Read this before ordering through Uber Eats

It's no secret that food delivery apps have made it much easier for consumers to be lazy. On days when the last thing in the world you want to do is cook, food delivery apps allow you to order from your favorite restaurant's menu without having to leave the comfort of your couch. 

Uber Eats is the ride-sharing app, Uber's entry into the food delivery game. The app uses Uber's business model, and dispatches drivers to deliver food orders from a variety of restaurants, including those who may otherwise not have a delivery option available, like McDonald's. And the service has taken off. As Forbes reported, Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi said that Uber Eats plans to deliver nearly $10 billion worth of food in 2019, an increase from $6 billion last year. 

Unlike many of its food delivery competitors, Uber Eats has a global presence. Tapping into Uber's ride-sharing customers and driver pool has helped make Uber Eats one of the biggest food delivery services behind Grubhub, according to Forbes. Since they've taken off, Uber Eats has introduced new app features — some users love, and others they don't. But before you place your next order on the food delivery app, you should make sure you're aware of the company's policies on everything from cancellation to tipping so that you aren't left holding the bag — unless, of course, the bag has the food you ordered in it.

Uber Eats is a separate app

When you're trying to juggle a million tasks at once, the ability to order a car and your favorite udon noodles in the same app may sound like a total win. But the folks at Uber think their food delivery service is so great that it's worth an app of its own. 

Uber first began testing a food delivery option as part of its ride-sharing service app. But in 2016, the company rolled out a separate platform for its food delivery service in the United States with the Uber Eats app, according to Fortune. The split was made in an effort to keep the user experience simple for the customer, and so that both arms of the company could take the time to focus and develop their own strengths.

If you have an Uber account, you can use the same login and payment information on the Uber Eats app, according to Ridester. However, customers will need to download the Uber Eats app separately, which is available to both iOS and Android users if they want to take advantage of the delivery service. 

Your Uber Eats driver depends on your tip

When you place an order through Uber Eats, the fees can add up, leaving customers with little left for anything else. But don't let the fees stop you from giving your delivery driver a fair tip for your order. According to a May 2019 study of nearly 500 delivery drivers by US Foods, 60 percent said that a low tip or no tip was their number one complaint about the job. 

Your Uber Eats driver is an independent contractor, which means that they aren't receiving any benefits from Uber, according to HuffPost. And as Ridester added, drivers are not reimbursed for gas, maintenance, or vehicle registration fees. According to many current and former drivers, those costs coupled with low pay often mean little to no profit for drivers. This means that drivers depend on your tips to help make ends meet. 

Uber Eats customers are by no means required to tip their driver, according to the website. But users have a few different ways to show their driver some love for bringing their grub to their door. Customers can tip through the UberEats app during the checkout process, or when they leave a review for their service. They also have the option to tip their driver in cash when their food order arrives. 

You can order alcohol through Uber Eats in one location

How many times have you placed an order for food and wished that a nice cold six-pack of beer could be delivered along with it? Well if you live in South Florida, UberEats just might be able to make all of your food delivery dreams come true.

According to Uber, alcohol delivery is available in certain markets of South Florida. And yes, app users can order beer and wine from wine shops, liquor stores, and participating restaurants that serve alcohol.  

But if you're underage, don't get any ideas. You must be at least 21-years-old to order alcohol through Uber Eats in the United States. And you should be prepared to confirm your age with a valid driver's license, military ID, state ID, or passport to your driver at the time of delivery in order to receive your drink order. And make sure you order before you start drinking — if you look like you've already had a few too many brews when your delivery driver arrives, you will not be able to be served.

You can't get food from multiple restaurants in one Uber Eats order

When you order takeout with a group of friends, you may have a tough time getting everyone to agree on pizza or Thai. Fortunately, you live in a world with food delivery apps like Uber Eats, so no one has to compromise. If you're unable to get everyone to come to a consensus, you can place delivery orders at more than one restaurant. But it's going to cost you.  

