The True Cost of Delivery App Convenience

We’re now in a new era of convenience.  Instead of driving down to the local shopping center to pick up grocery items, order food, buy clothes, or pick up your next meal,  you now log into your app, enter what you want to order, and have someone else do all the heavy work of picking up the food and delivering it to your doorstep.  Sounds pretty convenient, right? With our hectic and fast life, gaining a time saver like delivery apps may allow us to save time.   

But is this type of delivery app convenience really worth it?

One thing one needs to be mindful about is the delivery companies charge you additional fees.  Although most customers understand that there are fees associated with the delivery service, a great many don’t account total cost in services/delivery fees over the long term.  This could be troubling for people in a budget.  For instant gratification, it’s not always cheap.

Some of the delivery services can put a dent in your wallet and here are some popular services that you may want to be mindful of.

Instacart

In one New York Times article [link], one author tested the cost-effectiveness of Instacart.  (Instacart is a service that delivers groceries and other items from various stores.)  He purchased a large dental floss package for $15.89 through Costco, using this delivery service.   Interestingly, the cost for the floss was only $12.99, which made the Instacart purchase a higher markup, in the realm of 22 percent.  Add tip and delivery fees to the entire equation, and you may be looking at 35% increase of the entire service.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats spawned from the popular ride share service Uber, around 2014.  It’s a service that mainly does business in metropolitan areas and caters to customers who do not want to drive to restaurants.  Leveraging Uber drivers, Uber Eats provides fast delivery from participating restaurants.

One interesting caution is Uber Eats’ attempt to steadily increase fees over the years.  Originally, the delivery service charged and attractable $4.99 per delivery.  However, over time, the cost of delivery increased to 15%.  Moreover, this service fee can vary depending on the distance and peak hours. 

One Reddit user writes that he was surprised to see a $19 service fee tacked on to his receipt though he spent only $10. 

Door Dash

Door Dash is similar to Uber Eats. It’s another company that delivers food from participating restaurants to your door.  The fees are very similar in that it includes a delivery fee and tip.   Along with the delivery/service fees and tips, you might even have instances where Door Dash mark up the menu prices.

There have been complaints, like other delivery services, that Door Dash has one of the highest cost to do business with.

Meal Delivery (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh)

We used to get a Hello Fresh meal every week.  Although we weren’t sure that the service was going to save money, we had thought it saves time and money.  We found the hard way and noticed that it wasn’t the case.

In fact,  the price of ingredients was far cheaper and the time to make a meal was, oddly, a lot longer than our normal prepared meals.  After careful analysis of price comparing, we concluded that the typical meal per person would cost us $11.  This might sound low, but keep in mind that this is the cost of a meal from TGIF, Chipotle, or Panera. You can get someone else to cook a healthy meal for perhaps the same amount.   Prepping and cooking from ingredients from the grocery store averaged to half this cost.

Also, I found that the portion size could vary from meal to meal. Sometimes the meal size would be smaller than a typical meal prepped from original ingredients.

Summary

Convenience comes at a cost.  If you don’t pay attention to the itemized fees, your money can disappear fast. If you have to use a delivery service due to lack of time, be mindful of all of the costs.  Consider the percentage that you’re paying extra and see if these services would work for you.  In the long run, the added expense for your delivery will add up.