Federal minister for small businesses Denis Ducarme (MR) has called in the ministry’s economic inspectors to investigate food delivery businesses Deliveroo and Uber Eats, after allegations of abusive practices.
Ducarme made his decision after a meeting with the organisers of the #SaveMyResto campaign, which brings together restaurant owners to fight against alleged unfair market practices by the two delivery companies.
Food delivery is rapidly becoming an important part of the restaurant industry, which turns to companies like Uber Eats and Deliveroo to carry out the service. During the lockdown, especially, delivery and pick-up were the only two ways restaurants could get their food to customers.
But the delivery services, both of which are American-owned, are now accused of charging exorbitant commissions on each delivery they make. They also allegedly organise advertising campaigns for themselves without consulting their restaurant clients.
“I don’t want these delivery services to weaken the hospitality sector, which is suffering greatly from the Covid-19 crisis,” said Ducarme. And he declined to rule out legal action and the involvement of the Belgian competition authority.
Ducarme pointed to amendments passed in 2019 to the Code of Economic Law, which offer more protection to small businesses and the self-employed.
“Anyone who abuses their dominant position will find the government standing in their way,” he said.
“I have asked the Economic Inspectorate to investigate any delivery platforms that do not comply with the rules. If it turns out that they are guilty of unfair practices or abuse of customers, they will of course be sanctioned.”
Reacting to the decision, Deliveroo said the partnership would allow the restaurants to grow by reaching new customers.
“Deliveroo complements the sale of food in the restaurant, which increases revenues and offers new commercial opportunities,” the company said.
“This has been vital for the Belgian restaurants during the lockdown and Deliveroo will continue to support restaurants during the recovery.”
The company also defended the commissions it charges.
“They cover costs and are reinvested in our operations for the benefit of couriers, restaurants and customers.”