As of August 2019, the Uber Eats app doesn't allow you to request food from more than one restaurant in a single order, according to their website. But once a restaurant has received your order, you have the ability to start a new order and request food from a different restaurant. 

If you don't have to worry about making a case to your friends for the food you want, ordering Uber Eats can definitely make your life easier. But before you get ready to order from every restaurant in the neighborhood, you should know that according to the Uber Eats policy, each individual order will come with its own delivery fee. And those have a way of adding up pretty quickly.

You can track your Uber Eats order along the way

When you place an order on your Uber Eats app, you'll never have to wonder when your food is going to arrive. And if your order takes longer than expected, you'll know if it's because of a delay at the restaurant, or the traffic on the way to your home. The app allows users to follow their food from the restaurant all the way to their door. 

From the moment you place your order, Uber Eats allows you to track the status of your food every step of the way, according to Fast Company. The app will push updates on your meal to your phone in real-time, so you know exactly when the restaurant receives your order, when your food is being prepared, and finally when it is on its way. And just like its app cousin Uber, once your food is ready to go, you can track your delivery driver on a map through the Uber Eats app until your food shows up at your door.  

Uber Eats has lots of fees

Ordering a delicious meal to be delivered to your door is indeed a pretty convenient option when you aren't in the mood to cook. But all of that convenience comes at a cost to Uber Eats customers. 

As The Spoon explains, Uber Eats got rid of their flat $4.99 delivery fee in 2018 and replaced it with a more complicated fee structure. Today, delivery fees vary depending on your location and whether or not there is a driver available to deliver your order, according to Uber. Fortunately, Uber Eats displays the delivery fees front and center on the app. This feature lets users see exactly what it will cost them to order from a particular restaurant before they decide to place their order. 

If you order from a restaurant that doesn't deliver its own food, Uber Eats will tack on a service fee of 15 percent of your total order. And if the total cost of your order comes in under $10, you'll be hit with a small order fee of $2, according to The Verge

You can leave an anonymous review on Uber Eats

One of the best ways to make sure you receive good service is to let the folks at Uber Eats know exactly how you felt about your delivery experience. According to Uber Eats, you can rate the restaurant you ordered from on the app using a five-star system. You can also rate individual menu items by giving a thumbs up or down to each item in your delivery order. 

And if you have feedback for your driver, there's a place for that on the app as well. Uber Eats uses the same rating system as Uber. That means you can give your delivery driver a rating from 1 to 5 stars based on the service you receive. And you don't have to worry about any kind of backlash, because your review is anonymous and won't be shared with the driver. Instead, Uber compiles an average rating for drivers based on up to 500 trips.    

Uber takes customer reviews very seriously. According to their website, drivers with low overall ratings may no longer be able to provide service for the company.

In some cities, you can order Uber Eats for dine-in

Uber Eats was testing a dine-in option in select markets as of June 2019, including Dallas, Phoenix, and San Diego, according to CBS News

The feature allows users to place their order through the Uber Eats app and eat their food in the restaurant, rather than have it delivered. Just like a traditional Uber Eats order, you'll be notified when the restaurant has your order. And you'll have the option to track your food until it is ready for you to pick up, according to Uber

The new service has benefits for the customers as well as the restaurants. Choosing to dine-in saves users the delivery and service fees they would typically pay for a traditional Uber Eats order, and helps customers looking to dine in find rated restaurants in their area. Instead, restaurants pay a fee to Uber that is usually lower than the standard delivery fee, according to Eater. The dine-in feature also helps restaurants who don't have a delivery service get more customers in the door. 

Although placing your order ahead of time may save you some time when you dine out, you may find that some of the items on your restaurant's menu may cost more, to help the restaurant compensate for Uber's fees. 

Uber Eats orders can earn you rewards

In case you needed another reason to abandon your cookbooks and order through Uber Eats, it may help to know that ordering takeout can save you money on your next Uber ride. That's because your Uber Eats orders can help you earn valuable Uber Rewards points. 

