The Dirty Take Away Secret
A Current Affair has featured Menulog and one of their ‘Restaurants’ that has been set up operating out of their house. “Curries and more” had been cooking and delivering food out of what appeared. The A Current Affair Menulog story, entitle “The Dirty Take Away Secret” details the practice of fake restaurants cookung and selling out of their kitchens using Menulog to provide a website and distribution channel to an unsuspecting public. Customers appear to be lead to believe that they are ordering from a legitimate Restaurant, when in fact it could be someone who has literally just cooked something up in their kitchen.
The business featured in the story, “Curry and More” appeared to be operating without any council permits, oversight or any of the requirements of a commercial kitchen.
The website that was provided to “Curries and More” was provided by Menulog and ACA alleged that customers were fooled into thinking that they were ordering from a legitimate restaurant. The story had a former employee from Menulog alleging that sales staff tell people that as long as they place their home address on the website, they encourage them to list on Menulog. The fake website appears to be a legitimate take away venue – they even offered pickup from their house.
A complaint was made to Blacktown Council by ACA and a notice to cease the operation immediately was made.
It is also alleged that internally Menulog allows restaurants have multiple listings for restaurants under other names, often meaning that people are ordering from a Restaurant that does not exist.
We think this shows a shameful disregard for the Restaurant Industry. Providing a home kitchen with a website and a distribution channel, where they compete against legitimate Restaurants, which pay rent, comply with council regulations, and employ and train staff clearly creates an unfair advantage for home kitchens and also puts the public at risk from poorly prepared food and decreases their trust in online businesses.
A quick search shows some of the practices that are not in the best interests of Restaurant owners. Delivery Hero, Menulog and Eat Now all run ads trying to draw customers away from the Restaurants own website onto their websites. Even worse is the practice of creating sites that directly compete against the Restaurants own website. “Curries and More” did not have a real website, but there was competition between www.curriesandmore.com.au and www.curriesandmoreblacktown.com.au. This is an obvious SEO trick to try and fool Google into directly traffic away from legitimate websites and onto websites provided by the online ordering companies. We believe that these companies are driven to generate orders, any orders, from any restaurant so that they can generate their 10% commission from the order. Now that Restaurants have the opportunity to use a Free Restaurant Online Ordering system that does not share their customers contact details and doesn’t cost them 10% commission, the Online Ordering companies will be working even harder to keep customers away from the Restaurants own website.