brought the food from “Abby Chinese,” a restaurant down the street. Health department records show that “Abby Chinese” was given a B grade for sanitary violations, and when confronted, the owner admitted that he (and other restaurant owners) register fake restaurants in order to increase the chances a customer will click on their ads.
Although this practice is dubious, restaurant consultant Michelle Jones explains that Seamless and GrubHub are not legally obligated to verify the accuracy of the listings on their websites. But now that customers know the risks, they might start to rethink their online orders.
Thankfully, it appears that the merged company is taking action.
“We take the accuracy of our restaurant listings seriously,” GrubHub spokeswoman Abby Hunt told NBC 4. “We are partnering with New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs to address the issue and remove inaccuracies.”
UPDATE: GrubHub sent us the following statement regarding the investigation:
At GrubHub, we take the accuracy of our restaurant listings seriously. We are partnering with New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs to address this issue and remove inaccuracies from our platforms.
Going forward, GrubHub will take additional steps to verify the details restaurants provide. Our new process includes more checks to validate the name and location of restaurants. Should any discrepancies arise, we will take immediate action to correct information or remove inaccurate listings of restaurants on our platforms. We’re also encouraging tips. If you spot any inaccuracy on our platforms, you can alert us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.