If Uber Rewards is available in your area, you will be able to opt-in to the free program through your Uber app. Once you sign up, you begin earning valuable points that can save your money on Uber rides and Uber Eats orders in the future. According to the website, users earn one point for every qualifying dollar spent on Uber rides and Uber Eats orders. At 500 points, users earn $5 in Uber Cash, which can be applied toward subsequent rides or food orders. Using the high-end Uber X and Uber Black services increases the value of your points. 

Rewards points also allow users to increase their status and move through the program's tiers, according to The Points Guy. Each tier comes with increasing levels of benefits, including the ability to lock in ride prices and priority pick-up.

Commission fees from Uber Eats can be bad for your favorite restaurants

You might think you're helping your favorite restaurants by placing an order through Uber Eats. After all, you are throwing extra business their way. But the truth is, all of that ordering may cause your favorite restaurants to lose money as more and more people opt out of dining in, according to The New Yorker

Partnering with Uber Eats can be a great way for restaurants without a delivery service to find new customers and increase their business during off-peak hours. But the restaurant can bear a heavy burden when that partnership comes with a steep commission fee.

According to CNN Business, restaurants pay commission fees between 15 and 30 percent to partner with food delivery services like Uber Eats. And for restaurants, who pay for supplies, staff wages, and rent on their space, those commission fees can take away a big chunk of their profits.  

Online delivery orders are also cutting into some restaurants' dine-in customer base, which is where the restaurants make most of their money. In a 2017 Morgan Stanley survey, 43 percent of delivery customers said that their online delivery order was replacing an instance of dining out, a number that increased from 38 percent in 2016. 

If you want a refund from Uber Eats, you have to know when to cancel

Ordering that smorgasbord of Chinese food may have seemed like a good idea at the time. But when you think about how much extra time on the treadmill it will cost you to down those cartons of fried rice, you may end up having second thoughts. 

When you order food from your phone, there's bound to be some user error (or even buyer's remorse). Before you place your order, you should know what to do if you change your mind. According to the Uber Eats website, you can cancel your order directly on the app. And you should be able to cancel with no problem, as long as you do it before the restaurant receives your order. If you attempt to cancel after the restaurant starts preparing your food, you will not be eligible for a refund. And according to a Reddit thread of Uber Eats customers who were frustrated with the cancellation policy, canceling your order too late in the process will leave you with no refund — and no food.  

You can schedule an Uber Eats order in advance

If your idea of meal prep is deciding what you're going to order for dinner before you get home from the office, Uber Eats has you covered. You don't always have to place orders for food to be delivered ASAP. The app also allows you to schedule orders in advance for everything from cheeseburgers to cupcakes for a delivery window in the future. You can place orders for up to a week before your desired delivery date. 

Be sure to double-check your order before you accept, because once you do, you can't cancel, according to the website. Your scheduled delivery orders will be set apart from ASAP orders by an orange notification. 

The app only lets you schedule advance orders during a restaurant's normal business hours. And you can forget about trying to outsmart the restaurant by ordering pancakes from the breakfast menu to be delivered at dinner time. Uber Eats only lets you schedule orders for items that will be available during your delivery window. 

Ordering uber Eats from certain restaurants can save you money

If you're willing to be flexible about the way you order your food, you may be able to save some money on your Uber Eats orders. 

Ride-sharing app Uber introduced UberPool in 2014. The service incentivizes users who are traveling to similar areas for riding with other nearby customers and sharing the cost. Now, according to TechCrunch, Uber has rolled out a version of its successful UberPool model to their food delivery customers. With Uber Eats Pool, a delivery driver will pick up a batch of orders from the same restaurant and deliver them to hungry customers within a designated area at the same time. Uber Eats offers users a $2 discount on their order as an incentive for choosing this environmentally-friendly option. 

The top of the app's home screen will display the restaurants available for the Uber Eats Pool option in your area. A timer on the screen will refresh every five minutes to give you the latest information and make sure your food is delivered as hot and fresh as possible.