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Food ordering surprise: App takes order but restaurant is closed

Complaints surge about restaurants closing early
Deli sandwich
Posted at 3:00 AM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 12:21:54-04

Food delivery soared during the pandemic shutdowns, and now many of us don't want to give it up. After all, what's easier than sitting on your couch and ordering dinner, then having it show up a half-hour later?

Unfortunately, some people have discovered one shortcoming: restaurants closing early due to staffing shortages, but not alerting their apps or delivery drivers.

Orders online, then wait and wait and wait

Josh Stinson now visits his nearby Subway store in person when he wants his favorite sub sandwich. He says he no longer trusts online ordering after a bad experience.

"I ordered some sandwiches from the Subway app," he said. "They use DoorDash to deliver it."

His Subway receipt shows his 8 p.m. order was "in the works," with a delivery time of 8:41 pm that evening. But he waited and waited and waited.

"They took my order, they took my money, and then about 40 minutes later I get a call from the driver saying they are not open, so there was nothing the driver could do," he said.

Worse, the $30 he spent for two subs and sides was gone, and he found it would take a lot of effort to get it refunded.

"I came into the store on Monday and asked about getting my money back," Stinson said, "but they told me I had to contact corporate, and there was nothing they can do at the store."

Online forums fill with complaints about early closings

It's not just Subway facing this complaint. As Reddit forums are filled with posts about fast food restaurants closing early, and no food waiting for the driver at pickup time.

When you open up a delivery app, you should see all the restaurants near you, along with if they are open or closed or closing soon.

But Stinson says some employees told him that if a franchise closes early, the app might still take an order.

"They told me if they don't log out of their registers, it can accept orders even if they are not even open," he said.

DoorDash states that if a restaurant is closed, it will pay half the driver's pay for his time lost, but customer refunds are up to the restaurant.

We contacted Subway, which said in a statement:

Subway restaurants are independently owned and operated by local franchisees who are responsible for setting and updating their operating hours in the app. If a restaurant is preparing to close, the app prompts the guest with a warning. We have followed up directly with the guest and issued a gift card to refund the meal.

With most restaurants facing staffing shortages, early closings are a lot more common than before.

So you may want to:

  • Check closing times before ordering.
  • If it is almost closing time, you may want to call.

Stinson says he'll be more careful in the future, and you should too, so you don't waste your money.