Yesterday, Grubhub had a free lunch promotional for those living in New York City from 11 am to 2 PM. Although that sounds great, many reported that it was actually chaos. According to Buzzfeed, there were reportedly 6,000 orders a minute. Just as frazzled as both Grubhub delivers and restaurant workers were, customers were irritated as well. On Twitter, the company claimed that restaurants had been warned, despite different claims online. “To help businesses prepare for today’s promotion, we provided advance notice to our restaurant network. Additionally, given the anticipated demand, we increased driver incentives,” they wrote.
We are thankful for the incredible work they put forth today and are working to address any concerns they may have and optimize for future offers. (2/2)
— Grubhub (@Grubhub) May 18, 2022
“The burdened workers and drivers, SO MUCH food waste. Today was a disaster and you can’t even apologize or take accountability. Yikes. Even with the notice, what’d you think was gonna happen to accommodate the demand? Have them hire all new staff for a day?” one person online added. With the pandemic, restaurants have seen hiring rates decreased and turnover rates increase, making it difficult to keep up with the regular demand. “Currently working front of house at a restaurant in Brooklyn and you guys big time messed up. we have over 30 cold orders not being picked up by drivers and our phones are off the hook with angry customers,” one worker commented.
Because orders under $15 are fully covered, that's free food coming not from GrubHub, but many local, small restaurants who themselves can't fulfill that quantity of orders. These restaurants didn't consent to the deal. Many aren't equipped to fulfill this many orders.
— wells (oakland enby @ umsi in aug) (@WellsLucasSanto) May 17, 2022
“Another good idea, in theory, bad idea in practice. You can tell there was 0 thought out behind this. It would be one thing if they gave you a coupon and had no expiration for it. It would have been busy but nothing like that absolute chaos,” another person noted. It seems that Grubhub had sent notices to delivery drivers, and promised them higher rates, with another article noting that New York restaurants were told about the promotion but did not think it would cause as much commotion, as promos are done very often.
Who could have possibly predicted that Grubhub offering free lunch to the entire city of New York during a specific 3-hour window would be a complete disaster?
— Kevin J. Ryan (@wheresKR) May 17, 2022
"But restaurant owners who were alerted about the promotion by Grubhub this week are not expecting it to overwhelm their eateries because food delivery discounts have become increasingly common."
— Barb Leung (@barb_leung) May 18, 2022
Overall, though it looked like some customers were able to snag their free lunch, it caused a lot of contention from customers and stress from those in the service industry or working as delivery drivers.