‘It’s not fair’: Businesses frustrated by partnership between LCBO and Uber Eats

‘It’s not fair’: Businesses frustrated by partnership between LCBO and Uber Eats

Giuseppe Marchesini, a restaurant owner in Little Italy, worries about how the alcohol delivery partnership between the LCBO and Uber Eats will affect his bottom line.

He said it’s unfair that his business and others have not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s another competitor and that’s a big competitor,” Marchesini told CP24 on Saturday afternoon.

“We feel it’s not fair. They could be more considerate of helping small businesses. We’re still struggling. Even though we’re being supported by guests and we’re full, we’re going to need a little more attention.”

Marchesini is not the only restaurant owner feeling frustrated by the news. Ryan Mallough with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said many of their members are expressing frustration with the partnership.

He said it will put companies at a disadvantage.

“We’ve already heard from some of our members in the hospitality industry, and it’s a big blow,” Mallough said.

“(The) hospitality (industry) is still in a very tough spot. More than half have not yet returned to their normal income levels.”

The cooperation It will allow Ontarians of legal drinking age to order beer, wine and spirits from the LCBO through the Uber Eats app and have them delivered to their home.

The delivery platform said in a statement to CTV News Toronto on Friday that customers will be required to confirm they are 19 or older while ordering through the app and before receiving alcohol. Uber Eats added that simplicity will also be confirmed during delivery.

The LCBO said the partnership is not part of a formal agreement with Uber Eats, which has long been allowed to serve alcoholic beverages to delivery service providers approved by the AGCO.

“The LCBO, as part of a limited-time pilot program, is having conversations with on-demand delivery providers to improve the customer experience, including the LCBO logo and product selection guidelines,” a spokeswoman for the Crown corporation said Friday. .

This isn’t the first time the LCBO has partnered with a delivery service app. Back in 2020, announced that its products would be available for delivery through SkipTheDishes. However, cooperation it ended days later after receiving backlash from restaurant owners and Mayor John Tory.

Mallough said the Uber Eats partnership will invite customers to order alcoholic beverages at restaurants because the LCBO offers the same products at a lower price.

He noted that while restaurants and bars are only allowed to sell alcohol through delivery apps, when food is included in the order, the rule does not apply to the LCBO.

“It’s different rules for the big game player and different rules for the little guys. And that, again, is a major source of frustration for small businesses,” Mallough said.

“All they really want to do is be able to compete. When you get a different set of rules, especially for the big guys, it makes it really hard to do that.”

Uber Eats said customers ordering LCBO alcohol would have to pay a $5.49 delivery fee.

Mallough said the same set of rules should apply to everyone. If the LCBO can sell alcohol through delivery apps without buying a meal, businesses should be allowed to do so as well.

“I think two things (should happen). One, on the part of the government, let’s not put rules that give unfair advantages to competition. Let’s let businesses compete. Let’s let them serve their customers,” he said.

“And then for all of us on the customer side, what they really need is to keep consumers coming back. We saw this wonderful outpouring of support from local small businesses throughout the pandemic. We want to make sure we keep it that way.”

– With files from Marc Liverman and CTV News Toronto’s Abby O’Brien

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