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Major grocery delivery issue exposed as Aussie mum slams 'disgusting' Uber Eats offering

The mother said drivers aren't picking up quality produce, but an expert says they just don't have the time.

An Aussie mum has hit out at Uber Eats over the "hit and miss" quality of groceries ordered through the app. Sharing photos of “slimy corn” and “pink lettuce”, Tanya Davies said she’s often annoyed at the “disgusting” state of the vegetables hand delivered to her home in Carlingford, in Sydney’s north-west.

The 42-year-old told Yahoo Finance this isn't the only instance with food "squashed" or "not up to scratch". She questioned why Coles has products like these on their shelves, but said the bigger issue is the Uber Eats drivers who select them.

Consumer expert Graham Cooke agreed and explained how pressure on riders or drivers created an issue for shoppers who might expect higher standards.

Tania Davies (left) and an Uber Eats driver (right).
Davies says Uber Eats drivers do not take any care when choosing produce for shoppers. (Source: Supplied/Getty)

Do you have a story to tell? Contact yahoo.finance.au@yahooinc.com

Davies said she usually shops for groceries in-store, but once a month or so she turns to Uber Eats for convenience, even though she knows it costs more.

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"There are no discounts on the groceries like you would find in the store so you are paying their normal prices for everything, but I end up spending less than I normally would in store because I’m not tempted by what’s on the shelves," she said.

“The quality of the fruit and vegetables is hit and miss." 

Davies acknowledged a lot would depend on what the driver selected.

“It’s pretty obvious straight away if that person shops like me or not," she said.

Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, told Yahoo Finance that he's been hearing more complaints about groceries picked via delivery services, and said it often comes down to the driver not having the same motivation as the team of packers employed by the supermarket.

"The driver gets paid for the number of orders they do in whatever period of time, so their focus is on trying to get through the order as quickly as possible," Cooke explained.

"So the driver doesn't want to be standing around waiting at the aisle if your particular brand isn't available while you decide which other one you want.

"If they ended up doing that for three or four items, that could take an extra 10 minutes of their time."

He also believes drivers are just marking items down as out of stock if they can't find them.

"So you end up often with a basket of goods which isn't close to what you selected," he said.

While online food ordering and delivery services mean you can get groceries delivered to your door in a hurry, are they really a better alternative than direct drop-offs from the supermarkets?

Here we compare the big players.

Uber Eats told Yahoo Finance that “more and more Australians are unlocking grocery delivery as a way to give them time back in their busy lives”.

But what happens when customers aren’t happy?

A man riding a bike with an Uber Eats bag.
Uber Eats says shoppers unhappy with their produce can apply for a refund. Source: Uber Eats (Uber Eats)

If shoppers receive any damaged or tampered goods, they’re encouraged to take a picture of the product and reach out to Uber Eats’ customer service in-app right away.

If the goods were damaged due to mishandling by a driver Uber Eats will issue a refund to the customer where appropriate.

In terms of delivery fees, it varies depending on your location, who you are ordering from and delivery worker availability, but in December Uber Eats introduced an extra $2.99 fee for customers who spend less than $10 on orders from grocery stores.

While in December last year, Coles confirmed that it would no longer offer shoppers the same in-store special prices and discounts when they shopped via Uber Eats and DoorDash.

Uber Eats is the only delivery platform that picks up from all three of the largest supermarket chains: Coles, Woolies and IGA.

Unlike Uber Eats, whose drivers often pick the goods from the supermarket shelf, MILKRUN— which is now owned by Woolworths — uses an in-store team to pick and pack orders. The goods are then dropped off by delivery partners.

MILKRUN workers with a bag of groceries.
MILKRUN uses an expert team in-store to collect the items for the order. Source: MILKRUN (MILKRUN)

MILKRUN’s says the process ensures produce is of the best standard, and if not, customers are backed by the Woolworths fresh or free guarantee, which means shoppers can return their product in exchange for a refund or a replacement.

While MILKRUN’s flat delivery fee comes in at $5, the platform offers weekly specials and exclusive deals — however, prices don't always match deals in-store.

Yahoo understands the product's price difference takes into account the delivery service customer's experience when using the app. "We provide our customers with the convenience of more than 10,000 products," a MILKRUN spokesperson told Yahoo.

Drivers for DoorDash are also doubling as shoppers in order to get customers their groceries from Coles and IGA.

DoorDash rider son bikes.
DoorDash riders also pick out the produce in stores. Source: DoorDash (Uber Eats)

“A Dasher will pick out the items and get in line to pay just like any other shopper in store but use a special DoorDash credit card to help the process go smoothly,” the delivery platform said on its website.

However, grocery stores can also opt to pick and pack the orders themselves before handing them over to a delivery driver.

Under DoorDash’s quality guarantee, if an item doesn’t satisfy quality standards customers may be eligible for a refund or DoorDash credit.

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